*Why they call me ‘Iron woman’ of Bayelsa
*Says I sought to be different, prove that women can be better fabricators, welders
By Emem Idio
A female English Language graduate of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, who hails from Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Miss Faith Omoniye Lesley, has turned a sensation in the male-dominated fabrication and welding sector in the state. Those who recognise her skills call her ‘Iron woman’ and ‘Woman of steel.’
Thinking out of the box
Miss Lesley, who is in her late 20s told NDV at Yenagoa: “During my final year in the university, thoughts of alternative vocation or business was always on my mind because in our country today, employment (particularly white collar jobs) is not guaranteed after graduation and National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
“During my NYSC in Abia State, I worked for a fabrication firm, a separate paid job outside my primary place of assignment, PPA, as an English Language and Literature teacher, and in the process, I developed a deep passion and liking for the job.
“So after my service year, I decided to go into it full time. I went back to hone my skills and became a certified welding and fabrication expert. It took me two years to master the trade. Although it is a male-dominated field, that motivated and spurred me to strive to become a successful woman in the profession.
“In 2015, I opened my own firm with the assistance of my father and started fully. I started getting small jobs and that is how I got to the level where I am today.
“When I started, I was not getting jobs because most people were not convinced that I could do it, there was this discrimination, but with time, I proved them wrong and now, I am one of the best in town in my area of specialisation,” she said.
According to her: “I wanted to do something different, something that is out of the box and something that will make me stand out as a woman, something unique. I did not want to go to all the everyday ordinary and common vocation.”
Woman of Steel
“People are always surprised to see me as a welder and fabricator, particularly men, and so during the course of my job, they started calling me Woman of steel or Iron woman. The name was given to me by men who like my job as a lady welder.
“I specialise in fabrication and welding of gates, stainless hand rails, Italian rod iron, foreign and local, tank stands, doors, and all types of metal fabrication,” she added.
Employer of labour
Faith, who currently runs a thriving welding and fabrication firm called Faomoly Global Ventures in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, with 10 workers, has been training young Bayelsans for free in welding and fabrication as part of her foundation objectives to give back to society.
On why she has apprentices who are mainly men, the lady of steel said women do not fancy it because they see it as a difficult trade, adding that the few who attempted to learn the trade left, citing the rigorous nature of the job.
Last year, she won the Bayelsa State Youth of the Year 2020 award at the BAMA Awards, a recognition she said she cherished and got on merit.
Govt not patronizing us
She asserted: “It is people like us that the government should encourage and patronise but that is not the case, I am yet to get that recognition and patronage from government. All my jobs have come from private individuals, government can use us as master trainers for their skills acquisition programmes, we should be given the opportunity to train others and impact on the society on a large scale apart from the little ones I am doing on my own.”
Advice to young people
“You do not need to depend on the government or put your hope on white collar jobs. They are hard to come by these days, young people should think out of the box and look for what service they can render or learn a vocation to earn a living. If you wait for government jobs, you will fall into depression. Young people should be focused and be patient because nothing good comes easy.
“I want to thank God for opening my eyes to see beyond the present in 2015, a year of my turning point. The future is in the hands of God but I believe I will be a very big international business entrepreneur in the nearest future, indeed the future is bright,” she stated.
Vanguard News Nigeria