Maryam Hussain graduated with a diploma in Wood Technology from the Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau, Zamfara State.
She thought of opening a carpentry workshop, but unknown to her, her calling was in the borehole drilling business.
In this interview, she shares how she is able to cope (being a female in the business), her challenges, among others.
Daily Trust: Why and how did you engage in drilling boreholes?
Maryam Hussain: In life, one must start from somewhere.
If you have an ambition, you look for the easiest way to fulfil it, especially when you come from a very poor background.
I had the ambition of setting up a workshop after my diploma because I learned furniture.
I delved into drilling because I wanted a job that will be a source of income to me.
I searched for work in a drilling company, but was told that the nature of the work will determine if I would be able to do it.
I said I would and with Allah’s help, I was able to do it well.
Afterwards, I was told to continue by the company and some people there kept on encouraging me because I’m the first female in the north to learn the work.
In the course of the job, I met several people; some would encourage me, while others would discourage me.
I never nurtured the thoughts of leaving the work.
With Allah’s help, I have been making great achievements and progress.
I work with Dialogue Drillers, and the owner – Mahdi Shehu, has been very supportive in ensuring that I continue with the work.
The first time I was taken to him, he asked if I was from the north and I answered in the affirmative.
He asked from where specifically and I said Southern Borno.
He was very surprised that I could carry on with the work.
He has respect for me; wherever he sees me, he will stop, despite being the owner of the company, to have a word with me.
DT: How did your parents accept you doing the work?
Maryam: At first, I had some hindrance from my dad, but it was easy to convince my mum.
When I informed her of my plans for the future, and since she was not fortunate to do them for me, she supported me with prayers.
My dad, on the other hand, was always complaining any time I go out for work.
However, he has realised what the work means to me because I have become independent, taking care of myself and achieved a lot from the work.
DT: Do you think when you get married your husband will let you continue with the work?
Maryam: I do not think he would stop me, but everything in life can be modernized.
I have plans to incorporate other skills I have into the job, which will allow me to establish my own company.
If I’m able to acquire the machines used for drilling, I can employ others to do the field work, while I guide them on how to do the work.
DT: How are you coping with your male colleagues?
Maryam: Sincerely, there are challenges working with them.
It is not just those I work with, there are those who do not know me, but hate seeing me do the work.
I know a person that since I came to the company, he does not like me there; he never corrected my mistakes or taught me.
That has been his position since I started.
But the person that brought me ensured that I not only learn the work, but that I do it with expertise,which he is proud of.
I will never forget him; he’s my boss and has taught me a lot about the work.
DT: Did you have any training before starting the work?
Maryam: I had no prior knowledge; I was trained on the job.
It was the practical aspect that I learnt from them and the knowledge gain has been vast.
I can’t recall the number of boreholes I have drilled in the last six years.
They should be more than 500 across all the local government areas in Kaduna.
DT: What advice do you have for northern women in terms of financial independence?
Maryam: I will not advice women or youth to rely on government jobs.
You will be surprised with my accomplishments so far because despite working with Dialogue, I have registered my own company.
My advice is that having a degree should not be the basis to rely on elusive government jobs.
I believe creativity and technology are there, which can be translated into practical purpose from what was taught in school.
Jettison the idea of sitting in the office while expecting salary at the end of the month.
I can’t work in a place where I will be paid N30,000 or N50, 000 monthly.
I am working towards equipping my company with the necessary gadgets and a workshop for furniture to train females of like-minds so as to reduce unemployment and poverty through the knowledge Allah gave us.
I advice youths to learn trades or acquire skills, whether graduate or not.
I didn’t learn what I’m doing today in school.
But now, I have knowledge of furniture, drilling and building.
DT: What do you think government can do to make your job easy?
Maryam: I would ask for nothing but capital.
If I can lay my hands on capital to start, in five years I would be someone of reference in Nigeria not just in Kaduna.
Here in the north, if you can hold your head high and let no one decide for you the type of job you can or cannot do, we will prosper.
So, if I can get the funds needed, from anyone not necessarily from the government, to establish my company, people will be surprised at what I will do.
Empowering women in technology will be my aim.
The name of my registered company is Women Tech Nigeria Limited.
Insha Allah, when I start, the company will make a name and women will benefit greatly from it.
DT: What motivates you to continue with the work despite the challenges?
Maryam: I have never recorded any loss that made me pessimistic about life.
I believe that life is all about determination and hard work.
Life is a teacher; the more you live, the more you learn.
We all need to start from somewhere.
For me, this is where I needed to start from.
The only thing I did was to overcome my heart; it is a must to have it under control.
If you can control your heart, you will not lose anything because the heart is where one’s life is.
If you lead your heart into good places from childhood, I do not think you will lose and even if you do, your next step will be how to recover from the loss.