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I want to be an employer – Physically challenged phone repairer

Twenty-five-year-old Umar Garba is a physically challenge phone repairer at the popular Wunti Roundabout in Bauchi metropolis. In this interview, he reveals how he learnt…

Twenty-five-year-old Umar Garba is a physically challenge phone repairer at the popular Wunti Roundabout in Bauchi metropolis. In this interview, he reveals how he learnt phone repairs, trained young men and his intentions to become a job provider to unemployed youths.


What motivated you to venture into phone repairing?

My father was my great motivator. He introduced me to a phone repairer when I was in primary school. Whenever I closed from school, I went to our workshop where I learned the skills. Initially, I started learning shoe making, but subsequently my father took me away from there to the phone repair shop where I spent some years up to the period of graduation and today, I have my own workshop where I source for my livelihood and equally train other young men.

When did you start this venture?

I started learning these skills when I was in primary school at the first tenure of Governor Isa Yuguda. I am an indigene of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area but the ethno-religious crisis displaced our family from our ancestral home and we returned to Bauchi as Internally displaced persons. After sometime, we settled and begin a new life in Bauchi.

What challenges did you encounter during your training, being physically challenged?

I really faced many challenges in the course of learning this job, but I exercised a lot of patience and developed courage to endure some of the challenges, especially with fellow trainees and the trainer.

The challenges extended to the time of graduation and even to my own workshop because many people have the impression that I may not be good due to my physical disability and some underrated my capacity to deliver, especially here in Bauchi.

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Although the challenges ranged from discouragement, interaction with colleagues at the workshop, competing with able colleagues, and so on, but the most daunting challenge I faced was after the graduation because many people didn’t believe that I can acquire the requisite knowledge or skills to repair their phones. They were afraid that if they give me their phone, I might damage it. None of the trainees in my workshop has any physical disability.

However, with time, people began to know that I have the skills to repair their phones at an affordable rate and gradually some of the people that patronized me started telling others, and from there the patronage began to grow.

The problem in our society is that people hardly support those with disability, who demonstrate courage to venture into meaningful jobs or businesses, through patronage or technical and financial support to tackle the menace of street begging.

How many people have you trained so far?

From my graduation to date, I have trained many young men and out of the number, I have graduated five youths who are earning from this job either working independently or in major phone repairing workshops in Bauchi. One encouraging trend is how some parents who don’t want their children roaming the streets or idling away are bringing them to me for training after closing from school. Most the parents want their wards to combine theoretical knowledge with skill acquisition due to the harsh economic realities. I feel highly fulfilled because I’ve now become productive to the society.

What benefits have you achieved from phone repairs?

I have made lots of fortune from this job. First, I am married and have a lovely baby boy (Muhammad Kamal). Phone repairs is my only means of livelihood and I am comfortably taking care of my family’s needs and even assisting relatives, friends and neighbours. I also generated funds from the job which I used to purchase farming inputs like fertilizer, seeds and labour at the farm.

Have you gotten any support to enhance your job either from individuals, group and government?

There has been no support or assistance from anyone but hope is not lost yet. If I’m able to get such support, especially capital to buy more tools and critical equipment, it will really help me to achieve my main goal which is to establish a standard workshop and become an employer to a lot of unemployed youths milling around.

How much do you make daily?

I combine phone repairs with commercial charging of phones; and on a daily basis, I make between N3000 and N4000 or more depending on patronage. Alhamdulillah people have started encouraging me with both repairs and charging of phone because the income is increasing day after day.

What are your plans for the future regarding employment?

I am already planning to expand my workshop because recently, I engaged in the repairs of mini solar panels pan and due to the hot weather in Bauchi, many people are bringing their mini pan for repairs. When you look at this pan, you will realize that I removed the solar engine and turned it into direct electric and it worked effectively. The pan repairs is also gaining patronage because many people dump them when they develop technical faults, but they are now bringing them to me and I fix them. Another area I ventured into is the repairs of MP3 which is also gaining momentum.

The only thing I lack is modern working tools but if government or groups will help me with them and, of course, capital to acquire things like the screens and other phone accessories, the sky will be our limit. My major mission in life is to be productive and a dependable factor; which is why I intentionally shunned street begging and rather acquired skills to be self reliant.

I don’t believe that my disability should prevent me from engaging in positive ventures. My vision is to become a source of inspiration to everyone, including fellow physically challenged persons, and also become an employer of labour in the society, with a view to impacting positive change and development.

I thought about my life some years back and came to a strong conviction that begging is not a good practice for me. That I should rather acquire skills and develop them to become a model and good example for other physically challenged people to emulate so that together we can demonstrate that disability cannot kill our God-given talents.


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