...we can only be human together...
...we can only be human together...
...we can only be human together...

I quickly grew up after the death of my uncle who was my benefactor and I believe he'd be proud of how I've taken up his many roles

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29 June 2022
9 minutes read
I quickly grew up after the death of my uncle who was my benefactor and I believe he'd be proud of how I've taken up his many roles

I was a favourite of my uncle - my father's younger brother - named Monday Gaya.

He brought me to Abuja in 2009 and I lived with him and his family, a wife and two children, a boy and a girl 

Unfortunately, in 2015, he died after a motor vehicle accident and that was how a new phase of life began for me.

My name is Joseph Omoh Timothy and I am from Kachia Local Government Area (LGA) in Kaduna State. Omoh means "a great child." My grandfather gave me the name which was his own father's name because I was his first grandson. 

I was born on 22 March 1987 in Kachia where I was also raised. 

I attended Katari Primary School and Jere Secondary School, both in Kachia LGA. In secondary school, my favourite subjects were geography and agriculture. I loved watching the weather. 

I was also the social prefect.

I then proceeded to Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa to read estate management, because of the city's closeness to our federal capital.

I dropped out because of my uncle's death. He was my sponsor.

With his death, I had to assume all his responsibilities including the welfare of his family and the children's school fees. He was there for me so wonderfully, and I have to be there for them too.

I had to quickly grow up.

I was not doing anything when the incident occurred.

Later, I went into ginger farming in Kachia. I was going and coming back to Abuja. It was somehow easy because my dad was there at home to help.

I determined to use some of the money I made from the farming to buy a car and go into e-hailing so that I could take care of my new responsibilities; not only my late uncle's family but also my parents and my siblings who are still in school. I am the eldest of my parent's six children - three boys and three girls.

I made some money and spent one million, seven hundred thousand naira to buy a Toyota Corolla car and joined Bolt.

After a few months of operating the cab, I asked a friend who had a car but was always complaining about lack of money  if he knew that he could make money with his car? He asked me how. I explained to him. From his response, I sensed that he was not ready to operate the vehicle by himself. Then I suggested to him that I could manage it for him. How? he asked.

I said he would give me the car, while I would provide a driver who would be operating the car. Not only that, I would maintain the car. This was a system I had heard of before but I had never seen it in action. You know that, sometimes when you are hit with a lot of things, you just have to think outside the box and look for legitimate things that can put money in your pocket. My friend agreed that we should try it out. I told him that normally, if  he looked for a driver, he or she would give him twenty-five thousand naira. I offered to give him twenty thousand naira and service the car every month; to make the engine last longer because using the car everyday was like travelling. I got another friend and a former neighbour who then was doing nothing to drive the car. He was a licensed driver but he had never before then done e-hailing. I gave him the lowdown, took him to the Bolt office, he registered and started working. Every week, I was making returns of twenty thousand naira to my friend, the car owner. That was my entry into the business of managing cabs not owned by me. 

In 2019, I set up a company called Kings & Queens, to formalise the operations.

Then, one fateful day in 2020, I went to a Car Wash outlet to wash my car and I met this gentleman who asked me if I was a Bolt driver and when I said 'yes', he asked how the business was and all that. I told him I was also into cab management. He then said:  'Do you know that there are people who have money but do not have this idea you have.' I responded: 'Yes…but it is hard for someone to trust someone with money.'  He then asked if he could trust me. 'Yes,' I told him. 'How can I trust you?' he further asked. 'Because I trust myself,' I answered. He said he would get back to me. We exchanged phone numbers.

After a week or so, he called me and said that he had discussed with his wife and he felt like he could trust me enough to do business with me. He invited me to his house and from there he took me to a car shop. That day he handed me five cars and the following day we were back there for an additional five cars. There was nowhere I was going to take the cars. So, they remained with the dealer. I told him even before he handed the cars to me, trackers had to be installed so that he could himself monitor the cars from wherever he was. He then asked how I intended managing the cars and whether I already had the drivers. I told him that as we were talking I did not have up to ten drivers but that getting drivers would not be an issue. I just needed to tell one who would tell the other and so on. That was how I raised the ten drivers within one week. There are usually those who want to drive but who have no cars. 

By the Grace of God, we never had any major issue with the vehicles, no accident and the drivers have been well-behaved. Perhaps, it is luck. I monitor them too. We try to be careful and all that. And one mechanic maintains the whole cars. They are all the same brand too: Toyota Corolla.

One unique thing about this arrangement is that the owner simply trusted me. We did not sign any document, he never bothered to ask where I lived. I have simply been remitting his money to him.

I hope, in future, to operate a transport company.

Even when the man gave me the cars, I knew that all I had was an idea but no experience. So, I gave out my own car and I went to a company involved in (fleet) management, I filled a Guarantor's Form and worked with them for three months. It was just for me to acquire some on-the-job training. I became an apprentice, sort of.  It helped. The owner of the place was unhappy to see me go. He said I was his best driver and that since I joined there had not been any issue with me: I remitted money as and when due. I told him I was travelling. I had to, because I could not tell him that I came to learn the system. He said I should help him find someone who could drive the car while I was away. Someone I trusted, he stressed. I told him I trusted only myself.

I have the man to thank for the experience gained, really.

I have had references from the owner of the ten vehicles to one or two others who would like me to manage their vehicles. Today, I have sixteen cars that I manage, and, of course, mine.

I always like to tell my friends: there is nothing that one cannot do unless one does not want to, or it is not legitimate. There was a friend who was unemployed who was asking me how he could be doing Bolt as a graduate? I told him it is because he had someone who still fed him that he would be thinking that way. 

Oh well….

Anyone in Abuja willing to engage me in cab management can reach me on +2348054322012. 

I believe that if my uncle looked down from above, he would be proud of me.

Appreciations to Mr Sam Amuka, publisher of Vanguard Newspapers for logistics support

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Taiwo Obe, FNGE
Commonwealth Professional Fellow
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