Following its supervision of the recent 774,000 jobs initiative of the Federal Government, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has revealed plans to introduce a transportation initiative called ‘Lady Chauffeur’ in Nigeria.
Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, director-general of NDE, disclosed this in an interview published in a national daily. The scheme targets women and will make transportation more inclusive as it is an area less taken by women. “We are trying to introduce what we call ‘Lady Chauffeur’. Attempts were done (sic) in the past by one of my predecessors to see that this scheme comes to life,” he said, as he spoke on the organisation’s plans. Fikpo, however, did not state when the initiative will be launched.
A chauffeur is a person employed to drive a passenger motor vehicle, especially a luxury vehicles such as a large sedan or limousine. Before now, such drivers were often personal employees of the vehicle owner. However, this has changed to specialist chauffeur service companies or individual drivers that provide both driver and vehicle for hire, with some service companies merely providing the driver.
Also, such companies as seen in the UK are privately owned. In other places like India, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like the Azad foundation drive the initiative to make transportation more inclusive by empowering women to become chauffeuring jobs. While women are already taking up commercial driving amid high unemployment levels in Nigeria, an NGO—Girls-on-Wheels—is also championing female chauffeuring in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s decision to kick-start female chauffeuring could be the first attempt at creating a system for ladies to be formally involved in transportation. “We want to see how feasible it is to introduce the scheme where ladies will be formally involved in the transportation business,” Fikpo said. NDE says it has a lot of schemes in the works to improve the lives of Nigerians. For instance, aside from the ‘Lady Chauffeur’ initiative, NDE said it is starting a scheme called the Women Empowerment Collaboration Scheme, which is an open window for women.
The initiative will allow NDE to intervene in any area and location where a need has been identified by any organization or philanthropist who wants it to, by first, determining the demand or need of that community and designing schemes that will be very relevant to them. That is being pilot tested.
In addition, it is also looking at exploring the tourism sector for ways to take advantage of the potentials there for job-creating opportunities. Fikpo said NDE has set the ball rolling and very soon, [and] the impact will be felt in the system [as] new schemes are being generated and formulated in order to meet the prevailing situations and the current demand in the labour market.
“So, there are so many things in the pipeline but because of the paucity of funds, we can’t execute all of our initiatives and projects at the same time,” he said. In her view, Eno Martins-Bakare, founder of Girls-on-Wheels, said Nigeria has very capable, eager, and professional women who love driving, noting that she has worked with some amazing women at Girls-on-Wheels who bring so much heart and candour to the transportation space.
Martins-Bakare believes that the Lady Chauffeur initiative by the federation government will boost women’s participation in the automotive sector beyond the 5 percent margin and will help more women meet their economic needs. “It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “It’s a fantastic one and kudos to the FG. Our women are more than ready. They were born ready!”