Folashade Alabi Shittu, ventures into welding and fabrication, a trade mostly dominated by men
| By Augustine Adah | Feb. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
FOLASHADE Alabi Shittu, a welder working with Golden Penny Sugar Refinery, Apapa, Lagos, never intended to study welding and fabrication engineering, when she got admission to Delta State Polytechnic , Ozoro, in 2002. What she wanted was to be a civil engineer. But by divine providence, she abandoned the course midway for welding and fabrication engineering at the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, Effurun, Warri, Delta State.
It all started when a student from the PTI came to Delta State Polytechnic with the school brochure. After going through the brochure, Shittu, became interested in becoming a diver. But before realising that goal, she must have graduated in welding and fabrication engineering. She then applied for admission into the PTI and luckily, she was given admission to study welding and fabrication engineering. But the course required Shittu to undergo nine months training under water engineering, to become a diver. After her Higher National Diploma, the mother discouraged her from pursuing a course that would qualify her as a diver.
“My mother did not want me to read under water engineering because of the risks associated with the job after qualifying as a diver. So I dropped the idea in order to please her,” Shittu said. Though Shittu did not become the first female diver in Nigeria as desired, she was satisfied to be one of the few qualified female welders in Nigeria since 2008. She was able to achieve the feat through courage and determination. She is now urging women to be focused and determined in their quest to become what they desire to be in the society.
Her ultimate goal at the moment is to acquire a workshop where women can be engaged as welding apprentices. The aim is to encourage women to take welding and fabrication as a career because of its monetary benefits. “As a welder, you bargain your remuneration with your employer, no organisation employs a welder and fixes the salary without proper negotiations,” Shitu said.
According to her, encouraging more women to go into welding would prove that the profession has no gender barrier. She frowned at some people’s belief that some courses and professions are restricted to men. Shittu recounted the experience she had on the first day she came to a workshop in Alapere, Ketu, to up-grade her practical skills. “Within a short time, the workshop was filled with people that came to see a woman welder. I was like a performing masquerade where everybody would want to come and watch,” Shittu said. It was the encouragement from her husband that made Shittu to continue working at that workshop because the watching game continued every day.
But Shittu is worried by the discrimination presently going on between foreign experts and their Nigerian counterparts. She decried a situation where foreign experts earn a higher salary than their Nigerian counterparts not because they are more qualified but because of their colour.
She claimed that some Nigerian engineers and experts are better than their foreign counterparts in terms of job performance but regretted that many organisations have formed the habit of paying them lower salaries than those recruited from outside the country.