24 Nov 2012

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Miss. Ogunyemi Mary Folashade who was posted  late last year  by National Youths Service Corp ( NYSC) to Adamawa State, for her one year mandatory national assignment  has demonstrated  an unprecedented skill in the art of car panel-beating and spray painting.

The batch “C” corps member fall under category A of the NYSC state award meant to encourage corps members who performed excellently during their national service to their host communities. Mr Richard Ologundudu, Head of Corps Discipline and Reward, NYSC in Yola told THISDAY that the significant thing about Folashade is the nature of her Skill Acquisition Programme in the art of car panel-beating and spray painting and rated her the best serving corps member in her batch.

Shade as she is fondly called is a graduate of biology from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto in Sokoto state. She is already carving a niche for herself in the art of car panel-beating and spray- painting believed to be purely men’s job and outside her primary assignment at the General Murtala College, Yola as a class teacher. She has trained about 100 youths and a number of adults in the art in Adamawa State.

iAccording to the corps member, the exploration  into the world of car panel-beating and spray-painting began during her early days in primary school in Sokoto state where her dad, Mr. Abayomi Ogunyemi, who is a well-known panel-beater within and outside the capital city of the caliphate lived. Shade said while she was growing up as a young girl at the close of her classes, she would joined her father in his workshop. She did more of this during holidays as would spend almost a  whole day in his workshop.

“I was the scorn of my Dad’s customers whenever I gave a helping hand to my dad simply because I am a woman. While on duty either with the customer’s vehicles such as scrubbing stubborn dents occasioned by accidents or very old vehicles.  Oftentimes, I ran errands for my father in his workshop and at the same time I was focused to acquire the skills of the trade from my father who was busy trying to meet the expectations of his frequent, impatient customers”. She said.

Shade said her zeal for car panel-beating business, was not to make fortune, but to help her dad who earlier objected to her acquisition of the skills believed it was ad man’s  job. However he insisted on her going to the university to study Medicine But as fate would have it, Shade was given admission to study Biology with the hope that when she reach her 200 level in the University she would change to Medicine but to no avail it didn’t work out as planned so she graduate as a biologist.

“As a results of comments and recommendations by customers who at first thought I will not cope with the trade, I was enlisted like other trainees in my dad’s workshop during which I competed with other apprentices and under took five years training to qualify as a panel-beater and car spray painter and I was also presented certificate after the training” she said.

When Shade’s father discovered the interest of his daughter in the job and her disposition to combine her academic pursuit at the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto with learning the skill of panel beating and spray-painting in his workshop, and as he was also influenced by the remarks and exhortations of his customers on his daughter as they visit his workshop to have their vehicles worked on. He decided to allow her learn the trade.

Shade distinguished herself as one of the fastest learners and at the end of the training she was offered a certificate. While undergoing her training, Miss Ogunyemi endeavored not to conflict her training with her academic pursuit and so she obtained her degree in Biology within the required four years without a carry over.

She said when she was posted to Yola, Adamawa State to do her one year national youths service, she located a panel-beating workshop called Magic Finger near Lamido Cinema in Yola to express her passion on panel-beating and spray painting.  Shade said when she became acclimatised with the environment, the first idea that crossed her mind was how to impact this skill on the younger generation.

Interestingly her first attempt was to train her students who wanted to study Mechanical engineering in  future under the permission of the principal of General Murtala College, her place of primary assignment and in collaboration with NYSC Adamawa State. She was able to train about 26 students and some corps members and some NYSC staff also benefited from her skills acquisition programme.

The Adamawa State coordinator of the NYSC, Alhaji Aliyu Hudu Taure at the inauguration ceremony of Folashade’s panel beating and spray painting work, called on the host community to motivate and tap her wealth of experience before the end of her service to the state. He also called on other corps members to emulate her, work, which is worth commendable.

Car owners who benefited from her project spoke to THISDAY on her handiwork.  They said her work is not comparable to the work of other panel beaters as her work is of higher value, which could only be done in well established panel beating workshops which implies that if she ventures into the business proper, other panel beaters that are of lower standard will loose  a lot of their customers to her.

According to Shade, the second attempt was easier due to the fact that the Governor   Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state, has put in place vocational training centers across the state, which allows her share her skills on car panel-beating and spray-painting with the students of the Vocational Training Centre, Yola.

She said the training was meant to widen the students’ knowledge scope on the practical aspects of car panel-beating and spray-painting skills, because they were only trained in the theoretical aspects.

The training lasted for three weeks and the students were able to master the skills very well as they were tested before graduating from the centre. According to her, the students were very co-operative by the way they showed interest in acquiring the practical skills in the auto-body repairs. The students were sixteen in number although mostly men, with only one female.

Shade said some of her challenges are the Local Apprenticeship Scheme, LAS, in the state has that refused to give her recommendation letter  to take to NYSC, adding that she will want to established her workshop in Yola after her youths service which terminated on October 18, 2012, but her major challenge is fund.   Miss Ogunyemi urges the graduating apprentices to put all the skills they have learned into practice and transfer the acquired skills to other people, so that the skills will not fade or die away with them.

However the Instructor of the Vocational Training Centre, Yola, Mallam Ibrahim disclosed that Shade has really improved and widen the scope and practical skills of the trainees in the art of car panel-beating and spray-painting. He advised the students to make good use of the skills, as no knowledge is a waste, saying that they can earn a living from it.

Miss Ogunyemi said during her apprenticeship in her father’s workshop, she had a lot of challenges, mostly criticisms for daring to delve in a trade supposedly meant for men only. Adding that she started learning this work as early as when she was eight years old. She claimed to have been in the practice for 18 years now. Shade express her gratitude to the State government and especially Mr PP Elisha, the Secretary PDP, Adamawa state and the host of others for their tremendous assistance to make the training session and inauguration ceremony possible however she called on others to borrow a leaf from these people who help her to impact skills to others which in return will bring about development in the state and the nation.

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