Fatima Abiola Isa is one of the few Nigerians and the first female to be trained as a train driver in China.
In an interview granted BBC pidgin, monitored by Solacebase in Kano, Fatima Abiola Isa said when she started, in a male-dominated environment, men mostly teased her that she would abandon the work within a year, but surprisingly, she has spent fours as a train driver.
Fatima, an indigene of Ilorin in Kwara State, said she started working with the Chinese as a domestic staff but with her interest in driving a train, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation(CCECC) train her to handle any type of train.
‘’My aspiration to drive train started when I was young and I went out with my grandfather and saw a train passed in my town, Ilorin. I then asked him, what was that? The old man told me it was a big long car, then I told him I would like to drive it when I grow up, he then laughed. So after my secondary education, I joined a company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation as domestic staff.
Subsequently, I got admission to a higher institution and I became confused on what to do, but surprisingly, the company (CCECC) then gave me the opportunity to go to school in the morning and come to the office in the evening after closing from school.
Later with my understanding of the company operations in rail construction and showing keen interest, one of my boss decided that I should be trained as a train driver, said Fatima Isa.
She received a-two-year training in China and also worked as a driver’s assistant for another two years in China.
As the 1st China-trained woman train driver in Nigeria, Abiola Isa wants to inspire more local women pic.twitter.com/O43JCEghuN
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 22, 2017
‘’I am mostly happy whenever people are staring at me with admiration as if I am a white man.’’
”One of my major challenges is time because if you are a minute late, it will affect your schedule as a train driver.”
According to Fatima,” My dream is to see hundreds of female train drivers I can train in the next three years and become the best train driver in the world.
She met President Muhammadu Buhari at the commissioning of Abuja light rail in July 2018.
While in transit from the Idu Metro Station to Airport Station, President @MBuhari interacts with Abiola Fatima Isa, the first female train driver in Nigeria. They have a long conversation on her wonderful experience. Fatima also speaks Chinese fluently. #AbujaMetro pic.twitter.com/8FWTe6Qyhd
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) July 12, 2018
After the commissioning of the Abuja light rail, Fatima Isa while in transit with the dignitaries had a long conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari.
With this feat, Abiola joins the league of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, first Nigerian woman to drive a car and Chinyere Kalu, first female Nigerian commercial pilot.
ICIR, BBC, Solacebase