Born disabled, Yusuf Umar Ibrahim, a native of Shandam in Plateau State, undoes his disability by crawling, and with that, he breaks barriers. As a commercial driver, he delivers goods across Nigerian cities in a Boxer Model Bus.
“Disability is not Inability,” 25-year-old Ibrahim told WikkiTimes, adding he had chosen to dare the stereotyping against disabled persons and the socio-economic situation of the country.
Losing his father at a tender age, Ibrahim now shoulders the responsibility of his mother and five younger ones. Aside from that, he is a few steps away from becoming a house owner.
“This bus is my source of income,” he said, gleefully. “In fact, my mother and my five siblings depend on it. I started driving three years ago and I was able to buy two plots of land to build houses from the money I have saved.”
In Africa, the interests and rights of persons with disabilities are being violated to such an extent that they are regarded as inferior because they have essentially been excluded from normal society. This begins at the birth of a disabled child and it continues throughout their lifetime. Such prejudice lowers their self-esteem.
In addition to not having proper medical attention, they tend to have little or no economic and employment opportunities.
‘I Chose Driving Over Education’
Denial to quality education, is another challenge bedeviling people with disabilities. Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school than their unimpaired peers. But in Ibrhaim’s case, he chose to follow his passion.
Ibrahim recalled that his late father wanted him to be educated, “but I choose to become a driver,” he said as he crawled from the bus. “It was my fault. He disliked seeing me following my master to learn driving, but he later became less worried considering how I persisted.”
He added: “Initially, my mentor was helping me to kickstart vehicles. But now I do everything myself. As the vehicle moves, I use one of my legs (which is a little bit longer than the other) to press on all the places, and I am so used to it now.”
His Experience With Highway Robbers
Just like any other drivers, Ibrahim also had a share of highway robbery. The scar on his back tells it all.
“I have a scar on my back after I was attacked by knife-wielding armed robbers on Abuja road,” Ibrahim recalled. “They cut me on my back because I did not have the money they requested.”
Majorly, Ibrahim transports goods to far northern states Including Abuja, the federal capital “at least twice a week.” And on each trip, “I generate about N15,000.”
For instance, in some societies, they are often blamed on the misdeeds of ancestors, or parents, or may be attributed to supernatural forces, such as demons, spirits, or witchcraft, hence often perceived as less than human or a source of shame.
He noted that his ambition is, “I want to remain independent and how I wish to get someone who can buy a commercial bus for me so that we arrange on the amount I will be giving him”.
When contacted, Hassan Ladan, the driver who mentored Ibrahim told WikkiTimes he was stunned when his mentee approached to learn driving.
“Ibrahim came and expressed his willingness to learn driving. I then started going round with him. He started it gradually using his hand to press the clutch and then by the time he knew how to use one of his legs. People were amazed to see him driving and impressed to give him gifts,” Ladan said.
Ladan, citing Ibrahim’s case, urged Nigerian youths to be productive by learning a skill they are passionate about.