Posted by News Express | 31 December 2020 | 807 times
By RAYMOND OZOJI
While many physically challenged people take to begging for a living, RAYMOND OZOJI recently met with this rare crippled cab driver who drove him from Enugu to Awka and was amazed at his dexterity on the wheel.
Uche Ikoro is a commercial cab driver with Eastern Mass Transit. He does his business between Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra States and any other place his vehicle can take him. He is 23 years of age and a father of two children. But unfortunately, Uche Ikoro was born a cripple.
Uche Ikoro who is a native of Abiriba in Abia state believes that being a physically – challenged person is not a reasonable ground for him to perpetually subject himself to alms- begging and remain in abject penury and squalor for the rest of his life.
So he decided to do the unthinkable despite having no legs coupled with partially deformed arms. He dared the vicissitudes of life and became one of the most cherished commercial drivers in the southeast geo-political zone.
Our correspondent who boarded his cab from Eastern Mass Transit Terminal, Holy Ghost, Enugu to Nnewi on 27th December, 2020 was completely transfixed and at the way and manner in which Ikoro manipulated the steering and other gadgets in the vehicle. His dexterity and discreetness on the wheels deserved an applause because it is almost unusual for him to achieve such with his present condition. Truly, Uche Ikoro is an eloquent testimony of ability in disability
Ikoro who is about six years old in his driving career, said prior to his entry into commercial driving, he was a building engineer and also installed Solar lights, stressing that his physical deformities notwithstanding, he took a decision to succeed from birth even though people looked down on him.
The story of Mr Ikoro could be best summarised as Alice in Wonderland as well as God’s prerogative of Mercy, as he said that he could not fathom how people scrambled for his cab each time he comes to the park for loading. He said his benefactor was the Very Reverend Father (Professor) Johnbosco Akam who bought the cab for him to enable him fend for his family.
Although Ikoro had done his business on Lagos route, conveying commuters from the South East to Lagos and other Southwestern states but later decided to limit his business to the southeast because he was not getting much returns then. Today, he says he feeds his family very well and still prays for better days ahead.
Ikoro who spoke with our correspondent at Eastern Mass Transit Terminal Nnewi said, “In this life, if you believe in God, God will believe in you. I started this driving in 2015 when I was running Lagos route but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. So I registered with Eastern Mass Transit.
“The vehicle belongs to me. I am not driving for anybody. I am a father of two children and a native of Abiriba in Abia state.I started with a private car before I joined transportation fully. One Reverend Father bought the car for me. His name is Johnbosco Akam. He is the one that encouraged me to start driving. He said I should use it to start my family.”
When asked how he feels seeing people beg for alms, he said begging can not empower anyone because more efforts were required to break even. He stressed that begging can not lead one to enviable heights; that begging is dehumanising and reduces one to a social misfit.
Ikoro, who said he believes in the power of miracles, emphasised that with God all things are possible even though he solicited for help from governnent and public-spirited individuals for him to remain in business. The cab driver who speaks impeccable english, said he had his Senior School Certificate with excellent grades but does not intend to further his education because he already has many mouths to feed.
He, however, advised persons living with disabilities not to make themselves object of derisions and caricatures through alms- begging and other degrading tendencies but strive to explore and exploit the innate potentials in their conditions while urging well-to-do individuals to extend kindness to persons with special needs in the society in other to give them a sense of belonging and inclusiveness in the scheme of things.
Ikoro’s resolve to weather the storms of life in spite of his physical handicap was in line with Governor Willie Obiano’s magnanimity to the disability community in Anambra State. Obiano has also ensured that persons living with physical disabilities did not take their lives due to rejection by families and friends but has given them cogent reasons to believe in themselves through various life-changing programmes.
It would be recalled that Governor Obiano recently presented certificates of employment into the Civil Service to 131 Persons Living With Disabilities (PWDs) across the 21 local government areas of the state. The state Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke, who disclosed this while presenting the employment letters to the beneficiaries at the state Civil Service Commission headquarters in Awka, said that it was in fulfilment to the governor’s earlier commitment to grant them access to education and employment.
According to Okeke, the beneficiaries were employed in different ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) they had relevant qualifications to work. He said, .He said, “At a time when other governors are struggling with the payment of workers’ salaries as a result of the economic recession, our own governor is employing more persons – – persons with disabilities. It shows his commitment to the disability community in Anambra State, and we are very happy and grateful to him.
“You will recall that in 2017, the governor approved the employment of about 65 qualified persons with disabilities into the state work force. Similarly, on December 18, 2018, the governor gave a memorable Christmas gift to the disability community with his assent to the Disabilities Rights Bill into law, thereby making Anambra State the first state in the South East with the Disabilities Rights Law,” he added.
However it wouldn’t be out of place to say that the likes of Uche Ikoro were rare gem who despite apparent limitations due to their physical deformities, were determined to carve a niche for themselves in the world of able-bodied men and women. To this end, Governor Willie Obiano’s boundless magnanimity could also be extended to Ikoro whose courage, intrepidity and stoicism has enabled him to climb the highest mountain with undiluted faith. Indeed, Ikoro epitomises the ‘Can do spirit’ as well as “ability in disability.” (Daily Independent)
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