Chioma Nwaneri is an Uber driver. She is also a Christian gospel singer who runs an NGO targeted at empowering youths. In this interview, she talks about her experience as an Uber driver and more. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: Cab drivers in Nigeria are overwhelmingly male. As a lady, did you have any doubts becoming an Uber driver?
Chioma Nwaneri: Not at all. I know that a lot of ladies wouldn’t take up such a job, but I am the kind who believes a woman should do what she wants as long as she has the ability. Besides, with the present economic situation where there are fewer jobs, the female youth should diversify. There are far better alternatives than prostitution.
DT: What was your family’s reaction when you told them you wanted to be an Uber driver?
Nwaneri: I stay with my younger brother and my mum isn’t in Abuja. So, there was no consultation. After I started, I told my mum I have a job now and I drive. She was surprised and told me to take it easy. There is no challenge on the side of my family. They know I am someone who dares to do things differently.
DT: What was your first day as an Uber driver like?
Nwaneri: I remember vividly, my first ride was from Kado Estate. I was with a fellow driver who sat beside me and taught me how to tap and select a passenger that I would want to pick up. I did and the location of the rider showed on the map. I picked up a lady from Kado to Maitama. I used Google Map to find my way. I started around 2pm and picked a total of about eight riders up till the time I closed for the day.
DT: At what point did you decide to be an Uber driver? Was it a big decision for you?
Nwaneri: I started in 2017. Before then, I worked as a manager in an eatery in Wuse II. It was the first time I worked for someone. I am a creative person and didn’t like the idea of sitting the whole day and getting a salary at the end of the month. All my life I have been business-minded. When a friend told me about Uber, I liked it. I wasn’t skeptical, but felt I could do it. I also love driving, especially at night when the road is free and the weather is cool. I hate routines and enjoy being free. Uber lets me do things I love, like singing. I released my first Christian gospel album in 2008. I also run an NGO called Standout Global Empowerment Foundation, targeted at youths.
DT: Are you into Uber full time?
Nwaneri: Yes, I am. Uber allows flexibility. So I am still able to do other things, because I can decide when to start and close.
DT: How do you juggle family, social life with your Uber work?
Nwaneri: I am single and Uber work is such that, if you don’t organize yourself, it may put you in a fix or shape your life. You may find yourself always on the road chasing money. Passengers will always be there. I program myself in such a way that I attend to other things in the morning and start work by twelve noon. Sometimes I work the whole day. On Saturdays, for example, I start twelve or three in the afternoon. Saturday morning is less busy, except when you have an airport trip.
DT: How often are passengers surprised to see a female Uber driver when you arrive to pick them up?
Nwaneri: I recall severally, how a rider would announce, “do you know my Uber driver is a lady?” and people would gather at my arrival. I have had one or two people take photographs with me. A lot of people, especially ladies, get surprised and then encourage me, and it makes me feel very confident and happy.
DT: What is the difference between the way your male and female passengers conduct themselves?
Nwaneri: The male riders treat me well. Most of them feel protective and want to sit up front with me. Some ladies do that too out of respect, but most sit at the back.
DT: How many female colleagues do you have, if any, in Abuja?
Nwaneri: I have met just one colleague, so far. I have heard about another, but haven’t met her.
DT: What did you study in your A Levels and what profession did you want to practice?
Nwaneri: I studied Public Administration in Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa. I have always wanted to do music. There was never anything else in my mind. Music is my passion.