I want to tell Nigerians that the physically challenged are not lazy, just that we are not recognized. We are not being given a sense of belonging.
Engineer Chinedu Joseph Alozie, is a physically challenged person who has refused to resign to fate by sitting by the roadside to beg for survival. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of El Star Limited. He is into the construction of LED lightings of different kinds. He says nothing would make him seek for a white collar job any longer. According to the Imo state indigene, being self-employed is the best thing that can happen to him.
What did you study in school?
I studied Electronics/Electrical Engineering at Rhema’s Institute of Technology, Abeokuta and graduated with HND upper credit in 1994/96. Since then, I have been into fieldwork, having looked for a white collar job, but could not find any.
How did you find your way from Imo to Ogun State?
For me, it was not a big deal because I was born and bred at Baale Street Ajegunle in Lagos State. My parents sent me to the special School at Orlu from Lagos. And, I always come to meet them in Lagos during long vacations. Unfortunately, it was a month to my graduation that my mother died.
What kind of job do you do now?
At El Star, we do bill board lighting of any kind, traffic lights, advert bill boards, signage, churches lighting, bakeries lighting, clubs lighting, event centers, scroll writings, interior and exterior lighting, hotels, office lighting, private home lighting, etc. We are indeed adding life to Lagos State through our business.
How did you come in contact with your colleague?
I met my colleague, Mr Daniel Sylvester from Umeze Aniocha south in Delta State 25 years ago when we used to cry our cry together, when things were difficult. He is a sportsman in para soccer. He was into power lifting at the national stadium Surulere. He has traveled to many African countries to represent Nigeria in sports. So I found out that he has a dogged spirit. So, as time went by, I told him about my vision and what I am into. And he told me that he has the intention to go into such business too but he had little knowledge on that. Today, he stands as my secretary in the business and we have been going on well. Even as we do the job, he still goes for his training at the stadium.
How did you cope after the death of your parents?
It was a big challenge to me then. To say that a lot of Nigerians are not caring is an understatement. In fact, when my mother died, I did not find it easy as a physically challenged, but I had to move on because I am not a lazy person. That I am driving a car today, is not only because I am a self-made man, rather as a heavenly made man. I toiled and toiled fighting to survive. Many people like me are beggars on the streets. But, I detest that. I would say all that have happened to me and the little breakthrough I have made are as a result of God’s presence in my life.
Why did you decide to study Electrical/Electronics Engineering?
My technical knowhow started when I was in secondary school. And, when my parents observed that, they encouraged me to study the course.
Why did you decide to be on your own?
It was due to the problems and challenges people are physically challenged go through in Nigeria. Despite my second class upper degree certificate, I applied for jobs in many places, but when I am being called up for an interview, when they realize the I am physically challenged, they will start to post me and say they will get back to me which they will not do at end of the day. Having been experiencing that, I decided to see how I can be self-employed. Initially, I started with repairing of home electronic gadgets, TV, radios and others. But with the way things are changing, realizing that Lagos State Government is trying to blend into mega city, I have to look into the society, in order to know how I can change the face of my business. That led me into the construction of LED lighting, which is very challenging because it takes advance knowledge. I had to put myself together to make a crucial study.
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How did you get into the LED lighting work?
I do not want to sound religious. But then, it is divine, because it got to a point that when I was into repairing of household electronics gadgets, my shop was demolished as a result of dualization of the road at 60, Adetola Street in Surulere where I had my first office. Ever since then, I went unemployed. Thereafter, I tried as much as possible to see what I could do, but to no avail. So, I became confused. Along the line, I went to a particular Church, where the Pastor told me that ever since my shop was demolished that I have tried to do something else, but nothing worked. He said God told him that I should go into LED lighting and that I would make it. But I told him that I did not know how to do that , but he said God would guide me on how to go about it. Luckily, someone paid for the office I am using. That was how I started the business and ever since then, God has been in control of the whole thing and the business is moving on well.
What is the secret of your breakthrough on the business?
I started picking up fast due to the fact that I have a basic knowledge of the job. When I started picking up the job, I began to make researches on it. Later, I realized that I can do it. I have just spent about four months here, but it looks as if we have been here for so many years. People come to appreciate what we are doing. And I give God the glory for the direction to do the job.
What are your challenges in the business?
The major problem we are having here is lack of enabling environment. The society is harsh to the physically challenged. I want to tell Nigerians that the physically challenged are not lazy, just that we are not recognized. We are not being given a sense of belonging. The discrimination, against us is quite discouraging and would not help the Nigerian economy to grow. Are you ready to go for a white collar job if given the opportunity? Nothing will make me to do that. Doing that is like a child that is walking, learning how to crawl again. All I need from the government and the conglomerate to give us financial support so that we can carry the youths who are willing to learn trades in Electrical/Electronics along. We want to give them skills.
How would you say your education affected your job?
It has really done. It has to do with technical know-how, God’s inspiration and idea. It is like a brainchild knowing what to do at every given time.
How much do you make daily or monthly?
We do not have a specific amount because we are new in the present business. But, we hope to make more than N450,000 monthly, if things start to work as expected. For instance, a man came to my office sometime ago and was impressed with what we do here. Thereafter, he gave us a job worth N150,000.
What advice would you give other young physically challenged persons?
The younger generation has no cause to be lazy and idle. They should strive and make their lives meaningful. They should not wait for government or anyone to decide their future. We have seen that there is little the government can do for the younger generation. So, we should try to do it ourselves. To the physically challenged, they should know that there is ability in every disability. I am an example to many and that I am taking care of myself through my efforts shows that with God, all things are possible. As it stands, I am sure that there are many like me out there that will be better, if given support.