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Hate them or love them, commercial bus drivers and conductors often looked down on with so much derision by many are fast gaining a respected reputation of some sort in Nigeria today.

The latest ‘honourable’ status being conferred on the commercial bus drivers and conductors is championed overtly or covertly by the confessional statements credited to some political actors in Nigeria.

These actors at different fora have been admitting and re-enacting their past experiences as commercial bus drivers and conductors. This voluntary seasonal true confession like a Nollywood movie has been attracting so much recognition.

The list of these political gladiators includes Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, formerly a Commercial Bus Driver; Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, formerly Motor Park Tout; Speaker Mudashiru Obasa of Lagos State, formerly Commercial Bus Driver and Street Trader; and immediate past Ogun State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Segun Odubela, formerly Commercial Bus Driver and Conductor.

With these revelations, the Nigerian political news-space is expected to receive more admissions in the coming days.

Does it matter where one actually begins from in life? Affirmatively, this does not really matter. Of course, there are several people all over the world with humble beginnings. The idea of humble beginning is not certainly peculiar to Nigeria and Nigerians.

The main thrust of this article is to emphasise the need to urgently professionalise driving as a vocation, which daily suffer scorns. The general belief in our clime is that commercial bus drivers and conductors are seen as the ‘rejected’ or the ‘stubborn children’ who are either drop-outs or lack capacity to continue with their education.

These ‘old beliefs’ have been rubbished. The reality today is that graduates are also involved in commercial bus driving to keep body and soul together and meet up with their daily needs. This was the same philosophy that forced some of our political actors into this vocation.

From Lagos to Maiduguri, Port Harcourt to Gusau and Awka to Kaduna, the present-day commercial bus drivers and conductors in Nigeria now enjoy a more dignified status of making direct reference to governors, speaker and commissioner whenever they are passing by as their senior colleagues.

In the recent times, one of the richest men in the world, Alhaji Aliko Dangote placed a vacancy advert through one of his conglomerates seeking to employ graduates as truck drivers.

I think it’s high time we stopped playing ignorance. We must collectively stop poor-mouthed commercial bus drivers and conductors. It’s no longer a vocation. It’s now a profession that even some political actors today reminisced and expressed some joy and happiness having passed through that rough road.

The evidence of their joy is always tucked away within the lines of their meteoric rise from Mr. Nobody to Mr. Somebody. Who says we can not have a president in Nigeria tomorrow that could have been a commercial bus driver or conductor?

The question is: what’s a profession?
The quest to come up with a clean-cut definition on what a profession is has often ended up in a pool of controversy, arguments and counter-arguments.

According to the popular Wikipedia, “A profession is a vocation founded upon specialised educational training, the purpose of which is to supply ┬ádisinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain.”

Like every other profession, commercial bus drivers and conductors have a way of acquiring ‘education,’ rendering services to millions of people and organising themselves through their respective associations.

In most of the developed countries, commercial bus drivers pass through series of examinations – practical driving and theory test before being certified as professional drivers.

The critical stage of getting drivers certified in Nigeria perhaps need to be re-examined and must be made to work. I can take it for granted that most political leaders-turned-drivers in Nigeria might have treated this crucial stage of examination with disdain.

Going forward, there is a need to make our institutions work. Bodies responsible for certifying commercial drivers must be awake to their responsibility. The story has changed and we must learn how to do things differently.

The commercial bus drivers and conductors should also learn from history that they can be greater than their present situation. They should do away with disgraceful behavioural tendencies and activities that make people to cast disparaging remarks at them.

Next time you see a commercial bus driver or conductor, you might be talking to a future governor or speaker or commissioner or even a president.

Written by Idowu Sowunmi.
[email protected]

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