ON a Sunday morning when the Christian faithful were trooping out to their various worship centres, Peter (Amayo) was at a spot where he does his vulcanizing job. He is christened Peter but he does not go to church. Faith and piety towards God reside in the heart, he claims. “I have no money to drop as offering. I don’t have money to give them. That is why I am in my ‘office’ to try and earn a living for the day,” Amayo said.
Amayo, as he is fondly called, is a ubiquitous vulcanizer in streets across the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State. His present spot, after operating at Robert Road and Okere Road for some years, is Ginuwa Junction, Warri-Sapele Road.
Dark-complexioned and of some average height, the father-of-eleven is gradually ageing and losing hope of achieving his dreams, one of which is educating his last two male children who have consistently drummed into his ears their ambitions to be a doctor and a lawyer. According to him, the boys, Efosa, 9, and Destiny, 7, are intelligent and such brains must not be allowed to rot. But how will he bring the children’s dreams to fruition with his meager daily earnings from vulcanizing?
“I am doing everything within my power to make sure that my children succeed, especially in their education. The two youngest boys in my family have said they wanted to be a doctor and a lawyer, and I will do everything to make sure their dreams come true,” he vowed.
Amayo didn’t start out to be in the lowest rung of the social ladder. He had dreams, lofty ones, but fate had something else in store for him. In his early days after finishing from popular Urhobo College in 1973, he decided to learn a skill. Then, Warri was the hub of the manufacturing industry. The moribund Delta Steel Company (DSC), Aladja, was where he learnt how to operate cranes and do welding and vulcanizing.
“I have been doing this job for more than 40 years. I started in 1974. I learnt the job at Julius Berger, Aladja Steel Plant for four years. I didn’t pay for the training, but instead, they were paying me because I was working in their workshop at that time. I left in 1978 because it was a contract work. After that, I opened my own vulcanizing spot at Robert Road, spent three years there, went to Okere Road and so on,” he told Saturday Tribune.
Before he left Delta Steel Company, he had had relationships that birthed him nine children. According to him, he had it relatively rossy then, as Warri was booming with wealth and economic activities. The two youngest kids are from two concubines. His oldest child, he said, is based abroad. “I have one wife, two concubines and 11 children. The oldest one is out of the country,” Amayo noted, adding that the boy abroad gives him handouts once in a while.
“I hail from Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State. The headquarters of the local government is Ehor. I was born to an Itsekiri mother in Warri in 1955. I have 12 siblings,” he said.