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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Nubi discusses accident in Cote d’Ivoire, rejection from Sierra Leone, and additional obstacles

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The 28-year-old solo London to Lagos driver, Pelumi Nubi, on Sunday, recounted her experiences during an unprecedented journey by a woman, which took her 68 days to achieve.

Ms Nubi, who commenced the historic journey on 31 January from London, United Kingdom, said she passed through 16 different countries across Europe and Africa before reaching Nigeria through the Republic of Benin on Sunday.

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She narrated the story of her voyage during a heroic welcome organized in her honor at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, and witnessed by many dignitaries, including the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Folasade Ogunsola; the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Nigerian octogenarian who has crossed the Sahara Desert by car four times, Newton Jibunoh; Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mobolaji Ogunlende; among others.

The Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa

Ms Nubi had proceeded to the university via Badagry after she was received at the Nigeria-Benin Republic border by the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Toke Benson-Awoyinka and the Special Adviser, Tourism, Arts and Culture, Idris Aregbe.

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Hosted by the university’s Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre, under the leadership of a Professor in the university’s Department of Business Administration, Sunday Adebisi, the homecoming event featured a cultural display by students of the Dramatic Arts Department and various other groups.

Challenges

According to Ms Nubi, she encountered different challenges, including a car accident in Ivory Coast, a 24-hour hold at the Liberian border, and was denied entry into Sierra Leone.

She said due to the challenges, she had to postpone her original return date from 23 March to 7 April.

Recounting her challenges, Ms Nubi said: “The most difficult and longest border I stayed at was Liberia, which was two nights. For me, the Sahara Desert has one of the best roads I drove on, and Guinea has one of the worst roads.

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“Some days I drove for 10 hours, some, one hour, while there are days I didn’t drive at all. So, understanding what my body needed, especially as a woman, we have our monthly time. It was important to know when I was exhausted.

“I had eye issues in Morroco, and I was in an accident in the Ivory Coast, but I just prioritized my health over anything else.”

What next?

When asked about what is next after the London-Lagos solo drive, she said she is passionate about traveling and will continue to explore while inspiring others, especially women, to step out of their comfort zone to get things done.

“I have always being a traveler. I have traveled to over 80 countries, and I am going to continue, I am not going to stop suddenly,” she said.

“I want to continue to inspire the young generation in the educational service as well as policy changes, especially with our border control. We need to do better to make sure that Africa is a free continent to travel to.”

Celebrating Nubi

The UNILAG Vice Chancellor, Folasade Ogunsola

In her welcome address, the UNILAG Vice-Chancellor, Mrs Ogunsola, encouraged young people to emulate Ms Nubi and not give up on their dreams.

She said: “I welcome everyone and Pelumi the woman with the indomitable spirit. For Pelumi to live in London and spend hours on the road, she went through 17 countries. She embodies the Nigerian spirit. She is the second person to do it.

“Nigerians are courageous. She was not afraid of racism and things that might be on the way. I want all of us here to know that there is nothing you cannot do. All that is stopping you is in your mind.

“Queen Amina of Zaria took to war and conquered; Captain Chinyere Kalu was the first female pilot, among others. Pelumi has shown us that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Pelumi, we are proud of you!”

In her remarks, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said when Ms Nubi got stuck in Ivory Coast, “we started running around and got the embassy there to see what they could do but guess what? She sorted herself. She did it alone. She is an achiever.”

“Thank you for inspiring us and letting us know that you can be what you want to be. Nothing will stop you but yourself. This should not be last. We are challenging you to continue to explore.”

Mr Jibunoh also commended Ms Nubi while highlighting his experiences as a traveler before his retirement.

“It is only by exploration that we can break down the barriers. Pelumi has done the impossible being the first woman ever to drive from London to Nigeria, I did it 56 years ago alone and I have done it four times after.

“I was hoping to do it again but my age will not allow me. Today I am handing over to Pelumi because there is so much to gain from exploration,” he said.

Mr Ogunlende, in his comments, commended Ms Nubi “for setting a pace for the youth because a lot are afraid to take a step and start that journey.”

“Ms Nubi has shown us that the impossible is nothing and you can break barriers. We thank you for all you have done. The Lagos government is always behind you,” he said.

Newton Jibunoh

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