When The Point stumbled on pictures of a lady, who looked and dressed like a bricklayer on Facebook, it was astonishment galore. To a large extent, such job was the preserve of the malefolk, because of the physical exertions it requires.
Once she received a direct message, it did not take her too long to reply. Eminor Preye was modest and spoke like one who understood the media well. “I am not really a bricklayer,” she quickly corrected, when The Point asked her what she was doing in a job exclusively reserved for men.
According to her, she is a structural engineer. In simple words, she does modern POP ceiling designs for houses, and she has been doing this for almost three years. She has also introduced her siblings to the job.
After losing her father 12 years ago and her mother 10 year later, the theatre arts graduate of Delta State University, Abraka, was left with the responsibility of taking care of her four younger ones. And despite her unpleasant situation, she has managed to make herself relevant and productive.
Early in her life, Preye had to learn how to grow up quickly. Even while she was in the university, she had to learn how to make money to see herself through school. She explained, “I have always been productive. In the university, I sold recharge cards and clothes.
Since I was in the department of theater arts, and we loved fashion, I would buy things at Balogun Market in Lagos and sold them in school. I did business and it helped me through school. “I believe that anyone who wants to be poor in life chooses to be poor, though I thank God for my life.
If you are passing through any condition in life, there is always a way out. You cannot say because your parents are no more, then prostitution is the only option. It is a thing of choice, and my situation never pushed me into such or thinking of selling my body. I would love to be remembered for good and for what I do.”
She told The Point that she chose to learn the POP business when she couldn’t get acting jobs. “I have been doing this for almost three years now. I settled for this, because I have passion for it, and because I do not like jobs that are common,” Preye explained.
When she finished university in 2014, she had high hopes that she would have a successful career in the movie industry. Though she was lucky to feature in two movies, things did not turn out in her favour.
“When jobs were not coming in for me, I told myself that I must do o t h e r things. I have my younger ones to take care of, considering that I am from a polygamous home, though,” she said. Learning the craft, according to her, was not easy at all, but she was determined to make something off it.
“At my boss’ place, I was the only girl and the youngest. But I got a lot of experience and it is working for me now. Even till now, things are still not easy. The looks and body languages I get from people at times shake my confidence. But for my confidence, I would have missed my steps many times on the road,” she told The Point.
But, the 25-year-old lady insisted that the job had done more good than harm to her, including attracting men to her. “Whenever I am going out to get something, I find it hard to clean myself or change clothes and people on the streets are always asking questions.
Some men offer me lift, because they are excited,” she added. Though her work basically is to design POP, she knows how to paint too. She noted that the nature of her job meant she must know how to paint as well.
“I mix paint and I work with paint a lot. My job is to design POP, but painting is something I learnt on the job. They call us structural engineers, because we put finishing touches to houses,” she shared. She told The Point that what set her apart in her chosen profession were her competence and ensuring that she does not leave any job halfway.
She enthused, “Whenever I set out for a job, I make sure I finish it, because the competition is stiff. I am based in Lagos, but I am always in Benin or Delta, because I get more jobs there.
“For the job I am doing presently in Akwa Ibom, the person does not live in Nigeria; he contracted me through Facebook. He only gave me the job to see what I could do. But when he visited once, he fell in love with it.
He has also given me more contacts. I put life into what I do and I do things differently.” For some reasons, she declined speaking about her biggest job so far, insisting that she did not feel comfortable saying it on the pages of newspapers. Her words, “I cannot tell you the biggest job I have done. I have done hotel jobs and you know the amount that could be. I have handled projects worth millions of naira.”
Her job dem a n d s that she travels for months or weeks, but, she said it had not affected her relationship, as her fiancée was not based in Nigeria and he understands . Whenever people attack her on Facebook for showing too much of what she does, she ignores them, adding that most people who insult her are women.
She is, however, not ashamed of what she does, and thinks she owes no one any explanations. “On Facebook, they called me attention seeker or say I am hungry. They say lots of negative things to me and about me. I just smile whenever I see such messages; it does not make me feel bad at all.
For me, it is only when you are doing well that people criticise you,” she said. Even though it appears she is too busy engrossed in her work, Preye admited that she still had undying passion for acting, and would go back into it in the near future.
She narrated , “I love acting, but it is on hold for now. The last time I went to location was in 2011. You know you cannot continue to stick to something that is not bringing in money.
You cannot just be there, you have to look for alternatives. When you are doing something and it is not working for you, you change the pattern. “If I had to go into acting now, I would be a producer. Since I am in-charge, I think I should be able to combine two things together.”
Inasmuch as she has tried to move on, the death of her parents is still fresh in her memory. In fact, she struggled with words when she needed to mention them. “Talking about my parents is something I try to avoid. Living without them is not easy, because I now play their roles. There are some decisions I’d love to take, but I cannot because I have other responsibilities,” she said.