A philosopher once said that there are two important dates in a man’s life: The first is the day of birth and the second is the day one discovers one’s purpose in Life. In an era where women’s contribution to the overall economic status of the family is crucial, women are more engaged in jobs thereby acquiring the status of a working mom. In an interview with Elizabeth Ogunbamowo, a school proprietress, Mrs. Blessing Akpan speaks on how important it is for women to redefine their purpose in life
While their involvement in economic activities makes some of them bear part of the family’s financial burden, some others become the sole breadwinners for their families. As commendable as this might be, it might have an effect on the goals and purpose of the woman concerned. Mrs. Akpan, is an educationist and the Proprietress of Divine Treasure Montessori Nursery /Primary School, Ijeshatedo-Itire, Surulere, Lagos. She studied at National Teachers’ Institute Kaduna and happily married with two kids. Speaking on what led her to becoming an educationist, Mrs. Akpan said that she had always desired to impact lives positively especially that of the younger ones.
She stated that with the experiences she gained from other schools where she worked as a teacher she does not see education as a business venture but rather as a tool which can be used to achieve her aims. “It was not easy to establish and manage a crèche or let alone a school but I kept going because my core interest has always been to inculcate knowledge and good moral reasoning into the lives of children which I believe are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Mrs. Akpan spoke on how a purpose driven life helped her at the cradle of Divine Treasure schools which was laced with challenges. She said that her school is 5years and she believes that by the grace of God the school will grow stronger and better. “I had a rocky start when I first established Divine Treasure Montessori. We had difficulty convincing parents to enroll their children into our school, but slowly but surely we gained their trust and have grown to what it is right now. It was my drive, tenacity to fulfill my purpose that has taken me this far.”
Relating to the subject matter on the importance of living a purpose-driven live for women; working mom especially, she shared her opinion on what is expected of the female folk. She averred that a woman is expected to have a sense of purpose irrespective of her status, age, size or background. According to her, “If after child birth, past mistakes, a sad experience, distractions or loss of focus, you lost it, it is necessary to regain your self-worth. It is important to know and acknowledge what energizes your spirit.” Purpose, she said, builds a being’s personal sense of meaning. Purpose is what gives the motivation to persist even when discouraged. Purpose gives the drive and pushes one to keep going forward even in times of despair.
On the processes involved in redefining one’s purpose, she outlined the questions working moms should ask themselves. Questions such as:
What is most important to you (your priorities)?
What gives you joy?
How do you want to be remembered by your family members, your spouse, your children and people around you?
“These questions after being answered within you would help you in your search for a goal oriented life. Your unique qualities, your calling, are what define your purpose.”
She said that a woman must be passionate about something. She averred that without passion, it would be difficult for a woman to fulfill her purpose in life; as a wife, a partner, and a mother. She stated that there are two responsibilities that should be a major wake up call for a working mom. These are:
To provide care and support for your family; spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially.
To be the best that they can be at work, in business (as an entrepreneur) or in a chosen profession.
Mrs. Akpan implored women to make a search within to know what motivates them; what they have a flair for. She firmly believes that passion is important and a lack of passion in one’s profession might get one frustrated and confused. “Whatever your interest might be, you need to be passionate about it. It could be in entrepreneurship (a desire to be your own boss), a white collar job or as an employee.” She further affirmed that to redefine purpose in life, it is imminent that one is committed to a course.
According to her, life could sometimes be unfair; tailored with ups and downs but they are to rise up, dust the pains off them and move on, “you may be faced with situations beyond your control that makes you unhappy or saddened until things change for the better. So many women are filled with doubts, fears and uncertainty when it concerns their inner quest for fulfillment.
Hence the need to seek God’s direction and guidance is inevitable.” She added that the process of redefining purpose can involve healing old emotional wounds and can stimulate personal growth and wellbeing. To do this, however, she revealed that one needs to get rid of old habits as this marks a new beginning; a new stage of personal development.
“While getting rid of old habits, you will have to replace them with new healthy habits. Make positive changes and adjustments. Have time to rethink and focus more on areas and mediums you can take to change your inner world. As the saying goes ‘’show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’’. It is not surprising that the company you keep can either change your life positively or negatively. If your current clique of friends makes you feel inadequate and constantly feed your minds and thought with negativity, then take a hike”, She advised.
She concluded that being a working mom can sometimes make a woman feel old and less youthful but she encouraged women to Ignite their old passion, avoid limiting themselves. Try to redefine purpose and goals with the help of the old passion. “You should understand that your old passion can open new doors to rediscovering your true self. Life is too short to postpone your happiness”, she said.
February 14: Widows’ day out
With smiles on their faces and shoulders held high, widows in their hundreds celebrated their Valentine party in grand style on Wednesday. The ‘Head High International Organization’, a Non Governmental Organisation for widows, gathered widows together at the VGINIS hall in Yaba axis of Lagos, as part of its visions to give succor to widows on a day famously celebrated as lover’s day all over the world.
These women have no husbands or supporters anymore. They are left to cater for children single-handedly in a society where forces against single-women are on the increase. Head-High foundation did not, however, leave these women to bow their heads in shame or feel irrelevant, rather, they gave hope to those who felt they were hopeless and had their heads high again.
Highly respected female personalities were present at the event. Personalities such as Her Excellency, Dame Abimbola Fashola, wife of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Mrs. Lola Akande represented by Jumoke Odusanmi; Mrs. Laide Latinwa representing the Honourable commissioner of youth and sports.
Showers of love flooded the arena as warm hugs, handshakes of hopes were exchanged among the widows and the trustees of the organization. There were also souvenirs distributed to the widows in the spirit of the season.
While rendering her welcome address, the executive director of Head High International Organization, Pastor (Mrs.) Tinu Odugbemi established the purpose of the gathering. According to her, the Valentine love feast is a way to reach out to those who might be missing their loved ones during Valentine and may be feeling lonely and neglected; setting up a platform for widows to mix with peers, relax, network, be encouraged and enlightened also reconstructing love both in pattern and expression at Valentine season.
She added that at the 16th year of the organization, it has really attracted widows whose loves had been impacted in one way or the other, “many of our widows have been empowered through our skill acquisition schemes and at least 280 women and girls including widows and their daughters and 17 men have benefitted from these schemes”
She, however appealed to the widows to help the organization with its social and skills centre currently under construction at Isolo and to use the skills acquired to benefit themselves and the society at large.
While rendering the keynote address titled ‘Not without purpose’, Her Excellency, Dame Abimbola Fashola encouraged the women to truly keep their heads high and see God as their husbands.
She stated that there is no woman God created without a purpose whether widow or not but that the difference lies in the nature of the assignment given to each person and individual discharge of duties assigned them by God. She asserted that a woman was created by God to have dominion and nurture the earth.
She then enjoined the women to live impactful lives as expected by God and pray for other people around them because if everybody engages in selfish prayers, at a time of need, there would be nobody to pray for them.
Before rounding off her speech, Her Excellency gave the widows three key areas to improve upon in order to live impactful lives “First and foremost, you have to love God; Secondly, love people around you and when you do that God averts evil for you. Also, take care of yourselves. Eat the right meals, use the right drugs because health is wealth.”
She also encouraged them to teach their children to love God, let them develop personal relationships with God and see how things would turn out for them. “And you shouldn’t be complaining instead you should give thanks, because it is you that is blessed, you are not the dead one, you are alive, you are not in the hospital neither were you brought here on a wheel chair”.
She also advised widows to learn a vocational skill to empower themselves and try to learn something new every year. She enjoined them to make their children acquire skills too asides formal education. “Anything a child wants to do, let him do it, some of you parents, simply because you don’t want people to mock you, you push your children to University. In as much as there is nothing bad with a University degree, I decided not to attend one and I didn’t, I made up my mind to be a secretary and today I am one and proud of it”
The state Commissioner of Youth and Sports duly represented by Laide Latinwa encouraged the women to endeavour to engage in activities that would make their impact felt even by the unborn generation.
She also encouraged women whose lives have been touched by the head-high international organization to help lift other widows around them, “let the lifting efforts be multiplied”, she said.
In her message, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty alleviation, Dr. Lola Slander duly represented by Jumoke Odusanmi, established the sufferings of widows in a typical African setting highlighting the inhumane treatments they are made to go through even in the 21st century of which Nigerian widows are no exception.
She, however, believes that it is time for women to come together to help tackle the challenges such as violence and discrimination against widows of all ages, “we must ensure that widows are well treated with equal opportunities for education and participation in the economy.”
The honourable commissioner also reiterated the efforts of the ministry towards poverty alleviation for widows through the skills acquisition schemes and programs organized by the ministry at intervals, “we would not relent in our campaign for women emancipation and empowerment. In the ministry of women affairs alone, there exists eighteen skill acquisition schemes established to empower young people and women across the state, most especially, widows. It is worthy to note that the short term and long term trainings are totally free of charge.”.
Some of the widows shared their experiences with New Telegraph one of which is Mrs Justina Ugwu, a mother of four children, who had lost her husband since 2006. She lamented that since the death of her husband life has been tough and hellish but with God by her side, she was able to overcome as three of her children had been in the higher institution one of which is currently in the compulsory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC). “It was not easy at all. My husband’s family abandoned me and the children to survive alone and God helped us. I am a teacher in a private school so what I’m earning is just peanut so it was difficult for me when my first child gained admission into the University but God saw us through. I give him all the glory. ”
Mrs. Ogunmade Juliet stated that it has not been an easy journey since there was no one to support her, though her husband’s younger brother tried to make some efforts, he could not cope with it. “I have lost my husband since 33 years ago now. I never enjoyed my marriage because my husband died young. He just celebrated his 45 year old birthday. He had future plans for us but death cheated us. Since then, I have been running here and there to train my children to the level they are now and truly, God has always been faithful”.
She said that she appreciates the woman of God that have been helping widows and prays that God takes her higher.
Deaconess Busola Shomade, a mother of three, who lost her husband since year 2000 said that widowhood has not been easy on her. She described it as a tough one, that sometimes when a widow wakes up in the morning, her next option might be to cry knowing that her husband is nowhere but that God has helped her through it all.
“When I lost my husband, my mother-in-law sent I and the children out if the house so we had to look for our own apartment. But then we continued collecting the rent but later she stopped us from collecting the rent and took over though she promised to send us feeding money but we didn’t see anything. However, when my daughter gained admission into Yaba Tech last year, she gave us 20,000 but one thing is that God has always been my husband. He has always been there for me”.
Also speaking, Deaconess Opeyemi Falaye, a member of the trustee board stated that everything was rough but with God, it went well. She said that her husband died in year 1999 and her first son was in the first year in the University, the second was writing his senior WAEC while the last born was in his penultimate year in the secondary school.
“But today, with God by my side, all of them have graduated, they are doing well, they are in good places of work and they are taking care of me but initially, I thought I was going to die, I could not go to parties, I could not mingle with people, even friends that promised heaven and earth abandoned us. Initially, I was annoyed but later I realized that everybody has his cross to bear. So, I give God all the glory”
In an interview with Journalists, Pastor Mrs. Odugbeni spoke on what led her to establish the organisation
She said that as the first female pastor among her peers, she felt an urge to influence other women’s lives, “so I made up my mind to read the two books named after women in the Bible. I started with the book of Ruth because I was quite familiar with Esther. It was then that God arrested me, he showed me that there are different categories of widows.
With the information God gave me, the first thing that came to my mind as a journalist was to start a magazine or newsletter for widows but later we started with a Television series on NTA ten and with the way things turned out, I knew that was what God wanted me to do. This later led to a widows it held at Isolo where widows spoke at length and wanted more meetings. That was what led to this”.
Speaking on the challenges of the organization, she mentioned finance as one of the major challenges of the organisation and called on the government and other corporate bodies for assistance. She also expressed her gratitude to the sponsors and donors of the Head high international organization.
I didn’t sacrifice my career for family – Professor Folayan
To some, life is just a phase, a compendium of events. To others, life is seen as an opportunity to achieve milestones that would make significant marks on the sand of time. In the latter category is Mrs. Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, an associate professor of Child Dental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and member of the College’s research and partnership unit. In a chat with Elizabeth Ogunbamowo and Mayowa Ososami, the scholar speaks on her career
What motivated you to toe the teaching line?
I ventured into the teaching line by accident. I never planned to be a lecturer. I trained as a dentist and I had a very experienced professor- Odunsoya. I would say that almost 90% of my set came back into what we call the residency programme where we specialize. In our own world then, that was like a PHD and you know when you get a PHD, the more you research, the more you get interested. In our world then, there was a lot of gap in the academia and once you do your fellowship, there is always a space for you as a lecturer. I got in there. I think what I enjoy most is the research work. Teaching gave me the opportunity to share that and mentor young people. As an advocate also, I could share my research findings to change the world and students are the most available persons you can share that with. I enjoy that. I do not really enjoy clinical work.
In a University, you must do three things. You teach research and do community works. For most medical doctors, their community work is what they do in the teaching hospital. For me, my community work revolves a lot around advocacy worker.
What were your challenges like?
Yes, there are challenges but for me I have lived a life of overcoming challenges such that it has become a part of life. I could very well say that working in the University has its own peculiar challenges. I guess I could complain, just sadly I don’t. For me one of the things that was a challenge and extensively challenging was not having supporting seniors. I did not have supportive seniors so I had to learn the ropes myself and I had to climb the ropes myself. I think that is the only thing I can think of. Then it was a tug of war. I had to fight my battles. I fought battles people had never fought. I probably survived because I had God and maybe one of these miracles.
What are your teaching philosophies?
One thing for me, I think I got that from my own teacher, that when students fail, I failed. I remember the time that I was HOD, I was excited that I had a one hundred percent pass rate. The second year, it wasn’t the exact rate. But I was able to do a one hundred percent pass, so for me, when students fail, it should be me that failed.
In recent time, the second philosophy I share with my students is that, I am working with you to be everything you want to be in life, you make the choice. When I am in class teaching them, I make them to understand that I’m working with them. So that when they pick up their CV, there is something extra in that CV that gives them the likelihood to be taken up anywhere else despite the fact that they studied in Nigeria.
How is your marital life?
I am not married now. I am divorced. I was married then to Mr. Ukpong and he was supportive of my career. As a researcher on HIV/AIDS, I remember the times that HIV patients would come to the house and sleep over but my husband would not kick against it. They would use the bed in the guest room because we were staying in a two-bedroom flat and my husband never bothered me.
As a career woman, how do you jostle between the home front and your career?
I think one of the things that probably made me call for a divorce was that I could not sacrifice my career for my home and I am happy I did not. Because now that I’m divorced, I’m still going on, I don’t feel any loss and I don’t feel that I’ve wasted my life. In addition, I must acknowledge extensively that my husband stood at home front for me, spent a lot of time with the kids. He did and I would always acknowledge that.
However, following up my teenage years, I think I had trained my children to become very independent. That is one of the things that make me sad, sometimes. My kids do not really need me around. At times, I just wonder if my kids really need me.
Actually, the three of them are now in the UK, one of them is married and two are in school. I send them text messages through Whatsapp, Messenger, and two weeks after, they reply. I really brought up independent children, it has its disadvantages but it allowed me a lot more in my career.
What do you hope to achieve in your teaching profession?
I am looking forward to highly successful students. I usually tell my students that I want them to become the people that would fill those spaces up there. I want them to be those I would be watching on my TV tomorrow. I want them at the top.
As a researcher in areas of HIV/AIDS, will you say it is reducing or on the rise?
Excellent question! There has been a lot of progress in the field of HIV response. However, we do know that it is an infectious disease. It is not an infection you just go and catch because it is invisible. It is transmitted in such a way that you do not see the event happening and even though we have globally controlled the epidemic, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is still a problem. In Nigeria, it is still a real problem. It is a problem that if not reinforced; you just want to start all over again. Although, it is in control in some parts of the world, in Nigeria it is not and without funding, it would still be a problem.
How can a woman in a typical African Society live a self-purposeful life without having to pay for it?
You said typical. She will pay for it. In a typical African setting, you are assertive and pursuing your goal. You are going to pay for it because there is no way out, you just have to choose to pay the price or you conform. That is the chart you have in a typical African setting. You would pay the price of stigma, rumors and backlashes. The only thing that saves you is if you come out well, the gist, rumor, backlashes would become less if you succeeded but if you are assertive and then you fail. You are doom.
Cases of domestic violence flood our societies daily. Do you think it is on the increase as against what was once obtainable?
No, it is not on the increase. It has always been there. I think there are lot of noises and voices around now. I think what you are just seeing is a lot more of harvesting. People are now speaking out and going to the court.
Can financial independence of a woman be a factor for home-break?
It is not about the economic empowerment of women. It is just that women are becoming more educated and this translates to financial independence. Financial independence of a woman does not determine a broken home except both parties do not manage it well and home will break whether you are financially independent or not.
So you do have people that their home are broken but are yet in marriage. What you will find out is that with more independence, your life becomes prior and you don’t necessarily have to go through the torture of maintaining a home. Therefore, independence does not necessarily mean home-break; you have to work it out. In every relationship, partners have to work it out together.
Victimised for her passion
For her passion and activism, she is being victimised and even persecuted. Maria Nwachi, an Ebonyi State lawmaker and photographer, was suspended for practicing her passion aside being a lawmaker, UCHENNA INYA reports
This is not the best of time for Mrs. Maria Nwachi, member representing Afikpo North East constituency in Ebonyi state House of Assembly. She is in the eyes of the storm again in the state for engaging in her second business (photography/image making) after law making, Nwachi is currently the most popular politician in Afikpo Town. Youths, women and men folk love Nwachi for her philanthropy, empowerment and emancipation programme. She is popularly known as Afikpo Chic, Nwanyi Afikpo, ‘Best Chic Ever Liveth’.
In 2015, Nwachi contested House of Assembly on the platform of Progressives People’s Alliance(PPA) and won. PPA was very unpopular in entire Afikpo and her constituency, Afikpo North East. She had wanted to run on the platform of People’s Democratic Party but changed her mind. She was elected the Minority Leader of the House of Assembly.
Prior to her emergence as the state lawmaker, entire Afikpo was in darkness for two years, as Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) could not supply electricity to the town. Nwachi swung into action and reconnected the area to the national grid while the people enjoyed constant electricity supply. They nicknamed the electricity supply her name, MARIA.
Six months after, the area witnessed another period of power outage. This prompted the youths to go on rampage. They vandalized EEDC properties in the area. Nwachi was blamed for not controlling the youths and she was suspended by the state House of Assembly for three months. The suspension lasted for six months.
Last year, she defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Her party, PPA kicked against the defection by filing a suit against her at federal high court, Abakaliki. PPA is seeking the court to declare her seat vacant. The State PPA Chairman, Samuel Udeogu said the suit was filed because Nwachi who was sponsored on the platform of the PPA during the last general election was now a member of PDP in the State. “My reason for taking this matter to court was because the actions of Hon. Maria Ude Nwachi which my party sponsored to the House of Assembly were against sections 106 sub-section 1d and section 109 sub-section1g of the constitution of federal republic of Nigeria as amended in 1999.
“It is a settled law that once there is no division in your party at the national level or there are no talks of merger with any other political party or group that defection in that instance becomes a nullity.
As the suit lies in the federal high court, Nwachi who has declared interest to go to National Assembly in next year’s general elections was suspended again by the state House of Assembly. The Assembly suspended her for two weeks, January 23rd, 2018. Nwachi was allegedly suspended for gross misconduct and for posing as public photographer.
In a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Joseph Nwobasi representing Ezza North East constituency and seconded by Hon. Franca Okpo representing Abakaliki North constituency, Hon. Nwachi was reported to have been recalcitrant to earlier warning by the Assembly to desist from being a photographer in the state. She was therefore suspended for 14 days pending the time the committee constituted by the House to investigate the allegation against her conclude its report. Nwachi was also reported to have been recalcitrant to earlier warnings by the Assembly on her activities.
The Assembly noted that Nwachi, a former Minority Leader of the House has brought disrespect and dishonesty to herself and the Assembly by bringing her image and integrity to the mud by posing as public photographer. Her suspension however generated mixed reactions from members of the public. While some described it as political witch-hunt, others said it was a welcome development to halt her increasing lifestyle, which has allegedly brought her name and that of the Assembly to disrepute.
Two days ago, last Wednesday precisely; the embattled lawmaker appeared before the Assembly 5-man committee set-up to investigate her alleged misconduct. The committee grilled Nwachi for more than 30 minutes and she pleaded guilty. She pleaded guilty at the Assembly Complex, Nkaliki road, Abakaliki during the committee’s sitting over her matter. She accepted that there were two sittings which she avoided because of her image making business for a prominent man in Imo state. She also accepted that she does some promotions for Governor Dave Umahi which according to her was to showcase the Governor’s achievements before the world. “I actually avoided the two sittings because of my private business and such behavior no matter the circumstances cannot be right. I cannot justify that and I do not see what the House has done as regards my suspension as a political witch-hunt. Rather, I see my action as very wrong and I cannot justify it,” Nwachi said.
She added that, “I actually do some promotions for my Governor, he is my Governor. I do promotions for him not image laundering. I have many people on Facebook and I know how to figure those things and my consideration for doing that is to enable the people of the country to know that my Governor is doing well and developing the state.
“Even before I came into politics, I have been doing Facebook business and managing the Igboist account which enjoys large followership, I have been doing lots of empowerment through it.
Usually, I use my resources to do those empowerment programmes but this time around I introduced a formular which the Igboist members can contribute to empower the people. It is a new empowerment scheme and it’s a sort of family empowerment for members of the Igboist,” she said.
Chairman of the Committee and member representing Ikwo south constituency, Hon. Chike Ogiji told Nwachi that the House was worried about her activities which he said portrays her and the Assembly in bad light, hence the suspension and commended the lawmaker for her sincerity on the allegations against her. “We are not interested in your private life, we don’t even intend to delve into your privacy. Nevertheless, what we want is that as long as you continue to be a member of this House of Assembly, it is collective responsibility and the public perception about your behavior and conduct is also important to us and that is why we have done this.
Adding that, “It is clear that you have accepted the mistakes you made and we want to tell you that we are not witch-hunting you. Our business is to ensure that you move as an Honourable member with the intension to protecting the collective interest of the House that we have the integrity and that is why the House frowned at most of your actions.”
Another member of the committee and member representing Ohaukwu South constituency, Hon. Frank Onwe also commended Nwachi for displaying sincerity on the allegations against her. “Dear colleague, I must commend you for making the work of this House very easy. By accepting responsibilities for all these things leveled against you. For the purpose of the public and records, people go out there to give misconceptions of what happened in the House. The House did not suspend you simply because you are photographing. For us, we see it as a hobby! When there is programme we go there, snap with people and get pictures.
But it becomes a problem when you go to a public place outside your area and in the process where you are pauperizing or you are pushed down and they will say it is ‘Maria, the legislator’ and where is the legislator from? She is from Ebonyi state. So, it takes something away from the House here that one of us is being pushed around. They will not know that you are doing it for just hobby purposes and that is why we are majorly concerned. Some of us here have cameras and if there is any function or public gathering, we snap. So, what we are saying here is that the image of Maria is very important to us,” he asserted.
Nwachi was born in Ozizza community, Afikpo, Ebonyi State and left Nigeria for United States of America in 1989 when she was 19 years old, she came back to the country middle of year 2000. On arrival to Nigeria, she got involved in Social Media related matters; news dissemination and was one of the early people that started News on Facebook Nigeria. she moved into Image-making in 2012 by managing Facebook Accounts/Pages and Social Media Accounts for top companies and establishments, top prominent men/women of the society; including governors and oil magnets. The first time she practiced image-making was for Jeb Bush in 2002 in Florida, USA when Bush contested governorship election.
Nwachi also serves as a Photographer. She personally takes the photographs of all her clients and equally does a very special type of editing on them. She was always seen in public functions with camera taking pictures of the events for her social media accounts.
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