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Monday, 29 February 2016

Baroness Halima Fernandez arrives Nigeria

Baroness Halima Fernandez with Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido SANUSI            

days back Baroness Halima Fernandez, the widow of Late Billionaire Deinde Fernandez arrived Kano, Nigeria, to a warm embrace of family and friends.
It was indeed an emotional moment for the Baroness, and from the inner depth of her heart, she greeted,  "Good afternoon Kano, The sun feels incredible never knew Kano heat like this. Kowa yabar gida, gida yabar sa."Happy though she was, she however added in an emotional laden tone, "Alhamdulilahi, after 5 years I'm home. It's more bitter than sweet though, I left a married woman and now I'm back a widow. Allah kayuma Garsan Fulani Rahama. ka gafarta masa."   The Baroness later went socialising, making stop over at the royal palace of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, where discussion took place, then later on to Marietta and other places.

In the next few days, the Baroness will be making more stop-overs in line with her schedule. Many were pleased to see her and told her so severally.

The Baroness with family

The Baroness with younger sister

Church women leaders led my husband into temptation- (The concluding part) Story by Ayo Buba

For four days, I hid myself in a hotel in the city. I checked in there with our two children who happened to also be on the long holiday at school. I did not want to see anybody. Not even my husband. I needed time to organise the streaming thoughts that was running wild in my mind.

I did not know at what point I embarked on fasting and prayer. Though the combination of that two aspect of Christianity had come to stay with me for long.  I didnt even notice that I was not eating. It was the children that brought my attention to it. I didnt feel like eating. As much as I possibly could, I shielded the matter from my children who saw our stay in the hotel as a holiday.

I prayed like I had never done before and I disconnected myself from the world. No television, no radio, no form of communication. At the back of my mind, I knew that the news would be about town because my husband and I were popular pastors, but there was nothing I could do about that.

I also knew that my elderly parents at Ekpoma would be worried, if they happen to hear about the incident. But there was nothing I could do about that either.

It was after the third day at the hotel that I began to hear an inner call that I should look for my husband. I had done a full three-day fast with continuous prayer when that message came. I began to panic.

Where was I going to see him? Was I to return home where all our neighbours would be waiting for explanations? But lo and behold, that evening as the children and I were returning to our suite on the first floor of the hotel building, we saw my husband coming through the car park. He was shocked and so was I.

I knew you all would be here," he said, something kept leading me here. The spirit does not lie.         
I waited speechless because there was just nothing to say. I was seeing him for the first time after the purported incident at the church. He looked a bit slimmer. After the greetings and hugging of the children, we went upstairs where he sat me down to narrate how the church elders had later found out that the church women leaders had hatched the heinous plan for his downfall.

It was a grievous story as far as I was concerned, one which took us the next six months to overcome structurally.

To start with, my unwaving love for my pastor husband did not wane a bit. Also finding out at the church that his side of the story was true, made me more convinced to love him more. Though I still scolded him in my peculiar way. I also learnt newer things from the elders in the church that my husband could have been spiritually influenced by the women. I guess the prayer and fasting I embarked upon, made me stronger.

It true that my husband came under hard knocks from the media, despite the true side of the matter that was equally well circulated by the church, but I was resolved to stay with my husband.

We made our decisions, we were going to move on, more anchored and determined to be led by the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, mild crisis erupted in the church, some of the members left, worshipppers reduced and eventually, we had to give away the complex to another ministry.

My pastor husband, I and the children, moved out of the country, into a vibrant city, where God led us. We started on a fresh note. We had nothing else to do but to march on in Christ's exceeding grace and love, encouraged by the Holy Spirit.

He begged for forgiveness from me, though deep in my heart, I had long forgiven him the day I found out about the evil mischief designed and implemented on him by the church women leaders.

Yes, they wrecked him, but it was for a while. No one could stop the work of God. Though it was not an easy time for us all, but victory came through our Lord God.

We worked harder, won more souls to Christ in our new city. My husband had learnt his lesson. Wherever he goes now, he ensures that he never goes alone. The only time he is alone is when he is with I and the children.

As a handsome man filled with the Holy Spirit of God, it didn't take long before our new church auditorium was filled up with members.

But I also learnt my lesson! I work closely with the various women groups in the church now. I also tactfully shield my husband physically from the women without making it too obvious.

I do not ignore unusual smiles, or dramatic sudden enthusiasm. I also make sure that I note envious looks and I am wary of eye-service. Today, I am my husband's watchdog. I don't overdo it though, but I guard my husband physically and spiritually against anything that can hurt our ministry.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Miss Hotlegs Nigeria takes center stage this Easter in Lagos

Mosy Oginni

Yes, dreams do come true! And guess what, they start this way. Come this Easter celebration in Lagos, the much anticipated Miss Hot Legs Nigeria, will take place at Lekki, Lagos.

Out of all the numerous pageants out there, perhaps the most unique and the only truly Nigerian brand is the Miss Hotlegs pageant. After successes in Nigeria, the pageant now has its UK version and is planning to have it’s all Europe and all African pageants soon.

At the moment, the Nigerian pageant is already in the news as the grand finale draws close. According to UK based organisers, the event has been slated for Easter this year. On the 28th of March, the contestants who are already being groomed, will strut their stuff at the venue, The Bespoke Centre, Lekki, Lagos.
This year’s event is expected to be the most glamorous and the glitziest since its inception. Celebrity guests from the Entertainment and sporting world are expected to grace the event. 

Mosy in the middle with Miss Hotlegs Nigeria Contestants last year
This year’s theme is “Hot leggers meets fast rising artistes.” The theme is modeled after the popular Music meets Runway which is exciting. This means that there will be a lot ofhotlegs on the stage so also will there be a lot of music.

Speaking about the event, excited Mosy Oginni, the head of the pageant expressed joy and satisfaction over the upcoming event. According to her, the contestants have been working very hard behind the scene and they can’t wait for the finale’. The contestants had earlier been screened and groomed, and all they await is the pageant itself.

“Finally, we settled on a proper date. We recently concluded grooming of the contestants and all we were waiting for was a date to be fixed. We and our partners have finally settled for Easter Monday. It’s just a few weeks away and we can’t wait for the event to hold,” Mosy said. Speaking on the choice of the theme name, Mosy explained that, “we wanted the name to reflect what this year’s event is about and it is all about music and hotlegs. We have a lot of artistes already booked, and it surely will be a night to remember.”

Miss Hotlegs Nigeria is a specialised beauty pageant and a project borne out of the need to champion the cause of a beauty ambassador, who will influence the youths with her virtuous steps, stunning appearance and brain. The pageant is open to all Nigerian girls between the ages of 18 and 28 and who are at least 5ft 7inches tall."

Mosy in her parting words, urged sponsors and brand to take advantage of the event to reach their targets audiences. So, just get ready because Miss Hotlegs Nigeria Winner, will certainly emerge come March 28, 2016.

My weapon against men's advances -UN health consultant Christine Olufunke

Dr. Christine Olufunke Adebajo is the Governor of District 404 B-2 of the Lions Club in Nigeria. She is also a public health consultant to the World Health Organisation and some other international bodies. In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO, she reveals how her job as a nurse earned her a husband and also speaks about other interesting parts of her life.

What lessons would you say your background taught you?
My background had a great influence on the person that I am today in the sense that I was brought up by strict parents who believe that nothing pays like hard work. Their main focus was education. They made us to believe that no matter what property your parents bequeath to you, you cannot make good use of it if you do not have good education. With that at the back of my mind, I wanted to achieve something on my own. I wanted to get the best of education that I could get, believing that it will empower me to achieve my objectives in life.
So, what did you study?
After my secondary school education, I went to the School of Nursing. That wasn’t really the career that I wanted to go into, but at the end of the day, I thank God that I did that, because it formed the basis for my future development. It exposed me to humanitarian services. There and then, I made up my mind that I would not get out of that circle of education, profession and employment.
I then travelled out of the country to England to study Hospital Administration for my first degree. I worked for some time at different hospitals in London and later proceeded to do a master’s degree in Health Facility and Planning. That was the study of how health facilities are utilised for specific purposes. For example, we were taught how to design a hospital to know where to locate people with infectious diseases; to know where to locate the maternity wards and the theatre to avoid the spread of infectious diseases and have free flow of people, for instance, in a situation of fire incident. That is the planning aspect.
In the services aspect, we were taught the kind of services required for specific groups of people in specific environments and also for specific people in a particular geographical location. So, that gave me a wider knowledge about health.
When you came back, where did you work?
I came back briefly to Nigeria and decided to work in the health sector. After a while, I went to America to do a Ph.D in Public Health, an interesting area of Medicine. It gives you an idea of the kind of diseases that can be prevented. We had to do a lot of statistics, finding out, for instance, the number of the population with particular kinds of diseases and so on, and how such diseases could be prevented.
From then on, I was able to start getting employments in international organisations. I started to work as a consultant to quite a number of health organisations, including the World Health Organisation and United Nations. I did quite a number of works for Ford Foundation, and that expanded my horizon.
On returning to Nigeria, how were you able to integrate back into the system?
I didn’t have any problem integrating back into the system because I believe that home is home no matter what comfort you may think that you enjoy outside your country. Out there, you cannot get to the level you want to get to except you are just lucky. There was a time we were going abroad and a colleague of mine who is a medical doctor and who also works in the area of international relations told me that I should not complain about the situation in Nigeria. She actually cautioned me by asking if I would have got to the level that I had got to if I had stayed back in England. I considered it and realised that what she was saying was absolutely the truth. So I really wanted to return to Nigeria and settle down. I didn’t have any issues or second thought about it because I just believed that this is my country. That was why I quickly adapted and made use of my best ability to achieve my set goals.
Do you still travel a lot?
I still travel a lot. But by the time I spend a few days abroad, I usually want to return to Nigeria. That is because I do not believe that there is any place like Nigeria. My children live abroad; at least majority of them. I actually have only one living here in Nigeria. I think that the reason those other ones prefer to stay abroad is that they were born there. They never experienced this aspect of life.
This is a beautiful country that we have here in Nigeria. Forget about the issues that we have. Yes, we have issues and the major issue that we have is leadership. If we can get that right, I can assure you that no Nigerian will want to stay abroad or rather only a few Nigerians will want to stay abroad.
At what point did you decide to join the Lions Club?
I started ‘Lionism’ in 1989. My husband, who is a surgeon, was already a Lion before me. He introduced me to Lions Club. I attended a few functions of the club and realised that I needed to get involved myself. Funny though, I later took more interest in the club than he did (laughs).
With your husband in the same club, what was it like?
At the time I joined, I was just an ordinary member. At that time also, women were not allowed to be Lions; they were only allowed to be Lionesses. That connoted that the male Lions Club had to form the Lioness Club as a project. But later, the women in the USA went to court to challenge the fact that women should be able to join. The major issue and difference at that time was the issue of finance. The male Lions Club was paying more dues than the Lioness Club. But the women believed and insisted that with more and more women getting more financially empowered, they could meet up with the financial obligations. So from then on, women became Lions.
At that time also, I was the President of The Lioness Club. I then moved from Maryland Lioness Club where I started  Ikeja Golden Lions Club. They also transmitted from Lioness Club to Lions Club. I was there for about 12 years as club member, observing and participating in various activities of the club before I could become president again. After that, I served at various district committees as chairperson. I rose from there to become a regional chair, later became a zonal chair. However, one is supposed to have become a zonal chair before becoming a regional chair. But the District Governor then felt that I was too much for a zonal chair. He made me a regional chair.
But there is a clause there: if you really want to be a district governor, you must have served as a zonal chair at some point in time. So at some point, I went back to become a zonal chair. I really didn’t mind that at all. I continued serving. All through that period also, one was expected to go through a lot of educational preparations, like participating in leadership management courses, art of speaking courses and programmes, to develop one as an individual. I availed myself of all those opportunities too.
You mean you had to go through all that to become a district governor?
Yes, I had to. And I love reading; that is my hobby. I love studying (laughs). And I like challenges. After that, I put in for the position of 2nd Vice District Governor. I campaigned all around various clubs and won eventually. With time, I moved from 2nd to 1st Vice District Governor and finally by the grace of God, I became a District Governor.
What is it like to be the District Governor of Lions Club?

It is a lot of responsibility. If you follow my career build up, you will realise that I was well prepared for it. If one is not prepared and you find yourself there, you will definitely have issues. It is a position that demands serious exercise. You have to supervise so many clubs at various states of the federation. I even believe that the responsibility is more than being a governor of a state. That is because you are a governor of several Lions clubs in different states and you have to know them in and out. You have to know the clubs by name, you have to know the members by name, and you have to visit them.
And you know that before becoming a district governor, you would have gone all around to campaign anyway. So you would have known the clubs and visited them before you can be elected. So, one needs to have considered that and made up one’s mind before taking on such responsibility as becoming a District Governor of Lions Club.
Do you enjoy it?
Yes, I do. I enjoy what I do. It is serious, it is tedious, but I certainly enjoy what I do.
How do you combine it with your regular work?
To be frank with you, a Lions Club District Governor ought to get a sabbatical. There is no way of combining it. That is because it is a full-time job. It is a job of 24 hours in a day. If you get a chance to lie down to sleep, you will still be thinking of how you will get your members, how you will encourage them to pay their dues, how you are going to execute all the programmes that have been earmarked to be achieved. The one year tenure is loaded with things that one actually needs five years to achieve, but you have to achieve it for the club in a year.
So what did you do?
I took a sabbatical. And to be frank with you, I have actually taken half sabbatical in the last two years. But this year, I have taken full sabbatical. I am lucky in the sense that I am self-employed. I delegated some of the things that I normally do, but at the same time, there are certain things they cannot do for me. They cannot do my consultancy work for me because you are appointed as a consultant based on your personal capability. So, for those kinds of activities, the work will have to wait (laughs). They cannot be combined with the work I have to do in the Lions Club.
Did you meet your husband in the US?
No, we met in Nigeria. We met as far back as when I was doing my nursing programme in Nigeria. We have been married for 41 years.
How was it like when you met?
He was a young doctor who came to serve in the hospital where I was training as a House Officer, and I was in my final year. The rest is history.
But you both lived abroad…
We travelled out later because he also went for his specialist course.
How has your marriage been over the years?
God has been kind. There is no marriage that doesn’t have its challenges. If anyone says that his or her marriage has been rosy all through, then the person would be a liar. As for me, like I made up my mind on a career, I also made up my mind on marriage and what I wanted for my children. I didn’t want my children to have a broken home. For single parents, you can have the financial power, but you definitely cannot be father and mother. We waded through the storm and we thank God.
If you were to advise young mothers and singles, what would you say?
I will tell them to really plan for whatever that they want to do. Don’t jump into marriage. Don’t jump even into a career because you see some other persons doing it successfully and you then think that you should be able to do it. You should have your personal goal in life. You have to humble yourself too. For a career woman, if you are too conscious of your achievement, you probably will never be able to make a home. That is because many people have their ego. So even when you are doing pretty well, you have to pretend as if nothing is happening. You can even be making big success but still pretend as if nothing is happening. Don’t throw the success to his face.
Before you know it, you will be getting his support and moving on. As a woman, if you want to stay in marriage, then stay there. If you want to be a career woman without staying in marriage, that is your choice; everyone has a right to a choice. And for those who have not been able to make a success of marriage, that is not the end of the world. Nothing should draw you back from realising what you want to be.
How were you able to earn your husband’s respect to the extent that he gave you the independence to pursue your career?
It is not total independence, but you have to be able to build such trust between one another. And like I said, I didn’t let my achievement get over me. Communication is key. Don’t concentrate on things and issues that frighten and discourage. For instance, a woman should not come home with all her frustrations from work and pour them on her husband. Sometimes I get so frustrated at work but when I get home, I put up a brave face as if everything is okay. That is because if you keep pouring your daily frustrations from workplace on him, one day, he will say you should not go there again.
What memories do you have of your growing up years?
Oh, I have interesting memories. I used to think then that my parents were too harsh. There was actually one day that I called my mum and asked her if she was really sure that she was my mother. But at the end of the day, I realised that my parents’ strictness was for my own good. We were brought up in a religious home. That has affected my disposition to life because I have found that without a relationship with God, an individual is nothing. Also, if you do not know God in a personal way, you cannot go far. God never fails.
How were you able to keep the men at bay?
I have a strong disposition which I put out, though it is a facade. It makes people to find it difficult to get to me in that regard. That is my weapon. It has worked for me. Even if other men had the intention, they are forced to conclude that I am a proud person, though that is not true. I am a soft person; a real woman. But I do not flaunt it.
What fashion items attract you the most?
I wear the right stuff. I wear English clothes, suits, slacks and jeans. If I want to look mature, I wear native dresses. I like to combine colours. I wear colours that rhyme from head to toe. I see dressing out as a priority, starting from my nail to the rest parts of my body. I am very selfish about my individuality, and the reason is that it is not everybody that you meet in a day that you will meet again. But the impression they get of you on that particular day is the memory they will carry with them. It gives me joy when I am pleased with my good looks.
What fashion item would you not do without?
I don’t do without moderate make-up, I wouldn’t want to do without doing my nails, and I wouldn’t want to do without my glasses not rhyming with what I wear.

How I overcame cancer –US-based wellness expert Julia Fortune

Julia Fortune

Wellness expert, Julia Oyefunke Fortune, is living in two different continents. As the CEO of Total Body Wellness Foundation in Nigeria, she shuttles between Nigeria and America every year, and in between, tucks in a cruise holiday in the Caribbean with her American husband. All was well with Julia, until she had to struggle through a nasty divorce with her ex-husband. It was much more difficult because they had both struggled and built a large business between them. Julia says, “we were actually multi-millionaires in dollar!” And as if that was not enough, developed cancer soon after the divorce. But rather than despair, Julia fought cancer to a stand still. She tells her story and the fulfilled new life that she has found to Paul Ukpabio.

Today, you are a wellness expert, how did you start out?
It was when I became a breast cancer victim and later became a conqueror, that I found the need to establish a foundation. I went through a devastating situation that left me thinking that I was going to lose my life. I had the cancer on my right breast. So in the process of going through that cancer experience, I wrote a book. Again in that process of experience, I went back to school to get a Masters degree in health care just because I wanted to take my mind off my challenging heath situation. I wanted to take my mind off from the disease, and focus on something else. That’s because if you do not take your mind off it, it will take you with it. After completion of the book, I came to Nigeria to launch it.
When you came to Nigeria, were you still having the cancer in you?
No, it was over with by then.
How did you overcome it?
I did integration of orthodox medicine and traditional medicine. The orthodox was the surgeries that I went for. Yes, numerous surgeries because I watched the cancer leave my breast, down to my colon, right down to my mid section, the cancer was just playing tricks on my body. At a point I realised that I needed to do more than just surgery. Also when I learnt about the side effects of radiation, I decided to change from that path. I knew that wasn’t for me. Even at that time, I had started feeling lower back pains. So I went for traditional medicine which has about four faset. These are, the change of diet, I went for 90% plant based diet, mineral based diet, went into physical exercises, spiritual therapy and mental education.
Where did you do all these?
I was in the USA when the cancer struck. I wanted to survive. And if you want to survive, then you have to do whatever it takes to stay alive. Thats exactly what happened to me. I was looking at the children that I have had. At that time, I had four children and only one of them had graduated from college. The other three were still preparing to go to college. So I had to be alive for them! The most important aspect of the traditional medicine that I embraced was the spiritual therapy. I made a pact with God that if I am able to pull through the cancer, I will come to Nigeria, go into the communities and impact people therein.
The pact was for me to be able to put my children through college, watch all of them get married and for me to have grand children. Between 2007 and 2012, I achieved all of that. God made it possible. I believe that if you truly love yourself and love God, you cannot go through this kind of disease by yourself. Cancer is the type of disease that makes everyone isolated from you, even if they are all around you.
How did people around you react to your illness?
During that time, I had so many people around me. I had support system, but then it was like I was still alone. So all I had was God. So I went to Him. I told Him to get me through the cancer, that I will love and surrender to Him. Of course my philosophy was found in Mark 12, 30 to 31 that says, ‘thou shall love the Lord your God with all thy heart, with all thy strength.’ I embraced all of that and of course, ‘love thy neighbour as thy self.’ I embraced that too, and I was focused on making sure that I get out of the hold of the disease.
However, I also embraced Chinese medicine. That played a big role for me  because, with Chinese or Japanese medicine, they go to the source, they do not treat you at the surface of the disease, they go right down to the source. So the integration of orthodox medicine and traditional medicine helped me through the cancer.
That must have been expensive. Did that cost you a fortune?
Well the most expensive part was the orthodox medicine. I had to spend all my savings, I was self-employed. I’m talking about thousands of dollars, to pay for the various surgeries that I had to go through.
So, how did you find out that you were cured?
I had to go back to the doctors, do repeated tests to locate the cancer, but they couldn’t find it. So they asked, ‘where is the cancer? Where did it go? It just disappeared. Since 2009, it hasn’t been back.
How did you celebrate it?
By saying thank you Lord, singing and praying. I have been a Christian but I wasn’t that close to God until I was diagnosed with cancer. That diagnosis really drew me to Him. I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe that could ever happen to me. I was pleased with God, so I celebrated with thanksgiving for seeing me through the cancer. Now, I love the Lord with all my heart.
Are you back finally in Nigeria now?
I am not back completely. Initially when I started coming, I would spend about two months, sometimes three months and go back. But since last year, I have been spending about four months. Now, I have so many things to do here. If one has to impact the communities, then one has to be around. I cannot say I am impacting the communities here when I am permanently in America.
In what ways are you impacting people?
I give educational workshops, I have just done one. I invite communities; we conduct tests, we use devices to test them. we check the lungs, the digestive system, the reproductive health, we check for diseases. If you are healthy, we let you know and if you are not, we tell you to go and see your doctor.
How expensive are the tests?
They are not expensive. We subsidise where necessary. We do full body test, and I have to analyse it. That takes a lot of knowledge to be able to analyse. I have been able to help people with breast cancer, prostrate cancer, with obesity, hypertension and others. Some people could actually be saved if they had test done earlier. Most people do not even go to the hospitals for medical check up. Everybody should do annual medical check up. It is important.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Surulere, Lagos. I was born and raised in Ebute Metta, my parents then moved to Surulere. I attended Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School. From there, I went to Federal Government College, Odogbolu; from there to the University of Ibadan and then to USA.
What did you study?
I studied education/english and theatre arts.
What did you study in the US?
I did education science, technology and then did education technology for my Masters and also a Masters in health care.
Why didn’t you go into theatre practice after studying it?
(Laughs) I didn’t have somebody to encourage me in that direction. But back then, I used to act in school. I belonged to the drama group in college. Though if I had stayed in Nigeria, I would have veered in that direction. However, not too long ago, I was at the office of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, where I went to make a health presentation. And I enjoyed it because they asked me a lot of questions about breast cancer, prostrate cancer, cervical cancer and so on.
How was life in America when you arrived there?
It was interesting. I was involved in a lot of businesses with the man that I married. I went into engineering because he was an engineer. I joined forces with him and started a business in engineering in the field of compliance; that is, before any company can sell any electrical appliances, they have to meet some certain conditions of the country they want to sell to. I was in charge of operations. I acted as Chairman of the company board, I did Vice President human resources, Vice president marketing. I actually went to Germany to help him set up the business there. I was married to an engineer so I gravitated towards that. He wouldn’t stop talking about his work, so I got sucked into that.
How about marriage?
That was my first marriage which lasted for 16 years.
Was it love at first sight?
Yes, it was, and that started in Nigeria because we met here in Nigeria. He was the first to leave for USA and when he got there, he called for me. He was the first man in my life so I had that affection for him. He happens to be the father of my four children too.
So what happened between both of you? What went wrong?
We had a divorce, it was very sad. It just didn’t work out. I call it irreconcilable difference. He is a tough person, and I am a tough person too. I am coming from a family of enlightened people. Not that I was not submissive, I was, but submission has to be to a certain level. When a man starts doing some things that you do not agree with, then you have to put your feet down and say you will not go along with it. It didn’t work out. As a result of that, the divorce was devastating. We were multi-millionaires, we built that giant business. And I can say that the stress of that divorce, led to that cancer. I was under much stress. You know, sooner or later, if stress is too much or chronic, a person will definitely start developing illness. It disturbs the blood from flowing through the system. That means problem.
The divorce must indeed have affected you…
Yes, it did. Who ever goes through divorce without stress? Everybody suffers in a case of divorce. However I can say now that in as much as the man is not hitting you, or he is not an abusive husband or you are not an abusive wife, there is really no reason to leave. If he is not doing that to you, it is always advisable not to leave, better to stay and let the kids grow up. If you think that you are punishing each other, you end up punishing the children, everybody gets punished.
Did you marry after?
Yes, I went into a second marriage four years ago in America. He is not a Nigerian, he is an American. At least I tried a Nigeria man and it didn’t work out (laughs), but I stayed in that relationship for 16 years.
Tell us about your new husband…
This new man I met, is a Godly man. He is loving, a good listener, he lets me say what I have in my mind, I listen to him too. He has a good way of communicating with me. To live with each other, we had to have understanding with each other. He is coming to Nigeria soon. He has never been here before. So he is coming to know Nigeria, and an opportunity for my family also to get to meet him. He tells me ‘honey I want to make you happy, I am not going to fool around, I love you and I want you to be happy, because if you are happy, then I am happy.’ That is the way he sees life.
You travel a lot, for instance, you are here and he is there, how do you keep such relationship going?
Everyday we talk on Skype; we do not miss that. We talk a lot. I’m happier.
But you have been used to wealth. Does this new man have that kind of wealth that you were used to?
No, he doesn’t have the wealth, but the little wealth that he has gives me peace of mind. He is a loving person. He is not ashamed to tell anybody that he loves me. He tells everybody that he loves me. He can say that 20 times in a day. If he does that in Nigeria, I am sure people would say that I have given him some concoction to drink (laughs)! He is a transparent person.
Is it better for a woman to be a career woman or a house wife?
It depends. Life has different phases. For instance, there is a time when it is necessary to be a house wife because the children could be growing. At such time, even if you choose to work, it’s better to cut down on the hours of work, because you need to be there to nurture the children. And if your husband is in money, why would you want to work so hard? Though I do not subscribe to a woman just staying at home doing nothing.
How do you describe yourself?
I am a passionate person for whatever I do. I love serving people. It makes me fulfilled. I derive my joy from that. I am a blunt person. I say it the way it is so because of that, I do not have many female friends. I won’t tell you what you want to hear.
How about your fashion sense?
(Gets excited) Oh, I was raised by a grandmother who is a fashion queen. She is still alive, she turned a hundred years old in July. She loves to dress to match. We take after her. I love to dress, but not in spending money as if there is no tomorrow. With a little bit of money, I still want to buy something that will make me look elegant. I like to look elegant and sophisticated with what I wear.
What kind of clothes do you like to wear?
I wear all sorts of things. I wear pants, sometimes I like tight skirts, but I do not like bulky clothes. It makes one looks fat.
How about your colour?
I love purple. It is spiritual to me. It’s peaceful to me and has a calming effect on me.
What fashion accessory can you not do without?
There is nothing that I cannot do without. Right now, jewels or all other such stuffs do not take much priority in my life. Though I still use them when necessary.
What do you think of fashion and today’s women?
Today’s women are creative with fashion, though I don’t see the relevance in the way our women are dressing these days. They are copying western concepts, it’s so sad! I wonder why ladies wear such short skirts showing their thighs, and then you complain that nobody wants to marry you. That is because you have already exposed yourself to the man that wants to marry you. When a man sees all that, what else will be left for him to see again? I guess that is why most ladies are not getting marital proposals because, what is there to see anymore? when you have already exposed everything to him through lewd fashion? So the man ends up saying no way, this one is not a marriageable material. Some ladies are indeed over doing this fashion thing these days.
What do you value most?
I value God first. I value His role in my life. Before I do anything, I ensure that I consult with him. I read His word, the bible. I value life, I value good health. I like to walk, I like to exercise my body but over here, in Lagos for instance, you do not have such luxury of space because of Okada riders and motorists, unless one goes to the gym or the stadium. But not so in the United States. There is no stress there unless you decide to give yourself stress. We do not have crazy bills! All that has a way of leading people into stress which leads people into diseases that can be prevented.
Are you fulfilled?
I am very fulfilled though not hundred percent. That’s because I still have things to complete. I still need to go into villages, into communities, to do more educational workshops.
When should a lady be glamorous?
It depends. To some, just being dainty is glamorous, to some others slamming on make-up, wearing bold colours with dangling jewels is glamour. so it depends on the individual.
Do you have time for leisure?
I do, sometimes I go to the malls to watch movies which I normally do with my husband in America, sometimes to the beach too, to see the lifestyles of other people. I enjoy watching people and I have learnt so many new gospel songs in church here. I dance in church. Nigerians I must say are happy people. But unfortunately, most Nigerians drop their happiness and goodness at the gate of the church. Once outside the church, they assume new personalities. Indeed it’s only God that knows who is really worshipping Him.
How do you celebrate your holiday?
In Nigeria, I visit family and friends. With my husband we go on cruises. My husband is a very simple person, he is satisfied with simple things. He takes me on cruises, we go to the Caribbean Island, Hawaii and so on. We do really have fun. When we used to live in Las Vegas, we go to watch shows. Now we live in Whidbey Island in Washington state. It’s in the western part of the US close to California. There are lots of beaches, we are surrounded by water. so all you see is beautiful clean water and you can go fishing which my husband loves to do. The water is so calming.
Do you swim?
I used to, but one day I guess I overdid it. That was in my first marriage. We had an Olympic-size swimming pool in the house, so we were at the pool and my children teased me to jump into the pool like they did. We had a trainer, who had given me lessons so I felt brave and good to jump. But when I did, it was a different ball game. I almost drowned! Thank God my husband was there with a trainer. They dragged me out. I still go into the pool though, but I am not aggressive over my swimming prowess again.
Any fond memories?
When I first arrived the United States, I didn’t know much about casinos. So my ex-husband took me to Texas, he gave me 100 dollars and he had the same amount. He told me we will lose the money, that were not going there to make a lot of money. He said I should not go there thinking that I was going to make a lot of money overnight. But when we got there and the machine swallowed all the money, I did the typical Nigerian thing, I banged on the machine and behold, down came pouring money. But by that time, my husband had moved a little bit away because that really embarrassed him. He had warned me to move away when the money finished that I should not make a scene. I got $700. The second experience was still at the time I had just arrived America and got into the university. I saw two girls sitting with their legs wide open. My husband cautioned me to look away but I couldn’t help myself, a typical Nigerian. I went over and told them to close their legs. Of course, they told me to fuck off! That I should mind my business.
Considering the difference in culture, how did you groom your children then in the US?
There are some things that we do not allow our children to do. For instance, I do not allow them to wear earrings. I don’t allow them to braid their hair or wear sagging pants. We have been overly protective of our children.
How long have you been in the US?
I have been there for over 35 years now.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Faces at Senator Ben Bruce 60th birthday party in Lagos

Like father like son, Dr Paul Ojeih mounts his father’s saddle, hits instant success *Says, "I miss my dad."

Dr Paul Ojeih

Flamboyant alternative medicine practitioner, Prof. Paul Olisa Ojeih, the ex Chief Executive Officer of IRIS Medical Foundation who died quietly in December 2011, has come alive in his eldest son Dr Paul Ojeih, who now runs the multi billion naira empire that his father left behind.

Dr Paul Ojeih who claims that, "I do not bother about how to fit into my father's shoes because, I am already in my fathers shoes, in an exclusive interview with  this Paul Ukpabio Blog said that, "my father prepared us all to take over from him."

Late Prof. Paul Olisa Ojeih
But how does he feel mounting his father's business saddle in his youthful age and running the entire business and family structure his father left behind?

"It doesn't really feel different to me. My father knew there was time for everything, he used to say that when he gets to 70 that he will step down for us to continue. And when it was time, he went on to go and rest.

Dr Paul Ojeih went on to narrate how his father 'saw death coming'. "On December 24th, we had the Iris Medical Foundation staff party as we normally do, and on the 26th, which was two days later, we were having party for family members, when at that occasion, he made a statement that he is very tired that he wants to go and rest. He said he had worked very hard! And true, he had! When I am having my bath at 6am, he is usually on his way to the office. Everyday was the same. You remember he used to move to the office with his policemen escort in a convoy.

"But when he said he was tired, he wanted to go and rest, I felt indeed, he was going. Something touched me then because of the way he said it. When later that day, he went in to lay down and the next thing he was saying was that he couldn't breathe. We knew he was going. He started speaking in Latin, in different languages. Great men always plan their exit. People like the famous, Late Pa Obafemi Awolowo planned his exit. Late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe planned his exit."

Dr Paul Ojeih
Now that Dr Paul Ojeih is doing well in the field of alternative medicine like his erstwhile famous dad, one couldn't help but ask if he misses his dad. "Yes, I do," was his reply. "What I miss about him is that we used to argue. He was my argument partner. He was a stubborn man, and so I am (laughs). I also miss his flamboyance. He will ask, which car is on board? He loved cars. One of his friends who is a prominent person in the society used to say that, each time that he wants to know the car that is in vogue, he comes to Professor Paul Ojeih's house.

Asked if his father was happy leaving his herbal treasures to his children, Dr Paul Ojeih replied, "My father loved cars, loved the good things of life, but he was never a greedy materialistic person. He was happy, he had prepared us for this, we worked with him. He had always been a giver, he unilaterally built our former church for instance. Whichever church he stepped in, he made sure that he contributed to its development. He ensured that his staff built their personal houses, and after he died, we had so many people who came around  to say that he had done this or that for them."

Late Prof Ojeih had lived a colourful life. He lived his life in public view. From anchoring his popular Tv programme on alternative medicine to attending and identifying with the rich and the poor at the same time, and then attending society events, he became very popular. So many wondered how old he really was.

His son laughed when asked this question and said, "My father died at 71, people kept disputing his age. But to him, he had even stayed long, he told us before he died that if he had practiced just medicine, he would have lived longer, but that he practised more than medicine, that he gave his all, he expended so much energy. When he started medicine, there were no scientific laboratories to test his medicines, he volunteered himself, he used himself as the guinea pig to test the efficacy of his new drugs and medications. He never joked with our star medicine which is Venedi. He loved the medication Venedi which is derived from 24 plants and 20 was sourced from outside the country and when it was time for him to present the medicine to the world, he used himself to test the efficacy of that medicine. He gave himself to medicine."

But considering that the Late Professor Ojeih had a large family we asked his son if his father left a succession plan behind?

"Yes, he did. He said his first son will take over with his second son. So today we have Dr Solomon Ojeih who happens to be the Deputy Managing Director of Iris Medical Foundation and I the Managing Director. We also have our third brother Iris whose name was used for the name of the company. He happens to be the operations Manager for the organisation. I even plan to be on this seat for the next ten years, after that, I intend to move on to other things. That is because we have been able to expand the franchise, we have Iris Medical Foundation which I run, then Iris food and drugs which Dr Solomon runs and also Iris International which the third son runs. We are expanding, we are looking at opening a herb bank which other practitioners can come in too, and source for herbs to build their personal practice. I hope you remember that my father set up a College for Herbal Medicine Practitioners, he brought professors from the United State all the way from Monroe, who came in and taught some doctors here, how to go about alternative medicine. My father wanted to establish a herb bank, whereby you can import the class of herbs that you understand. So we have so much to do, I can't be here on this seat for ever."
Dr Paul Ojeih

Talking about your dad again, for those that used to depend on your father, it is a big family for you, so how have you been coping?
(Laughs) Let us call a spade a spade, after an emperor departs, it takes time to re-build, re-adjust before moving forward. But some people felt that the man left behind fabulous money. The truth is that, he left behind fabulous properties and a solid business organization. My father's properties are still intact, we didn't sell anything. Somehow my grand father is still alive. He advised us that if we have issues with funds like we had after he left, that we should approach the banks. But my father all through his time, did not take any facility from any bank. He financed his business with his money. So I started thinking that why should I take bank facility?

So, what inspires this young man who is already at the top, "a lot of things inspires me," he replied. "I read and write and that inspires me a lot. I learn, I research, I'm internet savvy and on the move!"

But wait for this, Dr Paul Ojeih is indeed very much, every inch of his late father, a carbon copy so to say. Guess what, like his father was against the controversial Aids virus which he declared did not exist but a creation of the United State of America, Dr Paul Ojeih told us that Nigeria should be cautious of the intriques of the West! "It is a pity that the international press does not report good things about Nigeria. Take for instance when the Ebola case took place, it is my believe that the man Sawyer was sent to come and spread Ebola in Nigeria. He knew he had that virus and he still came to Nigeria, to infect us. And today Dr Stella Adedavor of blessed memory is gone. I have great respect for that woman and Late Dr Dora Akunyili. We have to be careful of the Western powers. We have to be careful about everything that comes from outside the country.

"We have to find a way of creating a better Nigeria. We have to come together to build a formidable nation together. What does America have that we do not have. We can make Nigeria be another Dubai, all it takes is for us to come together and agree to do it, and turn this nation around for better." 

As the interview drew to an end, we asked him about Ghana where his father used to have business ties, he smiled and replied, "Ghana, yes, Ghana, is our second home. We have kept all the ties that my father used to keep with Ghana. And the Ghanaian government has been able to allow a conducive environment for alternative medicine to thrive. The policy there is not as much difficult and we have access to the Ghanaian market."

So what does the future look like, for the young industrialist? "As a nation, Nigeria's future is bright, if that's so, then we can say our future is bright too!" He replied, standing up to hug a business tycoon that has just come into the office to have a meeting with him at his Ikeja Office in Lagos.
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