Olori Adepeju Sonuga Fadesewa, a renowned Costumier and Make-up artist with former Nigerian Television Service (NTS) now Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), had her signature etched in some of the most famed drama series of her era. The unending list include Village Headmaster, Cockcrow at Dawn, and Mirror in the Sun others. She spoke with FLORA ONWUDIWE on her craft, marriage to a revered artiste and cultural worker, Oba Gbenga Sonuga Fadesewa of Simawa, Sagamu, Ogun State and other issues
How did you meet your husband?
For those of us in Theatre Arts, we always have a way of meeting one another. I met him in 1989 through a colleague, Esther Ugbodaga, a very good friend of mine, and a staff of the Lagos State Council for Art and Culture. She invited me for a workshop organised by the council. I had just arrived from England then and I visited to apologise to her. She said to me it was time I met her boss, Gbenga Sonuga. Then, he was the director, Lagos State Council for Art and Culture. As we were discussing, he (Sonuga) breezed into the office. Esther introduced him to me, “that’s my boss.” And he interrupted, “I know her long ago, but she does not know me. I knew you when you were in school, you were the school athlete. I know your father and I know your house at Alagomeji.’’ We were friends for over seven years before we got married. Because I didn’t want to rush into another marriage after my first marriage failed.
What would you say was the common force that brought both of you together?
The arts brought us together, he liked what I was doing as a make-up artist, and the same thing goes with me, he was a very good drummer and a very beautiful dancer. He is an intelligent director in the Theatre Arts.
What has been the greatest challenge as Olori?
There is not much challenge because we have been living together for about 18 years before we relocated to Simawa, Sagamu, Ogun State. The only thing is that he got a new title and so do I; and I have to move along with him.
At the time you both met, neither of you knew that both of you would settle in the palace?
Not at all, we did not know that he would become an Oba. He refused to take the title. Because we were preparing to leave the country and settle in South Africa. He had gotten a job in South Africa. One of his friends lives there, he has been encouraging him to come over and he was waiting for us. Until the head of his family drew my attention and revealed to me that “we have Obaship stool in Simawa and we want him (Gbenga) to take the position. You have to convince him because we know the kind of person he is, he wants his freedom all the time. We need to let you know so that you can help us talk to him.” So I concealed the information from him. So when the family revealed it to him he queried his elder brothers, he rejected the traditional stool. They told him that he knows the dos and don’ts of the culture and that they want him to represent the family. After they had left, he called me and revealed the matter to me. I advised him to accept the offer. He became angry with me and told me that is it because you want to be addressed as Queen of the palace (Olori). And I responded, you seem to forget that I am a princess, but I do not bear princess.
My mother was from the lineage of Alaafin of Oyo. My father was to be installed as a King at Ilaro and he rejected the offer. He said that he couldn’t leave his religion only for him to be linked with evil things. Because he believed that anything that has to do with the king is fetish, so my father did not accept it. I said to him, what else do you want? Oba Sanya Dosumu (Olowu of Owu) is my mother direct descendant as cousins; Dosumu’s mother is my mother’s sister. So, what else do you want to say that I am a princess? I told him that I prefer to be a princess than to be an Olori. So, my response calmed him down. I advised him to accept the title because his elder brothers believed that he could do it better than them. So he was still not happy about it. I don’t want to be Olori, so if you eventually accept the offer is good for you. So I packed my bag and baggage and left for England. I never contacted him and I told my children not to call him. He called my daughter and asked of me, my daughter told him that I (Olori) was with her. My daughter told him that they were not aware that there was an issue on ground. He apologised to me that he has agreed to accept the title and that the late Ambassador Segun Olushola has talked to him and that Olushola accompanied him to meet with one of their friends in Ife and they all advised him, so I will accept the Obaship. He begged me to come back then I told him that when they are preparing for the coronation I will come back and I went back to Nigeria for the coronation.
You are a Muslim married to a Christian; does kingship involve fetish things and does it not affect your faith?
No, it does not affect my religion. Kabieyesi does not believe in fetish things at all. When they approach him on that he turned it down. He has a church nearby that he attends. He spends his money on anything that has to do with culture. When it comes to worshipping anything fetish he does not. But he participates in any cultural event, such as Simawa Day or Sagamu Day.
Traditional rulers are entitled to marry more than one wife, but you seems to be the only one in the palace, was it an agreement between both of you?
Not at all. We were married in the Registry. If he wants to marry, why not. I want to say that it is the culture thing that binds us together. May be that is why it is difficult for him, he is the type of person that loves his privacy so much that he does not want any intruder.
What has life taught you, especially in the first failed marriage and the second that you now find peace and love?
The first marriage was not so bad that I had to leave. But I had to leave because I needed to make sense out of living. I need to bring up my children in a normal environment. Because when a marriage degenerates to fighting, arguing, receiving blows, the children will grow up to exchange blows. Because of my children upbringing I had to leave.
Two years ago, you celebrated your 70th birthday, what is the secret of your youthful look?
I don’t have any secret beauty therapy I undergo, but I want to ascribe my youthful looks to my younger days at Ahmadiyya Girls High School Surulere later Jibrin Martin Ahmadiyya Grammar School Iponri. I was a long distant runner. I was also running for Lagos State. I was into sport morning, afternoon and night. I thank God because the time I spent in sport did not affect my academic performance. So when my classmates were in the class, I was in the field training. So I am not doing anything special to myself to look youthful.
You are one of the renowned make-up artists in Nigeria, worked in the Nigeria Television Service (NTS), now Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), could you talk about your working experience because it was not an easy task getting employed at the NTS/NTA then as it was the only broadcasting house?
When I joined NTS, I was a costumier. It was not easy to get employed with NTS, although, there were jobs in Nigeria then. But I joined NTA fully in 1976 as a floor manager attached to children’s programmes. I did not like the job given to me, because I will end up becoming a producer. I used to go to the studio in 1968; that was when they started the Village Headmaster, my first husband was with them as a scriptwriter and I was pregnant with my first child in 1968. So I was always going to N T S to watch them record Village Headmaster. So I got to know many of the cast of the Village Headmaster. I was interested in the drama programme because of the costume, because if I continue as a floor manager, I will miss my costume. Because I used to sew very well. I complained to Ambassador Segun Olushola that I am not interested working as a floor manager that I want to go into costuming and make-up and he said if that is what you want, he called Mr. Sokefun, who was director of programmes. He said to him that she wants to be costumier, let her go to costume and join Peju Oyekan, the daughter to the late Oba Oyekan. So I was redeployed to the costume section as a costumier. At a point, I could not cope any longer with the job, because Peju left and I was the only one left. Recordings coming in one after the other, sometimes, we stayed in the studio very late. I drive myself; I don’t go with the NTS staff bus, because it leaves late. Three years later, there was opening for training abroad for some staff of NTS. I approached Olushola and he said if I could get admission abroad that I would be included. The Questor’s Theatre Arts, England, offered me admission for a Diploma programme on make-up. I was there in September 1980; I spent a year because I had to wait to study Special Effects. When I was at the Yaba College of Technology in 1970, I went to NTS to work, but I graduated in 1973. I taught for two years as a Fine Art teacher at Ansar- Udeen Girls high School, Itire, Lagos.
Is it necessary for artistes to makeup before going on set, and why?
It is very important, this very question came up from the late Baba Awolowo, (Obafemi Awolowo), so many years ago, when he was contesting, during a political debate between him and the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, this question came up. I did make-up for Azikiwe and when I took my make-up box to Baba Awolowo and I said I have to do make-up for you sir, he said why do you have to make me up? I said, this light is heavy and if the light is on your face, your face will be shining, sweating and your face will not look good on television. He said who told you I would not look good on the television because of the studio light. He dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out handkerchief and said I will use this my handkerchief from my wife to wipe my face. This handkerchief is from my wife and nobody will touch my face. I will wipe my face with it and I will look fresh. I said sir, it is very important that you do make-up, so that you will look fresh under that heavy light. So it is very important that you make- up, especially under that heavy light, the light in the studio was heavy.
So he did not allow you to make him up?
No, he did not. So when they started the recording, whenever, he was sweating, he will use his handkerchief to wipe his face.
But Azikiwe allowed you to do the make-up for him?
As a make-up artist, does it requires any research?
Not in all programmes. You must do research before you engage in any production else you will be doing the wrong things. In my own case I do research all the time, I document my research, so when I have a production, it becomes easy for me and I will make reference to my files and get what I want. You study the characters of these actors when the scripts were handed over to you. Some times as a makeup artist, you are also expected to ask questions from either the producer or the scriptwriter. If you don’t have proper understanding of these characters, you will be doing the wrong thing.
As a professional, how much do you charge for a complete production?
If I want to charge for a production, I will not charge anything less than N250, 000 then not now. When you are talking about a production, it is from the beginning till the end. I did a protégé job, Professor Wole Soyinka used to do things for Lagos State. He had this programme, that was three years ago to train people to a particular level. What he did was to gather professionals and I was one of them. Two students from PEFTI School were sent to me as Protégés, they were working class ladies, after closing work for the day; they come to Simawa for the training. Soyinka paid me N500, 000 for the job that was nothing and he gave me N250, 000 for my transportation these are the people that know who you are.
IKOSI/KETU FRUIT MARKET: A MARKET IN RUINS
The famed Ketu-Ikosi Fruit Market in the Ketu area of Lagos State was demolished on Friday, November 8, by mobile policemen allegedly on the orders of the chairman of Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA. ISIOMA MADIKE, who visited the market on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, brought back touching stories of those who lost their all in the ruins
It is traumatising to see the elderly shed tears. The wrinkled face of an agonising old woman or man is one that many will not like to see. But, at the once beautiful but now destroyed famed Ikosi-Ketu Fruit Market, where many, including the elderly had earned a decent living, such looks now abound in abundance.
Alhaja Silifat from Osun State is one of such elderly women in pains at the market. She is 78 years of age. Silifat’s tears will melt the hardest of hearts. She did not only lose her means of livelihood but her dignity as a human being. Her small kiosk where she sold a variety of fruits now lies in ruins. Since Friday, November 8, when two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, allegedly from task force, demolished the market to shreds, Silifat has not been the same.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said: “They have succeeded in making me a beggar at an old age. What have I done to deserve this cruelty? This is the handiwork of AbdulFatai Ayodele Oyesanya, the chairman of Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA). Please tell him to leave our market for us. We are too old to be used and dumped.
“When they were campaigning, they begged and promised us every good things so we can vote for them. Now that they are in power, they want to turn us to their slaves. I have been in this market since 1976, and I can’t now imagine myself been turned into a beggar because of their selfish desires.
“He said he wanted to rebuild the market to make it more modern without telling us how it could benefit us. We know their plans; he only wants to take away our only means of livelihood. He would rather kill all of us here before he can actualise his wicked cravings.”
Another old woman, who identified herself simply as Mama Janet, also claimed to have been in the market for 35 years. She is from Ekiti State. She trained her children and feeds from the proceeds of the fruits she sold in the market. But, not anymore!
“This market is my life. Do they want me to learn how to steal at this age? We did not vote for hardship; we voted that life could be better. Oyesanya should pity us as we have no other place to go to. He said he wanted to rebuild the market; can someone like me be able to buy any shop after their re-modelling? God knows we are not obstinate; we are only pleading to them not to sell this market to their cronies,” she said.
Other traders, especially women, were seen wearing long faces when the Saturday Telegraph team visited the market on Tuesday. They looked confused about their fate after the demolition of the market. Some of them were however, seen doing their normal business, while others were salvaging their goods from the debris. Lorries carrying plantain and fruits, such as watermelon, oranges and pineapples could not offload, due to the untidy manner of the environment. And buyers who had come from different parts of the state were looking dejected as they appear stranded.
A man, who was identified himself only as Baba Ologede, said that different versions of the intentions of the LCDA concerning the market had been flying around since the demolition of the market. It’s hard to believe anything as it is now, he said.
“The point is that many people make their daily living from this market. Not only that, some micro-finance banks have given money to many traders to expand their businesses. I know someone, who has just collected N150,000 and has not paid back a dime.
“We have been here for the past 40 years and this is farmers’ market, not just any market. Farmers bring in their goods straight from the farms and we sell and return the money to them to do more farming. So, to just wake up one day and start demolishing such a place will not work. However, some of us still believe the reason for the demolition will be sorted out very soon,’’ he added.
Another, who pleaded anonymity, told one of our reporters that the demolition is for a particular section and would not extend to other parts of the market. According to him, the plan by the LCDA was to rehabilitate and expand the meat section of the market. He said that the roof of the meat section had been removed, while sand, cement and planks to be used for the expansion had also been procured.
He recalled that attempts were made in 2017 to move the market away from its present location, but that the LCD’s efforts were frustrated by the traders and market officials, who believed that the relocation of the market would not benefit the citizens. This, according to him, eventually led to the ongoing development of a new Mile 12 Market at Imota, after Ikorodu.
When contacted, the Babaloja (Leader) of the market, Lambe Dauda, said that the issues surrounding the market were simple but logical. He admitted that Oyesanya invited the former market executives to a meeting where he intimated them with the LCDA’s plan to rebuild the market, and invited them to meetings, but that in many of such meetings they never arrived on a compromise.
“Instead of finding a way to sell his ideas to us amicably, he initiated another meeting where he merely told us that the contract to rebuild the market had been awarded and all papers perfected. He told us that the contractor would soon start his work. We were surprised because we never agreed on the modalities; we didn’t agree with him on how he planned to go about it. Before we knew what was happening, he started bringing thugs to molest and intimidate us. He just wanted to cow us to submission but we resisted that.
“After that we saw one Chris, whom the LCDA chairman said he awarded the contract to. The first time he came to inspect the market he came with thugs and two armed riot policemen as if we were in a war situation. We never disagreed with the re-modelling of the market; we only insisted on transparency of the contract. To us, everything was muddled up. Besides, his tenure in the council is coming to an end. There is no way we can trust that he could finish the job before he leaves office.
“We suggested that more contractors should be invited and that the bidding should be transparent so that everyone will be on the same page. We just wanted to make sure that we are not cheated out at the end of the day. Government has the right to re-model any market in the state but we should be carried along. I don’t think that is too much for us to ask for. We told him that since we are mere traders, we would like our lawyers, theirs and that of the contractors to sit down, look at the issues and resolve the gray areas.
“The Kabiyesi, Olukosi of Ikosi, was even involved at some point. He summoned us for a meeting in his palace to discuss the issue. On getting there, we met this same developer in the palace. Kabiyesi told us in that meeting that he had prepared a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of us, the marketers. He said that he wanted the developers to rebuild the market in such a way that it won’t disturb anyone of us in our daily activities. At his palace, we also pleaded with him to allow our lawyers to see what was being prepared. At that point, he postponed the meeting to a later date.
“We were waiting for that meeting when we got information that the council had perfected plans to demolish the market. What we heard was that they were coming on that fateful Friday and that was exactly what happened. They stormed the market by 10 am and hell was let loose with the traders running for their lives as the riot policemen were shooting sporadically and teargasing us without provocation. You are here now and have seen the ruins of the once beautiful fruit market reputed to be the largest in Nigeria. We have made our intentions known to the Iyaloja-General of Lagos. We have no confidence in Oyesanya and his developer,” Dauda said.
His deputy, Salami Jimoh, also said that the late Babaloja, Taofeek Akande, whom the council chairman had meetings with, last year told them that what the council proposed would not be in the interest of the traders.
He said: “It was on that basis that he rejected their proposals and we sat down to take a decision we felt would be in our interest. We communicated that to Oyesanya but because he was bent on destroying the market, he never listened to us. One of the cardinal things our late Babaloja told us was that we must make sure we involved our lawyers in the discussions and that is what we still stand on.
“We are not saying no to their plans but let there be equity, justice and fairness. The man died in August and the market was destroyed in November. We sincerely did not bargain for this; this is inhuman to say the least. The council chairman is so petty to the extent that when our late Babaloja died, he couldn’t even send a condolence message to us because the man disagreed with his plans. That is the kind of person that is managing our local council.”
However, attempts to get Oyesanya to state the council’s position looked frustrating until Wednesday when one of our reporters ran into the LCDA’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Odufowokan Oluwaseyi, who handed a press release signed by the media team to Saturday Telegraph.
According to the release, the market has been in deplorable conditions for several years and efforts of the local council to convince the market leaders and their members of the need to transform the market into a modern, international edifice, was initially resisted.
“Perishable foods, which take the lion’s share of the market’s goods are always kept in unhygienic places, posing health hazards; there are flashpoints as den of miscreants, street urchins and armed robbers, who molest traders and buyers with dangerous weapons, thereby constituting public nuisance; drainages blocked with wastes and the inner roads: swampy, nauseating and in terrible state, especially during rainy season. The whole market is an eyesore and has degenerated into a slum and jungle.
“To stem the tide, the local government held series of meetings with stakeholders: the two Paramount rulers; Babaloja, Iyaloja, entire leadership, including the youth wing. Barely a few months ago, a mutually beneficial agreement was reached with all stakeholders, who in turn, promised to disseminate the information to the appropriate quarters. It is on record that these gory sights were some of the chief reasons the immediate past administration of the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, closed down the markets thrice.
“Surprisingly, the determination of the local government to ensure a hitch-free implementation of the agreement was thwarted on Friday, November 8, by the spontaneous mob attack on the contractors on site, by hoodlums, who, according to reliable reports, threatened to maintain the status quo ante.
“In an interview aired on a national television on that Friday, one of the trader fingered the market leaders for not sensitising their members on the agreed date the contractors would move to site. He also alleged that the market leaders recently collected N5,000 cash from each trader, purportedly to construct drainages in the market but there is nothing to show for it.
“The government of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA has fashioned out a plan of action in conjunction with an investor in a Private Public Partnership (PPP) agreement, to construct a modern market, to meet the international standards. Trading will continue during the operations and traders will be provided with temporary shelters to secure their goods.
“Based on enumeration of traders in the market, all the affected traders will be given priorities in allocation of new shops. The new market will be in storey building, with lock-up shops and modern facilities like toilets. The shops will be sold at affordable prices. Outright payment and/or installments are acceptable.
“The Engr. AbdulFatai Ayodele Oyesanya’s administration of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA is poised to upgrade the LCDA to the mega city status of Lagos State. No stone will be left unturned to put smiles on the faces of the good people of the LCDA. Construction of new modern markets, new administrative office complex and other infrastructure are some of the signposts of a developed economy.
“However, we are soliciting the support and cooperation of all concerned to ease the tasks ahead for the betterment of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA of today and future generations,” the statement stated.
Meanwhile, hundreds of traders on Tuesday stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly protesting the demolition of their market even as they continue to count their losses. They lamented colossal loss of their goods worth millions of naira during the sudden invasion. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which covered the protest, reported that the protesters, mostly women, arrived at the assembly en masse, chanting different songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Among the inscriptions on their placards were: “Re-modelling is a politically coined language to sell our market, we say no to it’; ‘Nigerians of conscience should come to our help’. ‘Governor Sanwo-Olu please help us.”
Others were: ‘Our market is not to be sold in any form’. ‘We will explore all legal options to stop the satanic demolition of our market’. ‘OYESCO should be called to order; Ketu/Ikosi Market belongs to all, it must not be sold. ‘Our market is our DNA, is not for sale; It’s our lifeline’, ‘we will protect it with our lives’, Ketu/Ikosi market belongs to Yorubas, Hausas, and Igbos. It must not be sold.”
The leader of the protest, Mrs Adebukola Adejuwonbi, according to NAN report, said the market was being destroyed without proper notification from the appropriate body. Adejuwonbi indicted Oyesanya as the prime mover of the demolition of the market.
She said: “We came from Ikosi/Ketu fruit Market. I am one of the sellers at the market. On Friday morning, caterpillars came to demolish our market without any notice. They said that if we wait, they will kill all of us. We were told they have sold out the market to a contractor to build an estate where we are selling our produce.
“We cannot challenge them. They even fired guns at us. Some people died, while some people sustained serious injuries. Amidst all this, the Chairman of Ikosi/Isheri Local Council Development Area chairman, Fatai Oyesanya, was standing upstairs telling the caterpillars to move on.”
Adejuwonbi said that they had to run for dear lives since they did not have any weapon on them. “This is why we decided to come here to plead with the Lagos Assembly and the governor to come to our aid and deliver us,” he added.
Another trader, Mrs Yemisi Balogun, urged the government to come to their aid by helping them to get their market back. Balogun said that their livelihoods depended largely on the market to cater for the needs of their children and households.
She said: “Since they say the government is for the people, so, we are here to cry to them that they should come to our aid and deliver us from the destruction of our market. It is from the market we get money to send our children to school. By doing this to us, we are going to suffer. That is why we are here to plead for intervention on this issue.”
While responding to the demands of the traders, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, who was represented by the member representing Shomolu Constituency 1, Hon. Olowo Rotimi, said that the Chairman of the local government had been cautioned.
He, however, added that moving Lagos forward should be done wisely without causing pains on the people. “My colleague and I have called on the Local government chairman to stop his action for now and I know that Mr. Speaker and other colleagues will be interested in this case and they will call the chairman. We have told Mr. Fatai Oyesanya to stop forthwith and I am sure we are going to resolve it. I believe you will get justice,” Rotimi reportedly assured the protesters.
The popular fruit market in Ketu area of Lagos State recently succumbed to the cruel blades of bulldozers as the authorities of the local council in charge of the area allegedly ordered for its demolition to pave the way for a modern market. The development, however, witnessed cries by several market women, who thronged the site begging the policemen, who were stationed there to allow them to go in and salvage their wares.
They claimed their produce destroyed runs into millions of naira as most of them had just stocked their shops with various items. Many of the market women, who claimed to be widows, were, according to them, refused entry into the market by the police, who were shooting canisters of teargas as the demolition exercise continued.
The Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, according to sources, has awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the dilapidated market to Total Value Integrated Service Limited, which is committing about N2.8 billion for its modernisation. Around 10am last Friday, November 8, two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, allegedly from task force stormed the market to ensure that there was no resistance during the demolition.
According to reports, there was initial resistance from touts in the market, who hauled bottles at the police. The police responded by shooting sporadically in the air to scare away the touts and also shot several canisters of teargas to disperse traders unwilling to leave the market. Some of them, who were in the market earlier, were able to salvage some of their wares, but others were not as lucky as they were prevented from gaining access into the market by the policemen.
Some of the traders, reports said, lamented that they were informed sometimes ago about the demolition, but said they were not informed a day prior to the pulling down of their shops. One of the local Coordinators of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), in the area, Adebowale Adetona, was quoted to have said they were informed some weeks ago that they were coming to demolish the market, but that they did not notify them of the latest development.
But Chris Onyekachi, Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, reportedly told newsmen that the traders’ were giving adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment. He added that series of meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market. He said that the two traditional rulers in the area, the Alaketu of Ketu and the Onikosi of Ikosi, were aware of the market development plans.
“We gave them three weeks’ notice, which expired and we gave them another seven days’ notice to move their wares to other areas of the market. We held meetings with the Iyalojas, Babalojas and we agreed on the mode of demolition. Some people kicked against it and because we want peace to reign, we met with the obas and they saw reasons why the market should be reconstructed.
“Some miscreants don’t want the redevelopment. We are not interested in chasing people away from the market. Those who own shops earlier will be considered first in re-allocation at a discounted rate. We want to upgrade the market to meet the Lagos mega city standard and we are doing it in phases. We will not shut the whole market.
“The development will be in four phases and the market occupies 25 acres. We have 18 month duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8 billion in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January,” he said.
Additional report by Okikiola Craig
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I wouldn’t have been in BBNaija house without my wife’s consent –Mike
Professional athlete, Mike Olayemi Edwards, emerged as one of the favourites of fans and viewers in the course of the recently-concluded fourth season of Big Brother Naija reality TV show.
Apart from emerging first runner-up of the Big Brother ‘Pepper Dem’ edition, Mike, a product of a Nigerian mother and a Jamaican father, won many over by not becoming entangled with any woman in the house. He spoke to ADEDAYO ODULAJA in this interview
What is your view on the fact that Nigerians can’t stop talking about how you stayed faithful to your wife during the course of BBNaija 4?
I am a strong individual, a strong man and I didn’t show my weakness, so, to me that was just amazing. I expect nothing less from my girl. To remain in the house for 99 days I never had any personal doubts for me. It’s just normal. I made a commitment before I even said I do, I made it clear to myself to be faithful till death.
But was there any time you were tempted by any of the ladies or anything you saw?
No, there was no time like that. It was all about my resolve from the beginning.
Your wife has hinted of your plan to relocate to Nigeria from your UK base. Do you plan to see that through?
Yes, I plan to move to Nigeria immediately. My wife and I are making plans together. Right now, we are still discussing and making arrangements. For now, we are taking it day by day.
Being an athlete already means you are in the limelight of sorts, why did you decide go for Big Brother?
It was simply because I consider it one of the greatest platforms in the world and I wanted to challenge myself by going for it. To be honest, it was something I saw in the challenge and it was the fear of the unknown. It was more attractive to me because I knew that it was what I wanted to do, challenge myself beyond. You know, if you do the same thing expecting different results, it’s insanity. So, I knew, let’s try something like this and see how far we can go and it ended up being a great opportunity. I will never regret it.
You apparently fared well in terms of rating but do you think anything worked against you winning the show?
I can’t really say because I knew I was real. I can’t be anybody else but myself. I am confident enough to know that it pays to be myself. Truth be told, I feel like I can go through a lot of ups and downs and somehow find the way to persevere and you know, I’m an athlete. I can’t stop being me at this stage, I don’t know anything else that could be used as a strategy aside from me being myself. I know consistency is always key for me. So, that’s the only way I could describe it. I trust the process of being consistent every day, and I wanted to walk out a winner and it didn’t fail me, I walked out a winner.
So would you say you were disappointed with the final outcome?
No, absolutely not. I knew that stepping into the house was a win for me, anything else was a bonus. So, I always felt I am in the best time in my life, I just kept reminding myself that that’s why it was easy for me to have so much cruise because ultimately I knew we were all winners in our all unique ways.
What were some of the sacrifices you would say you made in the BBNaija house towards winning?
Of course, the sacrifices I made were disconnecting from my wife for 99 days. If I didn’t have the consent of my wife I wouldn’t have taken part in the show. I am a married man, I don’t have to discuss things that don’t need to be explained, and I think that’s the relationship I have with my wife.
Did you at any point think it was getting more difficult than you envisaged
Those were the times when I thought Biggie was at least going to surprise me with a visit by my family members or someone I know but it never happened and I had to hang in there.
You have a Cigar brand that seems to be the focus of your attention now. What’s it about?
Aireyys Cigar brand is an extension of myself. I have always seen myself as a brand. It is a distinguished taste, if you love it, you like it. My wife and my team, ran the business while I was away.
What is the status of your professional career as an athlete?
I represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and the African Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba in 2018. So, right now my focus is to set up my future with my family, so, that’s my priority right now.
How would you rate your familiarity with Nigerian culture?
I am every bit a Nigerian. My mother is Nigerian and my dad is Jamaican.
What are your thoughts about the Big Brother platform now having been a part of it especially as you regard it as a huge, global platform of opportunities.
It remains a truly global and exciting platform for me but I walked out of it with the lesson of never taking things too seriously. Also that one has to be brave enough to have an open heart. You never know when you’re going home, literally.
My dad asked my brothers to stop me from auditions –LamiRose
LamiRose Alih is a Nollywood actress and a film producer, she speaks with DEBORAH OCHENI about her ready to go outfits, love for comfy wears, her preferred celebrity style, why she will not not wear clothes that reveal her nipples and lots more.
What was growing up like?
Growing up was so interesting, until things went bad for my parents that they had to relocate from Kano to the village. Things got so tough while in the village, but in all, we thank God for life. How long have you been in the entertainment industry and how did the journey start?
I have been in the industry for a while now but it wasn’t really consistent until 2017 when I decided to go fully into it. My journey started when I followed my friend to an audition and I was called to be one of the cast in the crowd scene. That was how my acting career started.
What inspired the decision to become an actress?
Well, I have always wanted to be on the screen while growing up, I admire newscasters and I love watching Stephanie Okereke and Genevieve Nnaji then. Each time I saw them on the screen I will be like, “I am going to be like this someday.”
That was what inspired me and I started working towards it. What was the experience like facing the camera for the first time? It wasn’t funny at all because I used to be a very shy person, so facing the camera was a problem.
Are your parents in support of your career?
No, they were not in support of it at first, my dad was like “when people are looking for something meaningful to do with their lives my own daughter says it’s film she wants to act”, and he will order my brothers to close-mark me from going for auditions.
Because of that, when I was filling my JAMB form I had to apply for Theatre Arts unknown to my parents instead of Law that was my dream course so that by the time I am done with school, they would accept my choice of career since that’s the course I studied in school. And behold my plan worked out well.
Which movie brought you to limelight? I would say “bride price and Asoebi girl. Be- cause it ran on Africa Magic Epic for a long time and I played a sub lead role in it.
That really made me popular.
How many movies have you featured in so far?
I have featured in over 15 movies, namely, Bride Price, The Regent King, Her Proposal, Putting Pen to Paper, Soil, A day Outside, Living in Abuja, to mention a few including my own movie “Upon a Promise” currently showing on Africa Magic Showcase and “Oge Nkpuhie coming out soon on Africa Magic Igbo. Asides acting which other business are you into? I work with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, I also run my own business
I have a clothing line, I freelance, let’s just say I do everything thats legitimate business.
Are you a trend conformist?
No, really I wear anything that suits me, not necessarily what’s trending or in vogue. Which celebrity style do you admire most? Kimora Lee and in Nigeria I would say Mercy Aigbe. I admire their styles a lot. Is there anything you will never be caught wearing? Anything that shows nipples is a no no for me. Which is your costliest fashion possession? That should be my Herms bag. How much did you buy it? Let me not even mention the amount here, I prefer to keep the price secret.
Which is your signature perfume?
I play with all because I sell perfumes as well but my best would be Gorgio Armani for women.
The fragrance is something else. Which accessories do you live for?
I love Wristwatches and earrings a whole lot.
How do you love your hairdo?
I like hair with curls or straight and my best style is side parting, the make has to be natural for me to be able to rock.
Which footwear do you love most?
I like sneakers because I don’t joke with my comfort, I don’t compromise my comfort for fashion.
What is your ready to go outfits?
Jean, T-shirt, face-cap and sneakers but I am not a tom boy.
How comfortable do you feel in jeans and Tshirt?
I feel very comfortable because they are my favourite wears.
Which outfits take up most space in your wardrobe?
T-shirts and sneakers. What determines what you wear? I dress according to the occasion that I am going for or place.
What makes a woman well dressed?
A woman is well dressed when what she wears is not too revealing.
Who is your best designer?
Toyin Abraham “Titans’ Empire.
Do you consider any fashion items indispensable?
Shoes are not easily dispensable.
How lucrative is acting as a career in Nigeria?
Acting is a very lucrative career trust me, especially as an actor.
Would you say you are satisfied with your choice of career?
There’s nothing as fulfilling as doing what you have passion for, acting gives me peace of mind.
How would you compare Nollywood to entertainment industry in other climes?
You can’t compare our industry to, say, Hollywood for now.
But on the average we have really improved in so many areas we are a work in progress and we will surely get there How easily do you buy your fashion items in Nigeria?
Very easy, I am the type that don’t really plan shopping.
If I see anything I like either online or in a shop I will just but, it so, it’s really not difficult.
NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES NEED TO REVIEW LAW CURRICULUM –OKOROCHA
‘Nigeria is not really a democracy at the moment’
Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha has been an expert in Intellectual Property Law for 28 years. She is the current Vice Chairperson of Nigerian Bar Association Women’s Forum. She told FLORA ONWUDIWE that the reason the association was formed was because women were seen as minority. Of course, there was also the issue of gender inequality and other related matters that affect women in the society.
Could you say a few things about yourself and your journey into the Law profession? Why did I become a lawyer?
Actually, I became a lawyer because I wasn’t good in Mathematics, and secondly because my father was a lawyer. You know they say that your parents will influence you, whether consciously or unconsciously. The fact that my father was a lawyer played a huge role, even though, he never pup pressure on me. I didn’t really like Mathematics in school, so I felt I should do something in the Arts, something I was familiar with and that was Law.
Why did you choose to specialise in Intellectual Property Law?
When I started my career some 28 years ago, the law firm where I did my Law Office attachment, done when you are still a Law student, used to be called Bentley, Edu and Co and that firm specialised in Intellectual Property Law. So, when I went to that firm with everybody strolling in to do Litigation and General Practice, I had the opportunity of working with someone who was a specialist in Intellectual Property Law and it sparked my interest. Intellectual property is the leading property of the mind, things that you use your intellect to create.
It could be the name of a product or you design a solution to a problem or even as a copyright which relates to actors, singers and artistes. I find it very interesting when I am driving on the road to work and I see billboards of maybe Pepsi or Coca Cola and I know that it is a registered trademark in Nigeria or I pick up a piece of medicine to drink, it has a name and it is solving a problem. I have headache and I pick up Emzor or Paracetamol that can make me well, so I find it very interesting. So, in every area of life intellectual property is there.
The cars we drive, the names of the cars have something to do with intellectual property. All areas of life are products of Intellectual property. So, I fell in love with that area of Law.
And I decided it was something that I really wanted to know a little bit more about.
You are the Vice Chairperson of the Nigerian Bar Association Women’s Forum. What are the issues affecting women in the society that the body is making a case for?
The Nigerian Bar Association Women’s Forum was just set up, inaugurated in September; very recently. I was called upon by the President of the NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, to be the Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Forum.
Why was it necessary to have a women’s forum. In the world today, there are a lot of gender issues, gender inequality etc. There are issues that are peculiar to Nigerian women lawyers. If you go to the various areas of leadership, women are always in the minority.
There are issues to do with harassment both in the office and even in the Legal profession. In fact, at the recent NBA annual conference that held in Lagos, we had one session on sexual harassment in the workplace; the place was jam packed. People were discussing the issues, issues of intimidation, issues of discrimination, so there are peculiar issues. So, the Women’s Forum tends to focus on the solution to those types of problems, as well as personal development of women, mentorship. You find out that there are a lot of young lawyers, female lawyers, sometimes they don’t know how to dress, they don’t know how to ensure career progression, so the best way to go about it is polishing up their skills in the workplace. We therefore run programmes that will address those issues that are peculiar to female practitioners.
As an expert in Intellectual Property Law, does it mean you don’t veer into other areas of law?
A c t u – ally, as a lawyer, you can choose to be a Barrister or Solicitor. Barristers are the ones who actually go to court while solicitors deal more with commercial law. In Nigeria we have what we call a fuse bar; so once you go through the Bar school in your profession successfully, you are a Barrister and solicitor, and you can go to court or you can decide to be a commercial practitioner. Earlier on in my career, I did a lot of litigation; I went to court and handled all manner of cases.
But along the line, the more senior you get, the more you are able to choose what you like and what you don’t like. I didn’t particularly like going to court because they will alw a y s delay your cases, The Judge might not sit; you prepare your case, and the Judge will either not seat because there is no electricity in the court or he travelled or something. I did not like the unnecessary delays in the court, so Intellectual property law was a way of me pursuing a passion as well as being able to still remain a lawyer which I love. Intellectual Property Law is under Commercial Law.
It has been said that many law graduates are half-baked and not properly grounded; how do you respond to this?
I have long been an advocate that something needs to be done about the Curriculum in the University today, and I am saying this generally as an employer of labour.
When young graduates come to me with particular reference, when they come for interviews, and you give them written essays or to tell them to write about topical issues, honestly, I always find them wanting. If I give them law related questions, a lot of the time, they fall short. So, I have always been an advocate of the fact that we need to tweak the curriculum in our universities for the students studying law to have law practical base, so that by the time they go through that formal education there some skills they would pick up. I am a treasurer and a council member of one of the sessions of the NBA, that is a session on Business Law, known as NCL. Under the NCL, one of the things we try to do is develop what we call a Young Lawyers Committee.
The committee basically looks into issues affecting young lawyers and looks for capacity gaps that we, the older lawyers, can help them fill. So over the course of the year we run various programmes, training programmes, for them. We try and involve them in day to day practice. We look for those gaps in real life and see how to bridge them. But I think a wider conversation would be to have universities look at how their curriculum can be tweaked to ensure that when a student comes out as undergraduate, there is something there that can form a foundation which you can now build a good career on.
Fees at the Nigerian Law School are high and this has made it difficult for students to attend Law School and be called to bar; how you can make a case for them?
The truth of the matter is that in other to provide quality education in any country, it requires a lot of money, resources. If you were to go to a university abroad and see what they have in place for students you would marvel; so I think that I would defend the high fees. I think that it is a direct reflection of the economy but sustaining a certain level of quality of teaching in the country comes with a huge capital outlay and we’re trying to make the quality of our own law school commensurate with what is obtainable elsewhere. My advice to those who want to go to school but can’t afford it? It is a tough one, it is tough but I think I would not be an advocate of reduction of fees. I will not because I think it will have a direct impact on the quality of education that we want to achieve. But there has to be a way to mitigate it, I don’t know. And young law students who are unable to attend Law School because of high fees, what happens to them Y o u must go through the Law School before you are q u a l i – fied to be a practitioner.
A lot of lawyers aspire to be Senior Advocates of Nigeria, what are the selection processes?
M a n y years ago, it was felt that a special acveloping colade or recognition should be given to those who have excelled in the act of advocacy, by handling very difficult cases. And one school of thought also feels that just as you have SANs who are Barristers, who actually handle cases in court, there should be a parallel accolade given to senior Commercial Lawyers, who are also doing some groundbreaking issues of law and setting precedents and standards. I choose not to get into that argument, but I give respect where respect is due because to be a SAN in Nigeria is not a little thing.
You know there is a lot of hierarchy in law, so we give them the respect due to them. But I wouldn’t mind that they also have discussion which also recognises senior commercial lawyers who have excelled in various specific areas of the law; let there be also some sort of recognition for them too.
Many court orders have not been obeyed by government, is this in the interest of Nigerian democracy?
The bedrock of any society is obeying the Rule of Law. And it is very sad that a lot of the time when you go through the rigours of getting your case through in court and coming out successful, sometimes the rulings are thwarted. I think that it is really part of the process of a society t h a t i s developing.
You know that the law in Nigeria as it is today developed from what we called Common Law. Common Law is basically the law that was started by the British when they colonized us many years ago and so their own society has evolved to a stage where the Rule of Law is obeyed.
But in Nigeria we are not yet there. So these are some of the issues that we raised, that we discussed at the NBA annual conference; there was a whole session where we dealt with the issues which revealed to us that the Rule of Law is not respected. Somehow, I feel that in Nigeria, even though they say we are in democracy, we are not really a democracy, because anybody who is in government almost always has the final say. But as lawyers there will be discussions that we will continue to engage in and we will continue to fight for the Rule of Law to stand. If a judgement has been made against you, there is a process in place for you to go and seek redress, you have the Court of Appeal, you also have the Supreme Court where you can seek redress.
The Judiciary which is the last hope of the common man has been hijacked; where do you think the common man can get justice in this country?
There will always be an opportunity for the common man to get justice. It then means justice delayed is not justice denied. My advice would be that you should continue to stand up for what is right, you continue to advocate for what is right; it is important for the common man. Sometimes, when you are going on a journey alone it can be a very lonely place but if you pull together and have one voice, there will be more of an opportunityfor you to be heard. I really believe that if we form a group, that is involved in advocacy in other to stand for what is right; we will go a long way in ensuring that.
Ii is said you can’t talk about IP law without talking about Chinyere Okorocha. You have put in 28 years in this aspect of Law and what you profess is that the original owners of any creative work need to be legally conscious whenever people infringe on their property.
What has the IP group done to make it known to the common man who is ignorant of the cause you are championing. In terms of being an expert in IP law, there are also other experts in Nigeria who are involved in Intellectual Property law. I wouldn’t want to call it novel aspect of the law, in fact, it is well known on the list of the allocation of the courts in the specific practice areas IP law has been recognized. And there are certain courts in Nigeria that specialize in dealing with the commercial issues that arise from intellectual property infringement.
For about Seven years, I was the chairperson of the IP community of NBA session of Business Law. One of the things we tried to do at that time was to run various programmes and had yearly programme sensitizing people on importance of IP Law. Yes it is true, a lot of people don’t know how to go about it, they don’t even know it exists, they don’t know that the property of the mind can be perfected. So, for the seven years period I held that office, we ran sensitisation programmes.
We partnered with the government, partnered with the USA, UN and various organisations to try and sensitise people. We also had programme with the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the trademark and design registry in Abuja, which is where one aspect of the IP trademarks are registered, and at the end of the day, I think we made a lasting impact. And it is maybe two or three years ago I handed over to someone else. So behind-the-scenes we are working, I am also part of the discussion to create IP policy for Nigeria.
You know in the international circle they value IP more than we do in Nigeria; creativity is the bedrock of any society, if people stop creating, then they die. In a society like Nigeria, the focus is on oil and anything that has nothing to do with the oil industry does not get the recognition it deserves.
I am also involved in a bill before the National Assembly to update the IP Law particularly the trademark act. Unfortunately, our laws are very archaic and outdated, our trademark act is a replica of maybe 1939 act of the UK. Throughout my career I was among the people advocating for a change and improvement in our laws that allow us to practice IP in line with the international best practices. I think it is an ongoing thing, the little I have done has made some impact; we are hopeful that in the future we will be able to say that we have made a very robust IP policy for the country which is publicised and the public is sensitised and everybody knows what their rights are.
You said parents usually influence their children in choosing careers.
Did your father make any input in your choice of career? Just the other day in my house, I was going through some clothes and I found his wig and gown, and it brought tears to my eyes.
My father, Eugene Aligweke, is late and I found his wig and gown. When my elder brother was sorting out some of my dad’s things, he thought that since I am the only lawyer in father’s family I should have the wig and gown.
He gave them to me and you know that is what lawyers wear in court. So, I found them in my house the other day and it brought tears to my eyes. I loved my father and I know he loved me too. He had a great influence in my life, he was such an upright man, and he believed in honesty. He had integrity. We didn’t have money when we were growing up but we had love, we had the fear of God, and those were the types of value we had growing up. In everything you do tell the truth, know your are valuable, know you can make a difference; these were the traits, that I think I took from him in this journey called life.
So, yes he was a huge influence to me. When I was a young lawyer, learning to become a lawyer in law school and even when I started work, I always referred to him to seek his opinions and he was always happy to provide them.
Chic bridal hairstyles
The month November is usually filled with many wedding celebrations.
If you and your spouse have concluded arrangement to celebrate your day anytime from now then you don’t need to settle for basics when it comes to your hairdo because you will be the centre of atten- tion and many of your invited guests will be interested in your hairstyle, so ensure you do something out of usual.
Classic up-do bridal hairstyle is too boring for modern brides, whether you’re getting married or acting as a bridesmaid at a wedding this month, Saturday Telegraph has got some per- fect wedding hairstyles for you to choose from so that looking back on wedding photographs in the distant future does not make you cringe.
Milk kitchen: The story of wet nursing
‘I felt so honoured to have given him his first decent feed as a new born
Wet-nursing, was, in recent past an essential practice that allowed for infant survival after many mothers died in childbirth. Some medical conditions also prevented a number of mothers from breastfeeding their babies at birth. In this report, ISIOMA MADIKE, takes a historical tour of this exercise that was the norm in many government hospitals in the past
Nigerians seldom hear about wet nursing these days — but it’s still happening around the world. Wet nursing (or milk sharing) became a talking point after a Queensland mother posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her nephew on the Facebook page for her blog, The Milk Meg, sometimes in 2016. “My gorgeous little nephew!” wrote mother of three, Meg Nagle, who is a lactation consultant. “While my sister was at work today I tried to give him a bottle of her expressed milk a few times (which he wouldn’t take). I could see he was tired so I popped him on the boob and voila, he was asleep in minutes.”
Her post triggered a discussion about breastfeeding someone else’s baby, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, with many women sharing their own wet nursing stories. With medical evidence pointing overwhelmingly to the health benefits of breast milk, wet nursing found a niche among women who, for medical reasons, can’t nurse. Back home in Nigeria, this reporter encountered a retired Matron, Mrs Abike Balogun, who claimed to have practiced as a wet nurse at some point in her over 30 years sojourn in nursing. It started informally, she told this reporter, before “I was co-opted into it professionally.” Balogun said: “My sister gave birth to my beautiful nephew at the time.
She was exhausted in hospital and he wasn’t quite lactating, and she actually asked me to ‘please feed him’. I felt so honoured to have given him his first decent feed as a new born and to help my poor sister get some much needed rest. It was a wonderful experience I’d not forget in a hurry.”
Balogun later nursed seven other kids, after she related her experience to some of her nursing colleagues. “While I was narrating my experience and how excited I was to have done that, little did I know that I was into something big. In what looked like a coincidence, there was a woman who just gave birth in the hospital I was working and was not lactating. So, when the Chief Medical Director heard of my story, he summoned me to his office and thereafter pleaded with me to help breastfeed the child whose mother was in distress.
“The woman in question also had a medical condition she was battling with and had to be kept in the hospital longer that she should have. Within the period I took over the duty of a mother as I breastfed the baby as if he was mine. Many who were in the hospital didn’t know what was happening. We had to do it in such a way that the woman would not feel humiliated.
“The baby was perfectly healthy, and the mother didn’t have milk but even if she had, she would not have been allowed to breastfeed him. I was weaning my daughter, Bola, but I still had a lot of milk that I was pumping, so I breastfed the baby like I would my own child. Although I wasn’t under any pressure as I could not imagine having to force my child to wean, and I wouldn’t advise any other mother to feel under pressure to do that. “I just needed to help out as I assumed the role of a professional wet nurse, even though I was not trained as one.
Till date I cannot say if people still train as wet nurses. My view of wet nursing is that it feels right and is a natural important thing for the child.” And because of the manner Balogun handled the assignment of helping to breastfeed that particular child, the CMD commissioned her to take up the assignment, with a remuneration attached to it whenever the need arose.
She had stopped child bearing at the time but still lactate unbelievably. She accepted the challenge without qualms. “I saw it as a special calling and I did it with joy. After my first experience, I went on to help breastfeed about seven other ‘unknown’ kids, of which I was paid handsomely.
As a trained nurse we see a lot of women with different challenges, most of them, with sever medical conditions. So, naturally, you are left with no option but to lend a helping hand at that point. However you feel about wet nursing, it’s difficult to argue against the benefits of feeding an infant in the most natural way possible,” Balogun said.
Incidentally, some of the younger women in the nursing profession in the country have confessed they have not come across a wet nurse before. For those who admitted the existence, they claimed it only happened in the past, but not anymore. One of such nurses at the General Hospital, Orile-Agege, Lagos, who identified herself simply as Mosun, told one of our reporters that it used to be a common feature in most big government maternity homes, especially the general hospitals in the cities. She said: “Yes, it existed here in Nigeria, but I doubt if we still have them in our hospitals again. You know things have changed and many of the old good practices have gone with the initiators. I can tell you that most of our young nurses we have around today may not have an idea what a wet nurse is all about.
“Those days, for one reason or the other, some mothers don’t lactate, especially young mothers. There are also those who may have some health challenges that could prevent them from breastfeeding their babies. In other instance, some nurses are seconded to breastfeed babies that their mothers died during childbirth. In such situations, these specially trained nurses, come in handy. Apart from the fact that they lactate easily, they are also helped with some drugs to enable them to do that effectively. “Of course they must have been screened to make sure they too have no diseases that could harm the newborns.
The government employed, paid and put them on a special scale to encourage people to take up the job. Even at that, most people do not know that such nurses exist in such hospitals. It’s only those in need that were aware of such special nurses. Breastfeeding someone else’s baby was unthinkable for mothers at the time. Incredibly, despite the health risks, it’s secretly making a comeback.”
“One reason why it’s no longer in vogue may be the fact that most mother nowadays prefer formulas despite the fact that government hospitals try to discourage that to promote exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of birth. But how do you regulate those that patronise private hospitals?” Another nurse at the popular Ayinke maternity at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, who only preferred to be addressed as Olawunmi, appears not to be aware of the existence of wet nursing in Nigeria. Although she has an idea of what wet nursing is but said that the country is yet to graduate to that level.
“I don’t think we have graduated to that level in Nigeria. The wet nurses help to breastfeed other people’s babies, especially if their mothers are dead or can’t produce milk on their own. It’s possible they are specially trained for that; I don’t think I’m sure of that; essentially their duty is to breastfeed babies that their mothers are dead or can’t lactate,” she said. Another Matron in County Hospital, Aguda-Ogba, Lagos, who equally plead-ed not to be identified, said: “We don’t have such training in nursing, mostly in Nigeria; you can only find such probably in other civilised climes.
What we do here is that once the woman dies the grandmother can wash her breast to feed the baby or if there is no one to feed the baby we suggest formulas and water in order to sustain the child. Though I have heard people refer to such practice as wet nursing abroad.” Also, the President, Nigerian Association of Nurses and Midwives, AbdulRafiu Adeniji, said: “It is only professional nurses that I know about in the country. I don’t know about wet nurses. The work of a professional nurse is all encompassing. But what we have that is related to that is paediatric nursing; wet nursing is not yet a registered profession in Nigeria. Although as a nurse, you are a surrogate mother; you take credit of infants and the elderly from nonage to the grave. “As a professional nurse you should be able to work in all areas but we have what we call paediatric nurses in Nigeria. They have their own specialty.
We have those who deal with infants and those who deal with the special cases like infants born with deformities or with cardiac arrest. “We also have people who are naturally gifted in tending to infants and elderly but in Nigeria the only recognised nursing dealing with infants is paediatric nursing which have a lot of sub-specialisation under them. Wet nursing is not a focus in Nigeria. We only have midwives and paediatric nurses.” Dr. Peter Ogunnubi, a consultant psychiatrist and Chief Executive Officer of Grace Cottage Clinic in Lagos, admitted he has little knowledge about wet nursing in this part of the world.
“Wet nursing is a practice that is popular in more civilised worlds. Though I would not say if they are specially trained but I know because of death of mothers while giving birth and for reasons that the woman is not lactating, that can suffice. “It’s also recommended when the woman has some kind of health challenge which could prevent her from breastfeeding her child.
There are also those who do that informally in which case relatives or grandmothers could be engaged to help breastfeed a child when the need arises. We have such here in Nigeria but it is not so pronounced,” he said. The acceptability or not of the concept of wet nursing may vary from one belief to the other. A professor of Islamic Eschatology, Muslim activist, social commentator and an advocate of dialogue, Ishaq Akintola, for instance, listed the condition under which it could be encouraged.
He said: “If the mother of a new baby suddenly dies, a wet nurse can assist in breastfeeding. They are even employed in Arab culture; it was part of their culture in the past to adopt somebody to breastfeed their children. Any area of humanitarian support is approved and supported by Islam.” Chief Olorunwa Ayekonilogbon, the priest of Ifa deity, also believes wet nursing to be to part of the African tradition. “This is not something new to us as Africans.
Whenever a mother dies while giving birth, the child will automatically be given to another woman to nurse, but it’s usually close relatives. I believe this is what is now being referred to as wet nursing,” Ayekonilogbon said. Wet-nursing, the practice of a woman feeding an infant that is not biologically her child her breast, was a practical way to provide nutrition for newborns. Research has shown that breastfed children enjoy lifelong health benefits – they have higher IQs, get sick less, are not likely to be obese and not likely to develop allergies, diabetes and heart disease in later life.
This may be the reason why pressure has mounted on new mothers to put down the bottle. Breastfeeding, according to medical experts, provides infants with protection from dehydration and minimised exposure to contaminated food and thus becomes essential for their survival.
The ideal wet nurse is one who is able to produce the best nutrition for an infant, based on specific characteristics. She must be unmarried, and should not have sexual intercourse and/or become pregnant (both of which will lower the qualities of her milk).
They should also only breastfeed one child at a time. Additionally, a wet nurse must be on a regulated diet so her milk will not become unsuitable for the child. However, doctors usually caution that such nurses should be in good health so there is no transmission of infection through breast milk.
To ensure the safety of the child, doctors advise screening mothers for viruses such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C. Even at that, they have over time harped on the fact that lactation has a direct beneficial effect on the infant in that it promotes its growth and normal development and confers protection against various infantile diseases, especially infections.
In some civilisations wet nursing occurred mainly on a casual basis where lactating relatives or neighbours fed another child along with (tandem lactation), or after weaning their own infant. In others words it was a highly organised practice among certain classes of the population. Unlike the rich however, poor families are usually not able to afford the services of a wet nurse as it often does not come cheap. It was not until 1928 that the first unit for infants was opened with a milk kitchen and in-house wet nurses. Like infant mortality, maternal mortality was very high in ancient Egypt.
The subsequent reliance on wet nurses to provide nutrition for orphaned infants increased and wet nurses were promoted to the level of worship. A social distinction between classes, emphasised by the use of wet nurses, is first recorded in this time period, as royalty primarily used wet nurses to feed their infants.
Immediately after a queen gave birth, her infant was given to the wet nurse, who then breastfed the newborn. Royal wet nurses were carefully selected, highly respected and are shown on guest lists at events. During the Middle Ages also, wet nursing continued to serve as an indicator of social class, and many of them were slaves or ex-slaves.
In Western Europe, wealthy and noble families often employed wet nurses because breastfeeding was inconvenient and women could regain their fertility. The profession re-emerged as desirable in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries when noble and upper-class women hired wet nurses to feed their infants.
They subsequently became highly respected, well paid and received both food and lodging for their services. Even at that, it only happened in rare cases, if the mother died in childbirth or was unable to breastfeed. However, defects in the child’s disposition were often attributed to the practice.
•Additional reports from Tosin Makanjuola, Olamide Solana and Okiki Craig
LAMENTATION OF FIREFIGHTERS
‘I shall be making a donation of three fire trucks to avert reccurrences’
It appears we are in a spell of fire despite the daily rains that have defied normal season. Within a short space of time, hell had let loose in major cities across the country, as incidents of fire outbreaks continued to wreck havocs. However these happenings have somewhat exposed the dearth of firefighting equipment in most fire service stations. ISIOMA MADIKE reports
The old-school rap song is famous for the chant, “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don’t need no water, let the mother f–ker burn.”
This chant has been used in movies, dance competitions and live shows by various funk or rap artistes. Of late, it has become the new anthem across the Nigerian landscape as news merchants struggle to outdo one another with screaming headlines of fire incidents.
A day after fire ignited by a fallen tanker killed at least three persons in Onitsha another fuel tanker also fell and caught fire in the commercial city of Anambra State.
The incident occurred on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway around 3 a.m. according to eyewitnesses. In the two incidents, lives as well as property valued in billions of naira were report edly lost. There have been similar incidents around the popular Otedola Bridge on the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway where, on a number of times, tankers fully loaded with petroleum products fell, leaked and exploded. It’s been the same harrowing experience across the country with firefighters doing little, according to opinions, to salvage anything from the flames.
When the first Onitsha Market fire incident occurred, the Anambra State Fire Service reportedly failed to show up with their firefighting equipment. It took the gallantry of the Delta State Fire Service to lend a helping hand. The help however, came a little too late with what many had laboured for years gone with the flames.
However, the unfortunate incidents have continued to elicit reactions from across Nigeria. For instance, the senator representing Anambra North District, Stella Oduah, in a statement, reportedly said she would donate three fire trucks to help in firefighting in the state.
She had said: “Sequel to my earlier statement where I promised to look into ways of ameliorating the plight of victims in the fuel tanker inferno, I shall be making a donation of three fire trucks to the Federal Fire Service in Onitsha to ensure they are better equipped to avert a recurrence like this.”
Oduah’s pronouncement, according to opinions, only highlighted the dearth of firefighting equipment in most cities across Nigeria where they are most needed. Awka Determined to improve the performance of the fire service in the state, Anambra State government has said it will employ at least 120 personnel to beef up the staff strength in the service.
It also stated that the state fire service, which is currently under the Ministry of Public Utilities, would become a parastatal known as Anambra State Fire Agency, directly under the office of the governor.
According to the fire Chief/Director, Anambra Fire Service, Engineer Agbili Martins, who spoke to Saturday Telegraph, the body will no longer be answerable to the Ministry of Public Utilities but the office of the governor. “Before, we did not have direct link with the governor, but through the ministry of public utilities. “Now, we are under the governor’s office and this, according to the governor, is for efficiency and optimal productivity.
The governor has also approved the recruitment of at least 120 personnel who will be trained to become firefighters and they would after their training deployed to the various fire stations in the state.” Agbili noted that refreshers training would soon commence for staff of the agency in order to inject new impetus on service delivery and productivity in the department.
He said that some firefighting trucks in the agency that are in various states of disrepair were currently being refurbished for rapid responds to distress calls at any given time.
He however explained that the largest firefighting tanker that came to render service on that fateful day in Onitsha had problems, adding that even the staff of Delta State fire service that came to assist were attacked by the angry mob who also stoned men and officers of the Anambra fire Agency.
“They were attacking them and there was nothing we could do in that situation. When you look at the distance from Upper-Iweka to Ochanja Market you will agree with me that had it been that the mob allowed us to do our job the extent of damage would have been reduced greatly and it wouldn’t have got to Ochanja.
“Even when our colleagues from Asaba came to join us, the mob did not allow them to come in because they were chased away with stones.” Incidentally, the governor was silent on the dearth of the equipment, which many highlighted as the major reason why the Onitsha incident got out of hand. Abia The Zonal Commander, Aba Zone of Abia State Fire Service, Okezie Uche, has also said that the state fire service will not run away from its duties of extinguishing fire should such situation present itself.
Uche, who was reacting to question from one of our reporters, called for more support on the area of equipment and staff discipline. He said that Aba Zonal Command covered nine local government areas out of the 17 LGAs in Abia State. “I’ll say that if there’s fire outbreak, we’ll not just relax.
We’ll surely do our best because it’s our duty to do so. You can see what hap- pened in Anambra, I may say that lack of equipment inhibited the firefighters there from doing what was needful. “In my command, what we do most here is improvised method. Anywhere we go to and we notice situations that are technically beyond our control as a result of lack of equipment like Breathing Apparatus (BA), we’ll use our initiative. However, if we have fire outbreak in high rising buildings like in four-storey edifice, honestly, there’s nothing much we can do because we don’t have high rising turn table appliances like crane.
“In our station right now, there’s no electricity for over two years. We have hydrant which is our main source of water. Look at it there, but we don’t have light to pump anything here. The Electricity Distribution Company cut off our light because they said we owe them about N500, 000. “Here in this zone we have two fire engines. The bigger one is called Water Tender while the other one is called Fire Truck. The Fire Tender contains 24,000 gallons of water while the Fire Truck contains 1,000 gallons of water.
But if there’s a big fire outbreak and we turn out with the 1,000 gallons capacity fire truck, there’s nothing much we can do. The truth is that the big Fire Tender needs serious repair because it’s not functioning properly. If possible, a new one will help make things better. We are already entering the dry season and our work become more crucial. ”However, the state Assembly has passed a bill that will give us autonomy and make us function better. It will put everything about us including allowances in place.
Our staff strength is 17, we cover nine LGAs and it is weighing us down. Aside that there’s a big problem of sabotage within us here; as you can see, out of every normal staff that ought to be on morning duty, only one is here and do you know why?” Ibadan Meanwhile, the Deputy Director, Fire Service, Oyo State, Adewuyi Moshood, has admitted that the state fire service has acute shortage of equipment as well as acute shortage of manpower. He also acknowledged that fire service throughout the country, which is so significant, is poorly funded.
This was extensively discussed during our conference in Kwara State in August this year, he added. Moshood said: “The state governments are to care for the welfare of fire service across the country because it falls under Concurrent List. It is the state government that funds and legislates on fire service across the country. So, for that humble reason, these are some of the challenges we have.”
On the question of funding of the Service, he said: “Actually, there used to be budget allocation for fire service every year, but the funds are usually not accessible. This is one of the factors crippling the performances of the fire service generally, especially in Oyo State. A situation where an emergency responder does not have access to new equipment, what can he do? You can’t imagine the deplorable condition of our equipment now. Those we have now were purchased in 2009 or 2010.
“Also, if there is any other disaster apart from fire incident, it is still the firefighters that will be called. And there is special equipment for this, but I doubt if there is any state that can boast of the equipment to take care of such disaster like flooding. If this occurs or there are any related disasters, it is the fire service they would call on. This is forcing fire service personnel to be using initiatives and experience to carry out their performances. These are the conditions in which we find ourselves. “On the issue of welfare package, it is very pathetic.
This is because as I am talking to you, we are on it. But you know we have a new government in Oyo State. The new governor, Seyi Makinde, is adequately attending to our problems. “I can tell you and I can confirm categorically that in the last three dispensations, this will be the second time that a governor will visit the fire service office, because Makinde visited us recently to see things for himself. He was conducted round the premises, and he saw the deplorable condition our equipment are, and promised to find a lasting solution to it.” Lagos Unlike some of the above experiences, Lagos State, in the estimation of many had done fairly well in rapid response to fire incidents in recent times.
The state officials had been proactive also in many instances as they often go on enlightenment tour of various segments in the state to educate both individuals and corporate organisations. The state equally has 16 sub-stations across the state strategically positioned in highly risky areas and in places where many will be able to access the services whenever there is the need to do so.
Although officials of the state fire service were not forthcoming with necessary information when this reporter sought to speak with them on the issue, a senior official who pleaded not to be quoted told Saturday Telegraph that the state government had placed high premium to issues of safety. “You can see the equipment we have on ground here (head office), they are world class. We also have well trained personnel who perform their duties professionally.
Without sounding immodest, I can say that we are capable of competing with our counterparts anywhere in the world. “To make sure everyone is able to access our services, the government strategically positioned similar equipment in 16 other locations across the state.
When you go to those stations, you will be impressed with what you will find on ground. We also have enlightenment programmes to educate the populace because we do not only take delight in responding to fire incidents but to make sure we curtail the occurrence as it is cheaper to do so,” she said. At the Federal Fire Service centre at Ojuelegba, no official was equally willing to grant this reporter audience in spite of his repeated efforts to get them to speak on the issue.
However, this reporter sighted only one firefighting lorry parked in the vast compound, which did not look like it’s functional. In January, the state fire service had raised the alarm over the frequent fire outbreaks in the state, which it attributed to high level of unconsciousness in the handling of fire and other flammable materials as major causes.
The fire service said it recorded over 119 fire incidents across Lagos State. The then Acting Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Rasaki Musibau, who made this known at Alausa, Ikeja, lamented that valuables worth millions and preventable lives were been lost daily to avoidable fire outbreaks. The former fire chief recalled that the directorate received nothing less than 17 fire emergencies weekly, which he said called for concern as a responsible and responsive government that placed safety of its citizenry at premium.
According to him, 11 rescue and eight false calls were received accordingly. Rasaki said that if not for the act of professionalism and tactics employed by the firefighters at scenes of the incidents across the state, the so-called small fires would have escalated and become a disaster.
“Fire outbreaks in the state have become a perennial problem, with many reported cases, which in no doubt pose serious threat to national economy and further leave enormous material damage, injury to persons and disruption of economic and social life. “Some of the fire cases are mostly caused by negligence on the part of those who use it, hence the need to prioritise the management and prevention of fire in our environment in order to avoid destruction of lives and properties” Rasaki said.
He noted that the fire officers as first responder to emergency and incident management had been empowered and equipped to tackle any form of natural and man-made incident across the state and further appealed to Lagosians to get familiar with the emergency toll free numbers 767/112.
Owerri Imo State has also said there is no cause for alarm as it has the fire power to fight fire in the state. Before his 100 days in office, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, had overhauled and upgraded the fire service in the state. The Director, Imo State Fire Service, Japheth Okereafor, said: “What we have here now were not set up or acquired overnight because of the Onitsha fire incident but because the new governor came with a ready plan for the fire service in Imo State.”
Okereafor maintained that his men were now very motivated to tackle any fire emergency unlike what was obtainable in the past. He added that with the coming of the new administration, all the zones – Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe – now have functional fire engines to combat any fire emergency in their region.
He said: “As you can see, here in the head office, I have three sound fire engines and one in the Government House; I also have one in Okigwe and one in Orlu with ready men on ground. I must also add that the fire service was literally grounded for the most part of the Rochas Okorocha administration and nobody cared about it. Sokoto In Sokoto, the state government has ensured that the state fire service is fully equipped and provided with all necessary arrangements and Information Technology materials required for effective disaster control. “Apart from 18 firefighting vehicles at the headquarters and numerous backup vans, 23 local governments in the state were provided with one firefighting vehicle each,” the DG said.
With the establishment of the Zonal Federal Fire office in the state recently, Governor Aminu Tambuwal allocated a land for the construction of the zonal office in Sokoto.
This, Saturday Telegraph gathered, will complement the state fire service, which has over 18 functional firefighting vehicles and 13 operational fire stations equipped with modern firefighting tools within state metropolis. The present administration also bought 10 new vehicles, refurbished the existing ones, and constructed eight fire stations in addition to drilling two boreholes and provided two water tankers as back-up to facilitate the agency’s activities. The government has equally maintained the prompt supply of chemicals used in putting out fires as well as the provision of rain boots and jackets. This is in addition to the over 142 workers whose salaries are being paid regularly even as they are made to enjoy shift and hazard allowances. But like the famed Oliver Twist, some employees are appealing to the state government to provide the organisation with an ambulance to complement its services to victims without waiting for responses from hospitals which usually delay emergency services. They also appealed to the organisation to embark on sending them to rigorous training that will bring them up-to-date with modern techniques of firefighting.
Asaba The firefighting response of the Delta State government has been adjudged as one of the best in Nigeria. While the state government had acquired modern day equipment to tackle the menace of fire outbreak, the firefighting facility at the budding Asaba International Airport, has greatly boosted prowess of the state. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa recently commissioned two firefighting trucks procured by Federal Fire Service for its ‘Zone K’ Headquarters that is based in Asaba, the state capital, which is expected to covers Delta, Edo and Bayelsa states, and complements the state’s fire service. Liman has hailed the strength and quality of firefighters in the state during the commissioning and harped on the preparedness status of firefighting mobile and fixed assets.
The state Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said that fire outbreaks had been prevented, adding that goods and that property worth billions of naira had secured from being gutted by fire. This, he attributed to the improved welfare package, training and retraining of workers and the procurement of necessary equipment to boost their morale for prompt responses to distress calls. He said: “That explains why our neighbouring Anambra State sought assistance from Delta State when it was recently faced with the challenge of petrol tanker fire outbreak, which sympathetically consumed marketplaces in Onitsha before it was curtailed.” Yenagoa Also, the Bayelsa State Fire Service has stepped up its services to the people of the state with new firefighting equipment readily available at the office premises to curb any fire incident that may occur. A visit to the office on Thursday at the Ovom area of Yenagoa showed a lot of water tankers and other equipment displayed with some ready staff available.
According to the Director of state Fire Service, Koko Agbodo, the state government has continuously tried to improve on the challenges facing the fire service in the state. He said: “The zonal office for the Federal Fire Service is in Port Harcourt. I’m sure you have not come here before. “If you have, you will know that I don’t talk to press. As a civil servant, I have the constraint of speaking with the press. I refer them to my ministry; the Ministry of Local Government Administration. But at the same time if there is a fire outbreak and journalists get me there, I used to answer their questions like the cause of the fire and other questions.
“Besides, any other information, I refer them to the ministry, although there is tremendous improvement. We are trying.” Meanwhile, the Federal Fire Service said it had established six additional zonal offices to boost service delivery across the country. Liman Ibrahim, its Comptroller-General, announced this at a press briefing in Abuja in September, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He had said: “The essence of the spread is to deliver quality firefighting services, improve the response time to emergencies and complement efforts of the state fire services. When I came, we had presence only in Abuja, Lagos and the six geo-political zones. We believe that the new zones will widen our reach and strengthen us to do more.”
He listed the zones to include Zone G, with headquarters in Minna, which is expected to cater for Niger, Kogi and Kwara, while Zone H, with headquarters in Sokoto, will cater for Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi. Others included Zone I with headquarters in Yola, to cater for Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe, while Zone J, with headquarters in Owerri, will cater for Abia and Imo. Zone K, expected to cover Delta, Edo and Bayelsa, with headquarters in Asaba, while Zone L, with headquarters in Osogbo, will cater for Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states. Ibrahim said that the zonal headquarters would be equipped with firefighting trucks while experienced firemen would be deployed to man them.
He said that the Federal Government was focused on strengthening the state fire services for effectiveness and efficiency, adding that the FFS was already reaching out to state governors to secure their support and encouragement. “I want to believe that a strengthened state fire service complemented by our presence in the zones will go a long way in addressing the gaps in fire service delivery across the country. We have also received approval for the establishment of additional five fire service training schools, which will soon take off. They are to be located in Maiduguri, Calabar, Ilorin, Katsina and Umuahia.” Additional reports from Steve Uzoechi (Owerri), Emmanuel Ifeanyi (Aba), Okey Maduforo (Awka), Danladi Umar (Sokoto), Sola Adeyemo (Ibadan), Dominic Adewole (Asaba) and Pauline Onyibe (Yenagoa).
A woman’s hair is her crown and beauty –Hair boss
Linda Akachukwu Paul porpularly known as Hair Prof is the CEO of PDF Hair and Accessories; she spoke with DEBORAH OCHENI about her fashion philosophy, how making customers friends has helped in improving her sales, the lucrative nature of hair business in Nigeria and sundry issues
What is your personal style?
I love to keep it simple and comfortable. I love dresses made with our local fabric popularly known as ankara. The ankara materials have very beautiful and vibrant colours. On a regular day, I love my jeans and t-shirt.
What is your take on African wears?
African attires are unique. They represent our culture and identity and to let go of them will be like discarding our own culture. It is necessary to hold on to them if we wish to preserve our traditions. If we are not going to promote our customs then nobody will, and it is likely that they will become extinct. I love wearing them. They are beautiful. Our local prints are never going to go out of style.
Tell us the trending hair style
Anything wig is a hot deal now. We have varieties of them. Braided wigs, Human hair wigs, Synthetic and others. A lot of people go for wigs now because of its convenience
Why should style lovers invest in quality hair?
Anything quality stands the test of time. It saves cost because it is reusable. You can always revamp a good hair to create different styles.
Do you consider any fashion item indispensable?
For me, my hair extensions are indispensable.
While shopping, which fashion item catches your fancy?
I can’t take my eyes off a good hair, wristwatch and handbag.
Which fashion accessory do you live for?
Human Hair extensions. A woman’s hair is her crown and beauty.
Do you conform to trend? Which fashion trends do you love most?
I don’t follow trends. I create my style and it doesn’t have to be expensive or in vogue as long as I’m comfortable in them. That way I stand out. I love long dresses and I create the perfect style for my body. I love the way our Nigerian designers have taken our local ankara fabric to another level. Creating different and unique styles with them. With what is obtainable here now, you don’t even need the so-called designers to look great
Fashion wise, do you have a role model?
No. I don’t have a fashion role model.
Is there anything you’re unlikely to be caught wearing?
I admire and respect people who dress decently. You are never going to see me wear any- thing revealing, waist beads and ankle chain. I equally will not have a tattoo or pierce my body.
What is your ready to go outfits?
A pair of jeans and t-shirt
When it comes to fashion, would you say your physique works for you?
Yes it does. And that’s why I like to create my style and what suits me. You can’t be a plus size and go for a crop top or body con dress.
Which outfits take up most space in your wardrobe?
Jeans, t-shirts, blouses and long dresses. I feel comfortable in them. They occupy 80% of my wardrobe.
What is your costliest fashion possession?
How much did you get it? My gold jewellery. I love them because they appreciate in value. They are gifts from my husband on different occasions. I don’t know how much it cost him. But, going by the weight and market value of gold, I know they are costly.
How do you love your shoes?
I wear high heel shoes. Be it sandals or slippers, I love them with heels. I walk comfortably in them. I also wear flat occasionally like my sneakers. It all depends on my outfit for the day.
What determine what you wear?
It could be the occasion or activities I have for the day, weather or just my mood.
What do you think of modern designers?
The fashion industry is becoming saturated with lots of young modern designers. Their creativity is phenomenal. I follow a lot of them on Instagram and I’m happy to see young people carve a niche in the fashion industry successfully by their unique styles and designs.
Do you have a signature perfume?
I wear a combination of “Sì” by Giorgio Armani and “Lady Million” by Pacorabanne.
How do you love your hairdo and make-up.?
I love my makeup subtle. I freestyle my hair. I could just let it fall on my shoulders or pull it all back.
What was growing up like?
I grew up in Enugu with my siblings. I’m the second child and the first daughter of my parents. My parents are disciplinarians who wouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child. As a teenager I enjoyed working in my father’s printing press when I’m home for holidays. He treated me like one of his employees and that made me responsible and hardworking. My mum multitasked as a university lecturer, hair dresser and baker. I guess her hair dressing trait rubbed off on me. I’ll say growing up was fun with lots of beautiful childhood memories
How lucrative is hair business and the level of patronage in Nigeria as compared to foreign countries?
Hair business is a viable and lucrative business in Nigeria. Most women today take extra measure to look good and are willing to spend even their last money to achieve this. One of the elements of a woman’s beauty is her hair. To achieve good looks, women make their hair with all types of hair extension and they do it almost every week. The demand for hair extension in the Nigerian markets is sky-rocketing every day.
Hair business in Nigeria most especially Lagos seems saturated, how do you intend to keep afloat?
Integrity is key in every business; I don’t compromise on quality while ensuring I give reasonable price. I make my customers loyal by giving incentives on products purchased. These sometimes come as gifts or huge discounts on products bought depending on the quantity. I recently started something I call “Pdf Bomb Sales”. During the sales period, customers get the opportunity to buy hairs at wholesale prices no matter the quantity. We have done two of the sales this year and will be rounding up the year with the “Mega Xmas Bomb Sales” coming up on the 23rd of November. I go beyond the business transaction to build a relationship with my customers. In that regard a lot of my customers have over time become great friends.
Who are your popular clients?
They are mostly my followers on social media. Students, working class ladies and boss ladies.
Would you say you are satisfied with your choice of business?
Very satisfied. I love what I do. I love working on hairs – colouring, styling, making wigs etc.
What is the major challenge boss ladies face?
Boss ladies work round the clock to remain on top. Also having to balance work and home for married ladies.
What is your advice to those who wish to attain the height that you are now?
Never give up and be passionate about what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.
DEPRESSION: THE IGNORANCE, THE STIGMA
It’s mental illness, nothing to be ashamed of – Gureje, professor of psychiatry
Many people, including medical experts, seem to agree on depression as the possible cause of most suicide incidents. Hopelessness, feelings of guilt, loss of interest, insomnia, and low self-esteem are some of the most popular symptoms of depression. And while effective prevention and treatment of such mood disorders have been known to reduce the scourge, however, ignorance and stigmatisation often prevents depressed patients from accessing needed treatment, especially in this part of the world. Yet, two renowned Ifa priests, perhaps unsurprisingly, maintain a different stance from the arguments canvassed by orthodox experts. ISIOMA MADIKE, in this report, aggregates these opinions.
Suicide seems to be rampant these days among Nigerians, especially students of higher institutions across the federation. It cuts across sex, religion and ethnicity. For instance, a student of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, identified simply as Kolapo was said to have ended his life abruptly on Sunday when many were celebrating Easter. According to a source, Kolapo took his life after he repeatedly failed some courses. Saturday Telegraph learnt that Kolapo had battled frustration and depression over courses he borrowed and failed from both the departments of Civil Engineering and Computer Science.
The source, who is a student of the institution, said some of his close friends claimed they had, on many occasions approached him for counseling anytime he was worried, but he usually hesitated to corporate with them. “They had always lent him a helping hand by telling him never to give up,” the source said, adding, “He was an executive in his department association. Kolapo was supposed to have graduated with the 2016/2017 session, but for the failed courses.”
Another, known only as Ige, a 400-level Law student of the same institution also committed suicide at his residence outside the campus of the university, according to reports, few days after his lover allegedly broke up with him. It was authoritatively gathered that Ige, said to be above average academically by his colleagues, was found dead in his apartment at Asherifa area, a stone’s throw from the campus, not too long ago. His suicide note, reads in part: “Father, while reading this message, I would have been gone” before he allegedly ingested some substance later discovered to be poison. He was said to be a member of the Christ Apostolic Church Fellowship on campus and had met the lady who was said to have financed his education for over eight months of their relationship before the bubble burst. The lady, also a member of the same fellowship, was said to have broken up with Ige because of his poor background and could no longer cope with him.
This development, according to reports, subjected him to emotional trauma. He was said to have threatened that he would commit suicide should his lover remain adamant on her decision before he finally took his life. Ige was described by some students as a person who lived a lonely life. Before then, a 16-year-old 100-level student of Microbiology at the same school, identified only as Mercy, had killed herself. According to Premium Times report, Mercy allegedly took ‘Sniper’ days after she wrote on Facebook that she wanted to see God’s face and speak with him face to face. Her fellow students and a neighbour, according to the report, revealed that Mercy killed herself due to poor grade. One of her neighbours, which the report quoted, said she died after she took “rat poison mixed with battery extract.”
She lived off-campus at Sabo area of Ile-Ife, at the time of her death. She was said to have died of “emotional pressure” after she had ‘E’ in CHM 101 (Chemistry for first year students), a reportedly dreaded course for year one students in the science and technology-related faculties. One of her friends said: “Mercy often isolated herself in class and looked depressed. She told me she had ‘E’ in CHM101 and was going around unhappy before the incident.” In what is fast becoming a fad among students of higher learning in Nigeria, Niyi, who was studying microbiology from the University of Lagos, allegedly committed suicide also because he had failed some of his courses in 2018. His was said to be the second time a student from the department of microbiology in UNILAG committed suicide in a space of three years. Niyi’s sudden death came some weeks after another final year B. Agric student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State, was found dead in his room.
He was said to have committed suicide by hanging. From Abia to Nsukka where another final year student killed himself in 2016, it’s been harvest of suicides for Nigerian students. The final year student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was studying Agric Economics before he took his life. But this time around, the young man reportedly killed himself over a debt. Some reports speculated that he may have lost some money to betting. There was also a student of the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State, identified simply as Daniel, who was said to have died after reportedly drinking Sniper (a deadly insecticide) upon discovering that he had about four carryovers. Daniel was rushed to the Tantua Hospital, Amassoma, according to reports, where it was realised that he had drank the whole bottle.
At that point, all efforts to save him, proved ineffective. His sister, identified only as Deborah, later took to her Facebook page to pay tribute to her brother. She wrote: “What a painful exit. That you’re no longer here will always cause me pain but you’re forever in my heart.” Also in 2016, a young student decided to end his life after he reportedly failed the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The unidentified young man could not live with the fact that he could not make the cut off marks in the examinations and felt the only way out was to end it all. But students are not alone in this suicide missions.
Just recently, a University of Ibadan lecturer allegedly set self-ablaze after resignation. The Kaduna- born lecturer at the department of Mathematics, A.O Subair, reportedly set himself on fire at his resident, Phillipson Road, at the campus. The late lecturer, who tendered his resignation letter without any justifiable reason, had not evacuated his belongings from the staff quarters before deciding to kill himself. It was gathered that he had separated from his family and had challenges progressing in his career.
A member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UI chapter, described the incident as pathetic while urging others to always confide in one another. He added that isolation could deepen depression. In January, an unidentified middleaged man was equally found hanging from a tree on Catholic Mission Road, opposite the Court of Appeal on Lagos Island. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which reported the incident, said the man, clad in Ankara native attire, was found hanging on a rope which looked like a braided long scarf, tied to a fruit tree.
NAN correspondent, who was at the scene of the suspected suicide, reported that the episode drew the attention of a horde of people, who stood in groups chatting and wondering what could have pushed the man to hang himself. A popular Lagos Disc Jockey (DJ) had also committed suicide in the same January. The DJ was said to have deliberately wore white in the photos he attached to his suicide note instead of black because white was his favourite colour. He reportedly took sniper to end his life about six hours after he posted a suicide note on Instagram. He had apologised to his children and mother but did not state the reason for his action in the suicide note. Investigations however, suggested that the DJ had been having marital issues before his untimely death. “My Mum should forgive me for my action; it was a deliberate act,” he wrote.
He also called on his younger siblings to forgive him because he had to do what he did. A 22-year-old Chika similarly committed suicide in Ubaekwem community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State recently. The deceased of Umuanasa clan, reportedly hung on a family mango tree for yet-to-be ascertained reason. Chika, according to The Nation, was an active youth in the Umuezekwe political ward of Ihiala LGA.
A family member, who preferred anonymity, told The Nation reporter that the act might not be unconnected to spiritual liberation defect due to the recurring suicide incidents that plague the family. The source said: “He was a single unemployed young man who had completed his SSS exams, with the hope to excel in business after schooling. One of his uncles also committed suicide at youthful age decades ago. The family had to subject itself to spiritual cleansing to avert recurrence of the unfortunate incident.” But one suicide that shook the nation to its foundation a few years back was that of Allwell Chiawolamoke Oji.
His tragic death reverberated across Nigeria with many giving suggestions on why the young doctor, who was widely viewed as successful by Nigerian standard, did what he thought was best for him. Incidentally, there has not been any consensus on the possible cause of the act since the incident happened. However, in all the suicide occurrences highlighted above, there seems to be the connecting line of depression, which many are ignorant of and as such lack the needed knowledge to deal with it.
Most people feel sad or depressed at times, according to medical experts, but believe it’s a normal reaction to loss or life’s struggles. Yet, experts said that when intense sadness — including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless — lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life, it may be something more than sadness, at that point, they said, one could have clinical depression –a treatable medical condition.
According to the DSM-5, a manual doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, one have depression when five or more of these symptoms last for at least two weeks: A depressed mood during most of the day, especially in the morning, feeling tired or having a lack of energy almost every day, feeling worthless or guilty almost every day and a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making decisions. Others are sleeplessness or sleeping too much almost every day, having almost no interest or pleasure in many activities nearly every day, thinking often about death or suicide (not just a fear of death), feeling restless or slowed down, lost or gained weight. WebMD also shows that sadness, sleeping problems, irritability, and more may be signs to seek help for depression.
It could equally occur when one feels irritable and restless, overeat or stop feeling hungry, have aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t go away or get better with treatment, feeling sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings. While these symptoms are common, not everyone with depression will have the same ones, said Oye Gureje, a Professor of Psychiatry and Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health, Neuroscience, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, University of Ibadan. How severe they are, how often they happen, and how long they last, he said, can vary.
He also said that symptoms may happen in patterns. For example, depression, Gureje said, may come with a change in seasons (a condition formerly called seasonal affective disorder). However, it’s not uncommon for people with depression to have physical signs of the condition, he added. They may include, according to him, joint pain, back pain, digestive problems, sleep trouble, and appetite changes. One might have slowed speech and movements, too.
The reason, the experts said, is that brain chemicals linked to depression, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, play a role in both mood and pain. He said: “Depression may have other specific features, such as anxious distress. That is worrying a lot about things that might happen or about losing control. Another typical feature is when one can feel good after happy events, but also feel hungrier, need to sleep a lot, and are sensitive to rejection. It could also be psychotic in which one believes things that aren’t true, or see and hear things that aren’t there.”
Other experts in the field of psychiatry have listed the symptoms to include sadness, feeling down, having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. These, they said, are familiar to everyone but that only a few people would see it as mental issue that would require the attention of those trained to deal with such challenges. These, they believe, could affect life substantially, if they persist. In contrast, some Ifa priests, have diffused such insinuations when they said that suicide is mostly caused by evil manipulations and because people often live in denial, solutions have somewhat become essential community with many dying at the times they were not supposed to die.
Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has said that 7.6 per cent of people over the age of 12 have depression in any twoweek period. This, according to CDC, is substantial and shows the scale of the issue. To the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is the most common illness worldwide, and the leading cause of disability. They estimate that 350 million people are affected by depression, globally. Gureje said that depression is mental illness, which no one should be ashamed of. He believes that ignorance and stigma attached to mental health are the drivers of the scourge which often leads to suicide. He said: “We live in denial in this part of the world. When people are going through depression, they usually would first want to reject such suggestion, some may even take to prayers instead of seeking medical attention. But again, we attach stigma to mental issues in this clime.
“Imagine seeing someone around where people refer to as ‘Yaba left’, immediately such a person would be termed ‘mad’. Yet, this is one issue that could easily be nipped in the bud if professionals trained to handle such are called in on time. It’s something therapy or medication could solve.” Gureje, who said that depression seems to be more common among women than men, listed other symptoms to include lack of joy and reduced interest in things that used to bring person happiness. He though said that life events, such as bereavement, produce mood changes that can usually be distinguished from the features of depression.
The causes of depression, he further said, are not fully understood but are likely to be a complex combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors. Another professor of psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Olayinka Omigbodun, said that diagnosis for depression should start with a consultation from a mental health expert. She defined it as a mood disorder characterised by persistently low mood and a feeling of sadness and loss of interest. “It is a persistent problem, not a passing one, lasting on average 6 to 8 months. Diagnosis of depression starts with a consultation with a doctor or mental health specialist.
It is important to seek the help of a health professional to rule out different causes of depression, ensure an accurate differential diagnosis, and secure safe and effective treatment. “As for most visits to the doctor, there may be a physical examination to check for physical causes and coexisting conditions. Questions will also be asked – ‘taking a history’ – to establish the symptoms, their time course, and so on. Some questionnaires help doctors to assess the severity of depression,” Omigbodun said. The experts however, pointed out that depression is different from the fluctuations in mood that people experience as a part of normal life. “Temporary emotional responses to the challenges of everyday life do not constitute depression.
“Likewise, even the feeling of grief resulting from the death of someone close is not itself depression if it does not persist. Depression can, however, be related to bereavement – when it follows a loss, psychologists call it a ‘complicated bereavement.’ There are other signs and symptoms. For instance, “delayed psychomotor skills, for example, slowed movement and speech fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt impaired ability to think, concentrate, or make decision, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt at suicide are others,” Gureje added. He said that depression is likely to be due to a complex combination of factors that include: Genetics, biological, which are changes in neurotransmitter levels, environmental, psychological and social (psychosocial). Some people, he said, are at higher risk of depression than others with risk factors such as life events: These include bereavement, divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family, financial problems, medical concerns, or acute stress. It could also be personality in which case those with less successful coping strategies or previous life trauma are more susceptible.
For genetic factors, having firstdegree relatives with depression increases the risk; childhood trauma also. Some prescription drugs, including corticosteroids, beta-blockers, interferon, and other prescription drugs could cause one to be depressed. Also, abuse of recreational drugs, abuse of alcohol, amphetamines, are strongly linked to depression. A past head injury or having had one episode of major depression could also increase the risk of a subsequent one, while chronic pain syndromes and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease make depression more likely.
Counseling or therapy may help a person manage the symptoms of depression. It is a treatable mental illness, experts insist. There are three components to the management of depression: Support, ranging from discussing practical solutions and contributing stresses, to educating family members. There is psychotherapy, also known as talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Another is drug treatment, specifically antidepressants. Suicide, experts said, is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for all ages. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent, in large part because the prevalence of risk factors is high among the general population.
This may be the reason Chief Omo-Oba Olorunwa Ayekonilogbon, the priest of Ifa deity, thinks science may never have solution to the issue of suicide. To the Ifa priest, such a theory could just be a smokescreen. Traditionally speaking, he said, only one theory could suffice in this case. Ayekonilogbon said: “It is simple; people are being controlled using an African traditional technique. This is Africa where a lot of happenings cannot be explained by science. There is African science which people use to manipulate the destinies of others. Some use it for good while others use it to cause harm and change destinies. It is called African remote control.
So, when issues like this are in focus, it can only be unlocked through the traditional means. Anything short of that is mere waste of time.” Also, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, another well-known Ifa priest, spoke in a manner that suggests that people could actually be programmed (hypnotized) to do what they were asked to do. Eedi, he explained, is a bad omen in Yoruba land. “It is a great offence for a person to commit suicide; an abomination.
Whoever does that is considered to have brought dishonour to his/her family. Yet, the traditional belief behind suicide is that some people do not just commit the act on their own, but for some mystical interventions.
“However, some people could find themselves in critical and unpleasant situations, and opt for suicide as the last resort instead of living to face the problem. Whenever it happens, proper inquiry is set up, and an Ifa priest is mostly called upon to prescribe atonement to cleanse the city,” he said. Elebuibon nevertheless agreed that it is possible for a person to harm himself or herself without any diabolical undertone. “We live in a world where we all have personal battles. We tend to overcome them each time they arise as a result of our mental strength but sometimes they conquer us. When this happens, a person may consider suicide as his/ her last resort,” the priest told Saturday Telegraph. He said it could be diagnosed through a session of Ifa consultation. When a person consults Ifa, according to him, the past, present and future will be revealed.
“Ifa gives warning about incoming dangers and the priest analyses the root cause of a certain predicament. Signs of hypnotism can range from change in attitude, manner of speaking and so on and only people close to the person can discover this. “However, a person suspected or confirmed to be under hypnotism should seek help immediately as failure will wreak havoc and may eventually lead to awful death of the particular person and many others. Without proper spiritual care, sometimes, the repercussions of some actions can influence a person’s life negatively. Such a person will begin to act under the control of mystical forces,” Elebuibon added. The renowned traditionalist also said there is history of suicide in Ifa mythology and that hypnotism can only be prevented through constant consultation with Ifa for spiritual fortification.
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