I Staged the First Agric Beauty Fair in the World



Interviewed by Funke Olaode

Can you let us into your background?
I am a Librarian by profession, having graduated from the Bayero University Kano. After graduation, I went into beauty business. I had a big salon in the University of Benin before veering into water engineering.

Where are you from?
I am from Sabongida Ora in Edo State. My father the late Julius Ozolua was born in Lagos in the early 20s. He attended St. Gregory’s College and later became an education inspector who traversed the Western Region. I was born in Epe in Lagos state so I was named Epesanmi. My father didn’t have a child for a long time and after eight years he had me. My parents didn’t pamper me. My mother used to say it is better not to have a child than to have a spoilt one. I was always kept in check.

What fond memory of your father do you have?
He had a title in my hometown ‘Onatare’ meaning a torch bearer that others follow. I remember when we visited the then Olokuku of Okuku the late Oba Oyinlola, the father of former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. I was about six years in 1957 when I presented a flower to the King. If you ask my father for anything he would ask you whether you are a beggar. I grew up not asking for things unless I am given. He would ask you to read out your exam result sheet yourself. You can imagine if you didn’t do well. He would not beat you but encourage you to work harder.

What is the secret of your head-turning beauty at 65?
It is the grace of God and I inherited a good gene from my parents. I don’t have any beauty regime or special food. I eat a lot of fruits.

You organised the first Agric Beauty Pageant in world in 1989 and 1991 respectively. What prompted that?
The first one was staged in 1989 at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos while the second one was held in 1991 in Ilorin, Kwara State. It was the first ever agric beauty fair in the world. The then governor of Kwara State, the late Colonel Kazil invited me to his state to stage an international agric fair which he sponsored. The response was awesome. Kogi was part of the Kwara then and they had always been interested in agriculture. It is going to be more interesting and elaborate now that the country is trying to diversify.

Pageant competitions have always been glamorous events which boost visibility. Pageant competitions provide platforms for display of creativity and offer equal opportunities for young people to showcase their talent. The Miss Agric Nigeria (MAN) is a concept created by me as a result of the need to promote and celebrate the agriculture industry. The importance of agriculture in supporting national food security and employment creation will draw huge crowds to the Agrictech Fair and Display 2016, and make the pageant a great success. We are extremely proud of our cultural heritage, and our goal is to promote our locally-made products.

Why did it take you 25 years to stage another agric fair?
It became saturated because everybody was staging agric fair and I just withdrew. But with the change mantra of the present administration and the campaign to embrace agriculture again as a source of income, I was encouraged and decided to revive the fair. It is a 10-day event from June 12 to June 21, in Abuja at the Old Parade Ground. We are staging an Agric pageant fair in Lokoja, Kogi State on June 11. This is another way of bringing the youth into the scheme. We are also having a two day seminar on the June 15 to 16 at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

Is there any reward for the winner?
We expect entry from ladies from all over the country between 18 and 25 years. Beauty is important but the purpose is to get them interested in agriculture. The winner will get a Hyundai car; second runner up will get a trip to South Africa while the third runner-up will also enjoy a trip to Dubai.

What keeps you going?
I know that a woman should be empowered because it gives you a lot of confidence. I have dabbled into many businesses and by the grace of God I don’t have any regrets. The grace of God and determination to be successful has kept me going over the years.

If you could turn back the hand of time, are there things you would have done differently?
Not really, I did it my own way and I have no regrets. And that is why I like Frank Sinatra song that says ‘I did it my way’. With God on my side, it succeeded. Today, I am a fulfilled and contented person.

What lesson has life taught you?
Life has taught me to look unto God as the only source of help.