Young, multifaceted, philanthropic Timipre Wolo is an unabashed dream chaser. Losing her mother at 12 did not stop her from pursuing her goals. Driven by her passion and commitment to youth development, she set out to respond to the high level of illiteracy and poverty amongst women and girls in rural areas across Africa. She tells Adedayo Adejobi why she championed the first ever helicopter pilot training programme for the petroleum industry, her global recognitions and love of gospel music, traveling, and working with vulnerable children in orphanages and refugee camps
Tell us how your educational background contributed to where you are today?
Growing up, I was one child who wanted to stand up for everyone. I detested injustice and could not stand seeing anyone oppressed. So I wanted to be a lawyer because in my little impressionable mind, that was the only way I could stand up for the oppressed. My background as a lawyer has no doubt empowered me to take on challenges as they come. One thing that the legal profession does is that it broadens your perspectives and prepares you to take on diverse roles in society.
How did you shred shyness, the biggest limiting factor for most women to becoming the bold woman you are today?
I still see myself as a very shy person on a personal level but when it comes to my work, I am far from being shy. We live in a very competitive world today where you have to prove your worth. Unless you’re from a very privileged background, nothing gets handed down to you. Especially as a woman, you have to work twice as hard as the men folk for you to be given as much as a fair chance sometimes. Don’t forget that even the legal profession does not recognise gender so I try to see myself as an individual striving to make a difference, just like any other person out there, male or female, who wants to leave a mark. I endeavour to stay grounded and focused on the task ahead and go for it.
You were recently honoured with the African Women of Worth Award by the African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO), tell us more about that?
I received a letter from the BOT Chairperson of the AWLO, Chief Opral Benson, nominating me for the African Woman of Worth, 2015Award in recognition of my effort at advancing the empowerment and development of youths, not just in my official capacity but also through my Charity the Timipre Wolo Foundation as well as the Women of Faith and Purpose Foundation targeted at mentoring of young people, especially young women and girls. It was indeed a great honour to have been recognised alongside two serving deputy governors at the time. Namely- Hon..Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire of Lagos State and Lady Valerie Ebe of Akwa Ibom State. These are very inspiring and remarkable women of worth who have distinguished themselves.
One of your latest accomplishments is the receipt of a letter of recognition and conferment of the Y-CAEV Ambassador of Nigeria by the Commonwealth Youth Council. What do you think you possess to merit this?
The conferment of the Y-CAEV Ambassador by the Commonwealth Youth Council also came as a surprise. The letter stated that I was being recognised for the valuable work I was doing toward youth development in Nigeria and that my efforts to help empower young people and build their capacities was phenomenon and a great service to humanity. The very kind words contained in the letter was very motivating and almost moved me to tears.
Considering your involvement in many key positions and interests, you must have a lot on your plate. How do you spend your leisure time?
Asides cooking and cleaning, I spend most part of my weekends on my couch catching up on my favourite TV series, movies or reading a book. And on some special weekends when I want to pamper myself a little, I go to the spa.
What do you enjoy doing asides work?
There are quite a number of things I enjoy doing, such as travelling, photography, reading, writing listening to music and worshiping. I am actually not a terrific singer but I love to sing and can get lost in worship for hours.
What day would you call the happiest day of your life?
It’s difficult to say, I read somewhere that we should treat each day as a separate life. Each day comes with its unique opportunities and blessings, although I agree that some days are particularly remarkable. For instance, the day I got on that flight as one of the only two Nigerian delegates to the United Nations Youth Assembly at the UN Headquaters in New York in 2005. It still resonates clearly in my mind as well as the day my adorable little Nephew was born.
What day would you refer to as the darkest day of your life?
The day I lost my dearly beloved mother. It felt like the world just ended and that life had lost its flavour. I still remember my Dad saying “my pillar has fallen” She still remains the most remarkable person I’ve ever known. She was mother to everyone and a very devoted Christian, wife and mother.
You love music. What is your favourite genre of music?
Could you share one of your fondest childhood memories?
I was four years old when I was chosen as the tiny little flower girl to welcome the then Military Governor of Rivers State (Fidelis Oyakhilome) during an official visit. I remember the excitement of seeing myself on the front page of the Newspaper then, I felt really special. That was how I ended up with the pet name, “Flower girl”.
‘My Background as a Lawyer Has Empowered Me to Take on Challenges’
Barrack and Michelle Obama and I would say, thanks for re-igniting the fire for black men and women all over the world to keep their dreams alive because like Lupita Nyongo stated, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.
You conduct a programme tagged ‘One Hour with the King every month, what is your inspiration for that and what motivates you to continue?
One Hour with the KING is a vision that God laid in my heart to gather people together and just worship him in spirit and in truth for an hour, under the open skies. It actually started in 2008 while studying for my LLM in Aberdeen, Scotland but when I came back home I kept procrastinating till May 2013 when the instruction came so strong and clear. I don’t know why God chose that time because it was a very challenging period for me. But we started in June 2013 and since then we have consistently held it at the Millennium Park or Jabi Lake Park one Saturday every month. I have a very wonderful and dedicated team of volunteers who have keyed into the vision and , we would keep going for as long as we have breath.what that motivates me to carry on is the unspeakable joy and peace that we all experience whenever we gather to worship as well as the amazing testimonies that He continually puts in our mouth.
What prompted your charitable acts, especially towards orphans?
Growing up, though my parents were normal average working class people, I saw how giving they were. My mother particularly had so much compassion towards children who had lost a parent or both parents as well as those from less-privileged backgrounds. She would go as far as taking them in to even live with us. So I guess it is a combination of both my mother’s influence and my personal experiences growing up without a mother after she passed on when I was barely 12.
You were selected alongside top personalities like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as “Those Who Inspire, Nigeria”?
To be honest I was stunned to learn that I had been selected as one of 90 Nigerians who inspire! I don’t know how that happened, but I’m thankful to God for the privilege to have been considered as one who inspires alongside, personalities like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Pat Utomi, Mr. Tonye Cole, Kanu Nwankwo and several other well accomplished Nigerians from diverse fields. Standing on that podium, it felt very surreal and I wish my mother was there to share the moment.
You are a very fashionable person with an admirable sense of style, what is the inspiration for your chosen sense of style?
I don’t know if I can actually describe myself as a very fashionable person, but I learnt at a very young age that you dress the way you want to be addressed. My Mom used to tell me that as a little girl I would want to wear my Sunday dress and shoes even on a regular day.
How and where do you see Nigeria in the next five years?
I want to see a Nigeria where women are given equal opportunities like their male counterparts in every field/sector; a Nigeria where every child can have access to education; a safe and secure Nigeria devoid of tribal and religious discrimination that has so breaded hate and violence against one another. A Nigeria where the environmental devastation of the Niger Delta as well as the complete lack of development of the region that contributes at least 90 per cent to the country’s GDP will be a thing of the past. I want to see a Nigeria where young people can be allowed to not just dream but be given their pride of place. I want to see a Nigeria where our fathers and grandfathers can actually just step down from the stage and let their children and grandchildren take their place in the centre of the stage while they are still alive so they can watch with gratification and play the role of pointing us in the right direction from their wealth of experience.
You championed the first ever helicopter pilot training programme for the petroleum industry in Nigeria. Why?
The country needed to build its indigenous capacity to make sure it fills up the available vacancies. Mostly, oil and gas activities in Nigeria are offshore and even those onshore; one has to fly to the locations because of the terrain of the Niger Delta. So helicopters became the major means of transportation.
So under the full scholarship programme of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) as international certified commercial pilots. I championed the first ever helicopter pilot training programme for the petroleum industry, with the training of indigenous youths as internationally certified commercial pilots.
What is your word of encouragement to those looking up to you as their role model?
Have faith, believe in yourself, set goals, dream but be determined to succeed, work hard towards actualising your dreams, delay gratification, be disciplined and stay focused. Challenges would definitely come but they are all part of the process of moulding you to become who God has made you. Always remember that we all matter irrespective of where we come from because we were all created for a purpose. Do not be afraid to stand out, be yourself and most importantly, be that change you want to see.