Director, British Nigerian Academy, Nnenna Ukachukwu, is a barrister whose passion for young people and undiluted penchant for knowledge has made her an educationist. In this Interview with Ayodeji Ake, she spoke on the importance of investing on education, particularly for children and the youths. Excerpts:
Can you tell us a bit about your organisation?
The British Nigerian Academy (BNA), was founded in September 2008, which makes us 10years this year. The job has been challenging but very fulfilling, having raised kids from age 10 and see them graduate at 16, some of them 17. It gives me utmost joy and satisfaction raising these kids. The feedbacks we get as they progress in their academics give us great pleasure.
I’m a mother of five boys, three of them successfully passed through British Nigerian Academy, and my fourth son is currently a Junior Secondary School (JSS) 2 student here. We offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, and we give students the option of running their University Foundation Programme as well as for those who want to do a one-year programme before progressing to the university. My background is law; I read law in the university before I delved into education. Education is my passion and I’m passionate about young people and also contributing my little quota here at BNA.
How easy has it been with the students?
The truth of the matter is that I have always loved children, like I said I have five children of mine own and I love to be around young people particularly teenagers. I love to talk to them, get feedback from them, hear them out, find out what they are going through, their strength, their weaknesses, and the challenges they face as teenager and I love to work with them, advise them and see them develop over time, and be a part of their growth and development. So, I wouldn’t say it something I delved into it, it is something I have always loved to do even as a teenager.
If you were not an educationist, what will you be doing?
I would probably be running a nongovernmental organisation that will focus on youth development. I believe strongly and passionately that we must as nation develop our youths. There is no shortcut to it because we must develop our nation and the more, we develop the young people, the younger people would be making great strides around the world. Imagine someone who is 39 years old as the president of France, the lady in New Zealand, J. center who is 37 years old, she recently became a mother, and she is the prime minister of New Zealand. These are young people doing great things, running big multi-national companies, making strides in every sector that you can think of. So, I believe that here in Nigeria, we can replicate the same. Nigeria kids are very intelligent, learn very quickly if given the right tools to work with, if they can be provided with enabling environment, I believe that they can achieve great things. So we as a nation, our leaders must understand that we are not going to get there without our young people. So they need to give way for the young people to contribute because they have a lot to contribute particularly in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT), they have ideas with ideas but they don’t have the right platform to contribute. Imagine, So, our leaders have to pay some attention to the youth of this nation and that is why education is the primary focus, if Nigeria children are well educated, given the right environment, they will succeed.
How was growing up like?
I enjoyed my childhood and that’s the truth, I came from a family of six children, three boys and three girls. I’m the second child of my parent and the first daughter. I grew up in a family where my dad was very loving and my mother was very strict, a disciplinarian in the real sense of the world. Even though my father was very comfortable, we could afford the nice things of life and for every nice thing you got, you earned it, as opposed to what I see these days where children are rewarded, even for bad behaviour. We could not afford to misbehave in school. We were very well brought up and that has made me who I am today. I went to boarding school Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, went to university abroad. Life was good but we were taught hard work. My mother will always say that success comes before work. So, from our early age we learnt to work hard and to whom much is given, much is expected so we knew that we could not afford to fail in values, characters, morals and academics.
Can you now say you are fulfilled?
Yes, I am. In my family as a mother, as a wife, I am fulfilled. I am not yet there yet but I have a child who just graduated from university, he is doing his masters at the moment and then I can beat my chest and say that I have done well by the grace of God. I am not there yet as I still have many light years ahead of me. But by what I have set out for myself I can say that I am fulfilled because I still have many to take off from check list by the grace of God.
Your husband is a politician and a business man. And the popular saying that behind every successful man is a woman. How have you been of support to your husband?
As a wife, it’s left for him judge if I have been very supportive or partially supportive. Let me put it this way, I support him in every area of his life and that is the way I can summarily put it. He is a businessman, he is a politician, he is a pastor, he is a philanthropist, he is many things rolled into one and he succeeded in most things that he set out to achieve. I would not say I would take all the credit, I would give all Glory to God almighty because has made everything possible. However, he is someone who has confidence with himself and has absolute confidence in me and so he seeks my advice in most things he set out to do because he knows that I will contribute meaningfully, my time, energy, ideas. Most importantly, in whatever he wants to do I always tell people that it’s only a man who has confidence in himself that will let a woman be, he has allowed me to do my own thing, chart course of myself and then that has bought out the best in me because in most things he set out to do, it’s either I am at the forefront or champion it behind the scenes.
What are your words of encouragement to women?
I tell women whenever I have the opportunity that you cannot just sit down at home and expect to get all the good things of life. I was brought up to understand that you as a person must live a life of impact, it’s not your bank balance that validates you, but it’s living a life of impact and then so as for women, we must make an impact. Even if you are not making that in the society, we must make an impact in our families, our homes, work place, in the relationship you have with friends, colleagues, you must make an impact and you must make a positive impact. When you change jobs, your previous colleagues should miss you, I cannot afford to walk through this life without making an impact. So, as women we must make positive impact in the society, in your own little space. We are all leaders in our own right, you must not be a president or a legislature, minister, governor to make an impact. In your own little space, make an impact.
Ash Plans Major Move into Nigerian Music Scene
Abdul Sammir Hamman, better known as Ash to his friends, is one of those rare artists that appeals to all ages, genres and tastes. He threads the fine line between cutting-edge verve and all-encompassing appeal, embracing pop and hip-hop whilst retaining his R&B roots. The Nigerian-born singer, songwriter, dancer and entrepreneur, raised in the UK and US and Nigeria is bringing fresh air to the Dubai music scene.
As C.E.O and president of Immaqul’8 Entertainment (pronounced immaculate), he came to the attention of the music scene back in 2003 with the Booker T revamp of his club smash Bounce 2 This, which reached top 20 in the national charts whilst retaining the number one spot on the UK Garage and Club.
Ash performed live at the Miss World beauty pageant Contest at the grand finale at London’s Alexander Palace, flanked by celebrities, the international media, with over a worldwide viewing audience of 700 million people.
His 2007 single “I`m sorry” reached no seven on MTV Arabia`s World Chart and his self-titled debut album “ASH HAMMAN” (2011) was the bestselling album in the Middle East and North Africa, (2013 )”ASH HAMMAN” Top 10 Highest selling Albums in the UAE ever, ASH HAMMAN Dubbed in record as Dubai King of RnB by The National Mirror
In simple words, Ash is a fountain of talent, a true star, with tremendous performing abilities. With Ash, there is bound to be a Revolution. Stay awake, stay tuned, its Immaqul’8, Ash.