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Interviews

When you build up one woman many are lifted with her – Adesuwa Onyenokwe

Talking to us today on Nikkyosblog is a veteran and a mogul in the Media industry. I grew up watching her programmes so she is a role model for me.
Adesuwa Onyenokwe is unequivocally a seasoned journalist who has founded several media outlets. She is a motivational speaker, an elocution trainer and the editor-in-chief of Today’s Woman Magazine.
Please hop on the ride as she takes us through her extensive experience in life and in the media industry.

1. As a media luminary and with over 30 years exploits in the media industry, how would you describe the evolvement of media in our society over time since you began till date?

A luminary is someone who shines light, and my career in the past three decades; clearly shines some light on the evolution of media in our society!

I have traversed three platforms of mass communication, broadcast, print and now digital. It is a privilege to have had the good fortune of doing this, and it is so because of a common denominator: the inherent desire I have to share information. With television it came as an accident, when during youth service I experienced being a presenter, and became hooked. With print it was a desire for self-expression and expansion to reach a specific target more enduringly that I started Today’s woman magazine. Then, in the last 3 years or so, it has become inevitable that we transit to the digital space. The beauty of that space is that it has democratized info sharing but it also has its disadvantages, misuse and irresponsibility in newsbreak and personality defamation.  

2. What was it like growing up as a little girl in a family of eleven?

Fun actually. Within our large family, I had a ready pool of playmates that I fought with on occasion but with whom some really fond memories were made and life lessons learnt about the value of large families. For example, that I couldn’t have everything I wanted, and had to share literally everything, taught me the virtues of humility, gratitude and hope amongst others.

3. Have you always dreamt of broadcast journalism as a profession?

Not directly but I always knew I would be a communications professional. I wasn’t even ten years old when I realised I like to communicate, which then was just talking and giving updates within the family. I first thought I might be a teacher, but a chance into the world of television and advertising made me enthralled by the whole idea of condensing information for mass communication. I went on to study Dramatic Arts and Language Arts as 1st and 2nd degrees respectively. Youth service in Sokoto exposed me to working in television and I began to lean in that direction, eventually starting off in the Bendel Broadcasting service as a reporter/newscaster. Marriage brought me to Lagos and NTA from where I retired at age 35 to start life as an independent content producer.

4. You had fifteen years of experience working with the NTA, how was this pivotal in making you reach out for the best in you? 

My time at the NTA was one in which I traversed the country covering and reporting on myriad social interest stories. That opened my eyes to the need for a space for more intense and direct communication for the womenfolk. When you build up one woman many are lifted with her, and best place to start is by building her self worth and confidence. Reading and watching the successes of others like you, can be encouraging, as you learn that many things are possible if you just try. I decided to reach into my interviewing skills and come up with a platform to engage women, getting them to tell their stories to inspire others. It started first as a TV show, became a lifestyle magazine that was in print, which has now gone digital and is available to download all over the world at www.twmagazine.net. Within the next couple of months, a proper app will make it even more accessible.

5. Have you had mentors and how have they motivated you?

I have always made it a point of duty to be open to learn from anyone and everyone, because no one has monopoly of knowledge. To that extent, when I find you do something right I seek to emulate rather than idolise. I find that when people speak of mentorship, they are thinking of role modelling someone they view as an idol. Having said that, there are quite a few women who have influenced me and from whom I have learnt.  They include but is not exclusive to, Siene Allwell-Brown, on the job presentation side and Mother Theresa on the spiritual side. Professionalism, humility and boundless selfless service are some key attributes I picked from them.

6. Is there such a thing like ‘a complete woman’ and how would you describe her?

Sure there is such a thing. To be complete means to have ‘it’ all in. The ‘it’ here implies a total control of mind, body and soul wherein lies the understanding that it is never over till it is over. A complete woman is the one that is confident, comfortable in whom she is: a work in progress. So she is not hard on herself but remains open to constantly learning, as she continues to evolve.

7. What inspired you to start your programmes ‘Newsline’, ‘Seriously Speaking’ and ‘Today’s Women’?

You may please take them one at a time if there isn’t a common reason.

Getting on the Newsline team as a reporter with the Nigerian Television Authority NTA was an internal posting, after being on the social service desk for a few years covering human-interest stories.

The first programme I ever produced as an independent, was Today’s Woman With Adesuwa, first transmitted on NTA 2 Channel 5 then the Network Service of the NTA. It all began as the need arose for me to work flexi time and also create content to inspire, motivate and empower women. With Seriously speaking, after a number of years off line as an interviewer and an anchor, (since I went into publishing), the production outfit, Ultima studios reached out offering a partnership to get back on that track. I accepted and we reached out to Channels TV to get on board to transmit. This lasted for over 4 years until we went on a hiatus in 2018 due to budget constraints. And all parties were getting busier on other projects. For me focus was redirected to taking my magazine on line, developing my counselling and communications training, and a digital platform to push my audio-visual work on TW You Tube page. My personal one, adesuwaonyenokwe.com is in the works.

8. What’s a typical day for you like?

Pre Covid 19 pandemic, it would be a daily departure from home around 9am for office work, primarily administration; a break for meetings when I have them and a visit to take in some spiritual ‘food’ by attending mass as often as I can. Work often ended around 5pm. The lockdown as a result of the pandemic made my team and I stay in contact electronically, while the few business meetings were via zoom and other such platforms. We were able to produce one edition. Post Covid, I do not see myself doing more than 3 days of physical presence at the office. I have learnt to work efficiently on line and physical meetings would only be when absolutely necessary!

9. As a CEO Universal Communications, a publisher and editor-in-chief of TW Media Development Concepts, what have been the challenges in your journey as an entrepreneur?

Each decade and stage of growth came with its peculiar challenge. It began with Universal Communication, which was set up while I was still a reporter at NTA. It was to allow me express myself as a documentary producer which was then my side hustle. Then, the challenge was time, because obviously I could only do that outside of my day job, so I hired an assistant to make it work.

After I disengaged from NTA, I then had a platform to produce the first TV show, Today’s Woman With Adesuwa. The biggest challenge then was marketing. Most advertisers didn’t quite like what they thought was a narrow market, but we were able to convince them to see it as a niche, one speaking specifically to women, who were and are the major purchase decision makers in homes.

TW Media came on as a baby of Universal Communication really because there was need to extend into publishing; because other people came on board, we needed to have a limited liability vehicle. Today, we are in transition to bring all our activities under one umbrella as Unicomm Group, as we wind down TW Media

10. How have you been able to manage and balance your busy schedules with other life responsibilities?

For many mothers, balancing is a ‘mad’ act of juggling, peppered by a lot of guilt tripping! I have stayed sane primarily by prioritising, getting a good support system, mindful that I may fail at some things, but being ever ready to begin again.  

11. Due to your passion for youth and women development, do you have intentions of starting an NGO to that effect in the future?

Interesting that you asked that! I had set the machinery in motion to begin a foundation about 8 years ago called TWF, Today’s Woman Foundation but we never took it forward. However, just recently, with the outbreak of Covid 19 and seeing the number of mothers without support, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and we decided that we should set up an NGO to support destitute mothers, single or married. Mothers are at the core of the nurture of families and if we do not protect them, the future is jeopardised.  All mothers are important, but those on the streets often have no one to support them, which is why I am looking at taking that on.

 12. Are there still projects and dreams you have in mind of accomplishing?

Absolutely! The day you stop aspiring is the day you die I believe. Aspirations make us set goals and work towards them. I may not be as fast as I’d like at implementation, but I don’t let that stop me. So, yes I do have dreams on queue. Owning a broadcast outlet for family and lifestyle content is one of them. Now I am certain it will be hosted on line, dishing out interesting yet wholesome content produced by a bank of independent producers.  

13. What’s your word of advice for the girls, women and people reading?

Love yourself. Then you will be able to love God and others.

Nikkyosblog specially appreciates Adesuwa Onyenokwe for her time and for sharing a lot with us in this session.
You can follow her on Instagram @adesuwaonyenokwe

All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, broadcast, written, published or distributed in full or in parts, without the written permission from Nikkyosblog.

Categories
Interviews

Success has no gender so break the stereotype – Bunmi Afuye Solabi

Today, we are talking to a woman of rare and unparalleled qualities. She broke the parochial borders to create her own niche. Bunmi Afuye Solabi is a certified biologist but challenged the status quo to become a certified mechanic and she is now the CEO of Ladymek Stores. She is also a public speaker and a woman/girl empowerment advocate. Bunmi takes us through the journey of discovering her passion.

1. What was your dream job as a young girl?

 My dream job as a young girl was to be a medical doctor. Obviously most children were groomed up then to either be Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers 😁

2. You are a certified biologist, later went into banking, and finally a mechanic. What engineered these changes in career path? 

At some point in my life I realized I wasn’t doing what I love, even though I was working I was never happy with my job or career path. I was just following the motions, then I made the decision to start doing what I have passion for. While growing up, I have always loved cars and decided to start making car “well”. I guess in a way, I’m still a doctor 😁😁 car doctor.

3. How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

Most times, my motivation comes from my passion/love for cars. I always want to see cars run smoothly, then being able to train more young women in this vocation has also helped me to keep going. It’s a privilege to be able to inspire other women with what I am doing. 

4. Auto mechanic usually involves heavy lifting and perhaps stressful especially for a female. How have you been able to cope with all that?

There are equipment designed for heavy lifting, and I also have a team that we work together to do the heavy lifting. The truth in this profession is whether you are a male or female, you will always need someone when it comes to heavy lifting provided you don’t have the required equipment for it. In auto mechanic no one is an island when it comes to heavy lifting.

5. What has been the most significant barrier in your career as a female mechanic?

The most significant barrier is lack of space and proper equipment/tools to make the job easier.

6. Do you experience resistance when you are leading men?

Initially, I do get a lot of resistance not only in leading men but also from my male counterparts which I feel is due to the stereotypical nature of my job. Over the years, I have earned a lot of respect from my male counterparts and male staff that I really don’t have that problem anymore.

7. Do you have mentors and how have they impacted your life?

I have a lot of people that I admire for different reasons both men and women. Some of them for their business ethics, resilience, integrity etc. My mother is my number one mentor, her optimism in face of any situation has helped me to keep going in life. 

8. What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up in the morning, do the usual routine a mother does, take the children to school and off to work to come back in the evening. Although, this depends on my work schedule for the day which is usually what a wife and mother does and the circle goes on 😁

The good thing about that is I love what I am doing now. I wake up every day wanting to see what the day will bring. I love the challenge that comes with this job even though it might be exhausting at times. 

9. Do you have the intention of taking your career a notch higher to become a car manufacturer some day?

Yes, but right now I will love a scholarship/grant that will afford me more training overseas with that I will be able to compete with my colleagues in the developed countries. Hopefully one day, I’ll have my own assembling plant here in Nigeria. 

10. What advice will you give to a young woman entering a male-dominated profession?

The first advice I will give them is to love what they are doing. The male dominated terrain is full of so many challenges and if you don’t have passion for the job, you will easily be discouraged. I will also tell them to always remember that “success has no gender”.

11. You stand out in your profession, has this job opened more opportunities for you?

Yes, I have met a lot of dignitaries in this profession. I have been able to speak at conferences where governors, first ladies, and distinguished men and women were all in attendance. 

12. What word of advice will you give the young girls, women and every other person out there?

My advice to women/girls is for them to know that, firstly, success has no gender; secondly, they can be more, so break the stereotype. Finally, to everyone out there, I will say no one is created empty.

Nikkyosblog specially appreciates Bunmi Afuye Solabi for her time and for sharing a lot with us in this session.
You can follow her on Instagram @ladymek_stores

All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, broadcast, written, published or distributed in full or in parts, without the written permission from Nikkyosblog.

Categories
Interviews

Resilience is the quality that gets you far – Nyma Akashat Zibiri

Speaking on Nikkyosblog interview session today is a devoted Muslim and a hijab right advocate. Nyma Akashat Zibiri is a lawyer and also a co-host of popular breakfast show – “Your View” aired on TV Continental. She speaks about her upbringing, her life as a lawyer, an OAP and as a hijab right advocate.

1. What was it like growing up as a young Muslim girl?

It was really exceptional because I learned a lot from the lives my parents led and taught. We had no groups but we had a strong Muslim community. I always lived in multi religious and multi-cultural environment and had a tolerant exposure to others early. Some of my best friends aren’t Muslims and we go way back.

2. As a Muslim, a lawyer and an advocate for the right of Muslim women/girls to wear hijab to work/schools, what has your experience been like in this campaign? Has it been all smooth?

My experience as a hijab advocate has not been easy but not one that I will give up. I have suffered discrimination for wearing hijab back in the days and will do everything possible to change the narrative. 

3. Why did you choose the Law profession?

Law and I were made for each other. I had always appreciated being just and balanced in my views that everyone around me advised I study law hoping I will end up a judge.

4. As a female speaker at the faculty of law and female leader of Muslim students while in university, how did you manage all these with your academic pursuit especially as a law student?

I really tried to avoid any distractions from academics. I desperately wanted to achieve excellence in my results but leadership just kept chasing me. I never aspired for either religious or political positions but nominations kept coming from my mates and I wasn’t left any options. In fact I remember how, I will pray for them to get alternative candidates but to no avail. I struggled but found help in supportive parliament members and executive members. 

5. What woman inspires you and why?

Khadijah, the wife of the Holy Prophet (SAW). Her life has always been an inspiration to me. She was a perfect wife, mother, career woman and everything in between. She was a woman of value and even after death was honoured by her husband.

6. As a qualified lawyer, what led you into broadcasting and then joining “Your View”? 

I joined about 8 months into the show so I just wanted a different tone of a Muslim representation on the show.

7. Being an On Air Personality (OAP) and a Lawyer; is there one you prefer over the other?

Both are professions I have conveniently balanced now. Wouldn’t trade one for the other. 

8. What can you say about being a co-host on “Your View”?

It’s been an experience I tell you. The exposure comes with influence and I value that part 🤭. I have continue to grow on the job especially as it requires a knowledge of many things.

9. What’s one core message you received from your mentors?

I am a woman, the result of many other’s sacrifices. My two elder sisters and two younger ones are inspiration to me. My mentors have taught me to be discerning, practical, patient but also assertive and confident. I am however, still growing and getting more mentors. I even have admitted publicly to be learning from my mentees. 

10. How have you been able to balance work, being a wife, a mother and other responsibilities?

I wish there was a way to balance but there isn’t. I am one that normally ask for help, wherever I can and whenever. I have a strong support system and I am grateful to Allah (SWT) for that. Also, I work with a strict schedule and hardly work outside what I have planned weekly. This ensures that I prioritise my family.

11. What’s a typical day like for you?

My typical day starts at 3 am with my early morning prayers and reciting from the holy Quran. Then, I prepare my children for school and leave home at 6 am for the one and a half hours drive to Magodo TVC studios. I start preparing for the show as soon as I arrive by having my makeup done and reading the dailies. I then move to the studio at 8.45 am and do the show from 9 am to 10.30 am. From there, I move to the lounge for post-production meeting. Immediately after I drive off to resume at cynosure partners, a law firm I co-founded. All meetings with a few exceptions end at 2pm and I drive home immediately to receive my children or meet them at their minders. I prepare at least one dish for the family and when I’m tired, my husband steps in with take-outs (he hates to cook).

12. How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

I start reciting the Quran in Arabic and reflecting on the meaning of the verses with daily affirmation through prayers and gratitude so I motivate myself for a new day. I reflect on each day and its activities, expressing gratitude and seeking forgiveness at the end of each day. 

13. Is there any story or experience you want to briefly share with us?

When I newly joined the show, I usually take public transportation to the studio. Then, I would cross over to second rainbow along the Apapa-Oworonshoki express way in order to cut off the mile two traffic. On one of such days, I got hit by a reckless motorcycle riding against traffic. I fell and lost consciousness and woke up to an elderly woman shouting auntie. The woman and her son helped me up. I later got in the bus, made it to the studio and finished the show before going to the hospital. 

14. Kindly give a word of advice for the young girls, women and our entire readers.

I will advise young girls to add value to themselves. They must come out with achievements or potentials anywhere they go. They must never sacrifice their dreams for anything or anyone. Resilience is the quality that gets you far. Never give up!

Nikkyosblog specially appreciates Nyma Akashat Zibiri for her time and for sharing a lot with us in this session.
You can follow her on Instagram @akashatnymat

All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, broadcast, written, published or distributed in full or in parts, without the written permission from Nikkyosblog.