Judith Nnanna has Bachelor of Laws with Honours in Government and Politics from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. This amazing love of this young lady for driving trucks instead of a proper car is one of the things that make her stand out. During her student days at Hertfordshire, she caused a row as the first female Black to contest for the post of Student Union President. Again, while on national youth service in Awka, Anambra State, she embarked on different charity projects. The most outstanding was the donation of free exercise books and pens to 5,000 students. She also extended her charity to the motherless babies home in Awka. In this interview, she talks about her foundation, Give Little Assistance Daily (GLAD Foundation), the non-governmental organization that propelled her to give to charity.
By Christy Anyanwu
What inspired your lifestyle of giving to the less privileged?
I think it comes naturally. You should always want to help the needy. You should always want to help the less privileged. It should come naturally to you as a human being. GLAD Foundation was my father’s baby; and given that it is my father’s baby, we are siblings.
It’s not a crazy idea that I love to share and give. When I was schooling in the United Kingdom, I volunteered for a few organizations. I worked for YMCA; I think that is the most popular one among the charity organizations I volunteered for.
When I came back after my studies, I knew it was much easier to get along with my dad as regards the funding. It wasn’t hard to participate because opportunity was just coming. I didn’t have to go out to just look for what to do.
As youth corps members, we went to the motherless baby’s home and made a donation. After that, we had the GLAD Foundation Project 5,000.
Also during NYSC, we had a program called ASSAP (Anambra South Skills Acquisition Program). It was a skill acquisition initiative for secondary schools, encompassing vocational training more or less. The first time we did it was when I just started NYSC. Second time, it was my time and I thought of making it bigger. Lots of those kids would come to school without pen and exercise books. I wondered how they could learn with nothing to write with.
I got them exercise books, pens and T-shirts.
They the students were really excited. It’s a public school in Awka town.
For all you did during your service year, did you get any commendation and awards?
No. I was surprised. My schedule officer called me out and thanked me. They promised to give me something in writing but I never got it at all. But I didn’t do it for recognition; I just did it.
How was your service year like?
It was an adventure. That was what I can say. It was good and it was bad. There is no actual NYSC camp in Anambra state; it’s a temporary camp. We were lodged in a primary and secondary school. The living conditions were not there. I don’t think it was worth the stress to redeploy. All in all, I thank God. I like to say that I’m highly favoured. I worked in the camp radio station, people knew who I was and that also contributed to my posting to the Ministry of Justice in Awka.
Was there any clamour from you to get redeployed?
No. I was born in Anambra State. That’s why I didn’t feel like not staying back during my NYSC. I console myself that if I could stay there as a baby then I should stay there as an adult. I stayed there for about five or six years before coming to Lagos with my parents.
I have always lived in Lagos for my schooling. I wasn’t in boarding school because my mum would not want me to go anywhere. She’s very protective. My father is more a liberal parent while my mum is very conservative.
I’m sure some of your mates stayed back in Britain after school. Why did you come back?
A lot of people stayed back but I didn’t really have a viable reason to stay back. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do the Master’s degree yet. Besides, the exchange rate for pounds sterling had gone up. I decided to come back home and figure out what I wanted to do. When I am done with Law School I would probably go back for the Master’s degree.
What do you like about your dad?
He is a people person. People are very much drawn to him; he’s a bit of a teacher as well, an unconventional teacher.
Can you tell us about your passion for fashion or otherwise?
I like a style of my own. I just like to be comfortable. I like African things. My other passion is that I like to learn a second or third language.
I started learning French and Spanish but not giving them 100 per cent attention because of my busy schedule in school.
I know I’m good with my hands. I paint. Like I painted my room; I bake and I sew. If I see something I like on somebody else, I try to make it into more of my style. The biggest thing I have done in fashion is to model a couple of times. I did it just for passion. I’m the face of a fashion brand.
Sure you have friends studying Law in Nigeria too. What would you say differs in terms of attending classes?
Apart from the difference on how long it is to get a degree in Law, the way they teach in Hertfordshire is different. In my school we do independent learning, you only come to class to discuss what you have learnt. You only had lectures once a month.
You have classes every other day, just discussions, discussions and more discussions; if you don’t do you’re learning at home you will be lost in class. But here, they try to give you as much as possible; it doesn’t necessarily give you the freedom to explore.
Can you tell us what prompted you to go into school politics?
I was just there minding my own business. I was told by a few people to run as Student Union President. It’s better to run as a group than to run individually. I thought it was a joke. They said I was popular but I didn’t know I was popular.
My school has a larger Nigerian population and they said for a long time a female had not been president. I caught up with the idea later. In school I went for the post of student union president, I had the best student campaign ever. I was able to pull students from Asia and South Africa.
My dad gave me Jimmy Cliff music, Jesse Jackson campaign film and I did the best campaign manifesto ever seen in the school. When I lost, I knew they tapped into other peoples ID to vote against me. I fought for it. When the school accepted my grievances, I told them we must do a re-run and that the culprit must be brought to book.
My dad told me to leave campus and stay with a family friend. If people will go as far as hacking election like this they could harm or kill me for fighting. It pays #21,000 per annum; I think some people felt that money was important to them to have gone into that cybercrime.
What made you popular in school?
I was involved in an exchange program called Erasmus Student Network. They have their branches in different schools all over the world. I had to work with the international student support team. I worked as a student guide. In most UK schools you may be a student guide or an ambassador.
You help in mentoring students that come in, you take them out on tours in the town (London), you help them settle into life in the UK, life in school, I guess that was why I was so popular, and people knew me. You go to the airport and pick them up at times and bring them back to school.
Later in life would you like to go into politics in Nigeria?
No. I will be going for my Master’s, I’m thinking of studying International Law
What’s your kind of man?
My dad always tells me to use him as a yardstick to choose my man. He tells me he’s an analogue type and this is a digital world. I want a man who can challenge and respect me very well.
Must he be rich and comfortable?
(Snapped) I thought of having my own money. But if he has money, good. That means more money for us. I don’t want someone that is short. I want someone taller than my dad, like 6.1 I’m 5feet 8inches
Though you are a young lady, are there any lessons you have learnt about life?
You cannot control anything. The world is crazy.
Do you have any special beauty routine to look beautiful?
Nothing. I just shower. I would say my looks come from my genes – my mum and my dad both have nice skin.
You are often seen driving trucks. How did you develop this love for trucks and what do your friends say about it?
Basically we never had small cars in my family. So, after I learnt how to drive the only vehicles available for me to drive were my dad’s trucks because my mum would not let me drive her SUV. My friends love it, they think its ballsy but I don’t see the big deal. A car is a car.