Peter Ogbuokwa and Uzumma Ijere
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord”, so says the book of Proverbs 18. Such is the case of Chief Emmanuel Umeohia, the husband of Lady Uchenna , Executive Director, Emab Umeh and Sons Nigeria Limited, owners of popular Emab Plaza, who has found favour in his wife. She has been impactful to her husband and entire household. As it is a known fact that behind every successful man there is a woman, lady Umeohia fits into the category of such women that have made a mark in the scheme of things.
In an interview with Daily Sun recently in Lagos, commemorating her 60th birthday, the Emab boss who maintained that she believed in gender equality, spoke on her journey so far, plight of women, security challenges as well as its panacea, economy and others in Nigeria.
Let’s know your background?
I am Lady Uchenna Umeohia,(Ebube di ya). Currently the Executive Director, Emab and Sons Nigeria Limited. I hail from Anambra state; I am a member of the Anglican Church and married to Chief Emmanuel Umeohia. I attended Oniru Secondary, Lagos, Federal College of Education, Akoka and University of Lagos, Unilag, where I studied Creative Arts.
How do you feel attaining Diamond age?
I feel exceptionally favored by God to attain Diamond age. It is He alone that can grant somebody grace to get to any age in life. I feel so happy, strong, and fulfilled getting this far. I have no regret. To remain fit, healthy and younger, routine exercise is my key and I am looking forward to better things ahead.
Can you recall how growing up was like?
Reminiscing my childhood days, I was adventurous. Every tool at our disposal was like toy to us, so we played with it, not minding whether it was harmful or not. For instance, my peer group residing in the same community gathered every evening to play different games. It was exciting. I enjoyed climbing trees and engaged in some sporting activities, such as athletics, I guess that is why I love exercising and walk-out. I also assist my parents in fetching water, going to the farms, rearing our domestic Animals we had. I play mother role to siblings, being the first among seven children, particularly whenever our parents were not around. Though the task was daunting, but I learnt a lot from it.
Can you recall your memorable day?
Oh! My wedding day. It was fantastic. It was eventful and memorable, particularly that I was young; It was exciting, glamorous and was attended by the crème de la crème in the society.
How do you combine your career with management of the home?
As it is often said, “any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country”, so for management of the home and career, I do that better by setting up a system whereby my presence is not needed for my business to run. And as for the home, initially it was a full house, our four girls and three boys, my husband and I. It is just my husband and I now because all my kids are either married or staying on their own. I must confess to you also that my husband has been 100 percent supportive to my career and home.
How do you see the Ladies of today?
Most Ladies of today seem to be wise and determined, no doubt, but do not try to observe the precautions that existed when we were growing up. Indecent dressing which has pervaded the society today was not evident then. It is worrisome, but there are still some well trained today that are exemplifying the virtues of womanhood.
Are you worried by the level of moral decadence in the society?
Yes, I am worried. It is sad because the rate at which morality uprightness is declining in the country calls for concern. Our rich cultural heritage has been eroded due to influence western civilization. And it cuts across all the spectrum of our life. There is need for redouble our effort to address it.
Do you encourage women going into politics?
I do. It is my view that women who have the calling or ambition can vie for whatever political office they aspire, including the presidency, in Nigeria, in as much as they meet all the necessary constitutional requirements. Infact, I have always supported many of the serious minded ones that had approached me in different ways to the best of my ability.
Any political ambition?
No. I don’t think I am cut-out for politics for now. Nevertheless, if in future God gives me the lead in that direction; one would have no choice but to obey. I had meticulously followed my aspirations and God has been on my side, leading and guiding me.
Do you believe in gender equality?
Of course, yes. I believe in gender equality. This is because God created both male and female to be supportive to each other. A man cannot do without a woman. There is this saying that “whatever a man can do, a woman can do better”. Nevertheless, in African society, men appear to be more equal than the woman. This is because of the patriarchal system we run in this clime. In developed societies, both male and female are seen to be equal. Opportunities are open to both sexes and each can soar to any height he or she desires to irrespective of the gender. Men, as a result of their chauvinistic tendencies, are seen to be superior to women and this is to a large extent has clogged the wheels of progress of most women. However, we African women are looking forward to a better day when our male counterpart will recognize that both of us are partners in progress.
What is your role to the indigent in the society?
My husband and I are doing the best we can to assist the less privileged. We have over the years built homes for some indigents, bought some tricycles and motorbikes to empower some young folks as well from time to time, made some cash gifts and foodstuff available to widows and the needy in our society and we shall continue to do that by the grace of God.
How do you see the state of the nation?
The nation is passing through a challenging period. The economy is tight. The report released by Oxfam international that over 94 million Nigerians are living below poverty line is disturbing. This may have heightened the security challenges the country is currently facing. So government needs to rejig its economic strategy in order to stem the tide. This is because the women and children are mostly bearing the brunt. The security situation is frightening and one can have nightmare due to that. Most Nigerians are living in fear and poverty is spreading, everybody is apprehensive including the international community. The government should step up its effort in order to ameliorate the plight of citizens in the country.
Advice to women, Nigerians?
I urge women to attend empowerment programmes to acquire new skills or improve on the ones they already have with a view to overcoming the current economic challenges in the Country. This will enable them keep abreast of the trending skills which in turn gives them competitive edge.
They should avoid laziness and be enterprising, without comprise to the effective management of their homes, knowing full well that nothing good comes easy.This is because women are the pillars of the home. Income from them no matter how small it is will complement that of their husbands.
As you know, the role of women in nation building is pivotal. Therefore, they should give their children, being leaders of tomorrow; sound training that will put them at an edge in the society and the nation in general. As the saying goes, “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”, Women should imbibe fear of God in the conduct of their activities. They should also get themselves well informed about the happenings in the nation with a view to broadening their knowledge base for success, because, “knowledge is power”. They should avoid being monolithic business people. They should also be ambitious, but above all have contentment.
Finally, the best way to tackle the ills bedeviling our society is to hold everyone accountable, most especially, those in power. Also the media should be scrutinized and managed properly, as forth estate of the realm, to bring to fore the decadence in the society so that government effectively tackle them where and when necessary. Government should make policies that can drive the economy and are favorable to local and foreign investors with a view to reducing unemployment rate and improving infrastructure, among others, in Nigeria.