Brought up in a Christian home and maintaining her focus to follow God, Mrs. Victoria Ubokutom Nyah has tangible testimonies to make known the reality of the Almighty God.
As she turned 50 years today, April 25, 2018, she is full of gratitude to the true and only wise God for being her support and guide all these years on earth, while fully trusting him for a better and bigger future.
In this special anniversary interview with Henry Nkom and Substance Nature, Mrs. Nyah shared her profound thoughts on life, her education, motherhood, child upbringing and what parents could do to save themselves the pains of having mal-adjusted children; enjoy it. Excerpts
Thank you madam for the opportunity to unravel your life for the benefit of others as you turn 50 years this Wednesday. Congratulations. So, how does it feel to step into the golden year of your life?
Thank you, I give God the glory for making it possible for me to be alive to celebrate my 50th birthday. I am convinced that since God allowed me to see the age of 50, he has a lot more in store for me, so I am very expectant of many blessings ahead.
A lot of people would quickly think and say of you as a very kind hearted and loving person, was this something you learned at home or it’s just natural to you?
My native home is Ikot Ebo in Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I had primary and secondary education at Etinan, for secondary school, I attended Etinan Institute and later I proceeded to the University of Uyo to study sociology. My parents started their work life in Lagos. But after sometime my dad relocated to Etinan, so I lived my youthful life at Etinan.
Concerning my upbringing, my grand-father was a polygamist and my daddy kept me with his parents, so we have always had a large family and we enjoy sharing. I think my grand-father being a polygamist and a philanthropist, we always had people coming to the house and we entertained them. Also, during my growing up years in Lagos, my late mum had people living with us. So, I think the caring and sharing attitude must have come from both families.
From what you have said about coming from a large family and how this influences your kind heartedness, it means there is something good about polygamy.
Well in those days, in large families, there was a lot of sharing. The women then accepted the fact that a man could marry more than one wife; may be because they had large farm lands or because children were dying. But with the advent of Christianity in our days now, Christianity says it should be one man, one wife.
But which of the two kinds of marriage systems would you recommend, polygamy or monogamy?
I think the present day marriage system is preferable to me.
Growing up, did you have any target in mind like a career to pursue, and what was it.
I was influenced by my mum’s profession as a nurse to want to be one myself. But as God would have it I ended up in sociology.
I graduated from Uniuyo in 1992. I thank God for the knowledge of sociology; it helps me to understand society, people and how to live with them.
While you were growing up what were those things that were done to make a girl-child
succeed in life?
Basically, our parents made sure that we were well behaved. There were societal norms that we had to imbibe, one of which was that a girl child would not be permitted to go out at a’ certain
time of the night. There was a thorough check on us, you could not even go out without the
necessary permission. Respect for elders was a big part of our training.
Our parents taught us highly treasured values of truthfulness, honesty and let me also add quickly that in my family there were no discrimination between boys and girls in education.
In the Sam Ndem Family, girls and boys were given equal opportunity to attend school. So, we
were encouraged to take to education.
Could you recall challenges you faced in realizing your educational dreams
There weren’t challenges as such because we were from an average home, my father was a Trade Officer. I lived in the boarding house and I didn’t lack anything. But I would like to place on record the assistance I received from some of my cousins while growing up.
They helped me to understand the right steps to take in becoming educated. I thank them a great deal.
You have made reference to the kind of training you received as a growing girl from your parents and how this helped in moulding you.
If you compare the kind of training you received with how some parents tend to over pamper and spoil their children now, what would be your candid advice to parents and would-be parents?
Back then, parents, particularly mothers were very committed to the upbringing of their children. But what is obtained today is that some parents pay little or no attention to child training. These kind of parents just allow children to be by themselves, they access things they should not come in contact with in the social media and the internet generally. Many parents, in order to earn big
incomes, are not always available to train their children – all these add up to make children morally decadent today.
Having raised these issues with child upbringing in today’s world, do you think we still have models children can look up to?
Yes, we still have models but as I interact with some of them, I see their urge to learn from older people and this is why the older generation must continue to live above board in order to provide good examples for the children.
Can you share with us the degree of influence your church had on your growing up?
My church at home was Qua Iboe. I took part in the catechism and I was baptized as a young
child. My parents made sure we attended services. The church taught us to obey God’s rules in the bible and I can say that once we patterned our lives to go in the direction the church was showing, our lives were the better for it.
Would you say that the churches are still modeling our youths today as it was in the past? The churches are still doing their work; I wouldn’t say they have failed. It is the families that I think have problems with training children. In some families, where children misbehave, it is possible that both parents are not careful to watch what the children are doing.
The present challenges we have in the country is because of poor training of children at home. I will speak more about mothers who have abandoned their roles for other things. Some mothers go into businesses that take them away from the family; leaving the children with house-helps. They ignore the training of the children for so long, and before they realize it, a lot of damage would have been done.
Today’s world places a lot of demand on people to earn money if they would have a good life; so how in your opinion can a mother •achieve this and still have a home where she adequately pays attention to the training of the children?
In that aspect, I think that if the men are supporting the women as God expects, then the problem would have been solved.
The Bible places a demand on the fathers to provide for the family. I want to believe that if the trend in which women become more active in providing for the family is curbed, then the women will be more available to handle issues in the home front adequately.
Men must always have at the back of their hearts that God says any man unable to provide for his family is worse than an infidel; and this should spur them really to work harder and make their wives and children comfortable.
No woman would sit down and watch hungry children weep, so this makes them go out of their way to work more to earn money. So, my candid request to men is that they should help.
If you were to make a choice, which one would you say gives a woman more time, being a career woman or business woman?
There is nothing wrong with doing both. One can be involved at the two levels and still make the right positive impact on the children at home.
If a woman goes close to God and gets spiritual guidance, then it is possible for her to know how to manage the many things she does and still succeed.
Let’s look at your days at Etinan Institute, are there things you learnt there you think have made you a successful wife and mother?
School has a way of putting one right in life, that is if you focus on learning the positive things. I think my great experiences were at Federal School of Arts and Science, Lagos.
At this school, my scope of what life should be really expanded. I could now focus on doing and achieving great things. One thing that makes me happy about Etinan Institute was the school song. The philosophy of the song charged us and made us want to get to the top.
Are there things your parents did for you that you believe have made you have a good
family and a successful career?
I will like to say my late father, Sam Ndem was what you would call now a scholar.
He used to look at our books. He was that father that followed our progress in school.
My mum also played her role effectively. When I left Etinan Institute in 1982 and went to Lagos, she mentored me a great deal and I was inspired by all that she told me about how to achieve greatness. She encouraged me and believed that I can make it. So I attribute part of my success story to my late parents.
How did you deal with peer pressure and those things that will make young people
Peer pressure was easily handled due to the checks I had at home. It was not too easy to have outside influence rob me of the good upbringing I was getting at home.
So you were such a saint?
No, I was not a saint but there was always that check from my parents which put the fear of not wanting to misbehave in me. I remember that when we had to go to the stream, it was always in a line and everybody returns at the same time. I grew up also with my dad’s elder sister who gave us great details on proper behavior and demanded that we (children) acted in line with her expectations.
As you were growing up, what was your picture of the kind of marriage you wanted to have?
I didn’t give that a thought really at the growing up stage. But I remember that my dad took
special interest in me and vowed that he will not allow anyone to stop me from moving to the top.
University life a times comes with a lot of distractions, was there any temptation that you think could have truncated your destiny if you permitted it?
I was a straight line person and I wasn’t influenced by those trends in the university. My background just followed me everywhere I went, so I did not contemplate any funny behavior. Moreover, Etinan is very close to Uyo and I have my aunties and uncles here in Uyo where I went to University. I always thought that if I did the wrong thing I would be discovered and the message will get to my parents.
Despite the close checks and your lifestyle, you still found a man that has today become your husband, there would certainly have been some windows?
(She laughs) my husband met me in the University. Incidentally it was in one of the rooms. On a particular day, I was left in a room and he came in to look for somebody and he found me alone.
So we greeted each other and as they say one thing led to another. He offered to give me a drink and from then we started chatting. When the discussions progressed, I perceived that he is quite responsible.
So tell us how you really feel about your husband?
My husband?, the special man in my life? the man of my heart?
What really tripped me about him and I tell his children was his high intelligence. I wasn’t
looking at whether he is handsome, I found my husband to be knowledgeable.
Although he is an Architect, whenever we had to talk about sociology, I found that he knows so much about it.
Your husband who is a successful business man is very busy and could be away from home for a while, how do you handle the home front successfully at the periods he is away?
I want to say that before we actually got married, that is in the years of our courtship, then he worked in Calabar, he told me that he loves his work but would do his best to be available.
He urged me not to be too possessive of him, so he had already prepared me for this particular
situation. I believe in him, I didn’t have any doubt that when he says he is going to a particular direction, he might be going elsewhere. So, I gave him the space necessary to help him to work and all is well.
If you look at your life today, would you say getting married to Arc. Ubokutom Nyah was an excellent decision or you have some regrets.
It is only a blind woman that should say there is any regret marrying my heartthrob.
I thank God for giving me such a husband. I have a strong feeling that my name works for me. I want to encourage parents to be inspired by God before they name their children.
When my birth was to be registered in Lagos, my father actually wanted me to be called Edikan but it’s like the Yoruba people did not know how to spell Edikan, so he quickly told them to write Victoria, which is the direct translation of Edikan. So, I want to believe that ‘my name has really worked for me. In the midst of hurdles in life, I persevered and came out successful.
How has it been raising your children, one is already doing his Masters Degree, the other is graduating soon while two are in college; tell us how you overcome the challenges daily?
I want to still give God the glory and attribute it to my own upbringing. Children learn a lot from their parents. They copy what parents actually do. My children grew up to see their father to be very busy trying to make ends meet, so they saw a very hardworking father; they have not seen their father drink alcohol, so it has also helped them to follow the same lifestyle. We do not smoke and this has positively impacted on the two boys, to the extent that they do not go near
alcohol or smoke.
For my two girls and the boys as well, I monitor what they do; I follow them one on one from when they started their nursery school. I want to believe that the monitoring has also helped us to
bond very well. The way we monitored our children has helped them to have that confidence in us. So for my children there has been no challenges on the negative side.
It would seem that when your children were younger, you played down on the business side of your life. Today you run a very active business life particularly in the Akwa Ibom
Finance Prudential Cooperative Association (AKFIPCA); can we deduce from this that when a mother has young children at home, she should be there most of the time and get into full blown business life when they are a bit independent?
My programme of work was not our special design. It is just that at the time the children started coming, I was not really employed but at the most appropriate time I got really involved in the business, that is Trinity Group of Companies.
Were you not allowed by your husband to find employment elsewhere upon graduation?
No, he never did that; but I think providence was preparing me for a bigger responsibility.
You said that you were raised up in Qua Iboe Church, but today you are a Catholic by reason of your marriage, what would you use that to tell young girls about religious tolerance?
I want to say that we believe in one God. I didn’t know it would be easy for me to cross-over. I have really come in tune with my faith in the Catholic Church. Right now I am a bridge-builder in this area. I tell my people in Qua Iboe that their perceptions of the catholic church is not what it is. I strongly believe that to have a successful marriage it is good for husband and wife to share the same faith. Once a woman knows before hand that the man she intends to marry is of a particular faith, the most reasonable thing to do is to join him.
One of the legacies of your family is the full scholarship offered to not only Akwa Ibom indigenes but all Nigerians, in Topfaith International Secondary School, Mkpatak and Nigerian Universities. This is possible because of your strong support for your husband, why does your family invest so much on this philanthropic act?
First and foremost, we are a Christian family and we live by faith in the word of God. We are
conscious of God’s word to help other people and this is why we do it. Secondly, I am married to a man that has a large heart and is passionate about building the future and my role is simply to support him. My husband is a product of scholarship and he has great conviction to give back to the society through scholarship. He believes that building human capacity has the potential of improving society and this is why he invests heavily on it. It is my hope as I keep supporting him to do it that the world will have more creative and brilliant people like my husband.
There is a large army of divorces today in our society, what do you think is responsible for this?
The word of God is very clear on how to have a successful marriage. God has commanded
women to submit to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives. If this command to men and women is followed strictly, then peace will reign in homes. But let me talk to women. Our role is to support our husbands; that is to be help meet for them. If our husbands will honestly love us unconditionally, despite our weaknesses, then we should honour them as special persons in our lives, I believe this will make marriages heaven on earth.
Akwa Ibom Finance Prudential Cooperative Association (AKFIPCA) is a business you do with great passion, as you celebrate your golden year what can you say about the benefits of the cooperative movement?
Indeed cooperative is the surest channel out of poverty. What do we do? We simply come
together, rich or poor, pool resources together in order to move on to the next level. So, you will find that in a short while the active, serious and creative poor who joined the group moves up to begin a business through the financial support or if you like a loan, he or she gets from the pool. In AKFIPCA, our vision is beyond small businesses; this is why as a cooperative association, we are raising primary societies across the State. We want to own multibillion Naira firms. We are convinced that for any sector we find interest we will invest heavily and dominate it.
We are looking into the future already by running a scholarship programme like no other; training cooperators children from secondary school to University in the best schools in Nigeria.
Our vision in industry, banking, education, publishing, building and architecture, etc are
progressing and I pray that God sees us through in Jesus name, Amen.
Finally, on a lighter note, you may be fifty in age but your graceful looks and mental strength places you at a youthful age; what is the secret of your excellent physical features?
When you have a good husband, you will certainly be happy and not age too quickly. Let me say that beside a successful and happy woman is a good man.
So, my husband has given me a good foundation. He has lifted me up and I have become truly , unstoppable.
I exercise once in a while, especially when my first son is around. But I know that exercise is
very good particularly when you are getting older, I will invest more time on exercise going toward.
I have really studied my body to know what I should eat and what I shouldn’t eat. I pay attention to my health by visiting my doctor at regular intervals to do a check on my body. This is very important for women, so that we can find out on time when an issue is trying to show up in a particular organ; and then it can be nipped in the bud.
The Sensor: thank you ma and happy birthday
Mrs. Nyah: thank you and God bless you.