I am Dr Aretha Rekiya Samuel (nee Yahaya Ogaji Akwu). I am a lecturer at the Catholic University of Nigeria (Veritas University) Abuja. I am from Idah, Idah Local Government Area of Kogi state. My father is late Alhaji Yahaya Ogaji Akwu, my mother, late Hajia Asamawo Yahaya Ogaji Akwu. I came from a polygamous home. My father had two other wives but my mother was the first wife. I am the fifth of my father’s nine children and the second of my mother’s. I have three children but I lost one.
I attended Ochaja Secondary School, Ochaja Dekina, Kogi State. I got married immediately after secondary school. Then my husband decided I should go for teacher training. That was how I went to what they called then, pivotal school, it was a teacher training college. From there I proceeded to College of Education, Kastina-Ala, Benue state where I studied Agric Education. I then proceeded to the University of Jos where I read Psychology while I did my PGD in Business Studies at the Rivers State University of Arts, Science and Technology and Masters and PhD in Sociology at the University of Port Harcourt.
I worked at the then National Fertiliser Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) for nine years rising to the position of Haulage Control Services Manager before the company shut down. When NAFCON folded up, I was without job for some time. Since there was no job, to keep myself busy, I decided to go into the business of selling clothes. I was carrying the bags on my head not minding that I was a graduate and somebody who had risen to the level of a manager in a big company as NAFCON. I was doing it because I had to survive. I couldn’t imagine myself begging for money to feed. It was during this period that I decided to go back to school to do my Masters.
I remember my principal at Ochaja Secondary School, Mr. Eleojo Aba, he is a man with principle and he instilled in us discipline. Then there is Mr. Adojo, he taught us Christian Religious Knowledge. We nicknamed him, O! Theophilus because each time he came to the class, he always made the exclamation, O! Theophilus as contained in Acts of the Apostles chapter one. He was a gentleman and very compassionate with us then.
At the age of five my mother was no longer with us and it was my father that took care of me from that tender age. Though my father had two other wives, you know no one can care for you like your mother especially when it comes to a polygamous home. I went through some hardship in the hands of my step-mothers which prompted my father who had noticed my special talent to send me to one of his more enlightened family members, late Baba Elijah Aliyu Ohioma who with his sisters, Mary Aladi Ohioma and Salome Laruba Ohioma, built me into the woman I am today. May their souls rest in peace.
The good thing about my case is that I had my children early when I was not seriously engaged in work. So the children had my full attention when they were still very young. By the time I started my academic pursuit, they had already grown to a level they could reasonably take care of themselves when I was away either at work or at school and they were even helping me with the work, especially my academic work.
I know it is always a challenge managing the home and working, the only thing I will advise women is to see their family as their first priority. If you focus on career and abandon your home, you discover that the money you make will be useless to you. But if you are able to build a solid family, you will be a happy person.
Interestingly, my role model is King David in the Bible. He is very humble when it comes to the things of God and he is always dancing before God. I do the same. I draw inspiration from his courage and readiness to do the will of God.
We all fail at one point or the other. The problem is not failing, it is your attitude to the failure, what lessons did you learn from the failure and how did you apply such lessons to ensure you don’t fail again? In fact, anyone who has never failed is someone who has never done anything. We should not be afraid of failure, it is part of life and what strengthens our resolve to succeed.
I hate lies
There is a serious breakdown in our value system. We cannot go far as a nation if we continue the way we are moving. Everybody is only interested in what he or she can get, nobody is ready to make sacrifice. These things are happening because most women have abandoned their primary role of home building. While I agree that women need to work to support their husbands, it should not be at the detriment of the children. I find it repulsive when a mother abandons the care of her children to maids. She leaves home very early in the morning and returns very late in the night when the children are sleeping. How do you know what they did during the day, whom they mingled with? How can they get explanations for certain things they don’t understand?
Again ladies, especially young ones, should equip themselves very well before going into marriage.
In the course of my life, I have passed through many mentors. I will forever remain grateful to Mr. Agbo Sylvester, Mr. Udeochu, as well as Prof Iwarime-Jaja Darlington, Dr Otu Ekpenyong and Dr Lasisi Raimi.
I am inspired by hard work and determination.
I don’t think I am different from any other woman. I believe we are all equal at the sight of God. Maybe what marks me out as a special person is that I am a very resilient person. I don’t get weighed down by challenges, no matter what it is.
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