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ONYEKA ONWENU: Still Fiery And Beautiful at 70

Onyeka Onwenu is a woman of many parts; a singer/songwriter, actress, human rights activist, journalist, politician, and former X Factor series judge. Nicknamed the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian press in the ’80s, 90’s through to the 2000s, her music ruled the Nigerian airwave with notable hit songs like “One Love”, “Wait for Me” and “Iyogogo” to mention a few.

On October 1st, 2021, she released her memoir titled ‘ My Father’s Daughter’—Nigeria’s independence which was indeed symbolic. She is a girl child advocate who articulates her concerns for the girl child in this encounter too.

In this intensely engaging and stimulating encounter with the Media Room Crew, she recounts her marital ordeal and how she conquered the odds. She addresses her issue with the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and its management and also calls out politicians who impoverish the poor masses and with a specific mention of Senator Rochas Okorocha, the former Governor of Imo State, amid sundry other issues.

Q. You look too good for seventy, tell us about your beauty routine—how have you being able to stay young?

A. I don’t really have a routine, but then again, I think everybody does, it depends on whether you do it all the time. A little bit of exercise is good, I wish I can do more—I will try and do more. Let me tell you the secret, as the age is coming in, the harder I’m going to fight—so I will increase the exercise, first of all, for my good health and wellbeing. It looks good, that terrific, but you feel better and I have through stages where I had a lot of weight but I always find a way to get out of it and then you get to a sweet point where there is no going back. I think for the past five years, it’s been about maintaining that weight that I really need to maintain. Everybody has their own routine, I can’t prescribe mine for the next person because we have different bodies, temperament and not everyone has that much time. It also has to do with self-love—if you care for yourself, love yourself, you take the time to do these things to make sure that you feel good.

Q. A lot of women don’t want to ever grow old; how did you feel knowing that you are close to 70 years?

A. I had started seeing 70 before I got to 70 because it’s such a landmark age and at every age, we ought to be grateful and give thanks, because if we don’t grow old you die young, and I don’t want to die young. I still have so much to do, so much to give and so much to enjoy. I pray to God every day to give me long life. Let’s say you’re praying to God, and he gives it to you, and you are in turn frowning that you are getting older. When people insult me because I am old, I just say thank you and if old age is a course, let me bless you, ‘don’t get old’. It’s always at this point that they realize what they are saying to themselves, so age is something that grows. A child that is born today, is going to get older—that’s all we do until we die, so it’s something to celebrate. Something to be happy about. Just try and take good care of yourself, make sure you eat well, take vitamins, exercise and just keep going, giving, and most importantly learning. Never stop learning! There is always something to learn even from a younger person.

Q. What do you have to say to people in the entertainment industry who falsify and reduce their ages in the entertainment industry?

A. So silly! What a waste of time. You are what you are, and you are never going to change that, you’ve been born. You can keep pulling it back and lying, it’s going to catch up with you at some point. My mother was so proud of her age, I learnt that from her. She would tell you how old she is, and how proud she is to be that age. I learnt from her that it is a blessing and that acknowledging your age is thanking God for giving you that life that you have. When you hide and cry about being old, what are you trying to tell God? If you don’t look forward to getting older, you will likely die at a young age.

Q. Recently, you granted an interview where you talked about your marriage to the chagrin of many—a lot of people were surprised because they had never heard of your wedding. How were you able to keep your marriage from the public glare?

A. It was something that had to be done, and it gave me peace all those years. We decided. I don’t bring my children out—first of all, they are not interested in celebrity lifestyle. When people flock around me, they just wonder what that is about. It’s because they have seen me finish. They don’t use my name and they want you to get to know them for who they are, they are proud of who they are, and I am also proud of them. I like that about them. So, take it that life is a continuum and at every given time, you should give your best and whatever comes your way, you take it. For me, the marriage came—it was an incredible marriage. People who were close knew that I was married. Those who needed to know, knew. I didn’t need to announce it to the world. Those who were close to me and needed to know, knew that I was married. They also knew I had these two boys even though some were saying I had a girl for Sunny Ade, story, story, story. I did a song with Sunny Ade, and suddenly all these rumours came up. There wasn’t a need to be announcing it. I wasn’t answering my husband’s name, I was already made as at the time I got married. So, I didn’t need to publicize it. I didn’t need to talk about it, and it gave me the peace I needed at that time. It was a modest ceremony and I didn’t have to show it to the whole world. It was just a small gathering that was nicely done. That was it and it was sufficient for me. Also, when the marriage was over, I didn’t even talk about it.

The reason I talk about it now is because I wrote it in my memoir ‘My Father’s Daughter’. I wrote about it because I found that there were many women who had gone through what I had gone through and that those women who could not speak out, needed to be acknowledged and helped—women who were suffering emotional abuse in marriages and that at a certain point, if you are strong enough, get out of that situation because it can finish you off. Men are afraid of women like me, they are attracted to women like me, strong women who are out there, making their own way and not relying on anyone. From day one, I’ve always been financially independent and that’s a pull for men. But when they come closer, the very thing that attracted them are the very thing they are jealous about. I had a problem because I was a public figure—if I walk into a space, people immediately. It’s only natural! I was already that before my husband met me, and that was one of the things that attracted him. Why? Because he thought that when he comes to the house, there will be cars lined up waiting to see me, and when he came, he realized there was none.

There was nobody and suddenly he realizes that I’m not what people think I am, that I’m really an exceptionally private person. And that combination of being a star and a private person attracted him. And that very thing: the charisma and aura was again what he felt uncomfortable with and my dear I couldn’t help him with that, I’m not God. I did not give myself the aura. When it was necessary for the aura to be put to good use for the family, it was. So how do you mock the very thing that saved your life not on one occasion but on numerous occasions? That was what got to me, and I realized that I was being punished for being a strong and capable woman who would hold her own and not crumble—not a loud or forward woman. I would not crumble because I had kids to take care of, I had a family relying on me, both the immediate family and the extended family. I knew that if I crumbled, many people will crumble with me. It wasn’t a luxury that I could afford and these were the things that were held against me. I think when I say things like ‘My husband did not pay his children school fees’, people are shocked. He didn’t, from kindergarten to college to master’s degree. He was wealthy, yes! And he didn’t pay because I was told to do certain things and I disagreed. I was told not to look after my mother nor spend money on my family, but to me, it was none negotiable because even if my mother had only one child, I will still be that one child.

So, because I didn’t abide to that and so many other rules and regulations, then he wasn’t going to help me, and I said that’s okay. We also went through certain difficulties when the money was not there and I had to hold the whole family together, and I did. I can only be grateful to God for that but don’t use it to punish me. My mother advised me not to protest or even say a word. She said I was capable and had God on my side that I am going to raise my family very quietly, and that is it. At a point, my mother called my husband and told him to go, for not looking after her daughter after I had sacrificed so much and many years on your behalf, and now that you are able to, you are not helping her. She told him he can go. She had watched me tolerate the situation for some time, but when she had enough, she called for a meeting and told him to just go. That’s my mother and I was so proud of her. She was both a mother and a father to me. She could no longer take it that her daughter, having made all these sacrifices still was not getting the help. It was not nice at all. I could not have a cook; I mean I’ve never had a cook. I had to cook for him, serve it and also clear the table after the meal. I had to do what I did, and I’m glad I did because it gave me an opportunity to bond with my children very well because what happened was that I just go to work and come home, I had no social life. You don’t see me at parties except I’m performing or it’s really a very close friend that has a very strong reason to celebrate.


I hardly socialize you will rarely see me on stage. If I am travelling to perform, my kids come with me and when they close from school, I pick them up at school—I did the school run. I had a huge office; they would do their homework in my office. We spent time together and they watched me work and interact with other people. So, they were learning as well and then when we are going home, we all go home together. If they are watching T.V, I must be watching with them, I control the TV thing—if they were watching cartoon, I was there with them and after sometime I’d say ‘okay everyone let’s see what is going on in the world’. I didn’t know how many times I had said that and recently, when they came back from studies abroad and were watching TV, I said, ‘you guys put it on CNN let’s see what is happening’, they all laughed and said ‘Mum you are still saying this’. You know, it helped them because as grown-ups, after watching entertainment, they would want to go the news so they can know what is going on in the world—they want to learn, they want to know what they didn’t know before, not nudity, not all these nonsenses we are seeing on Instagram, no! They want knowledge and that is because of the way I raised them. So, I don’t have a problem with the ‘cook thing’, I cook, I clean the house and do the chores so no one can come and do shakara for me. I am a gardener too, I’m just a homely woman. I’m a house wife thoroughly but when I dress up and come out on stage, I am a DIVA and I am proud of it.

Q. A lot of young ladies do not have the courage to leave toxic marriages, what advice do you have for them as a single mother?


A. Unless it happens to you, you really don’t understand the sacrifices that women make. It’s about the love thing, it’s about the children as well. We want to preserve a home where there is a father and there is a unit. But, if it’s going to take your life, get out fast, run! Because your children without you, will suffer more, and by the way, you don’t need to be in an environment where there is emotional trauma, emotional abuse, to the extent that the woman is constantly depressed—and there were years where I was constantly depressed and my children noticed. On my fiftieth birthday, my first son was asked what she wished his mother, and he said something that struck me, he said he just wants the mother to be happy. I was surprised, I was shocked that I didn’t fool these guys and I took a decision that day to fight for my happiness—my fulfilment, my joy and not waiting for my husband to take care of me as he used to, and should do. I decided to do all of that for myself and there was a change. So, don’t wait to be killed, you have children, and you have to be alive to take care of them. Also, depression is not a good thing.

Q. Does marriage define a woman?

A. For me, no! It never defined even when I was happily married, I was myself, giving to someone else the love that they needed, it never defined so it should not define you. There are some who will get married, and there are some people who will not get married. There are some people who are not going to get married and does that make you a failure, No!

Q. Was there a time where the people around you tried to reconcile you and your husband?

A. There were so many times where we would reconcile and he will be back. For me, the realization was this, he wanted to be the one to leave, to call it quit, but he couldn’t, so the best thing was to bring me down emotionally—so I will be useless to him and be useless to any other man and when he is done, no other man will can even take a look at you, and that was not necessary. If you want to go, it’s okay, go already but don’t destroy me before you go and this sort of actions come from men who are insecure about themselves. A man who is sure of who he is, who is comfortable in his own skin would just walk away when things are not working. He will say, I love you, but I am going to leave. And we will work out our terms of engagement together—we can always be in good terms because we have children to raise. But he left everything and responsibility for me. Not only did he not pay school fees, he didn’t buy them clothes. Occasionally he was very generous with one or two of my projects but I threw my life into all his projects. He abused me publicly, and after that, I took a decision to leave the marriage finally. When I took that decision, he knew that was the deal breaker. My children still love him so much. I want to use this opportunity to address men who walk away from their responsibility of raising their children; you bring children into this world and you abandon them, SHAME ON YOU! It’s not about the woman, it’s about the children, you will answer to God. Everything is not about money, it’s about love, understanding and sacrifice—it’s about having a relationship with your children, talking and bonding with them.

Q. How do we address the anomaly of laziness in the men of this generation, and what advice do you have for women about these lazy and badly behaved men?


A. The truth is, we don’t just have badly behaved men, we have badly behaved people that we have raised. I take a bit of the responsibility, I think people of my generation should take the responsibility, it means we did not raise our children well. Young people of now are very disrespectful, you meet them on the road, and they don’t greet you. They can’t even wait for you to climb the stairs; they would just knock you down and pass. No sorry or excuse me at all. They are just disrespectful in everywhere, and I’m wondering, who raised you? You don’t greet, even when you are greeted, you don’t answer, you are given a job, and you are not committed—you just want someone to give you loads of cash and you do nothing in return. The world does not work that way. When you see those that are working hard, when you see them, you know them, they are making it. They say it’s hard in Nigeria, but some people are legitimately making it because Nigeria is a land of promise, it’s a place of opportunity, there are so many opportunities but we don’t have the zeal and the commitment to work. I am telling as a mother of two boys, and one who raised three boys—my nephew who I raised from eighteen months, he is now a grown man. I can tell you; they have issues with women because we talk about this. The pressure these women put on the men for money for hair, phones and all sorts of things is so much, to them, that is what the relationship is all about. I raised my children to value women, they have friends who are women, they are not sleeping with them, they are just friends, very good friends. They come, and they have wonderful discussions on issues and they all contribute. When I went to school in America, I learnt all of that, you don’t allow a guy take you for dinner and spends all his money and when you guys are back, he will say, can I come in and have coffee? So, I avoided all of that. So, after dinner, I pay my part of the bill and you also did and that was the end. Here, the girls are so entitled these days—I say to the young men, be patient, you will find the right one for you, the one who will support and walk right beside you to create something, so please don’t give up. So, it’s not just about the men, it’s about the women too.

Q. Do you think that the mothers are not doing enough? Today, you see young men doing rituals for money, and recently some teenagers killed a girl and they were caught, what advice do you have for us all?


A. It is very disturbing for me. We are in trouble in this country and I pray that we begin now to deal with it, it’s not just about the mothers, it’s also about the fathers too. Particularly the fathers because they are not paying attention, they leave child rearing to the woman. If the child does well, you take the credit, if the child does badly, you blame the woman. So, you see, the men are absent. If you watch the TV with you children, and you are aware of what they are seeing and can explain things to them, and be honest with your children, it will help so much. Once you open that channel, it gives your child the opportunity to be open with you—can talk to you, and just share everything with you. Coming back to the question proper, the society is responsible for what is happening now. When you are a government official, and you are a thief, you embezzle money, and everybody knows you are, and you come out and flaunt it and the people clap for you, give you chieftaincy titles and give you the front row to sit in church and nobody knows how you got your money. You see, that’s what triggers the young ones to do all these things, to the young ones, it’s okay to do rituals and have money at all cost so you can have everybody’s respect. To me, you don’t have my respect! If you look properly, you will realize that the society is responsible for what is happening now, there are no values anymore. I recently saw a news about a 20-year-old girl who has been hired as an assassin, and she had already killed four people before she was caught. They were three of them, two escaped and she was the only one that was caught. Now, you hardly know people’s intentions when they come to work with you. You don’t know why they come, and that’s why they don’t want to work, they just want to rip you off, and when they can’t rip you off, they claim you are a wicked woman. I work for my money; I am not going to throw it around. I will pay you well with good working conditions, but I am not going to through my money anyhow around. So, it’s needless for my driver to try to get money in a dubious way because he has seven children at home to take care of. We are the problems that we need to tackle, we need to return those values that when you legitimately make money, you will enjoy your money. In the 50’s, 60’s and up to the 70’s, if you suddenly start displaying a lot of money, your kinsmen will come from the village and ask you how you made all the money, and you better have a good explanation, because if you don’t, you are ostracized. We don’t do that anymore, the people of today will even abuse you if you assume a government position and come down without sharing money, they will abuse you for not stealing money to give them.

Q. Kidnapping is now endemic in the country, people are scared of being kidnapped when they go out, what advice do you have for the government on this?


A. I don’t need to tell government what to do, they know what to do if they want to. I can’t tell government what to do, they know already.

Q. Tell us about your experience at the Women Development Centre?


A. It was very interesting. It was very interesting and I am grateful to God for what he used us to do in the two and half years that I stayed there. I am so grateful. People thought it was not possible. It wasn’t exactly one of those parastatals that got a lot of money, so we had to think outside the box and luckily, we had a lot of international agencies who saw the little we could do and got excited and got behind us. They didn’t give us cash, but when we had a program, they would finance most of the things and it helped us a whole lot. We renovated the guest house, the shopping unit and everywhere. We had so much and began to make money and ploughed it back to the agency, and that was when some people took notice and said, I have to go—she has done all these works and it’s time for us to come in and enjoy and she is not going to let us. I don’t really hear about it anymore since I left. One thing they have done is maintaining emphasis on the girl child. We need to be talking about the girlchild, we need to be talking about Nigerian women, we need to make life bearable for the women who make up 50% of the country’s population—you should not deprive them or hide them. You want them to dance and clap for you during campaigns and when you get into office, you forget the, no!

Q. The APC and PDP politics made it difficult for your reappointment, how do you feel about the president’s decision not to retain you?


A. I am not even sure that he was the one, he like what we were doing, and he supported us. I don’t even know who was behind the decision, but if you read the letter that Mr. President sent to me on my 70th birthday, you will understand that he was happy with us. We had a lot of work we were doing with the IDP’s and most of it were my own personal money. We were beginning to train them, release them back where they were now becoming employers of labour themselves. We trained them on baking, cleaning, making of soaps etc. These are little things, but there were enough to help them take care of themselves and their families and it gave them a sense of self-worth. The first batch of women that we brought in were 50 and we took them in with their children and we took care of them and loved them up. We put them in a nice environment, the children were well taken care of—the ones that needed to go to the hospital were taken there, some needed to be dewormed and nutrition, and we did all of that. I remember the day they came in; I remember receiving them, and we were all in tears because they were recounting their ordeals; how they lost their husbands, how they lost their family members who were butchered in front of them, and we were just so touched. But, on the day they were leaving, there was so much joy—hugging and smiles, they were now new people, brand new women who now had the ability to provide for their families, their children were healthier and they were looking better with some new knowledge. I have tried to maintained ties with some of them because they get in touch to tell me what they are doing. There is a woman from among them who recently set up a restaurant, and she has employed six other people, and till today she is grateful to me, her family members will even call me and express appreciation to me too. I wish I could have done more, but unfortunately, when I left, the whole thing stopped.

Q. What is your take on the Buhari’s Government when it comes to women and the girl child?


A. They haven’t done well. But then, the president is just one person, I’m glad you made mention of his government and they ought to have been people there to keep that the woman issue always on the forefront of consideration. Maybe it is not as important in this regime as it was in the last regime. President Jonathan was a feminist, he believed in women, look at the women he had in his cabinet who were delivering, not all of them though. But, most of them were delivering, and he would come out and support the women. For every event that we had, he showed interest and we sent him reports always about what we were doing. And also, we had a first lady who was all about women. The support that she gave me, was what enabled me to do the much that I did. She encouraged me a whole lot—she’d tell me to do the right thing even when most people will not love me for it. She was my supporter together with Mr. President. So having both of them on my side, made me know that I could do much and that I didn’t have to wait for the money to be given to me, I had to source for the money and get the job done. The current president also gave me that support when he came in, but it wasn’t enough. I was glad, by the way, the work was too much and my salary was very small. This is the mistake government makes, you pay people little and you give them so much work. I had to source money from somewhere else, to be able to pay my rent and leave in a safe place. Sometimes you would have to use your money travel for a conference because the conference is very important. I kept my day job; I was singing, I was writing songs, I was still performing and I was doing shows to make ends meet. It was the former senate president, Ayim Pius Ayim, that gave me my employment letter, and when I looked at it, and the money was small and I complained to him, he said I should not worry about the money, but instead I should be ready to serve because that is what it was all about. Now we have people who are aspiring for political offices, and have no program, they have no interest in helping the people they are representing and they go in there and amass wealth and continue to oppress us with our money that they have stolen. And that’s why they can never leave office, it’s always from Governor to the senate from the senate, you want to jump into something else, that’s really bad. They have to give the young ones a chance to come in and make change. The #ENDSARS was a brilliant idea—you see that #ENDSARS, it was the young people of Nigeria telling the elderly ones that they have had enough of them. I know how it ended; people were killed but it made a point. We have had enough and we are not going to leave like this. It is time for us to listen to them. Yes, we talk about young people who have missed the road, but there are also young people in this country who haven’t missed the road, they are working hard and making sacrifices, but the whole set up is not an enabling environment for them to thrive and this is what they are asking, and I am on their side. They are right and we are wrong.

Q. What is your relationship with Tony Okoroji, and your take on COSON?


A. COSON is not working. COSOSN doesn’t pay. Since 2011, I’ve not earned a kobo from my royalties. Altogether, since COSON was set up, I have earned maybe about 400,000 thousand but he talks about billions he has collected. Where is my money!? If I criticize him, he goes to court, I have to hire a lawyer, and he uses COSON lawyers and pays them with my own money to take me to court. But I will keep talking and I’m saying to musicians, how long are you going to keep quiet? We started talking about this thing a long time ago and I was tagged a trouble maker for speaking the truth. Now, Nigerian musicians are being heard all over the world, and many of them don’t have anything to show for it. The radio stations that are playing our music are paying, hotels and restaurants are also paying. COSON has been closed but they are still collecting money, and I am calling on the government to intervene. We’ve written petitions to the Government before now. Why can we not audit COSON? Because he has spread that money around to the people who should police him and so they keep quiet and someone like me, with the number of songs I have out there that are still trending, I get nothing. I will keep speaking no matter how much money they make at COSON; it will be useless to them because it is my money and the money of people like me. I’d like to ask him, Tony Okoroji, how many songs do you have? Why is it that nobody else can run COSON but you? For all these years, you have not been able to train people to be able to take over from you, you want to be there forever? That’s how they have destroyed PMAN too, and it started when Tony Okoroji was there. I was his vice president, but as soon as the first batch of money came in, he had to kick me out—he no longer invited me for meetings, I no longer had a say and I quietly left. When COSON came again, I said what do you people want? If I don’t like you, I will look you in the eye and tell you why I don’t like you. But I was foolish enough to have gone back after I was given certain assurances, that what happened in PMAN will not happen to COSON. The moment COSON was registered, everything was back to square one and this is what young musicians should rise up against. Tony Okoroji needs to leave COSON; how many years are you going to be there? He thinks he did everything alone, the rest of us didn’t do anything and so COSON belongs to you—it’s your father’s property and your property? Let’s see how it goes.

Q. What do you consider your most prized possession?

A. My children, of course. That’s my greatest achievement. That’s everything, though they are not my possession, let me correct that because if they see this, I will be queried, I can’t even call them children anymore now that they are grown up. They are men now, so, I have to respect them.


Q. Do you look forward to having grandchildren?

A. Everybody does by God’s grace. I don’t talk about it, let it just come. But already, I have many grandchildren. I’m a grandmother for all, and I’m very proud of that and I have many children that I am raising, there is no lack of children. But then I can understand what you are asking me, don’t worry, soon I will call you to come see my grandchildren. I would love granddaughters, but I also love boys, boys are good.

Q. What is your take on the 2023 presidency being zoned to the Igbos?

A. It should move to the south, because there is a zoning arrangement, though not formalized, that has been respected all these times. And long time ago, it should have been a woman, and if it were a woman, we would not be in the mess that we are today. So yes, it’s good for a woman, but is Nigeria ready for a woman president? There are so many women who are capable. So yes, it should go to the south and when you come down to the south, it should go to the south east—that is non -negotiable. It should be given to them. Why the hatred of Ndigbo? I don’t get it. Why the fear of Ndigbo? I don’t get it. They are more Nigerian than any other group of Nigerians. Let me tell you why. They can leave anywhere and where you live is where they protect. Where they leave, they invest, they just don’t take out wealth, they invest and make the place better. Ndigbo are wonderful and blessed people. My father was a typical Igbo man and he had integrity, charisma, was hardworking and was beloving to everyone around him. There are Igbo men who have given so much and then, you come to the women, they hold things together—they are hardworking and they are committed even with all that our men do to us (chuckles). Igbo women are enterprising and brilliant. When president Obasanjo began to appoint them, we could see the likes of Dora Akunyili and Okonjo Ikweala and the rest of them. We could see what they were doing. I acknowledge them in my book because they are my sisters and I love what they were doing. Hausa, Fulani ad Yoruba women are all incredible. Nigerian women are incredible. Give them a chance, they will turn this country around and make it a better place for all of us. And sometime when they want to choose a woman, they choose the one that can fail. So, that when she fails, they will bemoan the wasted chance. They should allow those who have something to offer to come to the limelight and give them the opportunity to contribute to the development of this country.

Q. With the vulgarity in the music industry, do you think there should be a regulatory body to regulate what they put out on TV as the children also feed on these visuals?


A. I am particularly disturbed. Our children have access to phones, they can go on Instagram and you find people putting out sex-tapes on Instagram—this has to be policed. Even on TV, there are some videos that should not be put out there. When I open a certain channel on DSTV, I feel bad. And surprisingly, people who should know better, I don’t want to mention the name of this female artist, had a sex video on the internet and I wanted to throw-up. I said you’re beautiful, you’re making it in the world, you don’t need to do this. Whoever told you that you needed to be nude or obscene, and make signs with your tongue and sounds, whoever told you that you needed to do that to move forward has lied to you—I’m done with you in my mind, except you have changed. I don’t want to hear or see anything you have done because my children are adults now, but if they were to be younger, they would be watching you and seeing this? I was so upset. Whenever I meet her in person, I will pull her aside and talk to her and tell her that this is a permanent record. All these people that are posting this nonsense, things that should be left in the bedroom—you will regret it someday because the videos will always be there as permanent records. Children are sponges, it is not so much what you tell them, it’s about what they see and what you do around them. They are watching you—if you tell them not to do something and you are doing it yourself, you are just wasting your time.

Q. You still look very beautiful, are you seeing somebody right now and will you marry if the opportunity comes?


A. Will I marry? Yes! I don’t care if I am 90. If I meet someone that I am in love with, I will marry. Why not? Am I seeing someone? No! But in the process of writing the book, something came up, I wasn’t going to write about it, but I sought permission from the person and I did write about it, and it’s a beautiful love story. Go to the book, chapter 10, it is called ‘By Serendipity’- it’s a true story and we are friends. We should have been married, we didn’t but we respect the friendship, an integral part of the relationship, so we decided to keep that. And it’s a very good friendship and I thank God that I had that kind of love where you understand each other instinctively, where you could joke, and just make each other happy, where you could be alone for a long stretch of time reading, writing and discussing issues at a certain level and someone who was not afraid to tell you that you are beautiful and that you are brilliant. He really inspired me and whatever I have turned out today, at a point in my life when he was in it, he gave me permission and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t marry. But it is not the end of the world and we are very good friends today.

Q. Looking back now, is there anything you regret—that you should have done that you haven’t done?

A. Plenty, and that is why I am going to do them. I love travelling, in the past I will travel for work, but now, the men are all on their own. So, I can travel for as long as I want. So now after COVID-19, I will do all those things I wanted to do. I am a loner, I am someone who enjoys her space, company and time, that’s who I am. When I was living in New York. I didn’t need a boyfriend to take me out for dinner, I will just go, book a table, have my meal and go to the cinema on my own and do all I needed to do. That is how I am living now; I go out with my friends or just go out alone to a restaurant and have a good meal and that’s okay because I am a big girl (chuckles), I am a big woman.

Q. What is your view about the Tinubu candidacy for the 2023 elections?

A. I think we should leave Tinubu alone to do what he wants to do. I admire his guts; this is a life ambition and he is going to go for it. He is not forcing you to vote for him. The only thing I will say to him is not to bribe people, but if he bribes you, just take the bribe and vote for whomever you want to vote for. But to deny him the right to aspire? I think that is wrong.

Q. Do you think Tinubu will make a good president and do you think he is too old to lead Nigeria?

A: I am not in his body to know that. Only him can tell us that.


Q: What do you have to say about Nigerian politicians?

It’s just that some politicians are so corrupt, all of them. But let me pick Rochas Okorocha, he raped Imo-State. I’m saying this knowing that he will see this and for generations to come, they will remember what you did not just for yourself, your immediate and extended family will pay for it. That’s my state for God’s sake, that’s the state my father was buried. If there is nothing else that Hope Uzodinma achieve but to get back what was stolen by Rochas Okorocha, then it will be fine. It is that bad. If you go to the villages, there is anger and bewilderment. How did we get here to this stage and how do we get out of it? The killings and all. It’s terrible. I just want everybody to know that when you die, you will not take a kobo out of this world and your children for whom you have acquired all these things will be useless, because there will be nothing to aspire to, or work for because you have given it all to them and they will blow it. Mazi Rochas Okorocha, give it all back now that you are still alive and has a chance.

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