At 70, I’ve Achieved Everything -Lady Okonye | Independent Newspapers Limited
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At 70, I’ve Achieved Everything -Lady Okonye

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 12:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ma, how do you feel at 70 years birthday?

Life has been very wonderful. The gift of my three daughters, their husbands and my grandchildren are awesome. This birthday celebration is a very beautiful day and something I never expected. I didn’t know God will honour me that much and I am grateful to Him. I feel fulfilled at 70.


And what does fulfillment means to you?

Lady Okoye

Lady Okoye

Fulfillment means that you have met all you are expected of you to do as a woman. I don’t think there is anything left for me. I have completed everything.  I went to school, got married. I have children and have struggled through thick and thin, after my husband’s untimely death, to bring them up. It would surprise you to hear that their father died about 30 years ago. They have all graduated with their Masters’ degree and are all married. So I feel fulfilled and happy.


Can you tell us about your experience as awidow?

It is not something I can talk about in one day. It was very challenging. It was full of ups and down and bumpy through left, right and centre, but you know with prayers, you can conquer a lot of things. And I can tell you that the power of prayers has brought us this far.


How easy was it for you to cope with all female children?

I had four daughters but lost one. I cannot exactly tell you how because it has been by the special grace of God. We were managing in every way.  All I can say is that times were different then. And that is the respect I have for my children. They co-operated with me a lot. They knew what I was going through and were determined to help me by doing what was expected of them. They were not disrespectful but just stood by me. They cooperated with me a lot, in everything we did. They knew their father was an educationist and had brought up many people. So, they too, saw it as a challenge for them to reach the educational level their late father would have expected of them, so with prayers and cooperation, we scaled through it.


Can you recall the happiest moment of your eventful life?

The happiest moments were my children’s weddings and the days I was made a grandmother.


What about the lowest moment of your life?

The saddest one was the day I lost my eldest daughter who was a senior Manager at Zenith Bank. I don’t know how to describe it but to God be the glory, that I survived it.


What is it that you would have done differently if you have the chance to relive all those years?

All the period I spent weeping, mourning and crying, if I knew better, I would have just surrendered myself to God. And I used to say, that, perhaps, if I was stronger in prayers, my daughter wouldn’t have died. So, if I had to go back, I would go back on day one and start up with strong prayers. I would live a more prayerful life and just spend my life with God because I know that with Him, everything is possible.


It was mentioned earlier in one of the speeches that you live a life of service. Can you explain?

I am a mother to many young people that are not from my womb and others who are also in search of my assistance. I also give my time and resources in aid of to humanity and have tried to better the lot of the less-privileged people and improve the quality of life within my immediate environment. I am an active member of several international philanthropic, religious and social organizations.


Ma, what is your take on the standard of education in Nigeria as an educationist?

Standard of education in Nigeria has fallen badly. It is not what it used to be when we were students or when we were even principals of schools. Now, there is a lot of laxity everywhere. In our days, we were stern with children and stood on our disciplinary stance. For those of us who were brought up by the Reverend Sisters and the rest of them, you would still see a clear difference. The most unfortunate thing in the school system today, is that most of the time when you want to discipline children, you get queried. Again, not many parents like to invest in text books for their wards, but they want the children to go to school, so there is a lot of lapses which some call modernization. When you raise it as an issue, they would quickly say that they are of the new school while we are the old school people. But in all, the truth is that the standard of education is not the same again. In those days, even somebody in JSS 3 could write a beautiful composition or a clean letter, but now, it is not the same. We pray that it would come back to what it used to be because education still remains the best legacy that any parent can give to his child.


What should be done to salvage the educational institution?

If only the home, the school and government can work together, we will record some appreciable level of success but if the school is working and the home is not co-operating with them or the government is sending complimentary letters to release criminals and all the rest of them, there will always be discordant tones. But if they all put heads together and work together, make the rules and keep the rules together, make their syllabus and work on it, as well as stop these malpractices in examinations, I am sure our standards will come back again.


As a retiree, how do you spend your time now?

I am a caterer. I bake cakes for my daughters so you will always find me baking pastries and small chops. I love baking. I also love entertaining, decorating, singing, reading, dancing and traveling. I might be retired but I am still very much active.