I had thought it was "I'll be right back" kind of trip, not knowing her insights would start effecting some changes upon arrival to her native Nigeria. Motivational speaker, author, style icon, host, model, actress, fashion designer and ambassador, Eeefy Ify Ike, in this exclusive interview tells me about what had compelled her to dedicate her life to community service and why it was important. Facing the challenges, she founded the Patriotic Movement to empower the youths. She also talked about women who had inspired her and what it meant to her. Her newest book "Queen Of Cyber Space" has just been published, which she also talked about. Follow Eeefy on Facebook, Twitter and her Facebook Style Page
What took you to Nigeria after almost 20 years living in the western World?
I just came to Nigeria for a usual visit to my family and then the occurrences in Nigeria encouraged me to stay longer. I arrived with only 2 pieces of luggage with my clothes, shoes and gifts. Incredible! Eeefy living with less materials! Smile!
What were these occurrences?
When I arrived Nigeria January 2012 there was a riot about SUBSIDY and that imposed curfew and movement restrictions that irked my spirit and provoked me to thinking about Nigeria and her desperate condition! I witnessed many Nigerians lamenting the need for division, believing that our national problems can only be resolved through it. I disagree with their belief because from my grasp of our problems in this nation, they cannot be rectified through division. We as citizens of Nigeria still do not understand the fundamental principles of building a healthy and progressive nation, thus division can only plunge us further into oblivion. We should rather work towards synergy that will definitely help to heal and build our nation. We have been amalgamated but have not learned to co-exist and we should try. We must learn to rise above our cultural and religious differences and respect and appreciate one another as human beings. I have also witnessed the possibility for unity. I observe oneness with Nigerians during sports games competitions and so I believe we can employ the same principles to build Nigeria and live in harmony if we are willing!
Nigeria is a nation with great potential and with our human and natural resources we have the capacity to be one of the greatest nations in the world but we need attitudinal change and patriotism to build Nigeria to her full potential. We need patriotic citizens! We need leaders with compassion, great visions and innovative ideas. We need servants and not dictators like those we usually vote into office.
I told myself that change is necessary in this country but we must first become the change we want to see, for change starts from within and becomes projected into society. So I thought to myself, what can I do to contribute to the change I want to see? I realized that I could use my boldness and speaking skills to create awareness and inspire the youths.
Then what did you do?
Well first I was introduced to a Presidential Special Advisor who employed my services to run an organization he started but had not developed. I was proffered the job to develop an empowerment program under that club, which I spent almost 4 months developing with my staff which consisted of a group of university graduates that are very passionate Nigerians willing to work hard to contribute their creativity, time, funds and energy to build the Nation. After 4 months of work and producing an impeccable program we could not reach an agreement for payment, so I took my unpaid staff and left! After my exit I promised myself that I would not despair but take my experience as a challenge to complete my work here before I return to America. Thence Patriotic Movement was birthed!
You founded a youth organization called Patriotic Movement! What was the
inspiration behind working with the Nigerian youths?
We all want a change in our government because we believe government is responsible for the challenges in Nigeria. I agree that we should REVALUATE our method of governance and rewrite our constitution but I do not agree that government is entirely guilty of our dilemma! I think Nigerians as a whole are guilty because the government are the people. Today's citizen is tomorrow's leader. An awful citizen makes an incompetent leader but a patriotic citizen makes a competent and just leader. Good governance and effective leadership are constructed through patriotism and great nations are built by means of Justice, Human Rights, Creativity, Constructing, Building and Nurturing. It takes a collective effort to resolve national challenges.
There is a general belief that the youths are the future and with their youthful exuberance, creative skills and innovative ideas they are obviously in the best position to continue to build our nation in the right direction, so they ought to be taught how to participate in building their own future and a successful nation.
So I set up an organization to promote peace, unity, patriotism and the raising of change vanguards amongst the Nigerian youths. I believe that a nation plunged into chaos and disharmony in which the citizens are unpatriotic can never succeed so I need to promote these fundamental principles with my youth seminars. Furthermore, we hope to produce young men and women that will understand the true dynamics of leadership, so that the future generation can have better and competent leaders. I am convinced that with such initiatives we can achieve our aim to heal and build Nigeria. Now it is only realistic to say that I am aiming at a formidable height and many say it is a far-fetched goal but I believe with a collective effort it is possible. Perhaps it can come to fruition in future generations the older generation are already set in their ways, many government officials make it impossible for hardworking and creative youths to get a chance and rather exploit, abuse and manipulate them at will, the youths possess very low self esteem, are polluted in spirit and also steeped in the corruption that now governs our society. As a woman and a believer in God I can only see a better future for Nigeria and so my hope drives my goals to inspire the youths. We must lay the foundation now for those future generations. We must create the right awareness and strive to instill great values in the youths to impact their children and eventually these values will become a lifestyle and effect the change we wish to achieve for our nation.
Greatness cannot be achieved in one day and there are guiding principles that citizens of a nation must imbibe to build a progressive nation.
You just published a new book, what is it about? What is it called? What inspired the
writing and where can your readers find it?
Yes I have just published my second book last month called QUEEN OF CYBERSPACE. It is an inspirational book; a collective of my daily thoughts here in Nigeria that I share with fans on cyberspace, hence the title "Queen Of Cyberspace". At the moment it can be found in Silverbird Lifestyle store, Salamander Cafe and Cassava Republic book hut in Arts and Craft village all located in Abuja Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria... I'm making arrangements to send them to other Silverbird stores across the nation and Accra Ghana. It will also be loaded online.
My first inspirational book was published in America " PEERING THROUGH THE DEPTHS OF LIFE" and can be found in Amazon and Barnes & Nobles in America.
My writings are inspired by my need to share my understanding of life hoping that my perceptions can lend those that are struggling a clearer perspective of life and their challenges and perhaps guide them towards gaining their own healing.
When did you begin designing jewelry and handbags?
I started designing STYLE IS INNATE Jewelry early this year and only started designing bags a few months ago.
What was the inspiration behind this creativity?
The jewelry was inspired by activities with my youth organization. My organization is planning mass youth seminars across the country with regards to healing the nation. We believe healing starts from discovery and to teach the youths how to participate in healing and building the nation we must acquire the required correct information to disseminate them. So I started to research and in the process I discovered some of our natural minerals and gemstones... Out of excitement and passion for jewelry and the need to enhance the beauty of women and heal their self esteem I started designing jewelry. I soon realized that it is also a strong inspirational example for the unemployed youths who can explore that market and develop extra lucrative skills. In addition these natural stones also possess medicinal properties that a lot of people are not aware of. I am eager to learn and share them and perhaps someone in need of healing can use them accordingly. The jewelry are being introduced to stores in Nigeria now. I have also exported some of these beautiful handcrafted gems to the United States. I want to promote the beauty of Nigeria to the world so that the westerners will learn to gain appreciation for our land.
Who are your role models?
I have a few role models but I am going to mention only those that relate to my present projects.
I'm inspired by the talk show host Oprah for her strength. A woman that endured struggles in her early years but did not wallow in that failure. She rose above her challenges, took authority over her life and is now impacting the lives of others.
I'm inspired by Dora Akunyuli. Because of her determination in her fight against crime and illegal drugs in our society. And all the risks she took especially getting NAFDAC to burn down the factories and warehouses where illegal drugs were manufactured, stored and sold. That is a stride to save lives that would have been destroyed by those illegal drugs. Her work was even recognized internationally. That work specifically is a reflection of patriotism... Sacrificing for the growth of her country. I am traveling that path with my organization - Patriotic Movement. I crave to inspire the youths to heal and build this nation. I wish to inspire them to take authority of their lives and work to reach their full potential.
I'm inspired by Stella Okoli, a woman with indomitable spirit. She felt the need to also save lives and thereby started a small pharmaceutical company that produces good drugs and that small business expanded over the years through her hard-work and consistency, now known as Emzor, her pharmaceutical company is now the flagship of credible indigenous drug manufacturers in Nigeria.
What is your biggest passion in life?
My biggest passion in life is to be a voice for change!
When do you intend going back home to the US?
I hope to return to my life in America after my upcoming event here in Abuja. Though I will go back and forth as I now have demanding projects in Nigeria, which includes my new jewelry and bag business and my youth movement.
May I ask what your upcoming event is about?
My forthcoming event is the official launch of Patriotic Movement. Though we have done events but have not launched officially. The official launch begins with a very significant National program. My organization Patriotic Movement has partnered with National Orientation Agency in Abuja Federal Capital Territory, which is a government agency authorized to carry out orientation programmes in the country. We need prayers from everyone because it has been quite challenging with such program especially dealing with many ignorant, greedy and selfish authorities and government officials who are willing vessels of doom against our nation.
Do you have any advice for fellow Nigerians in Diaspora?
Diasporans, you ought to consider making more efforts to heal and build Nigeria! I understand your disappointments and frustrations. Believe me after spending 2 unplanned years working and struggling in Nigeria I realized life in Nigeria is even more difficult than I perceived it to be peering through my perfect lens from America. I realized the lack of structure in our country! I realized our government has not made efforts to provide citizens the foundation upon which they can structure their lives, hence the high rate of crime. However, you should contribute to the change you crave to see in Nigeria at least for the families you left behind. Spend less time criticizing and more time exploring solutions. We are the government that we are so eager to abuse. Without the intention to be redundant, today's citizen is tomorrow's leader. Some of our incumbent ministers are even Diasporans that returned home to make a difference, so you could be the next governor or minister. The lifestyle you relish in your country of residence can be duplicated here with your willingness, perseverance and hard-work! They were human beings that came together to build that country you now enjoy, they are not machines! Are they more superior beings than you?
Do not relegate yourself to the background and become a nuisance! The endless times spent on forums in cyberspace and gatherings spewing evil against Nigeria and fellow Nigerians, passing strictures at government and apportioning blames should be channeled into contributing to the change you want! Denying Nigeria is denying who you are! Nigeria and her ills is reflected in your image as a Nigerian, whether you like it or not, Naturalized in a foreign country or not and in spite of the perfect life you've made for yourself abroad.
Nigeria beckons your creativity!
Nigeria beckons your energy!
Nigeria beckons your soul!
Nigeria beckons your patriotism!
Let us rise in our religious and cultural diversity and overcome our differences,
Let us join forces symbolically to appreciate our unique geographical entity!
Let us heal and build Nigeria and become the pride of Africa!