Mrs Opeyemi Olawore is the Public Relations Officer, Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora as well as head, Public Alumni Relations of the institution. She is a woman of many parts- an entrepreneur, children Evangelist, online media consultant, Editor-in-Chief for OYSCATECH Newsletter, and a trained broadcaster. In this interview with OYEYEMI OKUNLADE, she talks about how her childhood experiences shaped her life.
Tell us about your experiences as a journalist
My journey into the field of journalism started in 1997 when I was offered admission to study Mass Communication at the then Adeseun Ogundoyin Campus of The Polytechnic Ibadan, now Adeseun Ogundoyin Polytechnic, Eruwa. I proceeded to the main campus of the Polytechnic, Ibadan for Higher National Diploma. In 2010, I was offered admission into the University of Ibadan for my post graduate studies in Communication and Language Arts after which I joined the National Open University to again study BSc in Mass Communication. With the help of God, I graduated from the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in 2004. I was running the programme simultaneously with Mass Communication. I started the training with the Poly ConsuIt before I joined Centre for Advancement Programme (CAPS), under the tutilage of Mr. Kayode Akinpelu, two times Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (Oyo State). God used him to lay a solid foundation for me in public relations. He is a mentor, PR practitioner to the core and a passionate teacher. His wife is another outstanding guru in PR. They have been sources of motivation to me. Sincerely, I have a good number of teachers who impacted me positively. According to Alexander the great, ‘I am grateful to my parents for living but to my teachers for living well.’ I salute all my teachers.
I had my trainings at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan and Galaxy Television, Oke – Are, Ibadan where I worked as a reporter on the News and Yoruba desks. Working in Galaxy Television was a life time experience as it afforded me the opportunity to handle video camera myself for recordings coupled with media coverage as a reporter. I combined videography with news reporting.
At the NTA, Ibadan, I worked on the News and Sports desks as a reporter. While on campus, I joined the Christian Union Fellowship and that greatly impacted me. I was privileged to be a member of Mirror Press Club where I served as advertisement editor and member, Central Christian Body Editorial Board.
Without mincing words, every little experience I gained then have been of immense benefits to me now. My study then was prolonged due to national strikes and crises. I have been in the practice of journalism since 1998, exactly 21years ago.
What informed your choice of career?
My ambition was to be a medical doctor because I was a science student during my secondary education, coupled with the way I was attended to by medical doctors at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan when I had health challenges for about one year. To be precise, I had a protracted neck pain. In fact, I was not even aware of Mass Communication as a field of study until I was offered admission. In those days, in my family, we had no television throughout the completion of my secondary education. Later, when my mum bought a television set, we queried her for buying it. I remembered that I prayed a simple prayer then, I pleaded with the Lord that He should make qualify for a good programme in the higher institution. I loved to be in the art class but since arts students were usually seen as unserious elements, I chose to settle for science. My maternal grandma and aunty usually called me ‘the Law’ (meaning a lawyer), they saw into the future having considered my God-given talents. Throughout my first year in the senior secondary school I was always attending literature classes. At a point in my career, I wanted to study law but I considered how broad the field of communication is, so I decided to build my career in mass communication and public relations.
Combining career with home front, how has it been?
It has not been very easy but the Lord has been faithful. Considering the nature of my job; I travel a lot and also meet new people almost every day but that notwithstanding, I have the understanding that I am a career person at office and a wife at home. When you see me at home, you could hardly find me idle; if I am not with the laptop, you will find the phone beside me because there is hardly any time of the day when I don’t receive phone calls, most especially from my bosses, clients or applicants. I cannot deceive you, it is not easy having to attend to my children, my husband, spiritual matters and the job but it has been possible with the understanding and support that I enjoy from my husband. He has been a source of motivation and always holds the fort for me. I thank God for him. Without his support, it is humanly impossible to sleep late, wake up in the middle of the night to work and having to do house chores. I always prepare breakfast and lunch before leaving home in the morning. I have learnt to create time for my children, husband and for other activities.
What was growing up like?
My growing up years were full of so many challenges. I am a product of broken home; it was by the grace of God that we were able to surmount the challenges. My dad and mum were wonderful people; they both laboured very hard on my siblings and I. Unfortunately, my father passed on when I was about to complete my National Diploma programme (ND) in year 2000. I had so many experiences both pleasant and unpleasant one. I had to combine trading with journalism in order to survive and that launched me into the entrepreneurship world, producing and selling ‘adire,’ tie dye. Not many people believe that I am into vocational training like bead-making, wire works, events-planning, photography and videography despite my busy schedule. Looking back, despite the challenges, I have every cause to thank God. As the first child in the family, I made up my mind to be a role model for my younger ones even when we had to stay for days without food and fast without food. Then, we had to wait for one person to finish a class so that we could use each other’s textbooks. My brother even repeated as a result of that but the rest is history today. If the Lord had not been on our side, it could have been more difficult. I thank the Lord that I knew him early and it was an added advantage for me. God deserves all my praise. In fact, paying my first school fees in the higher institution was a serious problem. School fees then was #1,900 and I had to borrow #500 from three of my colleagues and another #500 from a student-pastor.
By God’s arrangement we are all of journalists in my family; my siblings took after me. We did not have cause to compromise. I believe God can help others who are going through such challenges.
How can one raise godly children?
It is an herculean task; it is not possible by human knowledge. It requires the help of God. Therefore, it requires total dependence on God and commitment on the part of parents. If we leave our children untrained the society will make a mess of them. According to Prov 22:6, train up a child in the way he should go and when he his old he will not depart from it. We must train up the child, a total child spiritually, physically and socially.
How would you compare fashion in the 60s to fashion now?
I was not born in the 60’s but we heard the account of those who were born then and we saw them demonstrating it. Emphasis on fashion in those days were to cover the nakedness and moderacy. Today’s fashion, however, focuses on what is the vogue, show-off and nakedness. We must make up our minds to be moderate in fashion, educate our children and refuse to join the multitude to do evil.
How do you recreate?
This is a difficult question for me to answer. I hardly have enough time to recreate. This is an area that I have to work on. That is not to say that I don’t recreate at all. God is wonderful; he gives us the opportunity to sleep on daily basis so that we can be refreshed. What I do most of the time is to stay with my children monitoring news at night and watching Jenifa’s entertainment series on television, as well as visiting friends and neighbours for a few minutes before returning to work.
There are increased cases of divorce among the younger folks, what is the secret of stability in the home for the older generation?
It is disheartening that there are increased cases of divorce among the younger folks. Despite being a product of broken home, I do not wish my enemy a broken home. For any home to stand, both husband and wife must be willing to work for the home to stand. It is unfortunate that the younger generations believe that marriage is for fancy and enjoyment. Alas, husband and wife need greater wisdom, patience, perseverance, fear of God, love for each other, faith and prayers for the home to be what God wants it to be.
There are mixed recations over closure of boarders, what is your take on the FG’s decision?
During the International Day of the Girl Child, I was privileged to be among the speakers at the programme organised by Flawless Female Network. It may interest you to know that none of the participants, mostly girls, mentioned that they want to study agriculture despite the fact that government has introduced animal husbandry to them in school. It is as bad as that. First, government needs to assist farmers with modern equipment. The picture that most of the youth has about agriculture is that of an old man in dirty cloth who cannot feed his family. We need to start projecting the achievements of farmers and give honour and awards to outstanding farmers. The farm estate is another move in that direction, while government must provide access to capital for the youth in this area.
What must government do to make agriculture more attractive to the youths?
Government should make infrastructure like good roads available because if movement of farm products are hindered due to bad roads, the products would be sold at high prices by the time it gets to the market.