Can we meet you?
I am Evangelist Lovette Eseoghene Udu. I am from Udu Local Government Area, Delta state. My late father was Chief Josiah M. Udu and my mother’s name was Lilly Dodo. My father had five wives and seventeen children, but I am the only child of my mother. My father was a loving, caring, compassionate, understanding and accommodating man. If there is anything like reincarnation, I will still like to have him as my father. He was a headmaster at Baptist Missionary School, Ogbe-udu before he travelled to London for further studies. He read advertisement and management. He was a great business man before he passed on in 1991. I attended Ekakprame Grammar School but finished from Burutu Grammar School. I later left for Bauchi College of Arts and Science. Afterwards, I gained admission into the University of Maiduguri to study International Relations, but I couldn’t stay for lack of adaption to the environment. Finally, I gained admission into Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, where I studied Hotel Management. Afterwards, I did a certificate course in computer at the Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
How was Esteemed Peniel Academy established?
Upon on graduation, I worked with Nicon Noga, now Transcorp Hilton as a hostess in Zuma Restaurant. I was transferred to Buka restaurant, where I worked for six years before I resigned. I delved into business alongside teaching as a classroom teacher at Flourish Model School, New Karu. By the prompting of the Holy Spirit, through a message in 2004, I decided to start up a day care from my parlour, and to the glory of God, I have five children. With the experience I gathered as a teacher, I established Esteemed Peniel Academy on the 5th of January 2005. To the glory of God, the school started and on the first day of resumption, I had thirty-three pupils and six teachers. In a way of giving back what God had given to me, I gave three children scholarships and God increased the school. In the next term, the number of pupils increased to one hundred. After ten years, we had our anniversary and our first school maiden magazine was launched. The number, 10 is a perfect number of divine order and completeness. At fifteen, by God’s grace, being 2020, we would be bringing an innovative technology to drive education, thus stepping up our style to world class. We are registered under The Federal and Nasarawa State governments. Both levels of government had given us approval to run the school from nursery to junior secondary school. And God has been faithful.
Did you go back to school to get a proper certification on education?
Yes, I did some courses in Education and Mathematics to enhance outcomes for effective teaching and learning. You cannot walk into the future without positive self-improvement. It takes a serious approach to life to have a serious outcome in life. If you take your vision and mission casually, you end as a casualty. I would also add here that, you cannot sow average and reap excellence.
What is unique about Esteemed Peniel Academy?
The unique thing about Esteemed Peniel Academy is that, aside building the mental and intellectual capacity of our pupils/students, we nurture and impart them with the raw word of God; to be focused with God’s consciousness and live with the end in mind, which is ending well in life. We have a club we call “The Mountain Movers”. This club intercedes for the school, the parents, the children, the nation, the needy, and against all forms of cultism and rituals. To me, the impacted fear of God on the lives of these children is the destiny capsules for their destiny fulfillment.
What is the number of students who have gotten scholarship so far?
From the initial three students, it moved up to thirteen, and as they graduate, we award more as it is part of giving back to the society. I give scholarship to widows’ children and orphans. In all, I have given fifty-eight students scholarship in Esteemed Peniel Academy.
How will you rate education now and ten years ago? Do you have challenges with parents who want their wards to be promoted/passed even when they fail or not qualified?
From the perspective that the birth of the internet has changed how children learn and how teachers impart knowledge, there is a significant access to knowledge available to these children. Thus, providing guidance on what they need to know becomes a task which has been added to the roles of teachers. As custodians of knowledge and morals, the school has the responsibility to shape the next generation in the most productive way. This has always been the core role of schools and teaching institutions. But the internet brings with it a world of uncensored information which teachers need to filter so as provide useful knowledge to these children that have been committed to our care and tutelage. The unnecessary pressure by some parents to advance a child who is not doing well academically has been a major challenge as well. You see, the parents need to collaborate with the school for the physical, psychological, educational and spiritual well being of their children. Aside the payment of school fees, parents have other obligations to their children’s education. For instance, when a child returns home from school, it’s no longer the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that he/she does her home work; it’s that of the parent. But many parents today have no time for this role in the child’s education, yet they do not want to hear that the child has failed and must repeat. This is a challenge that we are constantly faced with, but we have always defined a firm position that ours is to commit to the next generation a sense of pride in hard work; a commitment to integrity and honest morals and building a generation that has the capacity to bring solutions to the real problems facing our society. When I started the school, I had some encounters with parents who wanted their wards promoted unduly. I typically would call the teachers to confirm if the child had the capability to cope, and when they let me know his/her strengths and weaknesses and how they could be encouraged to improve, I usually helped them make the best decisions. And these decisions were usually not at the expense of merit.
Which body can we hold responsible for these rots?
You or others out there may want to hear me say it’s the ministry of Education, but to tell you the truth, the Ministry of Education only shares a portion of this blame. It’s a societal thing. The rot in the educational system is a confirmation of the general rot in the society. Money has gradually replaced the pursuit of knowledge. We put too much premium on material acquisition at the expense of education. People are less honoured today for what they have achieved in the pursuit of knowledge but are more honoured for the money they have acquired. So, in search of honour and relevance, people look for money, and when they want education, they simply go for certificate without the knowledge it should represent. When I was to launch my book, “Agonies of The Abused,” I wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Women Affairs and the Ministry of Education so that they could help me drive home my point. Other ministries came except the Ministry of Education.
What are some of the challenges faced by the private and public schools?
The rot and inefficiency in the Ministry of Education in virtually all the states and their local governments have affected proper supervision, which is the backbone of standard education delivery. I do school to school evangelism. When you go to the classrooms in any public school, the first anomaly that hits you is overpopulation. There are usually more than hundred students in a classroom. The teachers do not resume on time, sometimes up till 11 am they are yet to show up for work. And even when they come, there is no seriousness in their teaching. Why? Because poor funding has denied them that convenient learning environment that should inspire effective teaching and learning. Again, some of these teachers are sometimes owed salaries for months. So, the teachers are never motivated to work. The result of all this is the rise of vices like cultism etc in public schools. Then, in the private schools, there is the problem of proper supervision. School supervisors hardly follow up to enforce standards, and when they go to schools, they have no time to check if you have met set standards. They have no time to check your lesson notes, dairies, go to the classrooms to see what the teachers are doing. All they are usually concerned about is their logistic money. The system needs to be totally overhauled and I want to say this categorically, until we embrace the sense of patriotism, and become disciplined, things will not work well. We are not discipline, we lack that sense of patriotism that a nation like ours needs its citizens to show to be able to grow. We do not put our country first, and if we do not put our country first, we cannot put our children, who are the next generation first. All we are concerned about is today; not tomorrow. Too bad.
How can some of these lapses be checked by the ministry, schools, proprietors, teachers and students?
Yes, we all want change in this system, and we need to advocate for positive systems that can help us bring the desired change we seek in our schools and learning institutions. At present, there are too many square pegs in round holes. But things may change for the better if we put the right people in the right places.
How did you get born again?
I got born again at a programme organized by Bishop David Oyedepo in Bauchi State, in 1986. After the sermon, the pastor made an altar call. I came out because I was deeply touched by the message. It’d broken me down to the point of no resistance. I had never heard any message like that before. And I saw myself walking toward the altar. We were led to Christ and were followed up spiritually, physically and financially until we became deeply rooted in Christ. We could feel love; Agape love. We could see that these people were set aside. They were not ordinary but sold out for God.
How did you get into writing?
I was prompted to go into writing because of the ordeal of young girls in my school, neighborhood and church. Most of these girls were sexually abused, and the only way I felt I could express my anger was through writing. The story in my book, “Agonies of The Abused,” is all about a girl whose mother wanted to start a business but had no money. A rich man, who had two wives in the street promised to give her the money on a condition that he sleeps with her daughter. The mother, out of selfishness and self-centeredness gave her daughter to the man and he deflowered the poor girl.
What will be your advice to parents on child abuse?
The parents must be mentally alert. They should be sensitive to the wiles of Satan and they must create this open relationship with their children. Most children cannot confide in their parents, and when they are not able to confide in their parents, they take anything that comes their way and they have no shoulder to cry on. Government must arise and really deal with the menace. They must take proper measures to deal with people abusing innocent children. They must not only pass laws that will really deal with sexual offenders but must equally enforce them.
For the victims, what would be your advice to them?
For these victims, my advice is that they should stop feeling disoriented, rejected, depressed and confused. It is common to have feelings of guilt and to blame yourself in some way for what has happened, but I advise that they report the rape to their parents, wards or to the police as soon as possible so that they can undergo medical examinations. The police have your welfare and safety as its core mandate, unless victims set aside shame and open to authorities like the police, the menace of rape, child abuse etc may never be curbed.
What are the signs that young girls should look out for in order not to fall victim of sexual abuse?
When an uncle or any other male is becoming too friendly and insists on hugging and touching in sensitive places; kissing, tickling, wrestling or holding a child/teen even when they do not want this physical contact or attention, it shows signs of intent at abuse. Immediately a would-be-victim notices this, they should not hesitate to speak out.
How about receiving gifts and money from the opposite sex?
Giving is a virtue, but when you receive gifts and money from the opposite sex and they begin asking you to come and see them in an isolated place, it means their giving is or was not out of clean intentions. Speak out.
Are you in collaboration with any NGO in your fight against sexual abuse?
No, but I am working on partnering with other NGOs.
How involved are you in UPU Nasarawa branch?
I am the PRO, and we are working hard to see how we can unite Urhobos in the North. It is very important for us to come together as one voice, with one purpose, vision and mission. We should be able to be so united that each can provide a shoulder for the other.
How are the Urhobos coping in the North?
We cannot complain but with the Boko Haram insurgency in this dispensation, life has not been totally sweet. It has affected businesses generally. Not only the Urhobos, but every person or tribe in not just the North, but the entire country has some complaint about the insurgency.
As a widow, what has your experience been like?
I passed through rejection and depression as my husband’s people took everything. So, I had to start from scratch. But because God was with me, I eventually overcame. And God has remained faithful ever since.
Advice to Widows?
My advice to widows is that they should move on with their lives. When I go to widows’ outreach and I see some people still crying about yesterday, it hurts me. Please, widows must not make themselves an object of pity. Move on with your life because when you begin to dwell on the past, you will lose focus and become blind to what the future holds. Break the chains; break the bars, identify your passion and what you can do to become somebody who can help others.
How were you able to care for the children?
Things had become very hard for me after the death of my husband, so much so that paying of my children’s school fees became a great challenge. Now, I had resigned from my former work place. To care for them, I went into buying and selling of wrappers. When that too wasn’t working, I went into selling of eggs. At the same time, I was a class room teacher.