Monday, 9 November 2009

Love of her generation

AT 17, she had already begun to make impact. She wrote a book on change. She mounted rostrums upon rostrums to speak to her generation. She was everywhere. I first read of her activities in Makurdi, the Benue State capital online and I quickly made efforts to link up with her; luckily, I got her phone number. Not long after, the ‘good boys’ struck and my phone was gone — gone with Love Idoko’s phone number.
All efforts to reconnect with the lady proved abortive until recently when she visited Lagos for the Nigeria Music Video Award (NMVA) held at the Expo Hall, Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
“Chuks, meet Love Idoko,” said a colleague of mine, as we stepped out of the hall through the green carpet.
Perfect! This is the contact I’ve been looking forward to getting, and here we are, standing face to face.
It was already late, so, we couldn’t talk for long. But Love said she had one more night to spend in Lagos, so, we scheduled to meet the following day.
I was already seated at the poolside of the Eko Hotel, when she, in company of an old schoolmate, walked down the wooden staircase towards my direction; she was busy on phone, so, we only signaled each other.
A motivational speaker and events’ manager, Love is a household name in Makurdi, not only as a result of her Motivation magazine, which has been on for two year — The second year anniversary of the publication held earlier in the year, attracted top government functionaries and notable entertainers from Lagos, Abuja and Makurdi — and her effort to give hope to her generation led to the partnership with NAFDAC and Tuface Idibia, which will birth a massive campaign against fake drugs and HIV/AIDS in secondary schools in the state this week.
How has it been?
“God has really helped me in so many ways. I’ve always had this passion and drive from a very young age; I wrote my first book, Celebrating Change, at17.”
What’s the book all about?
“Well, I actually wrote the book when I lost my dad; he was the Chief Judge of Benue State for 15 years, in fact he died in 1999 while still in office. After his death, I was devastated and just started writing; that’s why I titled the book Celebrating Change.”
Which change?
“Change in life; my dad died and I had to move on. The concept of the book is that, no matter the pains, sorrow and uncertainty, you are going through; there’s always a way to experience an unspeakable joy. I started reading inspirational and motivational books at a very young age, so, it inspired me to do something positive in my life. I felt that if I fail to make impart on my generation, I will be disappointing God –– that’s my driving force.”

HAVING succeeded in publishing her first book, Love tried her hands in organising concerts, using them as a platform to reach out to the young ones.
“I had my first concert after I left secondary school; it used to be very small then,” she muses.
Do you have entertainment background?
“Actually, my parents had always wanted me to study Medicine, but after my father died, I settled for Microbiology. However, even as a science student at the Benue State University, I received several awards as the best motivational speaker. I used to speak during youth events and fellowships; I always did something that positively affected other people’s lives.”
From writing articles for publications in magazines and newspapers, the Benue State native toyed with the idea of establishing a magazine that would inspire youths. “My intention was never to make money; I just wanted something that will change lives positively; that was how I started Motivation magazine.”
What’s its focus?
“It’s aimed at activating success and inspiring young people to work hard and do something positive with their lives. So, we interview people who have made it in different fields, we get write ups from intelligent young people and publish…it’s all about inspiration. If you are not inspired, you can hardly achieve. A lot of young people today have talent, but just talent is not enough; you have to do something with your talent,” she quips.
From few pages with poor packaging, the magazine has developed into a full gloss publication, which is very popular among young people in Benue State.
“If you see what it used to be and what we have today, you will see that we’ve come a long way. I remember when we started, the packaging was not that good and the content not really tight. But today, God has helped us to have something anybody can be proud of; the quality has improved. Our aim is to grow and get better with good contents.”
She continues: “We had our second year anniversary in March and I can tell you that it was the first red carpet event in Makurdi; we had over 29 celebrities from Lagos. People like Stella Damasus-Nzeribe, Sunny Neji, Ramsey Nouah, Tuface Idibia, Desmond Elliot, Denrele Edu of Soundcity and others. They all came down from Lagos just to be part of the celebration.”
… And how did you feel?
“I felt humbled that such people could gather for my sake; nobody could have taken that glory except God, if not, what would I have told these people to be able to convince them to come? You know they live in Lagos, so, Makurdi is like a village to them. I just believe it was the work of God. It was a two-day event; we had the red carpet and dinner and the following day, we had the concert with over 8000 people in attendance. The concert was billed for 5pm, as at 4pm, the venue was already filled to the brims; my mum was there, everyone was excited. Let me state that my governor and his wife have been supportive of our efforts; they are like parents to me.”

FROM a little beginning, the magazine is gradually making an in-road to Accra, Ghana.
“The latest edition has Jackie Aygemang (nee Appiah), the Ghanaian actress, on the cover. She called and asked me to bring some copies over there. I was in Accra recently to distribute copies to shopping malls and bookshops. So, it’s selling there and I’m getting very good results.”
How have you been coping with funding?
“The truth is that we sell less than the production cost. The idea is that we want something that young people could afford; we want to circulate fast. But we are lucky to have some companies endorsement, through that, we are able to raise money to cover cost of production.”
Does that mean making money was never part of the business?
“Sure, it was just a passion. But now, I’m being rewarded for my effort. One thing about life is that, if you keep doing something good, one day, you will be rewarded for it; I think that’s what’s happening to me right now.”
You are partnering with Tuface for the upcoming campaign, what’s your relationship with the artiste?
“I’ve not really known him for long, only that he’s from Benue State. During the second anniversary, a friend called me to say, ‘oh, you are doing a programme like this here and all these people are coming to Benue, Tuface must be there.’ He gave the phone to Tuface and we spoke; I think he had an appointment in the state, so, he promised to be present. I was happy to have him at the event.”

THE Microbiologist continues: “I actually came up with the idea of doing a campaign against fake drugs and HIV/AIDS for schools in Benue, using entertainment as a platform. The plan is to take some of the artistes these young people like to watch, with resource people from NAFDAC, Society for Family Health, and NACA to the schools to educate them on the dangers of fake drugs and HIV/AIDS. We’ve written to them NAFDAC and they have agreed to support us, having seen what we did in the past.”
Coincidentally, Tuface, who is also from this state, is putting together his 10th year anniversary on stage.
“His management, Now Music, called me and said, ‘as part of Tuface’s 10th year anniversary, we don’t want the event to pass without him coming to Benue to do something that will affect lives; we are not talking of a concert or show, we want something that will touch lives.’ So, I explained the project we are working on for secondary schools’ children and they decided to partner with us. He (Tuface) will be joining in the campaign alongside other celebrities, who have indicated interest to be part of the event. So, I’m not paying Tuface; they are paying their bills to be part of the event.”
According to Love, preparations have reached advanced stages. “Everything is set; as I speak to you, posters are everywhere in the state and the radio jingles are on air. We are expecting the First Lady of Benue State to be there and it’s going to be a two-day event. For his tight schedules, Tuface will only be available on Tuesday, November 10, to join us in the campaign in secondary school, including the school he attended in Benue.”
By Thursday, other artistes such as Gordons, I Go Dye, J Martins, Desmond Elliot will be arriving for the second leg; on Friday, the DG NAFDAC and the First Lady of the state will be in attendance.
“We plan to take everybody to meet the students of Government Model Secondary School, one of the biggest schools in the state. We’ve gone round secondary schools distributing letter and they are so excited about the initiative. Later in the evening, we will have the first ever Benue Night of Comedy and Music with all the artistes performing; it’s going to be awesome.”
How have you been coping with all these tasks?
“I have a strong team working with me; I believe in them so much because they are capable. The truth is that they help a lot by reducing the work load for me.”
With her hands filled with activities, one wonders if Love really has time for building a relationship?
“I knew it would get to that; I don’t really want to talk about relationship, really, I’m so scared of journalists,” she says, amidst laughter.
But you are talking to The Guardian Life?
“Well, naturally, I’m not an extrovert; I’m not the kind of person that likes to go partying and all that. In my secondary school days, they used to say I’m boring. I started being friendly when I got to the university because I was active in fellowship; I had to mix with people, smile with them, but I’m not the type that likes to hangout at all. So, because I’m not an extrovert, it helps me a lot. As for relationship, I don’t want to say yes or no, let’s leave that for now,” she says still laughing.
So, what’s happens to microbiology?
“Life is all about what you have passion for; I think what I’m doing now is what I have passion for. When you talk about my magazine and my events, I’m so excited. Microbiology is a wonderful course, but I don’t know if I’m going to practice.”
Why study what you won’t practice?
“I do a whole lot; no knowledge is a waste. Apart from microbiology, I’m an arbitrator; everybody was like, ‘oh, your father was a lawyer, but you didn’t study law,’ so, I did arbitration and I passed. I’m even about to do another course in events’ management.”
Sure, you will take this one serious?
“Yes, I will,” she says, bursting into a prolonged laughter.
What do you miss about your father?
“I miss my dad so much. He was a God fearing man. Sometimes, because I feel that if he were around now, he would be proud of me. Anything I do now, I’m always very conscious about it because I don’t want to tarnish his name or his reputation. I try very hard to do things I know he would be pleased with because, his name has opened a lot of doors for me. He used to buy me a lot of books to read and he would always tell me, ‘make sure you pass, don’t fail.’ I miss him a lot because he was such a daddy anybody could ever have; I’m very happy I was with him when he gave up. I’m so excited that he left a good legacy; as Chief Judge of Benue State, under his leadership, the state was awarded best and corrupt free judiciary in Nigeria.”

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