Roli Uduaghan, Delta State First Lady On Her 50 Birthday
What does it feel like to be 50?
I am extremely grateful to God because 50 years is not a joke. When I look back at my young, growing up days and then now 50 years later, I am overwhelmed. It just feels amazing. I am very grateful and thankful to God.
You have aged very well and look a decade younger. Is this from taking extra measures or being blessed with good genes?
It’s just the glory of God because I am not a sports person, I don’t do exercises but I am very mindful of what I eat though. It’s just God’s mercy and I am grateful to Him for keeping me this way.
Did your childhood have an influence on the woman you are today?
Yes. I grew up mainly in the midst of boys. My brothers and cousins. I copied a lot of their behaviour. I even used to play football with them. It did affect me because I do not have any feminine disposition in my approach to things in life. I do everything like a man.
Did you have any role model while growing up?
Role model? No I didn’t.
How long have you been married to your husband?
I have been married for about 24 years.
Can you tell us how you met him?
I would say it was God’s divine arrangement. He was my uncle’s neighbour in the estate and that was how we met.
What traits do you find most enduring about him?
I love the manly attitude. He is a quiet person but he is firm. I am a very restless person but somehow I discovered I could really respect him. It has always been difficult to tell me something and get me to do it, very difficult. But with him I discovered I was able to succumb and respect him. And that was what really attracted me to him.
Now as a governor his time is shared amongst thousands of people who seek his attention. How has this impacted on your lives as a family?
From time, even before he became governor, he was a practising doctor and of course the issue of people seeking his attention has always been the case. He is a dedicated doctor and was always in the hospital especially when he had patients who were on admission. Very early in the morning he would leave for work, so from time he has always been a very busy man.
Are there things you still do for him up till now that no one else is allowed to do?
Of course. If I am around, I do the personal things like serve his meals. Nobody cleans our bedroom. Nobody makes our bed. I still attend to a lot of those personal things.
How would you advise wives to best cope when married to a man who serves in a public office?
Any woman married to a man in public office must know that she has to give her husband her full support. The first thing is for them to appreciate that the man is a public servant and that it is his primary assignment and so she should support him fully, particularly on her knees to God praying, so that in whatever he does, he’d have guidance and protection.
How do you find a balance between friends you met in power and friends of old? Do your old friends still have easy access to you?
I am not someone who really had lots of friends while growing up and even now the very few people around me I’d call prayer partners, people who I meet to pray. Not necessarily friends.
You were the first politician in the home as you, a while back vied for the position of Local Government Chairman. Do you intend going back into politics and running for public office?
Well for now I have no plans for that because my husband and I cannot be in the forefront of politics so I think I’d stay back to take care of the home and support him. Maybe when he retires I can give it a thought.
What projects have you taken on since you resumed office?
What I am doing now is what I started doing before I assumed office. I support widows and orphans. I started about eight years. Now I have only expanded it to embrace more women that are down trodden in the society.
What has been the most heart-rending moment in the execution of this said project?
For me, it was the first day I embarked on empowering these widows. There were about 80 of them present. It was really pathetic. They received all my gifts in tears. You could see that nobody had ever cared to look after them and their kids, and that fact spurred me on to continue with it.
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the demands on your time as a First Lady?
Of course yes. I am a human being. Everybody believes that as long as you are a governor’s wife, you have the solution to everything. They equate you to God and it can be really overwhelming. Phone calls come in at all hours of the day.
Are there times you crave the privacy you once had before coming into power?
I do, every time! Being in the public eye is really frustrating. As soon as you step out of your bedroom, you are already in the public eye. You are no longer a private person and really it’s not that interesting at all.
Are there things you can’t do now that you were able to do before office? And if so, do you sometimes miss doing such things?
There’s nothing I can’t do. I know
there’s usually security around to
restrain me but if I want to do it, I
would do it. The only thing I have
stopped doing, is going to the market. I don’t like walking with security men thronging after me. I find it very embarrassing. Other than that, I can do whatever I want to.
What would you most like to be bee remembered for after the end of your tenure as First Lady?
By God’s grace I would want to be remembered as one who touched the lives of the people spiritually, who brought light to the lives of men and helped inculcate the fear of God in the heart of my people. As a born again Christian, do you find time to fellowship with other women on a regular basis?
Yes, I co-ordinate a fellowship. Again that started before my husband became governor. We meet every Monday for one hour or so, pray and study the word of God. I also attend church on Sundays and mid-week services too.
You, more than likely, strengthened your faith in God more now than ever and is a spiritual cover for your family. Have there been times when faced with challenges, you have wondered whether ‘all this’ is worth it?
Of course, At times, the trouble that comes with the office makes you wonder. But I know that we are not here by accident. We were sent from God and knowing that this is His assignment, is the only thing that keeps me going. So based on this, I refuse to be discouraged even when certain things happen because I know God would not send you on an assignment without backing you up.
Do you ever take any time out to relax and if so, what do you do to relieve stress?
I don’t! Relaxation is not in my dictionary. Most of the time I am doing one thing or the other, so it’s difficult really getting time off to relax.
Are there any hobbies you also enjoy?
It’s not really a hobby. My favourite past time is encouraging people. I like counseling people, particularly young women.
Knowing what you know now at this stage in your life, in reflection of your past, is there anything you would have done differently?
No, I don’t think there’s anything I would have done differently because I personally believe that every experience is worth it. Our people have an adage that says when a hunter goes to the bush to hunt, if he doesn’t come back with an animal, it doesn’t matter, at least it was an opportunity for him to know his way around the bush. So basically, every experience really is worth it. It puts you in check for next time so as not to make a mistake again. I don’t have any regrets.
Your daughter is getting married soon and that is the joy of any mother. Do you sometimes look at her and remember the little girl of yesterday?
Of course yes. I still do. It didn’t come as a surprise to me though because that has always been in my prayers. For my daughter to get married at the age of 22, indeed God has honoured me. When I look at her, I thank God because I remember and say to myself “When did I get married that I now have a child who is getting married too?” It feels awesome. I can’t stop thanking God.
What advice would you offer her, as a wife and mother?
I know these days for our young ladies, everyone is the boss but I keep telling her you cannot be the boss while your husband is the boss too. One of you has to be subject to the other and that is you. I say to her, you grew up in this home and you see the way we have lived and there has never been a time she has seen me quarrel with my husband. No way! No matter my level of anger, I never let myself burst out in the presence of a third person, not even my child. So I say to her, you just have to remember the home you grew up in and make yours same. Like Paul said in the bible, “Be ye imitators of me”. Because he was sure that he led a good path.
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