Current Face of Oyi, Ogechukwu Ibemesi, is the Principal, Oge Erugo Youth Development Foundation (OEYDF). The Ogbunike, Oyi Local Government Area, born accounting graduate is passionate about youth development. The beauty queen believes the challenge confronting youths are the bane of their growth and development, hence their little contribution to the advancement of the country. In this interview with EMEKA CHIAGHANAM, she spoke on the challenges, societal dangers it poised and what she intends to achieve with her foundation among other issues. Excerpts:
WHAT does the Face of Oyi represent?
It represents the beauty queen of Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. I was crowned last December. The beauty pageant was envisioned to bring out the best in young women of Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State.
You have a foundation, what is it promoting?
I run Oge Erugo Youth Development Foundation (OEYDF), though, educationally oriented, established to help the girl-child and youths to actualise their potentials. The vulnerability of our young girls need some form of protection by way of educating them. Nigeria has huge youth population, they are the future of this country, we need to empower them. Their relevance depends on their empowerment. As leaders of tomorrow, if you cannot get them now, you have lost them.
What was the driving force behind the establishment of your foundation?
Passion for youths, I have always wanted to do this since my university days. For it not to clash with my studies, I decided to leave it until I graduate. I believed that once I finished my university education that I would have ample time to run the foundation.
I have in mind of mentoring youths. We are blessed with talented youths who need help to enable them realise dreams. Investing in our youths through my foundation is part of the developmental goals that will curb wastes that some of our youths would turn to. I want every youth’s talent to count. I’m looking forward to a time when every girl-child will have her dream fulfilled. I want to be a positive influence on youths.
In your recent outreach, you created awareness on cultism and drug abuse, why delve into that
It would interest you to know that cultism and drugs are destroying many youths today more than what we thought; something the country has not witnessed before. When we talk of youths doing drugs and cultism, you would have thought of people in our tertiary institutions. Yes, they are there. But it has infested our secondary schools, the number keeps rising. We need to disabuse their minds on this. I know of a secondary student who died doing drugs. He took tramadol. Supposing he had somebody to educate him on the dangers of drug abuse, i believe he wouldn’t have been involved in it in the first instance.
The impact of cultism is much more than we anticipated. The peer pressure plays huge role here. Many of the youths we spoke to believe they have the protection they desired once they belong to a cult group. And there are those that are misled into believing that they will make quick money by belonging to a cult, even as young as they are.
It appears having a foundation is a means to advance a cause for some people and once that is achieved, the foundation folds up. What’s your take on this?
It happens and will continue to happen, but not everyone will fall into that category. My foundation was not borne out of the fact that I’m a beauty queen. As I said earlier, I had this in mind during my university days. As a beauty queen, it has only helped in accelerating the process. For the fact that some people’s foundation packed up along the line, mine will not phase out. My own will not follow that order because I believe that with God everything will work out in the best fashion for me. I envisioned my foundation to outlive me.
Who is the inspirational factor behind what you do?
That one person is my mother. She has been encouraging and supporting me to this moment. I’m where I am today because of her support. Her advice has gone a long way to influence me. That I floated my foundation was due to her financial support. If she hadn’t given me money to register the foundation, I wouldn’t be here talking about the foundation. She inspires me a lot.
Your foundation centres on youths, do you have something for non-youths?
Of course, I do. By extension, my foundation is into advocacy and support of the elderly. I love and mean well for them. We have many abandoned old people in our society, somebody needs to take care of them. My foundation will offer the little we can in this regard.
Where have you taken advocacy and awareness?
We have gone to Community Secondary School, Umuoba Anam, New Era Secondary School, Nteje, Father Joseph School, Aguleri, among other schools and plan to go to more schools, like we will be doing this week by going to Community Secondary School, Umueri. The response has been encouraging.
How do you go about the responses and feed back?
Our outreach is yearly, and we try as much as possible to cover many grounds. and with that, we offer the best we can. We leave it in the hands of the principals or school authority to help us monitor them and call for assistance if the need be.
What is your view on education?
Education is the best thing that ever happened to me. All I can tell youths is to get education. Education is not everything but it goes a long way to tell a better story about a person. Most people’s lives could have been better off if they had acquired education. Education is power. it equips you with a better bargaining power. My advice to youths is for them to focus on their dreams, work on it and God will make it happen for them.