It is often said that some people are born great, while others work days and nights to achieve their greatness. For those who decide to climb the ladder of success, it is never an easy task. They have to conquer their fears, surmount many obstacles, pay deaf ears to negative voices around and work patiently for their set goals.
Today, we present to you a young talented journalist, a professional broadcaster and a first class product of Mass Communications, UNIZIK. She lays bare her struggles through school, the challenges that nearly distracted her from her goals, were it not for her faith in GOD, and how she has been climbing through the ladder of success. Today, she is a Senior Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on broadcasting. She is Ify Aronu!
May We Meet You?
I am Mrs Ify Aronu Okafor, a Senior Special Adviser to Anambra State Governor on broadcasting. I am primarily a broadcaster and I am the host of an audience participatory TV show, The Light TV Show which is stationed in Awka the capital of Anambra state. I also run a blog, BoldNaija.com. It comprises all my experiences in the broadcasting industry and I teach all that I have learnt all the while.
I was born into the Aronu family in Umueze Village, Amawbia, where I grew up. My mom is Ghanaian. I had my primary and secondary education there and had my tertiary education in Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka. I am from a close-knit family. My Dad is late, I have a brother and two sisters. I just got married recently.
How was it like gaining admission to the University?
It was not that straight forward for me. For instance, when you are multi-talented, sometimes, you don’t even know where you fall and if you decide to go a certain way, some people feel it’s too easy. At the time I was in college, people felt the Art and Commercial were for the unserious ones. Naturally because I was doing well, I was made to be in the science class. So, I was happy, because I felt I was for the science. Infact I had my SSCE results with good grades in science subjects. But somehow, getting admission became an issue for me. I tried the first and the second time and I decided I was no longer doing that. And for all those periods I always passed my time with literatures, I wrote poems and then when I wrote SSCE again, I made the highest grade in literature.My Dad wanted to be a Journalist but couldn’t achieve it, so, I saw myself in him.Thereafter, I took JAMB again, this time to study Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and then something funny happened and I was offered a ‘lesser course’.
However, my brother advised that I apply to another University which would be closer to me,then I had to apply UNIZIK and this time, I applied for Mass Communications. When it was time to check the result, my husband presently, who was just a friend then, checked the result, guess what, I made 279. So it was as if God was speaking.We went for Post UTME, I made 85/100. Remember, this was someone who never had an Art orientation. When I went to check the list, I was number one on the list and it remained so, because in the whole of the Department, nobody had ever made a first class. So, getting admission when I finally got to the right place, became very simple.
So how were you able to graduate with a first class?
It’s different things for different people. As for me, I knew from day one. If you ask my husband, even before I wrote my JAMB, I told him I would make First class. Everyone who knew me at a time knew I was saying it. Guess what, when I gained admission, the idea I got was that it was impossible to make a first class, because Art is not like Sciences which is objective but rather subjective. In Art, two plus two may not be four.
Another thing is that in Nigeria, where you encounter lots of challenges you hardly find a smooth route to doing anything ranging from financial constraints to other things. But guess what? Though I encountered these challenges, I was so lucky to be sponsored by one Rev. Fr. Jude Okoye from Nimo, who always motivated me. But for someone who already knew what she was going for, it was just a plus for me.
Another constrain was sickness. I remember I always took ill during exam periods, but I thank God for the grace to pray. I worked hard and then I expressed to God that I really wanted to be there. I wanted to break the jinx of no first class in the history of the Department.
Though, some of the lectures in class were sounding like French because, I never had such background before, but I still pushed on and believed in God.
There were so many challenges, my Dad died when I was in first year. Infact, when I got my first semester result, I made 4.85 and I wanted to show to my Dad, but he wasn’t there.There was also a time I had some problems, call it spiritual or something, but it passed. But my lecturers encouraged me. Mr. Mgbemena of blessed memory, would always tell me, ”if you don’t make a first class, it’s your fault”. He so believed in me, even though I still had one semester left. The truth is that as an individual, you need to work so hard to a point where, everyone, even those who don’t like you would themselves confess you have to be there. That was my case.
What was the feeling like when you finally made the first class?
I think because I had always known and seen it from afar, there was no special feeling to it, though there was a point that it was like it would never happen,especially towards the end. My Mom and I were in a Keke and we were involved in an accident. My Mom was terribly injured and it was a huge distraction for me. My friend and I were sleeping on a bed, and then there was a gunshot, she was shot and I was there, nothing happened to me.
But there was something that kept me moving ; my faith in God, myself and being good to others.
I most times spent my moments in the orphanage, because in life, you cannot be receiving, you just must give sometimes.
What were your aspirations after University?
Okay, the major thing I wanted was going for Masters by gaining a scholarship abroad, but you know when you are out there, you are faced with lots of options. You may have to make some adjustments. In disciplines like ours, which is not STEM, you must make all efforts to reach there. I wanted to set up my own TV show, work in an international TV Station like CNN, push broadcasting as far as I could and then teach, after I must have gathered a lot of experiences in the field,so I won’t just go to the class to recite theories.
But I was able to explore broadcasting though not outside the country like I wanted.
Was it easy gaining a job after graduating, knowing you were top in your class?
After graduation, I went for National Youth Service. I was posted to Adamawa and later I redeployed to Oyo,and I got a job in one of the biggest Media houses in Ibadan, even as a Corp member. Then, there was an opportunity I encountered to do a vote of thanks at the Camp then, when the Director General of NYSC was present and other dignitaries, I did it well and that was how the State Coordinator became interested in me.I started representing Corp members in the state and Nigeria. As a Corp Member I started climbing the ladder. So, I continued the job until I was ready to settle down.
How was life after graduation?
I never knew about the struggles after graduation until I came back to the east….
To be continued …