By FLORENCE AMAGIYA
Oluyide Fola Ukachi worked with Lagos state government after her youth service days from 1979-1980, became the head of the Central Bank School in Lagos state in 1992 and later worked with central bank until she took her early retirement in 2002.
Today, she runs an international school called New Fountain School located in Amuwo- Odofin; she is a co- pastor of He’s Alive Chapel, a mother, a wife and a motivational speaker. In this interview, she talks about how she managed early marriage, career, ministry and running of the school.
It started a long time ago. I did my youth service in the year 1979/1980 and worked with Lagos state government, I worked with them from that year to 1992 when l became the head of the Central bank school in Lagos state. After that, I worked at Central bank Headquarters. Immediately after my early voluntary retirement from Central bank in 2002, my friends advised me to start a school.
While l was with Lagos state l wanted to have a school of my own. I had the passion because l wanted to set a standard. I am not saying we do not have standard in schools today, but there were certain standards l wanted to add to what we had already.
I wanted to build a private school, but I did not have enough money to start up with. I made great efforts, even went as far as taking loans from friends and banks but to no avail. Meanwhile, the urge was still very strong. I wanted to retire to Church business, run programs for women like Marriage counseling or better still open up a complex to help me keep generating income but my friends insisted and my passion persisted.
I felt I had lived all my life serving myself and I really wanted to spend the rest serving God by helping others. I prayed about it then God ministered to my husband that educating people was what He wanted me to do. At one point when my daughter was still in School, I saw excellence in that school and I said to myself that if I were to start up a school, it would depict a very high standard of education.
I once took the older born of my daughters to South Africa for an operation, my husband got to find out that some certain people wanted to sell their school and he bought it before I came back to Nigeria, I didn’t have any other choice than to help refurnish the school and put it in order then I knew that this was the will of God. That is how the motto of the school became ’Fountain of Excellence’. I always remind the teachers of the school’s motto and advise them to strive to bring out excellence in the students that would eventually benefit the parents in the nearest future.
When we started the school, we put a lot into it; I am a true Christian and a minister of God so I don’t believe in cheating people. We are still trying to bring out the Primary school; it is a gradual process and we strive to improve daily. On a regular basis, I meet with the leaders and we try to evaluate what we do; right now we have ‘in-house inspectors’ that watch-dog the teachers and correct them when they go wrong.
They check both the teachers and students books for appropriateness. Also on Morals, we make sure the children are well brought up. When they are set to attend events, we make sure they show decent manners. Even in family gatherings, churches or mosques, we train them to stand out.
The wife, mother, teacher and the pastor
God’s Grace has been sufficient and would always be. I believe that you don’t have to do what other people can do for you rather, do for yourself what others cannot do for you. For instance, I don’t go to the market myself, I send people because I trust them and I can use that time to the benefit other things. In other words, I delegate instead of running after frivolities. You have to ask God for guidance and letting you know your purpose in life. I believe you should not discard your talent and calling simply because you want to venture into what other people are doing.
The most challenging issues I faced as a young mother raising her young children was getting the right person to look after my babies when the maternity leaves were over. I did not like the idea of taking an infant to the day care; I think day care centres are more appropriate for toddlers. Children are precious and you don’t want a complete stranger in your home or even at the day care looking after your little one.
My second mum (my husband’s mum) did not live too long after my wedding but for the few years she lived she was a wonderful mum and of great help with the children. Thank God that my own mum was there to help for a few months each time a baby was born and she did this with all our children, but whenever it was time for her to go I would have to make do with whoever was staying with me at that time.
If the girl had the right spirit then there was no cause for fear but if the girl had a contrary spirit then I would have to really pray for God’s way out and God always made a way. My being in the teaching profession helped me a great deal when I was raising children. I would drop them at school and go after school to pick them and we would all go home together.
My husband was so wonderful and helpful and he used to help with anything around the house. It was not a problem for him at all. Men who want to show love to their wives and set good examples for their children need to come away from that covering of “It’s not our tradition” and help in all the ways they can help around the house. Mothers of young children need all the help they can get.
My marriage is 31 years old today and still counting.My dvice to younger women is this: marriage takes three. It takes God, your partner and yourself to make your marriage work. Do not deceive yourself by saying you are a Christian and you are engage in extra marital affairs, it would not work. You have to be honest with God and your husband as well, let him know your weaknesses even before the marriage. Marriage takes pain and perseverance and you can only scale through with God. The Bible says the couples must submit to one another; keep away from people who give wrong advice.
Young parents raising children these days need to discuss how their children will be cared for and by whom. They also need to place their priorities well. During my time as a young mother and teacher, I had colleagues who started off as bankers for instance and had to drop the job at some point to look after their children.
Right now I know a top lady banker that has taken a whole year out of her job to be a mum. That is commendable. Where the wife volunteers to do this the husband should appreciate it and not make her beg for money to have her needs met or to assist with extended family needs on her side. It is a wise husband that would take very good care of his wife including the most significant people in her extended family such as her mum and dad. That is not to say that he will now bear unnecessary burden.
These days nobody should have children they cannot take care of. If it’s only one you can conveniently take care of just have that one and stop. It’s not fair to keep having children expecting your relations to come and help with their education or to create burdens for other people to bear, and then turn around and accuse people of not helping you.
Above all we all need to be people of prayer and people that fear God. When we call upon God He hears and answers. There is too much ungodliness and lack of fear of God in our society we need to change our ways and turn to God to enjoy His blessings the way we should.
The church started as a ‘Christian Students Social Movement’ then we changed it to ‘Christian Evangelical Social Movement because we found out that most of us that started the ministry were already married. We organize prayers and we are known for the ‘National Prayers Conference’. Out of CESM, other Ministries sprang up.
I love wearing good clothes that suits and covers my body. I run on thread mill, take long walk and dance a lot in church. I plan on joining an aerobics class soon. I do not have any special beauty treatment other than compulsory washing of my face every night before going to bed. I think l would have been looking unhealthy and worn out if l do not have this routine and habit.