Mrs. Florentia Kiadole from the Philippines but married to a Nigerian man from Benue state and to be specific an Idoma man from Otukpo local government, also worked as a receptionist at the Indonesian Embassy in Nigeria.In this interview, she spoke on the falling standard of Education in Nigeria.
BY: Victoria Ojeme
Did you meet your husband in Nigeria or in the Philippines?
I met him in Nigeria when I came for an official assignment
How long have you been married to this Idoma man from Benue state?
Before he passed away we were married for 32years, he died in 2009- August 15th.
Do you have children together?
Yes we have children; God blessed me with four children, three boys and one girl.
Are they schooling in Philippines or in Nigeria?
They schooled in Nigeria. Two studied at Ahmadu Bello University and the other two in University of Technology, Yola.
What is your impression of Nigerians?
I must be frank, Nigeria is the best country I have ever seen in my life. Nigerians generally are very warm, good people, only very few that are spoiling the name of Nigeria.
How many years have you stayed in Nigeria?
Well from 1977 till date, I think that is about 40years.
Do you have an NGO?
I have a self-funded fund that I am doing on my own; I started in 2016; every rainy season I used to plant trees in different schools in the FCT, with the permission of the Universal Basic Education board and they give me the names of specific schools where trees are needed. So last year I think I was able to make six schools, this year I think it is seven schools.
Your self-funded project, the tree planting one, is it only in schools or you do it in other places as well?
In schools alone.
So why did you choose schools?
Because I am a teacher by profession, so when I go to schools where there are no trees it makes me sad and also I do beautification, cleanliness, not only in schools but also in some offices. When I get there I will ask for their permission and then I will start cleaning.
You do it for free or at a fee?
I do it for free. I use 5% of my salary set aside for those projects and I have also one or two people that follow me, then I give a stipend, not really a salary but at least they help me and I help them.
Outside these projects, is there any other thing that you are doing in Nigeria?
Recently I decided to make one project that is different aside from tree planting, that is make one toilet for one primary school, so that the children will not just ease themselves anywhere. So one is about to be completed but for that one, some people donated some money. But it is still not enough. Mostly the money to complete it comes from my own fund, my personal fund. Some people would give me N200, N300 and I accept it and if there are people to donate more… I am really happy that some people are responding.
Would you want your children to get married to Nigerians?
They are all married to Nigerians but I distributed them to different states; Kogi, Benue, Cross River and Ogun state. My only daughter is married to a Yoruba man from Ogun state
How many Nigerian languages do you speak?
I can speak not really too deep but little, I can greet in Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Igala, Idoma, and Tiv.
How does it make you feel and do you think the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria is a plus or a minus?
Of course it is a plus especially the dialects. Even in my small country we have coexisted together and we are united as one. In all, the diversity of Nigeria to me is not a problem, you are united especially as you inter-marry. In my place it is like that, whether you are from the north, the south, and the east or from the west, you inter-marry and it gives a more unifying state when you inter-marry.
There are Nigerians that are marrying foreigners. We are the same created by God, whether you are a European or an Asian or African, it depends on the person you meet. Even in Nigeria when you marry Yoruba or Igbo, it depends on the family.
There are families even when you marry from the same place with you, from the same village with you, if you are not compatible, you also separate or you have a problem.
You have been married to a Nigerian for over 32years and having children here too, I guess they must have written JAMB before entering the university; now that the federal government has cut down the cut off mark for JAMB, do you think it is the best thing for the children now?
Well I must be frank, I think the educational system in Nigeria, the quality of graduates there were not like before. In the year 1977 I was teaching in Mubi, in the old Gongola state and an NCE graduate was more than a graduate.
I am a graduate or I was an NCE graduate in Nigeria during that time but now I don’t know about NCE; a graduate at that time was already like a master degree holder. But now you see an NCE holder and you ask them to write an application, and spelling is wrong, they don’t even know how to write to address an envelope, I don’t know how they teach now, I don’t understand.
With your experience in Nigeria, you can be qualified as a Nigerian?
Yes if I want I can.
What do you think has caused the problem over the years in the educational system in Nigeria?
We are all part and parcel of the problem because there has been a decay of the system for long and that is my own idea because I cannot really understand why the educational system became so low. Even when my husband was alive we opened a tutorial school in Lagos when they wanted to sit for GCE or WAEC.
My husband was so perplexed that the educational system has really gone down the drain. These children wanted to sit for GCE or WAEC and they could not even read or write properly and I started with sounds like in the primary schools because my husband was a lecturer in the University of Maiduguri, he was an educationist.
But anyway the government is trying their best now and I pray they continue and when I go to different schools I think they are trying their best now.
I want to know how you have enjoyed Nigeria and our different recipes.
They are all good and delicious like this Yoruba food , Amala and Ewedu, because Amala is very soft and I like soft foods.
And being married to a Benue man, which Benue delicacies do you like?
Okoho soup of course, they mix it with egusi, they mud it and then put it inside. My mother in law used to cook it for me whenever I go to Benue state and I would eat it with pounded yam.