The Founder/ President of Rock Foundation for Widows, Orphans and Less Privileged (ROFWOL), Dr. (Mrs.) Favour Chika-Okafor, an engineer and wife of foremost industrialist, Chief Alexander Chika Okafor, is a lady who is passionate about rebranding Nigeria through value creation. She gave up her robust career in the corporate world to serve humanity through her Foundation. She has been decorated with awards from different quarters in recent times.An author of many books, Dr (Mrs.) Okafor speaks about her vision and mission for a better Nigeria and other issues in this interview with Asst News Editor, INNOCENT OKONKWO.
WHY did you quit your corporate job?
I quit my job when I saw a greater need to express my passion in humanitarian services. As an individual, I don’t like to cheat, even as an author, most times, I write at odd times so that I don’t cheat on my company. I don’t receive friendly calls while working, those that are close to me can attest to this fact. I am quite sensitive to some of these things because of the way I was brought up as a Christian. So at a point, I felt that I needed to do this (humanitarian services) more and with the support of my chairman who is also my husband , I decided to quit.
However, I had no fear about the company moving on fine; since the team that I left the business with my husband is one of the best team that I ever seen in the company’s history. Therefore, there was nothing to fear.
Moreover, I had achieved my personal dream in the company; having worked in both manufacturing and the trading arms of the organisation. From the experiences that I gathered in some of our business trips abroad, I tried to ensure that businesses are done in our company as they are done abroad and that things are done according to the books.
I also encouraged corporate governance as a member of the Institute of Directors Nigeria. This is an organization that I so much admire and wish that government should fund, encourage and give the opportunity to influence the society in a better way. It is one of the arms that could help in changing certain things in Nigeria, improving the business codes and strengthening out the business policies and ethics in Nigeria which can shape the outlook of the nation’s economy.
So, when I joined them, I went through different courses on company direction and corporate governance among others. These were all what I wanted. I was impressed and worked my way until the end of last year. When ROFWOL got inaugurated, little did I know at the time that I have to stop work but I saw myself strongly believing in it, stopping work and even advising that I should be at no pay to actually have a feel of this whole thing called poverty and If you ask me, I wouldn’t tell you that it is an easy thing but I thank God.
You have this passion for youth development and widows’ welfare. Why are you very passionate about the future and well-being of these categories of people in our society?
As a result of what was happening in the society and in many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the past, you must state clearly what you wanted to do as an NGO, like I stated while registering ROFWOL, otherwise, the name is quite too long but it did not portray all our objectives at once but it gives a glimpse into what I wanted to do, that was why I am backing it up with the Rock World, rebranding the image of the nation through the children and youths, getting them back from misappropriation of values and bringing down illiteracy.
It is creating awareness and making the youth to know themselves and who they are and making them know that it is better to be more patriotic than the pursuit of wealth which isn’t the basic thing, instead creating values first because when you are creating values, you are creating wealth, it is complementary; you don’t create values without creating wealth.
But when you are trying to create wealth only, the path may be unjustified; it may make a mess of the whole person. One person can bring a lot of evil around a country and this is alarmingly increasing that is what I saw so I needed to come out and call on the youth to come back and let us reason together, let’s see, must it be in this way or another way?
An enormous task one may say?
Yes, because the children of the rich and the poor should be there, but the poor children are my focal point, they are critical for me in achieving this task so I needed to get them to go to school; I needed them to be at the same level with others so that they can now reason together.
But when some of them are left like that, you notice that with a small tip of 500,000 naira or more, they are already off and willing to engage their consciences but no amount of money should make one to engage his God-given conscience where the real value should be created or where the real value should be driven but when that conscience is engaged such a person is guilty, that is why so many things are happening today.
Some consciences are already engaged, they are somewhere when their owners are here under some conditions so they can’t come out and I’m not sure that some of them may be freed until they die. Others may be old by the time they may be freed, that is why I don’t want to see the consciences of these young ones to continue to toe this ugly path. They need to know what the need of the hour is. What is the essence of living? Is it just to be known and heard? No, life should be lived in such a way that people will be able to learn something positive from you but when your life is not giving anything positive to your environment, actually, such a person is like pollution to the environment. Therefore, if we are cleansing our system of pollution, people should make every effort not to constitute pollution to the same society.
Incidentally, the way things are now, I feel that the present day children are unfortunate; I said this because I am fortunate to have witnessed certain things before. Some people have also told me about some of the things that I did not witness. For instance, I was told that there was a time when the fare from the East to Lagos was 30 kobo only. I didn’t witness that but I knew when it was about 200 naira. I used to go from my village to my school, Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) for five naira and when the fare went up to 15 naira, we were screaming. I ate 50 kobo meal; some citizens said they used to buy a plate of good meal for just 10 kobo in their own days.
But the children of today will be looking at me in amazement if I talk about 50k and one naira, they won’t understand and that is why I feel the need for this vision. When I was carrying my daughter who is now in the university in the UK, I was eating one naira food; this was just in 1996 but between that time and now you can see how things are.
I don’t want to look at the enormity of the task or what I want to achieve that is why I decided to start doing something straightaway, after all, my life is already attuned to this cause. Within my home, I have been keen about these things even among my children, For instance, if I’m in a car with any child and he or she drops anything on the road, the car will stop and the child must take it back and drop it at the appropriate place. I have been doing these little-little things within myself because I am trying to make myself to be within the range of the cause that I am championing, it is not new to me.