Mrs. Eugenia Irobiegbulam is a media management and integrated marketing communications specialist. She is the Editor-In-Chief of Whizkidz Magazine; a high profile familyfriendly compass magazine, with special appeal for children.
Trained as a journalist at the School of Journalism in Berkshire, England and the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra, respectively in the mid-1980s, Mrs. Irobiegbulam as a growing young girl in the secondary school, showed a lot of interest in reading and writing.
It became such an obsession that she crammed almost the entire Michael West Student’s Dictionary in her head!
She said, “I started writing short stories on my own. So I had a clear vision of what I wanted to be, even though my mother preferred that I read law or medicine, because my West African School Certificate result was outstanding.
However, my interest in advertising and marketing was ignited by an opportunity created by the head of the advert department of a magazine where I worked as a reporter.
“A lady who had recently got married was going on maternity leave and there was nobody competent enough to replace her and my boss decided to give me the responsibility to do the job. It was an opportunity that helped shape what I later became in life.
In fact, when the lady resumed, it became obvious that she couldn’t fit in again, as I had raised the bar for revenue generation for the company through direct marketing.”
She explained to The Point that in those days, advert executives were content chasing adverts from advertising agencies, “but when I was transferred to the advert department, I introduced Special Projects in addition and the fortune of the company turned around.”
She added, “Doing special projects exposed me to think outside the box, and I started earning commissions that when put together at the end of the month far outweighed my salary as a journalist.
“So I decided to enroll with the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria for lectures and qualifying examinations to become a professionally certified specialist in integrated marketing communications.
After my graduation and with my journalism background, I saw myself positioned to take charge of my destiny and ever since then, I had never regretted taking that bold step.”
Asked how she was able to build herself academically, Mrs. Irobiegbulam said, “Like I said earlier, I loved reading and writing way back in my secondary school days.
In those days, there were no phones like we have today, no internet facilities where you could Google anything, no computers, no electricity, and no television! Yes, no television, because I grew up in the village, only hard copy books and physical libraries.
“We had to study hard to pass our examinations and in those days, things were done on merit.
And so we were taught both at home and in the school that if one wanted to make any head way in life, one must study hard and there was stiff but healthy competition among the students then.
We were taught both at home and in the school that if one wanted to make any head way in life, one must study hard and there was stiff but healthy competition among the students then
So I learnt early in life to embrace reading, and among my classmates, we decided to read a lot of novels to improve our communication skills, we read novels by Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase and lots more on a weekly basis.”
Regretting the pathetic state of education in Nigeria, she said, “It was an incredible competition on who would finish a novel in one week and then we asked each other questions from each novel afterwards.
But today, I noticed that the advancement in technology has made our school children too lazy to read.
“At a touch of the screen of their Android phones, they can get any information they want; the various forms of entertainment available today have so distracted the y o u t h f r o m paying attention to their s t u d i e s , and this can be attested to by the rising incidents of examination malpractices, and sadly, some parents are even involved in these.”
Concerned with the poor reading culture among school children, Mrs. Irobiegbulam said, “We thought of a way out by coming up with our WhizKidz Magazine, a high profile compass magazine targeted at the young adults, though family friendly to revamp the dying reading culture among our youths and inculcate the passion to read and discipline in them.
“The magazine is endorsed by the Ogun State Ministry of Education as a supplementary reading material for secondary school students in the state.”
According to her, “every edition, we donate substantial number of copies free of charge to the state, for inward distribution to the students.
After a while, we felt we could do more than just giving free copies of the magazine to students, just to encourage them to read. We decided to start a non-governmental organisation, Whizkidz Educational Foundation.”
“Do you know that youth’s unemployment is the third biggest problem confronting our nation today? Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million, out of which 64 million are under-employed.
Youth unemployment is the root cause of poverty, hooliganism, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination, lawlessness, cultism, drug and human trafficking, prostitution, militancy, thuggery, oil pipe vandalisation, murder, rape, car theft, burglary, fraud, bribery and corruption, food and drug adulteration, gambling, smuggling, money laundering, internet scam, advanced fee fraud and other illegal activities,” she noted.
She said youth unemployment causes frustration, dejection, desperation and depen – denc y o n fami l y memb e rs a n d friends, who also have their own problems to contend with, adding that youth unemployment has frustrated and traumatised parents, who watch their children turn to crimes, “ she noted, saying that the major cause of unemployment among these vibrant youth has been identified as the lack of skills to back up whatever they must have learnt from their institutions of learning.
Explaining the pet project; she said WEF was birthed to reduce the unemployment ratio by empowering the children after their secondary school education.
She said, “We realised that not all children in public schools may want to go to the tertiary institution, and not all parents can afford the rising cost of this kind of education.
“We are committed to empowering this vibrant important segment of the society to serve as creative and innovative arrow heads in their different professions, providing the needed jobs for their fellow youths through skills acquisition, cerebral development, civil nurturing and attitudinal empowerment.”
Talking about her personal project, tagged ‘A Day with the Widows,’ she said, “It is my personal programme I created to celebrate my birthday with the widows.I started it last year, December 17, which fell on a Saturday. It was totally awesome, because few of my likeminded friends keyed into the project by supporting to make that day very memorable.
“It was different, because we were able to reach out to about 30 widows. We didn’t just share food items to them; we treated them to a sumptuous breakfast, encouraged them with the word of God and we created time for them to share their heart-wrenching stories of how they are coping with life as widows. We also provided a platform for them to network with each other. I intend to make it an annual event, because ever since then, I have kept in touch with each one of them. I may take it higher, if I get more likeminded people, who will be willing to key into the vision of doing more for them.
“I think that this is what the present government means by ‘change begins with you’. God has helped me thus far. It isn’t easy though, but it’s God all the way.Sometimes, I marvel at how I get things done so well, especially at the home front, and I know that it can only be God, because I have a very possessive and demanding husband.”