Author Shares Optimism for Nigeria at 61 in New Book – THISDAY Newspapers
Edith Ekeoma Akwu-ude, the author of ‘The Words of Edith’ argues that for true national transformation to be achieved, personal development and family values are simply non-negotiable. Yinka Olatunbosun reports
The author, Edith Ekeoma Akwu-ude is one of the shrinking numbers of Nigerians who believe that a better Nigeria is possible. Before she wrote her book titled, “The Words of Edith,’’ she had worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade. Eventually, she set up a business in holistic Nutrition 243 Diet and worked with Federal Ministry of Agriculture to promote Nutrition Education through interviews on Channels TV and NTA International and in different communities. Her work in Nutrition led her to Ebonyi State and the Governor offered her a political appointment as one of his Advisers on Food Security and Nutrition.
Her career trajectory in nutrition education and advocacy led her to different offices in search of partners and collaborators.
“Sometimes, some offices you got to do not show interest. A lot of people have given up on Nigeria. They don’t care anymore. Some of them are even leaders and directors or government agencies. Sometimes, they look at you and say, ha, you are naïve. You still think things can be better. And that’s the problem because these are the people who are supposed to approve projects and deliver those projects. If you are a parent and you are already thinking that way in your office, what about the staff working with you in the office? You will pass down the same attitude. The change begins with one person but such negativity is contagious as well. It takes one person to change,’’ she explained. And that became the genesis of her motivation to write the book.
Akwu-ude’s focus in the book ‘The Words of Edith’ is to address this challenge of self-development. Compiling short stories from her life and practical lessons gleaned from them, she creates a handy book- a practical guide that can provoke behavioral change.
“But when your natural inclination is to be critical and judgmental, those are things you can’t control, you can begin to manage and improve upon yourself to become a better person. If you are a positive person, you look at the bright side all the time; you’d influence the next person. We are over 200million people but when you begin to think right, act right, anyone around you would imitate that. It would bring about a lot of change.”
The Accounting graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka had grown to become a well sought-after speaker. In 2019, she was invited to speak at the National Peace Committee during the last general elections. She is currently studying for a Masters’ degree in Divinity. For her, developing herself has led her to developing the nation. She had observed that many youths often blame the government for everything.
“I look forward to a situation where people or the youths don’t blame others for their problems but tackle situations as they come,’’ she continued. Though from a humble background, she was determined to be a change maker.
“I got an idea on how to promote Food Security and participated at the World Bank Youth Summit and it was recognised as one of the most innovative solutions to addressing food and nutrition insecurity. This led me to Kaduna State Government and I was asked to implement this idea with them through a partnership. It involves an African Competition for every one of African descent living anywhere in the World. This work has led me partner with different Nigerian Missions through the help of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are presently working on this; beginning at the United Kingdom as they have a diverse African Diaspora population. There is latest research which shows that the slow development of Africa is tied to the dominant personality type among Africans. Based on this research, it has become paramount to do a thorough clean-up exercise in various key organizations, government agencies, religious organizations among others. The leadership of these groups need to take the first step into addressing this development and then pass along the message all the way down to the family level,’’ Akwu-ude revealed.
Now on Amazon, she began writing ‘The Words of Edith’ in 2016 and remained consistent in documenting her truths. She wasn’t keen on publishing it at first. However, the feedback from friends who have read some of the short stories became so overwhelming that she had to compile the stories. Her target is the youths or anyone between ages 18 and 50 to build a value system that can give strong roots to national development.
“Nutrition education can play a big role in national development. Churchill once said the greatest assess of a nation is a healthy citizen,’’ she said. In her view, subsistence farming can contribute in curbing food shortage in Nigeria. The same beautiful pots that are used to plant flowers can be used to plant vegetables that can feed the family.
“The body need about 91 nutrients every day. Some people are so busy that they don’t a lot so when they eat once, they over eat,’’ she explained.
While fielding questions about the dominant personality type in Africa that accounts for the slow development, Akwu-ude suggests the establishment of a mentoring system where people who have thrived in life and businesses can guide others.
“We need to read more in Nigeria and understand where people are coming from. We are always in a hurry to impose our own opinions on people without understanding their point of view,’’ she remarked.