Safety and security is a highly-priced intervention that the country, now, needs for her citizens, especially against the backdrop of the blood-letting and massacre of the Benue killings that recently characterized the pages of several national news-prints.
Most often than necessary, we rely so much on the government to provide security to its citizens—which of-course is its obligation and responsibility, forgetting that we are expected to responsible to ourselves in being security conscious of our environment and as result being safe. As the traditional adage goes, with allusion, “safety is everyone’s business”, hence, our choice interviewing a remarkable woman, Miss Ugochi Obidiegwu, doing her bit to make sure we have a safe society, I could not agree more with her that, safety consciousness is imperative.
On the street of Social media she is popularly known as the Safety Chic, right here, she shared with Roluseye how growing up was, how she managed to get the brand name and some hints on how to be safe.
Kindly tell us about yourself, especially growing up?
I was born in Kano and my family relocated to Lagos few years later. I got into secondary school quite early and was a pioneer student at Air Force Comprehensive School, Uyo. I was made the Assistant Head girl despite my age and I held the position for 5 years. I guess that position amplified my ability to organise and coordinate people. This aspect of my growing up made it easy for me to easily take initiative and handle situations.
Being born in the midst of boys, how has that helped you growing up?
Well, I actually have sisters too, an elder one and a younger one. So it’s not like I grew up with just boys. However, my mum didn’t really believe in “Boys Duty” or “Girls Duty”. Every child knew how to do a bit of everything. I remember we had rosters at a point. One week you’d be in the kitchen, the next week you’d handle toilet and bathroom and the next all the rooms. You had no excuse not to know how to do what was in your jurisdiction. If you didn’t know, you were expected to ask the aunties questions so you can perform well. We didn’t have house-helps but aunties who lived with us for certain duration.
Tell us your educational background with institutions?
Secondary school was Air Force Comprehensive School in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State while I studied Communication and Language Arts in the University of Ibadan. I offered a course in Strategies for Optimising Corporate Communications with the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-Atlantic University. I was also a part of the Entrepreneurship Course put together for Africans by the Adansonia team of the Bocconi University, Italy. I also did various relevant certifications and training in Health and Safety to boost my competence.
From Mass Communication to Safety; why the move and what will you say is the correlation?
I’ve always loved jobs that involve communication because I have a flair for it. I do not think I totally moved because I have incorporated my background in Communication to the way I go about my safety business. As a matter of fact, this gives a unique twist because it’s easy for me to find innovative ways to pass the safety message. For instance, the African inspired poster pack and story book for kids, book reading and movies help make the messaging fun and not boring.
Tell us about the brand-name, Safety Chic, what are your services?
The business name is actually Ulomka Multi Solutions Ltd but The Safety Chic caught on with people because it was easy to know what I was all about just by hearing the name. The name was coined after discussions with Steve Harris about my business, its offerings and my personality.
We are all about raising safety consciousness in Africans most especially children. So we visit schools to teach children basic health and safety skills through our Train Them Young Initiative (#2TYI). We also do a lot of social media advocacy through pictures, blog articles and videos most especially the series titled #60SecondsWithTheSafetyChic
– Awareness training to children in schools
– Staff training and consulting for schools and other businesses
– Creation and distribution of African inspired safety poster packs for schools
– Child Safety story books
– Unique safety events e.g. Movie Day with The Safety Chic, annual School Safety Summit, book reading
– Innovative safety programming
To get people involved, where should they contact you?
Tell us about the experience working as an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur is not a walk in the park. You have to be intentional and organised otherwise things go amiss. This is important because you are the one solely responsible for ensuring your growth or effectiveness. There is a limit to what mentors, coaches and friends can do for you. You have to choose to apply yourself. Considering I’ve been doing this with a full time job, it hasn’t been easy. However, I have learned and I keep learning how to be better in achieving my business goals. There has been significant growth and improvement so far, more will definitely happen this year.
Has being a woman hindered or propelled you in your journey, tell us about it?
Well, I think it’s our choice to determine what will hinder or propel us. I choose to look at how being a woman will propel my course. Although, this question reminded me of the day I visited a school in the Festac axis. I heard the Director wasn’t on seat, so I waited. When he came I followed him to the office and as he got there, a student opened the door, turned on the fan, then the Director sat, stretched forth his hand and the student handed him an orange, he started eating it. Then he turned to me and said “small girl, what do you want?” Well, I found that so funny and odd; I explained that my organisation wanted to teach their students safety skills for free. I knew then the School wouldn’t reach out because of the Director’s posture. Despite that the team has trained over 1500 children in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Maiduguri and Enugu. I’ve also been opportune to work with the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University to train teenagers during the Teen Enterprise Week. So yes, people will underestimate you or refuse to give you a platform but refuse to be fazed and do your part. Focus on your focus.
Tell us your opinion about the recent security lapses and killing happening in the country now, is the government not doing something right, what will you propose?
Government has a duty to protect its citizens. If in the workplace, employers have a duty to ensure that their employees are safe from harm, how much more a Government. I believe that Government needs to take a stand and back it up with actions. When this posture of Government is communicated clearly, people’s confidence will return. Also, the perpetrators of these acts will know it is no longer business as usual.
What is the basic security advice everyone should know?
We need to become more situationally aware in any environment we find ourselves. Let’s pay attention to details and not be aloof to what is going on around us. Sometimes, it’s being aware that makes us capable of protecting ourselves and others. Too much dependence on our mobile devices makes a lot of people unaware of the kind of vehicles they enter or how secluded the street is. If we pick up information from our environment, it helps us know what to do and what not to do.
Thank you so much for the time and we really do appreciate all that you do to make our society great again. The world is yours for the taking, shine on.