Ngozi Eucheria Udenevo, a.k.a Naija Gal, is a popular name on Bond FM 92.9. She is also one of the few physically challenged on-air personalities who God has blessed to impact lives. In this interview with YES International!’s GBENGA SHABA and JENNIFER ORJI, she shared her experiences and challenges as a single mother, the lesson life has taught her and why she has decided not to give love a shot again and more.
Can we meet you?
My name is Ngozi Eucheria Udenevo, a.k.a Naija Gal. I hail from Awgu Local Government, Mmaku, Enugu State; born to Godwin and Josephine Udenevo. I had my primary and secondary school in Lagos. I had a National Diploma programme at Laspotech, but never went back for my HND programme because of my family problems. I also went for a professional training at Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and I graduated in 2011.
How was your growing up?
My growing up was sweet, but it suddenly turned bitter. It became very terrible because I never got to know my father. He died when I was very young. I learnt my mother was pregnant with my twin brothers; but sadly lost one. She was rich until I clocked eleven and the story changed.
How long have you been working with Bond FM?
Almost a year now. I joined an existing programme as a guest presenter before I started my own show. What people don’t know is that Naija Gal is not a staff of Radio Nigeria (Bond FM), but a producer/presenter of her show, My Caban. My Caban represents Bond FM well at events and shows that people tend to see me as a staff.
How does it feel to anchor a pidgin programme?
It feels great knowing you’re doing what people tag local. I could remember NMMA 2007, I interviewed people in pidgin and celebrities wanted to get a feel on the carpet.
Aside being an OAP, which other work do you do?
I studied Computer Science. I used to work at Lucky Fiber Plc; a subsidiary of Nobel Carpets as their orion operator, from 2004 to 2008. I write scripts for sale and also promote artistes, events and shows. I go on air twice a week, but almost every two days, there is one show or event for me to work on and I have worked with so many wonderful, beautiful and terrible human beings in the industry.
How has it been so far?
It has been good, nice, pleasant and bad. Most especially the discrimination against a hunch back. It is still a big battle that I’m fighting. The able bodied wouldn’t allow you to express yourself just because they believe someone like you should not be with them on the red carpet. Also, My Caban used to be a television programme, but when I took a break from work after all that happened to me, I thought it was the end until Evangelist Sofowora of Celestial Church of God, Sharon Parish, Ikorodu gave me money to go back and start my career afresh. I went straight to Naija FM with the mind set of starting all over. One of their marketing executives, Mrs. Adeniji, who I discussed my challenges with, took the one hundred and twenty thousand naira Pastor Sofowora gave me, asked me to change my name from Naija Gal, my alias since 2007, to African Mama, which I obliged just to get on air and so many other difficult conditions. Unknown to me, they never wanted my programme on their station.
When was your most embarrassing moment in life?
My most embarrassing moment was when I just put to bed, during the fuel subsidy palaver; I couldn’t afford to pay for my mini flat again. I had to move to face me and face you house and there was this devilish woman who will like to insult people every day. All my hard earned properties got destroyed by flood in this same house. I cried and kept asking God what was my sin in life that I had to stay in this kind of house. It was so shameful, but that was what I could afford then.
How has marriage been?
I am not married. I have a son, but I am not married, so I don’t know how marriage life is. But if you had asked me how I shoulder two persons’ responsibilities alone, I will humbly say it is all about God. A life without your Creator is dead. I went through hell, but God sustained me. It has not been easy, but with God all thing are possible.
Is the father of your son not taking care of his responsibilities?
For someone that waited this long just not to make a mistake to now get it wrong, you will know it is not ordinary because this is a guy who was all over me for more than a year. His name is Stanley. He promised to change my life, be the father and mother I never had and just when he decided to do the right thing, friends and few of his family members felt he was too good to settle down with a lady with a hunchback. They made him see reasons why he can’t settle down with someone of my nature because he could choose to occupy any political seat in future and because of this he disappeared. It was when I was trying to put behind me his disappearance that I discovered I was pregnant. I never knew I was pregnant when we did Baba Agbako’s 84th birthday in April, 2011, because I was part of the organising committee. I fell sick after the birthday celebration and when I got to the hospital, I found out I was pregnant. I told him then and he did not deny it, but he advised that I should abort the baby for my own good because he had travelled out and that soon he will change his lines which he did. But I went to his uncle and he informed his mother in the village, because we are both from Enugu State. He is from Nsukka while I’m from Awgu. The mother and uncle who are now based in South Africa promised to take full responsibility of my pregnancy, but up till today; the baby was two years old by January 5, 2013, I’ve not heard from them.
Are you ready to give marriage a shot?
No penny has ever come from him or his family. I shoulder everything about this baby alone. And with all the pain someone wants me to give a man a chance; chance to do what? My happiness is that when he thought he had played on my intelligence, God showed Himself mightily by dropping a seed from him inside of me and this was the main reason I decided never to abort it. Little did I know the kind of seed inside of me. God used this child to wipe my tears away and sealed up the wound Stanley caused in my life. Very soon, I will be celebrating my 40 years on earth, so tell me what would have been my story if I had aborted this baby? Men do come for me and people have started saying give a guy a chance and I ask myself, chance to do what? Let us be sincere, Nigerians don’t marry anyone with disability without some rewards. Believe me, if I were Dangote, Ifeanyi Ubah, Eleganza or Adenuga, men would have stayed under the pretence that they love me the way I am. So, I’m not interested again, even though some have pure motives, I can’t accept all that again because I want to dedicate my time and the little income I make on my treasure, Onyekachimu, my son and my life now.
Are you sure you can be celibate forever?
No, I wouldn’t stay forever. I just want my son to be stronger and be fine before I date any other guy or go into marriage again. I will be going into a relationship knowing both of us are in it for a game and we play it while it lasts. That is the mind set and I am ready to play it.
Tell us more about your programme, My Caban.
My Caban is a show in pidgin language. We have ‘As E Dey Hot’, where we sample what is new in town. ‘Our Personal Person Of The Week’. These are personalities affecting lives. Millions of Nigerians are great philanthropists and yet no one hears about them. All we celebrate are people’s shoes, cars, the kind of drinks celebrities take at clubs. Evangelist Sofowora is not my pastor neither am I a Celestial member. I attend Redeemed Church and when my issue came up, every one deserted me, including my colleagues in the industry. It was just God and Evangelist Sofowora that supported me when the so called Pentecostal Church deserted me for having a child out of wedlock. The third segment is ‘Who Dey My Caban?’ In this segment, we interview a guest and while I was on TV before, I have interviewed wonderful people like Owen Gee, K Solo, 2Face, Solid Star, Azuh Amatus, LKT, Black Tribe, Mallam Spicy, Biodun Kupoluyi, Titi Aboyale-Cole,Obiwon, Denrele, Mr. Kool, Mc Danni and many others.