Tell us about Omoh, who is Omoh. Give us a brief background of yourself?
Omoh is Dr. Omoayena Odunbaku. A mother of two boys, a wife to a loving husband and daughter of Africa. I was born in Lagos Nigeria almost 4 decades back.
Growing up in the vibrant city of Lagos- an intense metropolis which peculiar challenges fueled her passion for development issues that influenced her educational and career pursuit. I am currently a Human Settlements Officer in the Regional Office for Africa, UN-Habitat where I oversee the Nigerian, Liberian and Sierra Leone country programmes and an affiliate to the UNECA, AfDB, and AUC. Prior to this assignment, she was a lecturer at the department for Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos.
Did you always dream of becoming a diplomat or you got there without any plan? What journey did you take to get to this point in your life?
Yes, I always wanted to work with the United Nations in any relevant capacity, hence I tried to carefully tailor my competencies to align with the researches I had made on working with multi-lateral international development agencies. I often read biographies of women that had been engaged in the United Nations and other multilateral development agencies, and I can say that this influenced certain decisions I made. While in academia, I was mentoring a young brilliant scholar who happened to be my student and later interned at the UN. He informed me of a job opening he opined I was best fit for whilst I was laboring for my first child in the US. Although this had been a dream opportunity, It was the wrong timing for obvious reasons including the fact that my marriage and Unilag appointment were both just over a year. The young man did not relent in his efforts to persuade me in preparing for the recruitment process. He often sent relevant publications and when it was time to return to Lagos, he came back with a box filled with books for me. The lecturer now became a student amidst caring for my infant, home, and career. My husband and mother were indeed the best support system as I embarked on the journey for an appointment with, the prestigious United nations.
You have a PhD. Do you have any more plans to keep studying or are you done with Education?
Personally, I believe education is a continuous venture. I intend to challenge myself by applying and taking a few programmes on sustainable development and innovation in ivy league universities. I also occasionally undergo self-study short courses on online platforms, this is usually complemented by on the job continuous learning which includes French-language and software adaptation.
What are your dreams and aspirations for Nigeria? Where would you like Nigeria to be in the next ten years?
Nigeria has almost all it takes to be the nation of our dreams. In my career, I have met with illustrious and intelligent sons and daughters of Nigeria. All Nigeria needs to do is always put our best forward and create objective enabling environments for them to function. It is imperative that the nation starts looking towards developing and integrating frontier technologies in designing, planning, and implementation in all aspects of its future.
The next ten years for Nigeria would witness a reawakening in information dissemination and leadership. I see the diaspora reaching a climax in the current mirage of faring better because of living abroad and then investing more of human and financial resources in their motherland.
Where do you see yourself in 5years?
Five years is not a long time, however, I see myself not losing foresight on the advocacy for well planned human settlements as a vehicle to attaining sustainable development especially in Africa whilst still holding up strongly on the family front.
What do you have to say to the young Nigerian who is losing, or has lost hope?
Lost hope is because of the dependency on a system or persons on your future. We should learn to be the architects of our fate. A lot of Nigerians (youths and otherwise) depend so much on so-called social support systems. They depend on an uncle to get a job after youth service, an aunty for posting to preferred states, etc.
Cognizant of how frustrating it could be, the Nigerian should see him/herself as obligated to the development of the nation as his no one duty and elude from the self-entitlement syndrome. The continuous affluent pressure should be abstained from in the days of building blocks. Continuous development which can be obtained on the internet should be sort. The positives and strengths of social media platforms for merchandising, marketing, sales, knowledge enhancement, etc should be encouraged in place of spending more idle entertaining time.
The youth also should be very deliberate and selective on mentors.
What are your views on women with issues of fertility, Period issues such as Endometriosis and Adenomyosis? Do you believe the African society, hinders women from getting the right treatment simply because they feel it is shameful to the family to speak up about such things?
To be candid, I recently was just sensitized about Endometriosis and Adenomyosis. Depending on which society you are looking at. In developing countries, the problems are quite different from developed countries. The problems range for lack of professional, diagnosis, awareness, culture, belief, stigma, etc.
In a country like Nigeria, I believe that cultural and religious beliefs would play a significant role. The victims would rather seek spiritual help under the hypnosis that it’s a curse than seek medical intervention. For those who are enlightened and seek medical attention, the resources required for the medicals are often not available.
What advice do you have for women in this dilemma of not speaking up about issues with their fertility?
A problem shared is usually half solved (depending on the party you are sharing it with…..lol). However, the dilemma of not speaking about it to the medical practitioner is dire. The need for a social support system cannot be overemphasized, so I strongly advocate they not just speak up about issues with their fertility, but also increase the advocacy and outreach on the subject.
What are your hobbies and what do you do to relax?
I love cooking, reading and sleeping. I also relax by watching a movie with my husband in our living room- I call it the real ‘home theater’.