Long before there were lots of faces to compete on various channels and NTA was King, there reigned a Queen with a dazzling smile and easy charm. Her name, properly pronounced to a cheery note most evenings on the news came out as ‘Eugenia Abu.’ She was linked in TV consanguinity by only the likes of Cyril Stober and Tokunbo Ajayi on that channel. She ventured into broadcasting by chance – on a vacation job in Makurdi but has made the very best of it. She remains a legend of the Nigerian screen and leaves appreciative and attentive nods at every appearance be it on that popular TV medium or just about anywhere else – from public functions where she acts as anchor, events, meetings, talks or the like. You can’t miss her and when you keep gawking, a certain charge shouts at you: ‘DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!’ Oh, did someone mention that is the name of her second book (a first collection of poetry)? Hmm.
Mrs. Eugenia Abu or Aunty E. J as most of us would fondly call her is a lady of several dimensions – writer, mentor, broadcaster, celebrity, and social rights activist. More than this, she is far more – a mother to some of the most amazing people you would find from Sophie, Joseph, Chide, Meyi, Oiza to Donna; a wife to an enterprising true gent, Mr. Joseph Abu; friend; sister and mentor to just about so many people as would leave you amazed. Born to the family of Mr. Alfred Yenisa Amodu and Mrs. Josephine Amodu fifty years ago, she has come a long way gaining so many achievements that can be borrowed from if one can take a part and give the other for another life. From awards of merit for the Nigerian Media Merit Award for TV Newscaster of the year in 1995 to several other awards for essays, poems, her personality and general writing (as evidenced in the 2008 ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Best Female Writing for her first book, In the Blink of an Eye, a collection of essays and articles published in various newspapers and magazines). Her writings are as much sought as her presence. They have appeared in various newspapers such as The Guardian, Leadership, ThisDay, and the Daily Trust to mention a few. She has been featured in several interviews in far more than the papers that she has written for or perhaps ever thought of reading. From Nigeria to the international community, there’s a love for this lady in all media – and that includes the internet too (you can check Google to confirm). But the biggest award perhaps is the love and respect people have for her, treasured in many hearts – including that of this writer.
Eugenia Abu is a 1981 graduate of English from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and has a Master Degree in Communications Policy Studies from the City University, London (1992). An engaging Motivational Speaker and multimedia strategist, she delivered the 2009 Nigerian Independence Anniversary Lecture in Perth, Western Australia.
She has interests in issues of women, mentoring, cooking, development, education, children and writing. Eugenia is well travelled and is a member of several National and International bodies including being on the FAO Media Advisory Board, the Abuja Green Society. She served as a member of the technical Working Group Media for Nigeria’s Vision 2020. In the past she has served on the Commonwealth Education Fund steering committee and the National Prison Decongestion Committee.
But more than these, it is her commitment to inspiring and making life better in all ways she can that makes Eugenia stand out. She officially mentors at least three people every year, taking them as her personal assistants (which in many ways is more like an adoption process). The joy is in addition to being moulded in leadership and every other ramification, they get a stipend! She holds a children writers’ workshop called The Treasured Writers’ Workshop (TTW) that brings together lots of children and a host of professional, teen and young facilitators. Various resource persons of note are brought from various fields and in one week, so much is done to take a child through areas of writing, leadership, team spirit, healthy living and so much more. In addition to these, Eugenia makes time to speak at various leadership events while teaching at seminars… She donates books and other materials to schools – compulsorily in Kogi (to her place and her husband’s) through months every year.
When fifty came on October 19th 2012, there were lots of activities including a literary discussion panel headed by Ken Ike-Okerre, author and Slam Master of the Abuja Literary Society; a four day photo exhibition entitled ‘GRATITUDE – The Life and Art of Eugenia Abu’ (maybe they should have considered making it ‘The Life and Smiles of Eugenia Abu’) declared open by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndomaegba; a public lecture in her honour held at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre that lined up frontline speakers including the Honourable Mohammed Bello Adoke (Minister of Justice), CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and H.E. Enrique Fernando Arrundell (Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela). There was a women day celebration, comedy day in full gear and the full exhibition at the FCT Archives closed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi.
What a way to celebrate a woman whose walk has encountered friendships and encounters with several Presidents, Diplomats, Politicians, Academics, Celebrities, Writers, everyday people and so much more. She lives to achieve much more and why not?
May the times bring her and the several people in her life so much more. If she has affected you in anyway, then yes, you too. Glasses up!