Mary Ann Obulu the CEO of Ohidoo Global Concept and the founder of the Ohidoo Foundation, an NGO that supports the underprivileged. In this exclusive interview with Ruth Choji, the cosmetologist has stated that the Miss FCT Beauty Pageant will provide contestants with opportunities to develop their talents and have a lasting impact on society as a whole. Ohido speaks about the project and how beneficial it will be to young girls.
What informed your decision to take over the ‘Miss FCT’ beauty pageant?
I took over the Miss FCT Pageant after the death of my brother, Samuel Obulu, popularly known as Boyii who the initiator and organizer of the pageant because of my verse experience in beauty and style was. I once participated in miss mass communication beauty pageant while in Jos, I also went on to open one of the best hairdressing and beauty salon in Makurdi. When I got married and we moved to Dubai with my former Husband, I trained as a cosmetology. On coming back to Nigeria, I opened a beauty clinic where I was importing body creams and also mixing same for selected clients. I was the one that discovered a onetime miss Nigeria, Ene Maya Lawani. I have also been able to groom some young girls in the past through my NGO, Ohidoo Foundation. Today, some of these girls are married while others have established their businesses. From these few experiences I have shared, you will understand that, beauty and style run in my family and that is why, 4years after the death of my brother, I decided to continue from where he stopped.
Some people especially in the North see beauty pageant as derogatory or sinful, how do you hope to change this perception?
I disagree with that notion because, I see beauty pageant as a means of showcasing the beauty and talent the Lord has endowed in girls. Most of the ladies that participated in beauty pageant go on to make impact in their little ways, we have people like Bianca Ojukwu who has held different position in society, we have the likes of Agbani Darego who brought glory to Nigeria when she won the miss world, I have heard of another beauty queen who went on to become a member of the house of Representative now. I could go on and on but, what I am trying to say is that, beauty pageants can open doors for young girls. It also exposed and embolden them to fulfil their purpose in society.
Do you intend to limit the beauty pageant to Miss FCT or you plan to broaden it to cover the nationals and international level?
For now, I want to start with the Miss FCT because of paucity of funds but, some companies have indicated interest in partnering with us and even a foreign company has shown interest which I am not at liberty to mention for now but, immediately the I’s and T’s are dotted, we will inform the world. My Bible says, all things are possible to those who believe.
As one who is passionate about young people’s wellbeing, how do you hope to use this pageant to enrich their lives?
This pageant is not about me parse, it is about exposing these girls to better opportunities out there. I believe everybody has been endowed with a gift but, some of us haven’t harness those gifts because of lack of opportunities and helpers. With this pageant, some of them will have companies that will sponsor their pet projects, some will become models, actresses and ambassadors of multinational companies. So, beauty pageant comes with lots of opportunities that will enrich all the contestants, not just the eventual winners.
Coming back to you, you are a contractor, entrepreneur and cosmetologist, how do you hope to combine all these with beauty pageant?
Contract doesn’t come every day and for my businesses, I have placed them in capable hands who are running it for me. Right now, I want to concentrate on the pageant and ensure that, my brother’s legacy lives on.
The Young CEO of Ohidoo looking ahead with optimism
Still on you, what was growing up like for you?
I was born and brought up in Jos, so I am more of a Jos girl than Benue indigene which is my state. I did all my schooling in Jos before my parents moved to Makurdi. Growing up was fun, we did so many naughty things because then, everywhere was peaceful, there was no issue of crises or sectarian killings, some of my friends were so rough that, I join them at a point and delve into drugs. That was a dark period in my life and one, I always advice young people to shun. It wasn’t a palatable experience. We all thought, we were having fun, that it was just youthful exuberance until letting go became a program. The stigma lives with you for life. I now use my NGO to advice young people not to try drugs because of its devastating effect on their lives and society at large. I come from a humble family yet, love kept us together.
What is a typical day like for you?
The first thing I do after saying my prayers is to go out for my one-hour exercise, after which I checked my itinerary for the day, go out for my appointments and meetings. I hook up with friends to unwind after the day’s work, return home and that is it.
Who is your role model?
My role model would be my mother because, I have never seen a strong and hardworking woman like her. She virtually brought the Eight of us up all by herself because, our father who was in the army was always away. she was loving yet strict, she will discipline you when you go out of line and yet, defend you when somebody tries to exploits or cheat you. She did all manner of odd jobs to ensure that, we had food and clothes on our backs. She is honest and will never cover for us when we are wrong. She is always on her knees praying for us and, correct us when we erred. She is exactly the type of person I will like to be.
What is your favorite fashion accessory?
Yes… I can’t do without the neck choker. I always feel incomplete when I dress without a neck choker. I always have an extra choker in my bag.
Cosmetic surgery seems to be an in thing now for most young girls, would you consider it?
No, I don’t like it and I don’t think I will ever get one done. I don’t even encourage it. Women should appreciate their bodies and accept the changes that come with aging. We shouldn’t have them cut us open except for medical reasons.
What advice do you have for young girls who are planning to contest a beauty pageant?
I will encourage them to do it if they have what it takes to contest. Pageant can open doors of opportunities for young girls that is beyond their imaginations. If they have come of age, I will urge them to follow their hearts. Even when you don’t win, don’t give up, try again and again and one day, you will win or other doors will open for you.