You have a political background and married to same background. Do you nurse any political ambition?
I always say it’s not an immediate plan because I have a young family and there are still many sacrifices to be made at this moment.
I have to make sure that first and foremost, my children become independent; that they are grown and that they don’t need much of my presence. It is only at that time that I might consider any kind of political contribution but at this moment in time, it is not something I am thinking about. I have my hands more than filled in running this house. It’s almost like an airport where every politician of different political parties and views congregate.
Tell us about Bianca Blend.
Bianca Blend is a company that I established in 1996 and it is essentially a skin care company. We have a manufacturing plant and we have our own range of skin care products. It’s a luxurious skin care brand and we have so many different products in the brands because the products are customised.
It’s targeted towards the African consumer to address skin care concerns that are peculiar to African skin and have over 25 products in our signatory collection. We also have a spa collection that has about 15 different products. .
You talked about your NGO, what is about?
Yes it’s called the Hope House Trust. It’s an NGO essentially centered towards rehabilitating juvenile offenders.
There are a few boys and girls also who get into trouble with the law and because they didn’t have the education, they derail in life; where they appear to be in school but are out their picking pockets. So when their issues are addressed and they get out into the society, what we do is to offer them opportunities to learn skills and we are affiliated to various skill acquisition centers where they learn trades, such as welding, cooking, baking, even computer skill training. Some also go back to school.
Why is this your palatial villa called Casabianca?
My husband will tell you that it means Bianca’s house. Why he called it so is because when I met him, he was living in Lagos and he wasn’t keen on coming down to settle in Enugu.
But I said if we are going to raise children, they should have a little comfort and experiences that I had. That I can show them the streams in the village that we used to go and fetch water; the village squares where we used to go for moonlight tales and the little farms.
But more than anything else so they can learn my language and identify with our culture. So we needed to move down to the East, and eventually he agreed and we moved into our house, which is smaller than this one.
So, I said to him, now that we are here, we need somewhere a lot bigger where you can have conferences and a lot of politicians come. So we need something palatial and big with lawns. So he said this house when I build it, will be dedicated to you for the sacrifice that I made to come down here to live with you, so it’s yours.
You still look very stunning. What is the secret of the continued beauty?
A lot of people still do not realize that I won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBFN) pageant. It was actually when I enlisted for my law programme at the University of Nigeria that I went into the pageant business. But prior to that I’d won a pageant in England. I’d won the Miss Martini pageant which came with a one year modeling contract in Tokyo.
But being a student at that time and being absolutely petrified that my parents would be totally against the idea, I had to hand that title over to my first runner-up and went back to school. So, I didn’t actually take it up.
Yes, I won the MBGN pageant in 1988. It’s actually twenty years this year. Precisely on December 4, it will be 20 years. And somebody asked if I will be celebrating.
I laughed because it’s not like winning the Noble prize or anything but I think to a large extent, it’s over rated in this society. It’s just a rite of passage that most girls want to go into.
For one year, you are into international limelight and you become the icon of beauty. But it’s something that lasts for one year, and after that another girl gets the chance for her own place in the sun. It’s a year of your life that you have to dazzle. But at the end of the day, it’s what you do with that opportunity that matters.
Because it doesn’t require much in terms of skill to be beauty queen or much of intellect. If you are able, after being a beauty queen to dive into other areas where you can make meaningful contribution to the society at large.
I think, essentially, that when you will be utilizing the skills that you have acquired, may be, in negotiations and diplomacy, it gives you a platform to stand on to make contributions to development.