Young, beautiful and multi talented Itohan Harmony Osemwegie is a graduate of International Studies and Diplomacy from the prestigious University of Benin, Edo State.
Itohan is Musician, CEO of A’Mony Designs, an Abuja base fashion outfit and the Founder, Emblem of Love, a Non-Profit Organization borne out to carter for the less privileges and orphanages in the society.
The light skinned easy going, humanitarian and children advocate, Miss Itohan in this interview with Oki Samson and Rufus Sesan in Abuja Shares her experience as a Student humanitarian, her desire to work with the Edo State First Lady and why she thinks the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Project is a flop among others. Enjoy!
Momentous: Can we meet you.
Itohan: My name is Itohan Harmony Osemwegie. From Benin City, Edo state. Studied International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of Benin, Edo State left there in 2012. The last Child from the family Five (5) of Mr. and Mrs. Sunday Osemwegie. Funny enough, both parent worked with the Printing Press though my Mum is retired now but, into Fabrics Sales while my Dad is still very active in the printing service.
Momentous: What is so special the Benin Kingdom?
Itohan: The Benin Kingdom going back to history played a key role in the coming together of Nigeria. Benin City was the place where the first set of Portuguese came to and settled. The kingdom has been in existence for a whole long time with great leader who, are locally and internationally recognized. The Benin are very organized cultural people. Over the years, they have maintained their cultural heritage and values with great Kings that have had outstanding leadership styles and values. That is why; the World Monarchs and Leaders have come to recognize the Benin Kingdom. You can see at the recent New Oba’s Coronation in Benin City, various World leaders and Monarchs where present.
Momentous: Tell us about your NGO.
Itohan: The Emblem of Love (EOL Foundation) is a Non-Profit Organization I founder while; I was in School at the University of Benin. It was borne out of Passion to Help the Less Privileges and Orphanages in the society.
It started with me alone, I’ve always have this passion to help people so, I printed some papers while on campus to solicit for funds to buy Gifts for children for the Christmas in 2008. The turnout was large and encouraging. So after that year, my course mates and friends came to me and said why don’t you do what you did last year again. So, that is how more people came in, I invited some of my friends as team and got gifts in large quantities. Our first outreach was at Lady Abene in 2009. One of the Orphanages’ homes in Benin. We has a Christmas party, gave out foods, packed gifts, it was fun.
I remembered, in 2012 our major concert at the University of Benin, we invited the Vice Chancellor’s wife, she was represented and lots of other great people came. The children performed. We invited a lot of other Orphanage Homes children; it was a great opportunity for the Children to showcase their talents.
Itohan: So far, finance is one thing but, that is not the motivating factor. Because, if it is then, the passion is not there. Under any circumstance, if you have the passion and drive it, will push you to do more. So, finance is very necessary. When you have plans, you need money to achieve them. You know we were in school and with the little amount we have, we were limited in terms of finance. Because, of the kind of society we are in; people don’t trust people again, you go about asking for funds, you have to explain in details what and what you are using the money for, we got turned down.
I appreciate God for my Team members, because they were the ones pushing to go out and get funds, going from class to class asking students to supports us. Our first outreach then was Fifty thousand naira only N50, 000 and it was a big money for us by that time. You know school environment, we moved from class to class, (laughs) students were making jest of us; they said, una sure sey no be una be the Orphanages but, we still do it. We were able to raise some funds and we enjoyed it; we hope as it gets bigger, we get sponsors.
Momentous: What is the Scope of Emblem of Love
Itohan: Our scope is to reach out to be an helping hand not just to the Orphanages but any one; it could be the Widows, Less Privileges, Fatherless in the society that really need helps. Our goal is to be able to send people to school, build orphanages’ homes and repair orphanages home. That is one major area I am looking into. If you go to some orphanage home, you will see how terrible some of places these children are staying, you can’t blame the owners of these homes, the country is hard and I believe they have a lot in their hands. Rebuilding or replacing the furnitures are not the priority for them and from there we, can see how we can go.
Momentous: Your take on the Released Chibok Girls’ Rehabilitations.
Itohan: It’s really dishearten, the issue of these Children the Chibok girls, should not be fight over. There should have been an arrangement before now on their welfare and rehabilitation; theses are children we, have been saying should come out of their captivity. What has happened has happened, for me these girls have become Federal Government Children. Though, for the fact that, The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Group have been fighting for the release of these girls. They deserve the right to pursue to know who takes care of these girls and their rehabilitations. It’s not been sentimental; they have been constituent even, when all of us as a country went relaxed along the line. So, for someone like the President Daughter, Zahra, to just stand up to say want to raise money for their welfare though, she has an edge to make people come together and raise money. The whole efforts shouldn’t be turn to a fighting thing because, it’s becoming a political Party thing; Zahra Vs BBOG. Though, I do not doubt the credibility of Zahra Buhari. Anyone can have passion, she might have the passion to help the girls but, in most cases, will the course going to continue after a while? because, I think that might be the cause for suspiciousness by the Bring Back Our Girls Group. For me, there is nothing wrong for Zahra to come up to help these girls but, I will advice her to partner with the BBOG Group on the Rehabilitation plans for the Chibok girls. It’s been a big controversy, they should just come together, open an account to get all the funds and monitor it for their welfare. I just think, it’s not about one person, trying to be a Super Hero suddenly.
Momentous: Child Cruelty and Labour
Itohan: Child abuse is cruelty in the highest order. For me, any parent who would wants to maltreat a child either his or her biological or hired child, the law should come in. The Sin against children in our society is alarming day by day. For women who takes children as house help because, when a woman just get married and she is pregnant, she needs an house help and you bring the child suddenly you start maltreating, yean at her to me it’s disheartening.
I know there are already laws against child abuse but, the Government should put the law into action for the Children to have upper hands. We see on TV maybe a child was burnt but we don’t see any punishment to that.
I will like to work with the people in the law firm so we can bring issue like this to the public. You can see Nigerians have begun to embrace crime watch. Nigerians love to watch it because they see the outcome, that if someone is caught red handed, they are apprehended.if something like that, should come up under Child abuse so, if any one maltreat a child they should be a channel either on TV where people can report it and deal with the culprit.
Momentous: What is the major Plan of Emblem of Love this Year?
Itohan: Presently, we want to get fully registered the Foundation this year so that, we can operate in a large scale for the society.
And if I have the privilege, I will like to work with some First Ladies as regard the Humanitarian projects.
While, I was at the Uniben, I was opportune to meet with the wife of the Vice-Chancellor, she was like the First Lady of the School; She embraced what we were doing then and gave us all the support we needed. I think Benin needs more of that for the young women and children
Momentous: How did you come about the Name “A’Mony Designs”.
Itohan: A’Mony is derived from my Middle Name. yes, I did a partial training while I was waiting to go for my NYSC but could not finish it because I have to go for the service that year but didn’t touch it throughout the service year, I got the passion to continue some months ago. It has always been a passion for me, I love to sew, I love to dress up and I love fashion. I decided to get a sewing machine; I was encouraged by my friends. So I started sewing. To my greatest surprise though, I had to stretch myself, I never thought I could do it, I got the materials and I felt it is me, if I spoil it, I spoil it. But it all came out nice, I wear them to church people saw it and they were like I love your dress and sometime you will want to feel proud, like I made them.
(Laughs). So, they you made them? You can make for me too, so I said I don’t know how to sew but I can only sew for myself. So, that is how it all started.
Momentous: When did you discovered your Music Talent
Itohan: (Laughs) I started singing from Age Five (5) in the Church choir later, I was moved to the adults’ choir and became the soloist leading in the Main Church. Music was my first talent discovery. I am working on my Studio musical production. I am doing just gospel music.
Momentous: Role Model Gospel Artist(s).
Itohan: I like Nathaniel Bassey, because He, is very inspirational. Lara George; she is good and Sinach.
Momentous: What’s your take on Mr. President’s “Belong to the Kitchen and Other Rooms” to His Wife?
Itohan: The President made an expensive joke by that statement, I am sure; he would apologize to his Wife (Mrs. Aisha Buhari). It’s really sad, that such word came out from the Number One (1) person in this Country. Once a word goes out, it’s difficult to return. That’s why the Presidential Media Aides have been trying to color the whole statement in order to paint the President in a good light before the Women. For the fact that, the President said she belong to the Kitchen doesn’t mean she should stay there, she has the right to come out on her own. I think it something we’ve to talk about.
Already, this present Government doesn’t recognized the Office of the First Lady though for his own personally reasons. Now, this issue, I really feel sorry for the First Lady (Laughs). She was all there beside him during the Campaigns now, all he has to say is, he doesn’t know which Party belongs. That’s why women have to come out now; the woman cook for you, gives birth, go out to work like the men yet, you see the men moves around to claim the Lord of the House. Women should not be relegated to the room and kitchen. (Laughs).
Momentous: State of the Nation
Itohan: The Country is clearly in recession. No two words about it. But, If am to advise Mr. President, is that we should go fully into Agriculture. Fine, they have been saying it before now even, the past Administration talk about it but, the Government should implement the Agriculture projects. Let’s do it now! The government can put Agency in place for Farmers; produce what you can then, the government would buy from them. They are many lands out there some, we don’t know who owns them, and some of the owners are even dead. We should help the farmers do mass productions and the government comes in to buy.
Rome was not built in a day and I think, Nigeria can’t be built in a day. We need to start gradually, like something someone the NYSC project, the youth should be more productive; the NYSC project is more or less like a Flop to me. I don’t know if they, will call me for it, since the NYSC is a yearly run program so, it means Labor is non-stop, why not invest in this youth if; if it roads, rail way or whatever you want to do, you pay them well, not the peanut they are giving them now. Every year, you find out that you don’t have shortage of labor. So, over the year it keeps going. Let’s say between Abuja to Lokoja there is a road project, this year batch can tie from one point to another when they leaves another set are coming in. So, in the next ten (10) years do you know how many roads would have been tied in Nigeria?