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Why young girls should embrace field technology – Engr. Amarachi Omerife

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Engineer Crystal Amarachi Udo–Obia Omerife has carved a niche for herself in the male dominated field. Having graduated at Federal University of Technology Owerri as a Chemical Engineer, Udo–Obia Omerife has over the year’s garnered knowledge both as a field and office practitioner with different private engineering firms.

She distinguished herself in 2023 when she was certified a Microsoft Azure Developer. In this exclusive interview with NaijablitzNews.com, Engineer Udo–Obia Omerife talks about the challenges, why young girls should embrace field technology and where she see herself in the next five years. READ THE EXCEPTS.

*How does it feels becoming a Microsoft Certified Azure Developer.

It’s an awesome feeling. I feel very proud of myself for achieving this difficult but worthy milestone. I return all glory to God and my wonderful family for believing and standing by me. It’s a great feat for me seeing myself standing tall in a male dominated field.

* In a field dominated by men, how were you able to achieve this feat?

Being in a field dominated by men has always been my thing and I’ve really gotten used to it. I studied Engineering in Federal University of Technology Owerri and in my class, girls were less than 10% of the population and less than 5% of the population of students in the entire Faculty of Engineering during that time. So you can say I am comfortable working and functioning in areas dominated by men.

But back to the question, I learn to survive in my field because I have learnt to mind my business. Minding my business also helped in molding me as I was able to dedicate myself to life-long learning. It helped me to work hard to get things done all by myself, to fight and defend my place and space whenever the need arises. These have always been my guiding principles and with that, I was able to survive in the male dominated field.

Can you tell us about the challenges in the engineering field, especially your area of specialization?

Engineer Crystal Amarachi Udo-Obia Omerife

I would say that irrespective of the fact that technology is a very dynamic environment with countless tools, methodologies and processes, the biggest problem I see especially in my field, ‘Machine learning & Devops’’, is the slow adoption of devops culture especially on how we proffer solutions in this part of the world.

This development often presents a serious bureaucratic bottleneck to seamless deployment. Needless to say, this problem often comes from management level which can be pretty frustrating. They employ you to help them to build and automate their processes in order to create and manage great applications for them but they are not willing to embrace the culture required for you to achieve that. They want things done the old way because that is what they are used to; so yes it’s a common problem in Nigeria.

Secondly the payment versus the workload is far from encouraging especially considering the fact that this is a field that requires a lot of learning and development on your part in order to hone your skills. This pay gap is not just a money problem, it’s also a mindset problem with many companies in Nigeria. I can go on and on but I will just stop here.

What are you doing or how do you intend to impact the knowledge you’ve garnered so far to impact the upcoming ones especially, female who would want to toil your line

I am already doing that through training and mentorship. Presently, I mentor for girls in tech under the platform of ‘SHE CODE AFRICA’. I have been mentoring ladies in tech since 2019. I was also a technical learning ambassador for girls in software engineering with ALX Africa Software Engineering program.

I have anchored numerous talks in Universities such as Nile University Abuja to encourage especially, young girls to embrace the field of technology, I also function as a judge where I was charged with the responsibility to critique the design and development process of multiple tech product from robotics to mobile applications for Visiola Foundation Abuja, etc.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I see myself featured on Forbes 40 under 40 magazine for building a highly successful startup/accelerator and community focused on supporting women-led technology founders in Africa

A word of advice to young Nigerians

I will say whatever you choose to do with your life, go for gold because rejection is nothing compared to regret. Plus, Time is Luck, don’t let luck run out on you

How do you unwind?

I read or go for walks ( lol, I know… I am boring) laughs.

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Salary review not enough to tackle corruption in judiciary — Erugo, SAN

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Law Professor, Sam Erugo, SAN, in this interview, spoke on the low public perception of the judiciary, agitation for the appointment of lawyers as Supreme Court Justices, review of the Nigerian Constitution, recent review of salaries of judicial officers and its implication on the justice system. He also addressed other sundry issues.

By Innocent Anaba

Public perception of the judiciary has been very low in recent years. Why do you think this is so and how can the judiciary regain its lost glory?

From time immemorial there has always been poor public perception of the judiciary and this is essentially due to misconceptions and misjudgments of the law and the way it works. My inaugural lecture way back in 2017 titled ‘The Lawyer or Liar: The Myths and Realities of a Misjudged Profession’ was in conscious reference to this phenomenon as old as the legal profession itself.

There are certain perplexing myths and realities that complicate the public perception so much so that some people out of misconception or misjudgment will like to describe lawyers and ostensibly, judges as liars, and wish to associate the profession and institution with negative things, and portray members in negative light.

On the other hand, besides the perplexing misconception or misjudgment, the profession and judiciary are reflections of the society, and we must accept there are deviants, and sometimes the operators could err as human beings. Because of the nature of the institution, few deviants could add to the public hostility.

However, I agree that in Nigeria in recent times, low public perception of the judiciary got to disturbing level. The reasons are not far-fetched. Politics will appear to be the major challenge, and the few political cases that occupied the centre stage must be blamed. They over shadowed so many other disputes settled by the judiciary without much ado. The politicization of the judiciary and legal practice takes the pride of place in the low public perception.

There is little argument that politicians have infiltrated the judiciary to some extent, through influence in appointments of their nominees and cronies, and sometimes removal of judicial officers with impunity, and essentially by subjugating or conquering this third arm of government.

These and more issues translate to suspicions of political influence in the outcome of some, but definitely not all outcomes of political cases. As an active participant in the last electoral disputes, I can confidently state here that some cases were decided on the merits. But the unethical report of the cases gives a different impression.

Secondly, media, especially social media, and the consequent abuse of freedom of expression, is a challenge. Most of the social media reports provide evidence of not just misconception or misjudgment of the cases, but of outright ignorance. I must state here, without holding the brief of the bench, that each case is decided based on its peculiar facts and circumstances, and cases with similar facts could end up with different outcomes depending on some factors, including pleading, evidence and procedure, law and legal argument, etc.

This is where technicality comes in, and probably the competence of counsel could be relevant. So, it would be unfair to criticize judgments based on media reports and without looking at the pleadings, evidence presented to the court and the general conduct of the case. So, here we find that most public criticism is based on media reports that are not based on the facts from the courts. Of course, most social media reports are sponsored by politicians.

Thirdly, we must accept that some lawyers are either not adequately trained or fail to accept the ethics of the profession they freely chose to belong to as regulating their conduct. Unfortunately, for so many reasons, including number and politics again, the Bar Association is unable to control all the erring members.

On how the judiciary will regain its lost glory, this can be achieved first by necessary constitutional amendment, and implementation of constitutional provisions on full independence of the judiciary. If this is achieved, to a large extent the judiciary would be self-regulatory. That will translate to serious control in appointment and removal of judicial officers, adequate and commensurate remuneration, discipline, and generally insulation from politics and control of politicians.

Again, regulatory bodies should be empowered to regulate the judicial officers and legal practitioners, as regards the code of conduct for judicial officers and rules of professional ethics. Furthermore, we may have to be more transparent in the judicial process, live transmission and reporting of important trials and easy public access to court processes.

The President last month approved the review of the salary of judicial officers. Even the National Assembly upward reviewed the take hope of Supreme Court justice. How significant do you think these measures can go in tackling corruption and low motivation in the Bench?

I commend the interest shown by the President and National Assembly in the upward review of the salary of judicial officers. The review will definitely encourage them, but those are not enough. Could these new salary be compared to the emoluments of the Presidency and National Assembly members? The judiciary should be treated as equal stakeholders, and third of three equal terms. They deserve independence, to determine their own needs peculiar to the work they do for the nation, and to decide their fate.

Independence is critical. Increased remuneration will definitely improve motivation of judicial officers, but I doubt that it will in any way tackle corruption. Corruption in Nigeria has reached an alarming level, and the government may do well to holistically address the social justice issues that encourage the evil.

Despite the clamour for changes in the appointment of justices of the Supreme Court, the old order of choosing from the Bench remains in practice. Why do you think this is so and how can it be improved upon?

The judiciary is a conservative institution, and change is always difficult. There is no argument that the Bench remains the first and best contender for elevation because they are in the system and will easily qualify in the extant criteria set for such appointment to the Supreme Court. Again, as I discussed elsewhere, the Bar and academics both appear not prepared for the necessary judicial, not political, contest to have their members elevated straight to the Supreme Court. They may have to put a little pressure to have the rules changed to accommodate their practising lawyers and academics. That change could bring some spice to the apex court.

Some Nigerians have been clamouring for a holistic reform of the federal government structure to allow the states to have their Supreme Court as is practiced in other jurisdictions. What is your take on this?

I am one of those opposed to such idea; and I am not sure that is the reform we desire. At the State level, we have Magistrates’ and other smaller courts, and the High Court as highest court. This is fair enough.

The present federal arrangement of Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court at the apex ensures the benefit of our diversity to test the judgments from the States at federal courts presided by supposedly neutral panels. Probably, for the sake of access to justice by having courts close to the people, the suggestion should be for appeals from High courts to end at the Court of Appeal, now spread across the country. This could be with the exception of cases involving the Federal government or any of its agencies, or between states.

Recently, an editor with FirstNews, a news publication was abducted from his home in Lagos by DIA and spent days in detention until the media raised the alarm before he was released. How dangerous is the action of the security agency at this time of our democracy dispensation?

This is condemnable. Like some commentators have said, the editor was lucky to returned alive. There is no doubt that the present use of men of the armed forces for ordinarily police duties everywhere in Nigeria has negative implications for our international rating as a democracy. It still appears we are in a military regime, and everywhere is militarized. In fact, it looks like we are in a state of emergency as the military are involved in common civil matters and nobody is checking their excesses while the rights of citizens are daily denigrated.

Following the recent killing of security officers in Delta State, how proactive should government be in tackling communal disagreements?

The unfortunate but avoidable killing of security officers in Delta State, and the consequent reprisals and destructions, once again, have shown failure of government to enthrone acceptable peace process in our communities. Everything cannot be resolved using force, such as the military is trained for, and this could easily be misinterpreted and abused. It is obvious the citizens are tensed and patently aggressive to themselves and others, and the presence of the military in common citizens’ affair may not be the best.

This much is clear from the media reports of accusations and counter accusations.

There is need for government at all levels should enthrone peace committees to amicably address communal conflicts, and spare the military some unnecessary exposures. Now, there will be no peace in that area for a long time to come, and many innocent citizens, particularly the women, old and sick and children have been terrorized and abused. So many homes have been destroyed. This was avoidable.

Though things are really difficult for the citizens, the current government is better than the last. At least, you see a government ready and taking action, making efforts, and responding to issues and concerns. I believe things will get better.

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I fought three wars, yet Army denied me benefits – Ex-female Major

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Roseline Eyetan, a female soldier who retired as a Major and was a beneficiary of the Mamamoni Empowerment Programme, speaks with AJIBADE OMAPE on her experience in the military and life after retirement

What is your background?

My name is Eyetan Abosede Roseline and I am from Edo State. My parents are also from Edo State, and I got married to a Delta man from Itsekiri. I am 62 years old;I went to school for the little while that I could afford because I did not grow up to know my parents. I was told that my father died when I was at the age of three years old and my mother died when I was about nine years old, so I lived with my mother’s sister, who took care of me. I am the only daughter of my mother out of four children. My story is long and if I start to talk today, I will be in tears. I went through a lot during my youthful age and by the time I got married I went through a whole lot of stress because of my husband’s accident while on a peacekeeping mission in Warri. We managed the situation with a prosthetic leg for about three to four years.

How long have you retired from the military?

I can’t remember because the whole journey was troublesome; it should be about five to six years now that I have retired from the military. I retired as a Major in the Nigerian Army. It was immediately when I was commissioned as a Major that my husband had the accident from the mission to quell the crisis in Warri that he was a part of.

How many children and grandchildren do you have?

I am a happy mother of four wonderful children. I have three girls and a boy to the glory of God and my children have also started getting married and giving birth to my grandchildren. I am also a lucky grandmother of three lovely grandchildren. I have two female grandchildren and one male grandchild.

How did you meet your husband?

I met my husband when I was undergoing training; he saw me and asked for my name and details, and he then asked if I would like to get married to him; I couldn’t say no because I was in uniform so I said yes for him to let me go. When I was later posted to the Defence Ministry in Lagos, I met him there again but when he asked if I remembered him, I denied it even though I did. He followed my cousin to the house in Surulere one day, and on seeing me, he remembered I was the one he saw from the third floor in the Defence Ministry and that was how he said to me that he liked me and would want to get married to me; I asked him to tell my aunt who was my foster mum at that time even though I already had someone in mind to get married to. My aunt went on and made some spiritual findings and advised me to get married to him.

Two months after I started the Mamamoni empowerment programme, on October 12, 2021, when we came back from church around 8pm, I asked that we do our devotion because I was about to sleep, and he stayed back to watch the 10pm news, after then he came into the room and began to call Stella, one of the girls who stayed with us at home, I responded to him then he asked us to gist so we began conversing till it was past midnight. I asked him to join me and wish our first daughter a happy birthday; we prayed for her and wished her a happy birthday, after which he said he wanted to sleep so I put off the light and went to sleep, but not up to 10 minutes, my spirit told me to put on the light and immediately I did, I noticed my husband holding onto his chest and writhing in pain.

I immediately sprinkled anointing water on him, and he then coughed and came around; he asked to use the restroom so I managed to wear his prosthetic leg for him and assisted him to the restroom; when he was done, he prayed for me and that was the moment I noticed his unusual behaviour. I then picked up my phone to call my first daughter, but before she got to the house he had already passed away. It was very painful because he was a very caring husband and I grew up with him. He gave up at exactly 12.35am on October 13, 2021. I went back to Mamamoni after the funeral and mourning processes.

What year did you join the military?

I honestly cannot remember but I know that I joined at a very young age. I think I spent over 20 years in the Army. It is my husband who could remember most of those details because he was always keeping records.

Was your husband also in the military?

Yes, my husband was also in the military; he was a Lieutenant Commander in the Nigerian Navy. He led a team of naval soldiers on a peacekeeping mission to Warri, he then got injured in battle and lost a leg, and he retired in 2014.

Now that you have retired from the military, how is life?

I am just managing life right now; it is not easy; right now, the country is very tough and it is only by the grace of God that we are alive; bad leaders are affecting the country a lot; if we have good leaders, we will not have too many people saying they want to travel abroad. So let me just say I am managing; I am only praying for sound health.

How many years did you serve in the military?

By my calculations, I must have spent a total of 26 years in the Army before I resigned when my husband had an accident in the peacekeeping mission he went for

During your time in the military, were you ever in the field of operation?

Yes, I was on the field and I fought in some wars. I took part in two to three wars. The very first war I fought was the Liberian war, and out of 350 battalions, I was the only woman there and I survived it. I think it was in 1995, but I’m not sure because it has been a long time and my husband used to keep records for me; then the second war I fought was the first Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, we were about 11 ladies who were with the men, and we had 285 in the battalion and out of the 285, only 96 survived it and among the 96 who survived, I am among. The last one was in Jos, Plateau State; although I was hit by a bullet in my hand during the battle, after the bullet hit me, it went through and killed two persons behind me; I believe I am very lucky to have escaped. I know God loves me so much and he has a big package for me and I know he will do something. So I have fought three wars for Nigeria.

How did you hear about the Mamamoni Empowerment Foundation?

I was taking my grandson to school when I saw something about it; I went ahead to drop him off at school and went back to read more about it; I then discovered that it was free so I told my husband about it and I decided to enrol for it. I spoke to my husband about it and he supported me wholeheartedly. I could not pass a thread through a needle before, but ever since I started the Mamamoni programme, I have been able to sew dresses for customers.

What was your dream job before you joined the military?

I did not think of doing anything else; I just wanted to join the Army although I have always wanted to own a daycare centre so that I can take care of little children because it is what I like.

Why did you choose to join the military?

I just liked the military; I ran to join the military, and the day we finished training, I ran away and people started looking for me, but the day I came home people were shocked to the point where they started pouring sand on my body thinking that I was a ghost. They were surprised that I joined the military, but I told them that I just liked it.

Did your parents support your decision to join the military?

My parents were not alive to decide for me. My aunt was not even aware because I did not seek her permission before I ran to join the army.

While in the military, did you sustain any injuries from attacks or operations?

I was shot in Jos; the bullet hit my hand, but it killed two people who were behind me on the battlefield; it was really scary and I know that God was the one who saved me that time.

Do you have any regrets about joining the military?

Yes, I am not happy; I am not happy that I worked very well for them and served the Nigerian Army and was not compensated because my file was not signed. I fought at least three wars but nothing was given to me. I was told to return to service, but I cannot because I am already aged strength is not on my side any longer, and again, I don’t have the money to bribe them. The last time I went there, I was asked to bring N500,000 to get my file signed. We even pleaded and negotiated for N300,000 and they agreed, but I realised that the staff members who operate in that department are frequently changed and I didn’t want to risk losing that amount of money, so I decided not to pay any money. My children advised that I should leave them and hope for something good to happen. And besides, most of the people in the top offices now are from a particular part of the country and it is a real problem if you do not understand their language.

During your time in service, did you experience any form of sexual harassment by your male colleagues and senior officers?

Yes, most of those senior officers are very promiscuous, and if they approach you and you refuse to have a sexual relationship with them, they will make sure you are taken away from any department like the filing department and salary department where you will be privileged to make extra income and post you to a department where you will only be dependent on your salary and they will make your time there a very terrible one. So, who will hear that a married woman like me with children is into such a dirty act? It would be a shame; one of my senior officers, who was a colonel, frustrated me and he is one of the reasons why I even resigned. I told my husband and my husband warned him against posting me without valid reasons and my husband always strove to post me back whenever my superiors posted me to a difficult place.

Would you want any of your children or grandchildren to join the military?

I will not mind if any of them want to join the military. As for my senior daughter, she said she would like to join the Navy but wants to join abroad; even my only son wants to join the army as well but he also wants to join either the US or Canadian army. I do not advise anybody to join the Nigerian Army because it is peanuts they will get; if you go through the Nigerian Defence Academy, your salary will be around N170,000; if you join with just a secondary school certificate, your salary will be N48,000; it’s just the uniform that commands respect, the take-home salary is nothing to write home about. It is not encouraging at all.

Now that you have learned fashion design, are you going to build a fashion brand?

Yes, I want to build a place; I would love to buy more sewing machines so that I can teach as many people as I can because I was equally trained. So, it is something I am willing to do and I know it is just a matter of time; things will work out very soon.

What other skills or trades are you looking forward to learning?

During the Christmas period when my children gave me money, I bought materials and sewed clothes that I sold to people with little gain. If there are resources to do business, I will look for other things to do. I enjoy sewing clothes for people to sell. I sewed three pieces of school uniform for a woman’s kids and she was impressed with my delivery time and also with the outcome of the work, and she willingly paid me a total of N15,000 and I was surprised. So, I will do other things when I get the capital.

Credit: PUNCH

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