“Our children, especially girls don’t have integrity anymore” – Ex-MBGN Omowunmi Akinnifesi

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Former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN 2005) Omowunmi
Akinnnifesi has decried the lack of good morals and discipline among
most Nigerian children and youths, especially girls.
In an interview with Daily Sun, the fashion entrepreneur
spoke on a wide range of subjects ranging from fashion, family, beauty
secret, marriage plans, her weight gain, which she said is deliberate,
moral decadence, among other issues.

*What led you into fashion of all businesses?
I wanted to do a business that would make people call on me
regularly. I have this knack for empowering women. There are several
other things I intend doing to empower women but among all these
interests is my passions for making people look good. I love to make
women dress elegantly. I want something that would make the women to be
able to carry themselves nicely. The first thing they need to do to beef
up their image is to enhance the way they look. So, I started with
enhancing the physicality of women. I’m going into other things like
enhancing women mentally and enhancing her soul as a woman in the
society. I started with what women looks like, and adapt that to her
image. I know it sounds something like a cliché, but that was the reason
I went into fashion.
*Do you have a fashion or grooming school since you mentioned your desire to empower women?
I intend going into international imaging and etiquette. I
want to teach women not only how they should appear but how they should
also behave and this is important. When you come across some of our
children these days, especially the girls, you would notice they don’t
have integrity anymore. They lack morals and manners and these are the
things that make a woman. These are part of the content. The new
generation of youths is not growing with our culture, so we need to
retrain them on how to behave. They have to imbibe the culture of
respect for elders and how to behave like a proper lady. They also need
to learn how to host visitors; do fine dinning; how to speak, sit down,
talk; eat certain kinds of food.
We hardly train people on some of these things in Nigeria. People don’t
believe they are necessary. But it’s very important. I attended Queens’
College, Lagos and way back then; they used to teach us these things.
But these days, the students are only taught Maths, English and all
those important subjects but as for moral etiquette, it’s no longer
there.
*So, part of your vision is to establish an etiquette school, how soon will that happen?
I wrote a business plan for that in 2009. How old was I
then? But I never got around it. I was in London College of fashion.
That was after I completed my masters at Kings College London. This is
the way to start and from there, it will graduate. I’m also into
photography. I have a studio. We started with our photos for the fashion
brand. We also stated taking shots of women and children, pregnant
women, just anything to make the woman look good; anything to enhance
her beauty. The few photos we have done for pregnant women or a woman
and her daughter, they are so happy, I don’t believe I’ll look like this
ooh, they scream. I have not been happy with this pregnancy but this
picture, I will blow it inside my room. It makes women happy; it makes
them feel more beautiful. I’m also into construction, public relations
and several other things. This is Nigeria, and you have to be
hardworking. My friends said I do every business. I know I don’t look it
but I’m very hardworking.
*Did you inherit this aspect of work from your dad or mum?
My dad attended Yales University. My dad was a scholar and
an executive director at the Central Bank. He was very hardworking and
my mum was a career woman. She works with Lagos State government. My dad
was also a diplomat with the West Africa Clearing House in Sierra
Leone. My parents are very career-driven and I want to believe that’s
where I got these things from.
You are a beauty queen turned businesswoman, what lessons have you learnt about life?
I have learnt that one needs to be humble. Humility, diligence,
discipline, and perseverance, determination are recipe for success,
especially in Nigeria. Anything short of those things won’t get you
where you want to be. You must be able to treat everyone well, even when
people don’t treat you right. Treat them with love. Love conquers all.
You never know what anybody could become tomorrow,
so don’t you ever look down on anybody. Life is full of up and down.
Appreciate God wherever you are in life and maintain your faith and your
hope in God and you will be lifted up..
*Although you have added a little flesh, you still radiate
that beauty that won you the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria crown
several years back, what’s the secret?
The added weight was deliberate because I wanted to fill up
a little bit. It’s a sign that I’m really taking care of myself. I have
a very good heart, thanks be to God. I sleep peacefully. I forgive
people who wronged me and when I wrong people, I also ask for their
forgiveness. Nothing makes me ugly inside or outside because I have a
peace of mind. When you see people not looking good, it’s because they
are worrying or they are holding a bit of heaviness inside. Once you
have a light and forging mind, you would always look beautiful no matter
what your physicality is like. You will always radiate. That is what
makes me radiate.; it’s the peace of mind and favour from God.
*Tell us a bit about your growing up years?
I grew up in Sierra Leone. I had my early education in Freetown. My dad was a diplomat in Sierra Leone.
*After your reign as beauty queen, you did a secular job?
I was into a lot of things before I went into fashion. Currently, I’m Nivea brand Ambassador for West Africa.
*How do you relax?
I have good friends. I keep good company. I walk with
people who keep me company; people who enhance my soul. I cherish people
that have the same morals; the same standards and the same views about
life. These are people who keep me going. I watch movies, I mean, good
movies and I read books.
*Can you throw light on Omowunmi ready-to-wear brand?
Omowumi is a woman with a social lifestyle. We have five
stores in Lagos and Abuja well stocked with clothes. We do smart
casuals, events wears for women. Most of the materials she can wear from
daytime to night time. The brand is for vibrant women that always want
to have confidence in themselves. We have our head office and factory in
Ikeja. Sometimes, we try to get our fabrics from different countries
like Indonesia, Turkey, India, Korea, etc.
*How far with Mr. Right?
Very soon.
*Who is your kind of man?
A man who fears God. Just leave it at that.
*You sounded like a pastor?
That’s one thing people don’t know about me. Since the day I
won the pageant, I have become God-fearing. It was by God that I won
the beauty pageant. I have always been God-fearing. A lot of people that
met me later on were surprised at what they saw of me. When did you
become this? They kept on asking. Is it because you’re getting older? I
replied them No. People that knew me very well…. infact in my house they
used call me pastor. But people don’t know that maybe because the way I
look, or the fact that I did the pageant, I’m a strictly God fearing
person and I’m still relevant because of the grace of God on my life.

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