Ejiro Umukoro AKA 'Lady E', Nigeria's powerful voice of the airwaves, leads pathways of synchronising her multiple roles in diverse fields of broadcasting, journalism, social entreprenuership, publishing, and personal development. Writer, media trainer and key mentor in career development (ICIR-MACARTHUR Foundation Training for Journalists), Lady E is also an Ambassador for Youth and a Women's Advocate.
Currently the General Manager and Head of Station, Mega 89.1 FM, Warri, she has been at the helm of leading radio stations in Nigeria as a leading content creator, pioneer voice and manager.
- Voice of Nigeria
- Radio Nigeria
- CTL TV, NTA
- Rhythm 93.7
- HOT FM
- Trend FM
- She was nominated for the ICFJ Knights Award
- Awardee and Fellow of the Wole Soyinka Centre of Investigative Journalism: Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP in association with Free Press Unlimited, Amsterdam)
- Code for Africa’s WanaData Champion South/South (MVP 2018) for undercover investigations delving into the Rise of Female Secondary Schools students into cult-gangs.
FOLLOW “LADY E” ON YOU TUBE
At a recent Cobuilders, MediaGig Lady E succinctly laid out the state of the media in Nigeria
Meet #CreatepreneurAfrica – the voice of Nigeria @LadyEumukoro
Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?
I think I found my passion, since when I was very little… I recall, when I was five years old, my father had a knack for buying me books. They knew I loved to read, I liked to talk, I liked having a great conversation and I enjoyed dancing and being in the arts. I listened to the radio a lot.
By the time I was in my adolescence my mum used to make fun of me because of the way I’ll sit close to the radio. We had this big radio back then, she would be surprised and just tease me and say ‘what are you doing with the radio’… I used to sleep with the radio more or less, and by the time we got transistor radios, I was sleeping with the radio.
I listened to broadcasters and they just inspired me. I liked how they talked, the way they created content, the music they play and how they tell the news, and news that was breaking.
It was fascinating growing up like that.
And ever since my curiosity has always taken the better part of me. When I was thirteen I self-published my first novel; like a mini-book….mini novella. I published it on my own and I put it together …….unfortunately when we relocated it got lost in transit! How that happened, we don’t even know.
So writing, speaking, curiosity for research, these have always been things that fascinate me, and they drive why I pursue what I pursue. I’ve always been in touch with my five capacities, so I’ll always talk about training programmes and helping people tap into the best of who they are, into the core of their essence. I tell them to remember their five capacities – and all of us have it. The thing is: can you identify yours and can you develop them further than just being gifts in themselves or just curiosity or interest and take them to become crafts and make them more professional so that they earn for you. So for all my five capacities tap into them and they really take care of me more or less. I earn through them and keep honing my skills and capacities: each one of them
When I say this, people keep wondering what are their five capacities? It’s your talent: your natural gifts. It’s your interests: things that you are curious about or fascinates you; your hobbies: things you find fun to do and just enjoy doing them while your skills are your craft and expertise. That’s what skills are when you really you look at it. Some persons have natural skills but when honed they become like you have natural expertise. But these skills often are learnt if you go for apprenticeship, for example, if you are naturally talented in singing, if you go for skills training in how to be a better singer, you just hit the notch further beyond the natural gift itself!
So skills are very important in life. You also need to have passion, your mission in life. For me, my mission in life is to impact people and inspire people to become their most authentic, truest, honest and best expression of themselves. That’s what my mission really is and it fuels everything I do. You’ll see my passion reflected in all my other four capacities. So once you know your five capacities in life, it’s easy to run with them!
How did you find your passion and how old were you?
First I am a self-driven person, what drives me is the desire to make impact, to uplift people, to inspire and ignite the minds of people, to attain to the truest highest, expression of who they are and I’ve always believed we can be what we want, we can create the world we live in, in the way it ought to be so we can also thrive.
So for me, the core of what drives me is a constant, insatiable belief that things can be better, should be better and we can make it better, as long as we are committed to ensuring that we don’t give up on humanity.
I’ve always believed that goodness exists everywhere and we have to talk about them and help goodness triumph more than the way we promote evil always drives me. And that’s why when I take up a story as an investigative report, or as a broadcast journalist, the goal often is: what I say, does it inspire somebody to become extraordinary doing ordinary things? And when you think about it, we inspire each other to aspire to be the best of one another, we mirror off each other in a very positive ways. So these are the things that really, really drive me!
What about your passion appeals to you the most?
The part of my passion that appeals to me most is how I love to mentor. I always believed that the reason why there are gaps, even in professional courses, in professional careers, in personal development, is because people aren’t mentored. So one of my greatest passions is mentoring.
Wherever I am, I am mentoring people, I don’t mind the time it consumes, I don’t mind the resources it takes out of me to get them, I don’t mind the commitment it requires for me to do it, it just comes easily and it’s driven.
And because I love to mentor, I have seen how doing that has impacted thousands of persons, and when I see that kind of level of impact, it drives me more and tells me, you know what, this is something you gotta do and I apply it in every facet of my life, in everything I do.
I always mentor people in any of my five capacities wherever I find them, so even if you in a different field from the field that I am…. what I do is ignite your mind, it’s the only thing I do. I ignite your mind!
In the area of civic intelligence, in the area of broadcast journalism, writing, speaking, I just ignite your mind! In the area of how I interact with people, in terms of interacting in the neighbourhood where I am when I see children and notice that they don’t seem to be performing very well, I reach out to them, I talk to them, I sit down with them, even though they may not be related to me, but I don’t care. Same thing when I see people in my field, even not in my field and I see them struggling in their career, I like to have a sit-down talk with them. When I see people struggling with personal development, I love to have a sit down with them, because when I talk with them and solve their problem, I inadvertently also solve mine. So this give and take thing……I love to do it … because giving actually makes you better.
The moment you give more of yourself, the more you add to more of you ..because you search for more to add to what you have so that you can give more to people. So you see how it works? The more give the more you get, cause you’ll always go out to get more so that you can fill up all you are given out. So my goal is to empty myself totally of everything I have, while I am still alive.
What drove you to make money from your passions?
So we live in a society, where to survive you have to transact, so for example, if you want to buy foodstuffs, if you want to maintain a certain lifestyle the exchange of value is money.
And the reason we all are here is one, we make contributions to the world, and because we make contributions to the world it means that our services will be engaged one way or the other. So when you give value for value, you get also value, you get something in return and the reward of hard work is payment of some sort.
So yes its important one actually makes money from their passion and sometimes it may not be in direct cash, it could also be in kind. So I am one who’s an advocate of making your passion take care of you. We shouldn’t be beggars, while we have so much to do, we don’t get value for giving that we give. There are times when goodwill is not enough to sort out your needs, there are times when you think about it deeply, you really do need the exchange of currency of some sort that is in use at the moment.
And it’s just proper that one gets value for value, for services rendered, for commitment given, for time expanded, for resources provided, and yes when you can give value for value in terms of services and solve a problem, then you are a solution provider! Wow… and then you get paid for it… So I understood that concept very strongly from early on and I tapped into it and I said what is it that people are looking for in having as a solution to something they need that I can provide and get paid for it? Once I understood that concept, I ran with all my passion and …..that’s how I survived and continue to survive in my own little way…
When was the first time you were paid for your passion?
The first time I was paid, it was for my passion for speaking. I was 14 years old! I was asked to be the person to MC, the compere for a wedding event. There were over 300 people who attended the wedding ceremony. So it came to me because I’ve always been a speaker within the religious circles where I was more or less brought up in and, they always knew me as somebody who spoke, was outgoing, was a refreshing person to engage with, and I had a way with words. People used to say, I was witty, and I could actually engage and converse with people for very long hours.
I’m a talker (laughs)…and that was the first time I got paid for my work, for my passion for speaking for inspiring and making people feel good just listening and get them in a space of having a convo as it were. That was the first time I really got paid, I would say. It was quite a lot of money back then, so I would say that was really, really the first time I was paid …. like really paid for my passion for speaking.
What kept you going when you thought about giving up?
The only thing that stopped me from giving up is just knowing that I felt I had not attained, or made my contribution the way I had told myself I wanted it to express itself…. So while I have mentored thousands of young persons, I realised that it wasn’t enough in the sense that I had a bigger picture of it, and I just felt that the reason for my existence is actually to make a contribution before I leave, so it wasn’t as if there were no moments of depression, there were no moments of sadness, of pain, of disappointment, of rejection, all of that was part of being alive….. if you understand it.
Whenever I felt so low like that, I tell myself you know what, while I was even growing up, because of the path I was taking following my passion, I was told I would not succeed, yes I was told by people who were supposed to show me more love and support in the community, that I would not succeed because the passion I was pursuing, the desire to be a broadcaster, to be a journalist, was something they didn’t consider it as favourable because of the religious setup at the time. It was quite a big deal…In fact, I was told that if I wanted to be a broadcaster or journalist or wanted to go into the media, that means that I am a prostitute!
In other words, there was this perception that women who went into the media were actually prostitutes … and the only question I could ask was: if women in the media were called prostitutes then what would you call the men… therefore the men too are prostitutes. For me there was no other you are going to want to defend that kind of conversation because we had wonderful women so good at their jobs, and you tell me the only label you could see was just that? Meanwhile, when these women finished with the newscast and then the discussion about the news comes up, the female broadcasters would be quoted!
I saw that inconsistency and a bit of what I considered hypocrisy… I felt that how can we say we are not part of the world, yet we are in the world and so much of it is right there in front of us and we are impacted by it, whether we get involved or not. Yet it can be reduced if we get involved and make sure that our silence doesn’t stop us from thriving and surviving intact. So when you look at that background it was tough. I told myself: you know what, you’ve got to get yourself to that point where you have envisioned and right now I am at that place where I have done what I intended to do that I am just content that I have gotten there in a sense ….so that, it’s so easy to look back and say you know what…you are on the right path, this is your track, keep at it.
So, no matter what’s thrown in my way, I am just going to enjoy it, go with it, and say this is part of existence, part of living; let’s empty ourselves until we are done. That’s what inspired me to write my forthcoming book, a mental health crime fiction novel titled “Distortion”, hitting the shelves in October. It will also be available as e-publications and all of that. It will give an insight such that many persons will see how I evolved into becoming an investigative journalist…Now that is a big one.
What motivates you every day to be even more successful?
Every day when I wake up, I just want to fire people’s imagination. I want to ignite peoples minds, that’s the only thing that drives me. That’s why I decided to set up my own media organisation called LightRayMedia.
Through LightRay Media, my goal really, is to see how I can ignite peoples minds. I want to ignite the masses’ mind, so we can work like a hive mind, especially my country Nigeria, where there is so much lack of civic engagement to hold government accountable.
It needs to get to a point where people are armed with information. And you know that ignorance breeds unwillingness to engage, it breeds a kind of dysfunctional apathy, it disconnects from reality, a place where you are put to the point of subservience and continue to be pressed on the neck, while you keep shouting, “Í can’t breathe”.
This is the political sphere and environment we are living in, in Nigeria, and my goal is to see that we change many of this narrative. We must begin to engage each other, we need to call each other up, in terms of accountability, we want to account to one another, because if we don’t do that, what’s going to happen is that we are going to live in a world of chaos, we are going to live in a world where even your own value, even your five capacities, will not even give you money or goodwill in return. And we cannot live in that state.
A state where politics has subdued us so much so that we can’t even succeed, we can’t thrive, bad roads, lack of industries, moribund industries in Delta State, imagine we have over 22 moribund industries gone and nothing is being done to revive or create more industries to that effect. Politicians leave politics, money stolen, at the end of the day, it’s our commonwealth and we do not get to benefit from that commonwealth, in an oil-rich state, for example, like Delta state, you know… that is just shocking, not one city, not one town in the whole of Delta can boast having the best kind of health care system, best roads, best food distribution network, extraordinary transport system… Not in the whole of Nigeria, not one city, not one town can boast of a complete social set up, that drives the social economy, that you can say all infrastructures are in place and say this is a model city, or model town that people can reference, we don’t have that in Nigeria.
And this is because there is not enough civic engagement. We need civic intelligence and that’s what I am promoting. The moment we are all civic intelligent, remember, knowledge is power when put to good use. Knowledge is power when put to good use, I keep telling people. It is not enough to have the knowledge, but it becomes more powerful when you put it to good use. But we are not doing enough of that other part. While we have knowledge which should give us power, we are not putting it to good use and that’s where the engagement is lacking. I think this is the next passion in my life that I want to pursue, consistently and aggressively in a positive way until we see something good comes out.
I’ve always believed that in mentoring, children are the people we should mentor because, at the end of the day, they become the adult that’ll take care of our environment, they will be in positions of power and responsibilities and if we don’t handle them now in a beautiful sense, in the way we manage and train them better to become far better than we are, we’re all going to be in trouble.
Because when we become older in our age we are not going to see a better Nigeria! That’s why we just have to take the bull by the horn, and get everybody civic engaged, upgrade our civic intelligence and let’s get to engage with one another and hold each other accountable, not only the government..
What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?
To all those that said I would not make it, who were so religiously driven to tell me to my face that the path I am taking would lead me nowhere and that I would not be blessed by God, and God will be angry with me for choosing the path I’ve chosen, I really don’t have to say anything to them because I’m here, I’m standing!
And when I see people who tell me every day: ‘Lady E, thank you for what you do for me, thank you for inspiring me’, I’ve done my job.
That’s what I set out to do, I”m doing it, I continue doing it. And that’s all that truly matters, really….
What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?
To every aspiring creative, I will say this to you: be true to who you are. Know who you are. Accept all your five capacities.
Identify how you can make money through them through skills development or craft expertise and see who you can find that is notable in the field of gifts, of talents, of skills and all these passion that you have that’s similar to yours that can inspire you positively. Look at what they have done, read about them, you may even go out of your way and tell them ‘look I want to interview you’….. because you can learn a lot from an interview.
If you have specific questions you want to ask them, go ahead and ask them those questions, reach out to them, and be polite, be respectful and tell them this is why this is important to you, and for example if anyone wants to reach me, you are all free to. I am a mentor for life, I ignite people’s minds. Someone used to tell me that when I speak I raise up the dead, and that’s exactly what I do. And I want to keep doing that, speaking into people, igniting their minds, and waking up the best inside them so they can fly as the super trooper and super rocket that they are.
So go out of your way, put it down in writing, you must always have a journal where you write all your thoughts, and you work with affirmation, every single day of your life and you do not breathe life into negativity, you choose your network, expand your network, get your social network currency at its top, be very specific, deliberate and intentional about who you interact with and who you put in your inner circle of influence.
It’s very important if you want to be higher up there, by your own standard, not anybody else’s standard, by your own standard…
I’ve lived all my life based on my own standard, my goals, my vision, my mission, where I’m headed to, and how I envision them. So you have to have a vision board, a beautiful board, where you look at yourself and say this is the picture I see, and this is where I am at, and go reach for it and do everything you have to do to make it happen. For example, I spend so much money buying books, I spend a lot of money for trainings even flying out of the country, or within Nigeria for trainings because I felt I needed the extra skill.
The point is, you must invest in your personal development. Invest in your professional development. It is non-negotiable!