*I have long forgiven my traducers
The 2017 Asaigbo Queen, Miss Joy Ugwu, from Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State, is a delightful personality to interview. With her charming personality and calm disposition, she took The AUTHORITY on a voyage of her life, including expose on her travails which could have made several winners quit. Her narration were quite insteuctive. Enjoy.
May we meet you Queen?
I am from a family of three and am the last. I hold a degree in Insurance and Risk Management from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology. I also hold an OND in Accounting from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu.
I chose those fields because I have always been interested in financial management. Also, my family members told me that those lines of studies leads to great career options.
What does being a beauty queen mean to you?
Being a Beauty Queen or being famous brings about advantages and disadvantages. Common public perception is that celebrities have access to everything in life. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?
Truth is that there are as many downsides and disadvantages of being a celebrity as there are the number of benefits. Being a celebrity has impacted positively on me, it was a great experience. Wearing the crown of Asaigbo Beauty Pageant paved way for me to help others around me.
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known as Joy, the philanthropist, who assisted as many people as she could. I am involved in lots of charity works, both the ones you see in the press and some others that are moved away from the prying eyes of the press. I see these charity works as an avenue or channel of giving back to the society that helped me find sound footing and to encourage young ones seeking a foothold.
I became an orphan from a very tender age. I have felt and known what it means to lack basic necessities especially as a girl-child. As the reigning Asaigbo Queen in 2017, my pet project focused on feeding the poor and promoting girl-child education. I used the Asaigbo Girl-Child Foundation to assist several people. The Foundation provided the school fees of the beneficiaries while engaging in other forms of assistance to other people in need.
These are some of the things that give me joy. Showing off material things do not make my head swell, but putting smiles on the faces of people gives me joy. Infact, you can call me a “help addict” when it comes to assisting the needy.
The Foundation receives most of It’s supports and donations from well-meaning Nigerians, but since the incidence that made round in the media about me being a scammer, it really made me reluctant in hosting fund raising events. The damage by the allegations to my reputation was inestimable. This prompted me to work harder since I had to continue to sustain all the charity works solely from my income. This birthed my online fashion business “FASHIONJOY” with the Instagram handle as :fashion_jjoy
What challenges have you faced in your life, career, position as a beauty queen and a business person?
Life after being a Beauty Queen has been blissful except for a good number of people who till date, still sees me as a scammer and would not want to associate with me for whatever reason and it made me learn one thing, ‘you can go after a man’s business and the negative impact will be minimal, but if you go after his reputation, it takes a long to rebuild’. When you give false allegations against someone’s good reputation, it will be whispered and repeated by those who envy their successes, no matter how thoroughly you repudiate such.
When I got maligned, lots of endorsements were withdrawn and I almost went into depression. At some point, I attempted commiting suicide. The humiliation and allegations were just too much for me to handle. But I thank God for my family and friends who stood by me from then till now. I have really bounced back and have started to rebuild my battered reputation.
You have many followers on the social media. What is the attraction?
Many people believe that being a pretty girl or being physically attractive, brings with it lots of followers. In my case, I wouldn’t like to think so. There are several people globally, yet each person has his or her unique characteristics, beliefs and values which shape them into who they are today.
Some of the things that shapes a person are majorly parental upbringing. As one advances, criticisms from the media and from one’s peers, as well as the religious background all combine to shape up the person.
Although my parents passed away when I was at an early age of my life, I and my siblings were raised up by aunties and uncles. I know if I am in trouble I can always go to them and can trust them with anything. They brought me up and trained me to exude confidence, to be honest and an independent person. And I believe all that I have been through assisted and contributed to shaping me into who I am today.
I also believe these unique attributes of mine attracted huge numbers of fans who see me as a girl with a big heart who has gone through a lot in life and always come out stronger. They look up to me as examplary and hope that their own life will one day become better than it is.
You once had a criminal action instituted against you. We learnt the case was struck out and you were discharged. What really happened?
Till today I can’t still believe that I was incacerated because I chose to be a hard working lady instead of living a wayward life. You see all through my life, I love challenges. I like trying my hands on new things.
I guess you know about MMM and other businesses of that nature that were all over the world and in Nigeria too? Many people participated in the schemes then, including me. Several of us have sad stories of the attendant loses incurred.
It was all about a peer to peer scheme known as Me2U that was trending along side with the MMM at that tume. How the scheme works is that you send money to someone who registered on the platform and after a stated number of days, you get some percentage of interest on your money, which I did and was paid half of my money before the website crashed and the scheme became extinct.
After several months, those who participated in the scheme like me, petitioned the Police which arrested me for engaging in scamming. I was amazed at such unfounded allegation because I did not scam anyone, but I merely participated like every other person, in a scheme.
I explained the entire process to the police and how I also lost money upon the cessation of the scheme. I also provided the police with all available evidence of the person I paid money to under the scheme and while I was still in the process of clearing my name of such unfounded allegation, on the 17th of June, 2017, my name was all over the newspapers, social media platforms, etc.
That trend of events complicated things and made it more difficult than it already was, such that it was the press that concluded in their reports that I was a bad example to the youths . The police and the law court played their respective roles and everything was sorted out and my innocence became glaring, but the damage had already been done. But I have overcome those challenges.
You know why I was worried and suspicious of the motive behind all these brouhaha then was that I was the reigning Asaigbo Queen that year. So, what they did after trying to ruin my reputation was calling my boss (The CEO of Asaigbo Foundation, the organisers of Miss Asaigbo Beauty Pageant), Prince Mike Akubueze, to dethrone me. Haba! .These people didn’t know that as dutiful Queen, before I even ventured into the business, I informed my Agency (Asaigbo Foundation) and my CEO approved of it.
When they requested that I be dethroned, he asked them on what basis. He told them they had accused a promising young lady, trying to smear her name, took her to the court and here you are trying to destroy her future too. He asked them to wait till the end of the case or they should get a court order for that.
Prince Mike Akubueze was so magninimious and supportive throughout the case. While I was in there and to my surprise, he was my chief spokesperson. Till death, I will be grateful to Asaigbo Foundation for contributing immensely in making me who I am today .
What did you learn from the false accusations? Do you seek revenge?
Yes, that question keeps on coming from left and right and even some people are advising me to do this and that to my accusers. As a human being, the first impulse is to take up a lawsuit, but as Joy, I have chosen to forgive them since they have realised their mistakes.
I know myself, also, my family knows who I am and my real friends and business associates can equally vouch for me. What matters is that I remain the good girl I am. My charity works continues and as a practicing Christian, I have forgiven all of them.
I really need to appreciate the police and the court for doing a good job during the investigation and the trial which led to my being exonerated. My counsel, Barr. Chamberlain Chinwike Ezebube, took up the case and handled it like I was his daughter, and didn’t ask for a penny. He fought relentlessly and I forever remain grateful to him.
Most importantly, the case made me learn that family is everything. Prayers were going on for my sake from all over the world. A friend of mine traveled to Rome, the Vatican City to offer prayers on my behalf. I couldn’t believe how much love I got from friends and fans who almost started a viral hashtag on my behalf. It made me realise how very blessed I am.
What would you like to change about the Nigerian legal/ judicial system?
In as much as I give kudos to the police and the judges that handled my case, I think many things need to be changed for our judicial system to be in tandem with international best practices. In sanner climes, investigation are concluded before the police arrests somebody. But here, the reverse is the case.
Also ,we were told that justice delayed is justice denied. For instance, in one of my philanthropic visits to a Nigerian prison (Correctional Center), I met a lady who had spent several years in detention awaiting trial for a minor allegation that might not exceed six months jail term upon conviction. But, she had already spent two years in incaceration yet, her case has not been heard in the court.
What do we call such? That is injustice of the highest order.
With the benefit of hindsight, I have assisted more than six indigent inmates by providing lawyers who intervened in their cases and they are now free.
What is your advice to your teeming fans and admirers?
My advice to them would be “ love yourself, follow your passion and learn that patience is a virtue. Nothing in life comes easily and there’s no shortcut to success. Work hard and smart. Don’t expect anything from anyone because no one owes you anything.
Finally, do not judge yourself by the perception of others about you. It’s what they think and it shouldn’t matter to you. Always be happy!
Are you in a relationship?
I’m in a very romantic and committed relationship with God