This week, Tell! Interviews Nwarueze Chinenyenwa Elizabeth, a multiple award-winning Public speaker, 2018 Best Graduating student of the faculty of law, University of Ibadan and recipient of British Council Future Leaders Connect Award
Most people know Nwarueze Elizabeth, the public speaking legend and Law Wiz from the University of Ibadan. Can you tell us 7 things most people do not know that you are?
Thank you for this interview. It is my pleasure to honour it. About things people do not know, I myself, am not even sure. I doubt if I have things as such but here goes:
- If I did not study Law, I surely would have opted for Medicine and Surgery. The joy I feel when I explore medical topics is indescribable! I often “threaten” at home to undertake the study of Medicine after Law. My parents are not having that joke.
- I am the biggest fan of movies! Action movies and Epic movies. I would hardly turn down a movie invite or even pass on a very great movie or an action blockbuster! In fact, I had the dangerous habit of watching movies one day to exams in UI. My good friends took time to caution me. Others praised me for that, thinking it was proof that I was prepared. Unknown to them, I was exhibiting some tendencies.
- Studying Law in UI was the testimony of my second attempt at UTME. The first was to University of Nigeria, Nsukka but I was turned down even though I met the mark. I remember telling myself that it was UNN’s loss. Lol. Such confidence as a jambite!
- I AM, IN MANY INSTANCES, A SHY PERSON. I had to put this in bold for emphasis. I still fidget before a speech, murmur countless prayers before addressing a large audience and tremble on the inside when I’m put in an awkward spot. Somehow, I have fashioned out a way to drowning that Elizabeth when this Elizabeth needs to show up. So when I was titled “Lioness” in UI, I knew personally that the title belonged to one part of me.
- Asides Law and public speaking, teaching and volunteering, I have mastered the art of designing and sewing clothes. A skill my mother and I have in common.
- I understand French language and can speak basic French. Anyone who knows this already is either a family member or someone as close as I am to myself.
- I love traditional cuisine! So much! I would rather have my akpu and onugbu soup than Chinese or Italian sauce or anything. Just give me my Nigerian swallow and I’m fine.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up for me was adventurous and interesting. I had two sisters before me and my team of extraordinary parents. So, all we did was try to pass through the phases of family life together; taking the other by the hand.
My parents were (and still are) so serious about our education. They endeavoured to take us to quality schools, reward and encourage us through the process even when we had little understanding of where it led.
My three sisters and I kept our lives very interesting. I remember that we often turned the house around to our desire at weekends when our parents were out. Either we acted as flatmates; each of us, demarcating a part of our parlour as our house or as drivers on the busy road of Lagos; making cars out of pillows and the rug.
We did this, enjoyed ourselves, and quickly rearranged before our parents came back! It was amazing now that I recollect. I miss that maturity has robbed us of that childly adventure.
In all, the excitement and hardwork put into nurturing me has brought me to this level. I’m thankful
How did your journey as a public speaker begin?
My journey as a public speaker began in JSS1, just fresh in secondary school. I remember that Friday with utmost gratitude. I had just arrived the school premises on my first Friday and was walking briskly to the assembly ground ( I have always taken appointments with a sense of urgency). I passed the Press Club room and was forcefully invited into the Press Club meeting by the President at the time, Vitus Nwabueze (putting his name out here to thank him for that embarrassment that changed my story).
I walked in and greeted the committee of “scary” senior boys and girls and next thing, a script for the “School News” was thrust in my hands.
“Go and cast this news” was the instruction.
I sweat my way out to the assembly podium and in all fright, with my heart pounding, the hairs on my skin standing and schoolmates laughing, I cast that news almost in tears. Tears of embarrassment.
But that was what I needed to tell myself that I was not going back to being that embarrassed girl in public.
Cutting this story short, five years after, I became the Press Club President of the school and was actively engaged in debating but I definitely did not train any pressman the way I was trained.
How much would you say that Public speaking has contributed to your life and success as a person?
Very much, I would say. My brilliant thoughts would only remain thoughts, if without public speaking and great platforms, I did not have the opportunity to tell it to the world.
Communication is life’s tool for survival. Public speaking is society’s tool for survival. Societies that have mastered this truth have been able to come out of stagnation in different ways; especially by keeping the people and their government connected. Other societies that have not understood this are experiencing the wrath of it.
It is by speaking that I have been given the chance to speak again and again. Good ideas are easy to pick out. My ideas have travelled far to expanding my audience and making me give back to the society. Public speaking is such a great tool!
What has been your greatest source of motivation for public speaking, life and academic excellence?
Simple- God, my family and my future.
There is something blessed about seeing my parents and siblings happy. I cherish that with every ounce of my strength. What a joy!
When this is a desire, how much more to the One I profess as my Creator. I cannot explain this but the strength that comes from this thought is indescribable!
I want to teach the future from a point of knowledge and experience. So I make effort to make the stages count sothat I can give what I have.
How were you able to balance your academics with all your other extra-curriculars and still come out top of your faculty?
In all truth, finding balance was tasking albeit exciting. Many times, I had to lose some sleep to get things prepared on time. I raise an odd brow quickly at delays. I do not like it and I try not to put myself in the circumstance if I can help it
Also, I kept in mind constantly that I had priorities and choices to make in all things. No one forces you to do what you should or should not do. Your discretion speaks and you have a choice to listen.
I was strict with my priorities. I knew that academics was top of the list for me. There were times I dishonoured invites or rejected appointments. I had planned what my capacity could chew at a time and I made effort to excel in those areas.
I remember one night I cried in my bed because I had joined a society which was so tasking and I was not meeting up. I knew I was enduring my stay in that society instead of enjoying it. I had poor sleep but woke up the next morning, picked up my laptop and typed a letter to withdraw from the society. I slept soundly afterwards.
Knowing myself clearly helped.
What was the Most Exciting and most Disappointing Experience You’ve Had As An Undergraduate at the University of Ibadan?
Exciting- transforming the Moot Court at the Faculty of Law during my time as Chief Judge of Law. I was stretched to capacity in my final year but I enjoyed contributing to legal education and making history.
Disappointing – when Queens Hall Debating Society lost the finals of Jaw war in 2017. I think I felt some pains.
What would you say is responsible for your really smart genes?
I sincerely do not know how best to answer this question. But it has to be a combination of nature and nurture. My parents are smart and I was raised in the best possible way. I give thanks
Congratulations on your selection by British council. It was indeed an incredible feat. How do you intend to leverage on this opportunity to contribute to society?
Oh, many thanks!
I hope that with the exposure at the UK Parliament in the aspect of policy-making and the intellectual discourse on policies and reform with other enlightened minds from different societies around the world, I would have the experience and knowledge to understand how best to suggest the way out of some of Nigeria’s most pressing problems.
Seeing as my policy statement directly addresses the participation of women in government, especially as it relates on the long run to empowering more women and children, I can easily leverage on this platform to rope in support for institutions that already cater to this need. The Africa Union Department of Trade predicts that a more gender balanced Africa politically and economically will triple our GDP by three times its current rate. Calculating that Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation would mean more economic advantage for the country. Now is the time to make this work
Necessarily, advocacy should begin from the grassroots to transform the usual paradigms that put us down.
How has life after school been like for you so far?
Life after school has been great. I proceeded to the Nigerian Law School shortly after my final exams. The experience is indeed intellectually stimulating. The saying is true that as you go higher, greater hurdles are to be crossed.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5years?
In the next five years, while already a lawyer by God’s grace, I hope to see the effect of the knowledge I have garnered through the years.
And of course, we know that certain plans arise in stages.
Any final remarks to people who currently look up to you?
My advise is this- life is in stages and stages comprise processes.
Seek to enjoy every single process that constitute the stages in life.
Work and trust, always.
Would you like to see any of your favourite personalities get Interviewed? Click here to nominate an Interviewee for Tell!’s weekly interviews