EXTRACT FROM INSTAGRAM CONVERSATION BETWEEN PRINCE NED NWOKO AND FOREMOST JOURNALIST DELE MOMODU
Pieced together by: Idi Presley Ifeanyichukwu
At about 7: 02pm on Saturday, June 13, 2020, Nigerian time, Prince Ned Nwoko came online with foremost journalist, Dele Momodu. Below are the highlights of the one hour thirty minutes conversation.
Prince Ned Nwoko made it clear that malaria remains the biggest killer in the world today, with a yearly death rate of nearly five hundred thousand and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected a spike in the death rate due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
On why the world is paying greater attention to coronavirus today, same attention that malaria is yet to get, Prince Ned Nwoko responded by stating that clearly it’s so because coronavirus affects every country of the world. Coronavirus knows no colour, be you black or white, but because malaria has remained a regional epidemic, with the Sub Saharan Africans the major casualties, almost everyone has turned a blind eye.
ANY FINANCIAL GAINS
Prince Ned Nwoko responded to this question with a broad smile. I am not looking for any money from any foreign donor, instead I am investing heavily into this project. As Africans we are the most affected by the malaria scourge, so it’s imperative we do this on our own. The funding of the vaccine though very expensive, by the grace of God I can do it on my own and if not for the coronavirus pandemic, we were looking already at doing clinical trials by December.
ON THE CLEAN UP AND FUMIGATION OF NIGERIA
Prince Ned Nwoko stated that on the clean-up and fumigation of Nigeria, he expects all hands to be on deck, adding that every tier of government must key into it. It’s a huge project he said but with partnership from the federal, state and local governments, it’s what we can do.
Prince Ned Nwoko reiterated again that there is no need to look for funding from abroad, his plan is to replicate same template across Africa once he succeeds in Nigeria.
ON PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES KICKING AGAINST THE PROJECT
Prince Ned Nwoko responded with a subtle smile this time, there is a lot to gain in what we are doing he said, so the sacrifice is worth it no matter the cost. He added that although he is not envisaging any show down with distributors of malaria drugs in Nigeria, but peradventure such scenario presents itself, I am not bothered, their intimidation will only inspire me and my team the more, Prince Ned Nwoko stated.
According to the Prince of philanthropy, he went to Antarctica for two major reasons, to create awareness and meet with scientists over the research for malaria vaccines.
Narrating how the journey started, Prince Ned Nwoko said the first leg of the journey began from Nigeria to Cape Town (South Africa) and then from Cape Town to Antarctica on-board a special air craft, one built specially to land on glaciers and the flight lasted nine hours.
He narrated further how extreme the weather was, with the temperatures ranging from -25 to -85 degree on the celsius scale and these are summer temperatures. Not even my experience from living in England all these years prepare me for what I faced in Antarctica. There was no darkness, not one tree was in sight, but the emperor penguins, everything was just white ice, Prince Ned Nwoko said.
“For the eight days I stayed in Antarctica, I slept in body bags, ate frozen foods, it was like living a life in the freezer, we hiked and trekked long distances, at a point I almost gave up, but seeing a 14-year-old boy from Britain who joined the expedition because he wants to be recognised as the youngest Briton ever to visit Antarctica motivated me more.
“My experience from Antarctica changed my perception. It made me appreciate what we have here in Nigeria. Honestly, Nigeria has everything that can make it a great nation. As a people we haven’t used what we have at all. If only we can explore and put into good use our natural and human resources, we can build a great nation that other countries can look up to for inspiration.
“In all, my journey to Antarctica was a risky and expensive venture, in fact before we left we were told how during the last two expeditions, lives were lost but I was determined to do this for humanity and thank God the trip was a success. Today it’s on record that I am the first black man to visit Antarctica”.
“Let me use this platform to make it known that making a trip to the white desert costs 100,000 dollars and as part of my love for adventure, I am announcing here today that within the next two years, I will be sponsoring two Nigerians on a visit to Antarctica. I want my people to have this amazing once in a life experience”, Prince Ned Nwoko stated.
INTEREST IN SPORTS AND STARS UNIVERSITY
Prince Ned Nwoko started by saying that although there exists many private universities in Nigeria today but every one of these great institutions of learning offer only regular conventional courses, and this is where STARS UNIVERSITY stands out.
Prince Ned Nwoko explained that as a lover of sports, he is worried about the continuous poor showing of Nigerian Athletes at international competitions, he is concerned about the number of years it takes us to win medals at the Olympics, when in a single game, American swimmer Michael Phelps wins over 10 gold medals.
According to the Star Prince, because of lack of facilities and the right structure on ground, Nigeria, as a country, has always employed the fire brigade approach before any major tournament and this has never yielded any positive result. This is a problem he hopes to solve with the establishment of his sports university.
“I felt that we needed a joint honours degree awarding institution, one that will offer both sports and knowledge. For any student to get into STARS university, he or she must be ready to choose a sports discipline alongside the chosen regular degree course, no one will be admitted without having a major interest to participate in sports.
“I have to make everyone understand that we are looking at Olympics standard sports, and at the end of the four years, every one of our students will graduate with a joint honours degree. Empowering our younger generations with education and sports is how I felt I could contribute my own quota to nation building.
“Personally, I did a joint honors degree in law and history and I played football every day during my university days. Unfortunately the times I spent playing football didn’t count towards my degree but in STARS UNIVERSITY, it’s going to be different and to ensure every of our prospective student chooses the appropriate sport that suits their ability, we will run a foundation programme, something similar to a pre degree course. We hope that during this process we will be able to help them discover their true talents.
“On the admission of students, our focus majorly is to partner with various state governments and have them send to us their best sporting prospects. We will offer scholarships too, and our school fees will be at the best rate that can be found anywhere in the world, and let me say this here, every of our student will have a personal room both at the male and female hostels”.
“With the project at 90 percent already, we are hoping to start our academic calendar in September with 550 students. It’s worth to note here that NUC on seeing the facilities on ground have us thumbs up to admit more, but we want to take it one step at a time.
“On recruitment of staff, we have been hiring the best lecturers on the academic field, and on the sporting side, we will be employing ten sports directors, and because of the fact that we want the best, most of the sports directors will be brought in from outside our shores. But in a scenario where we get very capable hands here, consideration will be given, we just want a high standard”, Prince Ned Nwoko explained.
On his next actions as it concerns his political career, Prince Ned Nwoko said that although you can never say never in politics, his focus for now has shifted fully to the malaria eradication project.
According to Prince Ned, this is a bigger calling, an opportunity to serve humanity and achieving success here is what will give him total satisfaction and fulfilment.
On the family front, Prince Ned Nwoko made it clear that he makes out time for his family regularly. I am very lucky to be blessed with an amazing family. Everyone is doing well. When I am in Abuja everyone gets together for sports on Sunday, Prince Ned Nwoko said.
“I teach swimming and play tennis too, keeping fit is very important, i am also a swimming instructor, no matter the phobia for water, i can teach anybody the basic of swimming in thirty minutes” the Prince of Philanthropy said smiling.
The conversation came to an end with Regina Daniels Nwoko joining in the conversation after a music interlude of her favourite song, Duduke, a song Simi dedicated to her unborn child.
On her experience as an expectant mother, Regina said she found it thrilling and exciting and thank God there has been no major challenges so far. She feels so strong she still goes to the office, especially with her working currently on the launch of her own TV channel.
When asked if he will be by Regina’s side during delivery, Prince Ned Nwoko responded with a smile that most of his children were birthed with him around, and no matter how busy he is, this time will be no exception.