How I Quit Working With The Canadian Government To Do Community Service In Nigeria

September 7, 2020

Being a woman means different things to different people. I had a friendly chat with Dr Ebi Awosika, a senior technical assistant to the president in the office of the vice president on community engagement. It started out with me trying to understand what the hardest part about being a woman is to her and ended with her telling me about the sacrifices she had to make because of her love for community service.

Tell me something interesting about yourself

I am a physician.

Wait, you are a physician as in a doctor-doctor?

Haha. Yes. Quick background on me. I am a medical doctor, what Nigerians would call a consultant actually. Also, I specialise in internal and occupational medicine. I got my first degree at the University of Ibadan in 1991 before moving to South Africa with my husband to practice medicine. We migrated to the united states together where I ended up working as a national program director with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs for 13 years before taking an early retirement.

Ma’am, Did I hear you say you retired from making dollars?

Haha. It wasn’t quite like that. It has never been about the money for me. I have always been interested in community service, so when I got the chance, My husband and myself set up our own practice in the united states. Two practices actually, that deals with mental health. Oh, by the way, my husband is also a doctor but a psychiatrist.

Wow. I like how you casually just threw that in like it’s nothing… God when?

Haha. It’s all about the service for me. Everything I have done has led up to me serving the community. I have a masters in public health and also picked up an assistant professorship at the University of Minnesota. So, when the opportunity to work as a senior technical assistant to the president in the office of the vice president on community engagement, I felt this is where I am needed to create massive impact.

Omo, Your resume is very impressive. So, What happened to your practice in the United States?

Thank you. My practice is still there. Before I left, I played more of an administrative role. I saw patients but not as often. I will tell you though that it is incredibly challenging to run a business. Before taking the early retirement, I went part-time first and I had to juggle being in Minnesota where the practice is and Washinton DC where I worked part-time for the US government. When I went full-time private practice, I still took a job with the Canadian government but it was medicial consultancy. It took a lot but by the time I was needed in Nigeria to serve, I had a discussion with my family and with their blessings, here I am.

Dr Awosika being conferred as a fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Health.

You left Canada for Nigeria? Mad oh.

I was invited to serve so yes. 

What do you think stands out about you to other people?

I like to do things differently. As a strong believer in God, I like to imbibe the spirit of excellence. Whatever I find myself doing, I give it my all. It must be outstanding. This has helped separate me from others because there is always a special difference in whatever I do.

Tell me a little more about your faith. 

I gave my life to Christ in 1991, when I was 22. Ever since then, I have been an active Christian. I am currently a minister in a church called Strong Tower Parish in Minnesota. There, I provide premarital counsel for people who are getting married. I also manage the media department in church, seeing as it forms a significant part of my life and that of my family.

You have done a lot in your lifetime. What would you consider the hardest part of your work?

Which of them?

Ohhh wow. Flex. The most recent one here in Nigeria.

I work with out-of-school children and it’s amazing how many children are out of school, especially the girl-child. Trying to empower women and youths and seeing how many more of them still need to be empowered. The challenge here is that even with all the work done, there is still more that needs to be done.

I personally don’t like to think of them as challenges because the person I work for, the vice president, sees these things as opportunities. Also, the issue of mobility, in terms of safety and accessibility.

Working for this administration, how do you personally deal with Nigerians who have lost faith in the government?

These people have a right to expectations and because of the many years of less than good or great leadership, we are not where we need to be as a nation. The expectations from the people were that this administration will bring automatic change but things take time.

I found that when I talk to people about what the administration is trying to do, they are really receptive. In the past, I have gone around the country doing radio interviews where I encourage Nigerians to call in and ask questions. It helps people to have an understanding of what is being done.

What is something you wish you knew earlier that could have made your life considerable better?

When I went to South Africa to practice medicine, I discovered something they do that I wish Nigerian medical school would adopt. When you train in Nigeria as a medical doctor, you can work for someone or assist them but you are not empowered with the skills to set up your own practice.

In South Africa, you are being trained to not just be a doctor but to go into the rural areas and function independently. For me, this was something I had to learn and I truly wish it was a part of our educational system.

What would you consider the hardest part about being a woman?

As a woman that is a professional, a minister, a business owner, a mother and a wife, the most challenging part has been juggling all the demands on my time, my emotions and energies. The desire to be a good mother and wife has to be balanced with the demands of my profession, career, ministry and business.

Sometimes the demands are mutually exclusive, leading to varying priorities. As a woman, it’s tempting to feel guilty when progressing in one’s career path. There is a feeling that doing that is taking time away from my family.  Accepting that I am human and therefore prone to mistakes, and far from perfect. Acknowledging that it is ok to say “no” has been a lifeline.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. I want every woman out there to know that whatever they are going through, they are bigger than their challenges and they have so much potential and power. Never get defeated by your struggles, keep fighting and God will see you through. 

Eris Ekanem

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 1, 2020

We all know losing weight is tough, but gaining weight flips both the script and the switch on that struggle. Even more so because people never take your struggle seriously. Apparently, if the issue being discussed is weight then weight gain takes all the attention while weight loss remains the underrated topic no one ever […]

March 29, 2021

As Told To Itohan After the HER newsletter went out on Saturday, I got an email back from a woman who wanted to talk to me. She said she lost someone precious to her, and it was all her fault. So, I got her number and we had this conversation on WhatsApp. Names are changed […]

August 24, 2020

If you have ever used a hygiene product marketed towards women, then you definitely understand the pain 1) Scent It is either the scent is fruits or flowers, no range whatsoever. Give us something else to work with please. 2) Price A lot of times, when the product is something that has a male version […]


Now on Zikoko

August 4, 2021

If you are working a job you hate and you have thought of all the possible ways to resign from that job, we advise you to take some cues from these few Nigerians. These options might be a bit dramatic, but trust us, they work. Tony, 30 I used to work at this job where […]

August 4, 2021

Are you tired of looking like everyone on your street? This article is for you. Zikoko is here to, once again, give you premium advice on how to go from a boring looking man to a man people will have no choice but to stop and stare at. Think we’re lying? Try at least one […]

August 4, 2021

Let’s be honest, everyone loves extra money. A side hustle might be what’s standing between you and the soft life. But you need to work for it, and a side hustle is one way to ensure that it happens. The best part? You’re building a business while you still have a stable job and income. […]

Dating a creative
August 4, 2021

The regular dating pool is a mess and all the people in it are various levels of terrible. But that is nothing compared to the gutter that is dating creatives.  If you need a reason why you shouldn’t date a creative, here are 10. 1. They are either overdressed or underdressed  Or sometimes, a weird […]

August 4, 2021

Parties are fun and lit right, but there is no way a party is ever complete without taking amazing pictures – and this what TECNO helped the housemates achieve at the first Saturday night party in the Shine Ya Eyes mansion. Housemates after taking out time to look their best on the dance floor, gave […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

More from Her

August 4, 2021

In this week’s What She Said, Aramide Kayode is a 21-year-old economist and teacher. She talks to us about switching to education after a 21-day prayer and fasting revelation, going to Harvard and getting married at the age of 21.  What’s your earliest memory of your childhood? I’ve always been talkative. I remember when I […]

July 31, 2021

Angel, one of the resident Gen-Z’s in the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria has shown us that beyond being self-aware, she is also very funny. Here are a few times Angel has shown us that she is one of the top 5 funny women in Nigeria. 1. She being a generous and accomodating side chick. 2. […]

sad girl covering her eyes
July 29, 2021

As told to Mariam  In a group chat conversation about Nigerian parents, Tega said her parents were toxic. When I asked how, here’s what she told me:  Trigger warning: Physical abuse  I’m the first of three girls. My father was distant when I was younger. He was rarely around except when there was a problem […]

July 28, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a 24-year-old woman who has a very rocky relationship with her stepmum. She talks about how she misses her mum, the ill-treatment she got at the hands of her stepmum, and the medical condition that messes up her self confidence. What’s your earliest childhood memory? It’s driving […]

two women with curly hair
July 27, 2021

If you found out your younger sex was having sex, how would you react? We spoke to three Nigerian women about how they found out that their younger sisters were sexually active and how they reacted. Here’s what they had to say:  IB, 24 One day, we were gisting and she said,  “You know I’m […]

diagram of the female reproductive system
July 25, 2021

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is still largely unspoken about across Nigeria. Many people may have heard about it but a lot of them don’t know what’s true or false about the condition. Here are five myths and facts about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Every woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome grows hair in unlikely places.  Though a […]

black woman in the gym
July 25, 2021

I spoke to four Nigerian women about what visiting the gym as a woman is like. Here’s what they had to say: Bibi, 22 I always have a pleasant experience at the gym but there was this day, my friends and I were on the mat and the instructor was helping us stretch our bodies. It […]

July 23, 2021

Romantic relationships bring different changes to our lives. Some welcome, some not. In this article, five Nigerian women talk about how their partners changed their lives.  Bisola, 23 I grew up in a conservative space but I always knew I wanted to explore certain things and with the help of my current partner, I am […]

black girl using her phone
July 22, 2021

There is a growing number of dating apps available to Nigerians living in Nigeria. In this article, three Nigerian women talk about using dating apps.  Dami, 27 I downloaded Bumble a few months ago. This is my first time using a dating app. I chose Bumble because my friend told me that the app is […]

July 22, 2021

TW: Sexual Abuse Everyone has a story about their first time. In this article, eight Nigerian women talk about the first time they had penetrative sex. Nancy, 22 I didn’t bleed during my first time, probably because my boyfriend in secondary school used to finger me when we made out.  The first time a penis […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.