She was laughing heartily with her face still focused on the large screen before her as I found my way into the meeting room at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. I knew she was my host that morning without any formal introduction. An episode of her yet to be televised show, ‘The Udy Factor’ was showing on the screen. Everyone in room had his attention focused on the screen. But Udy Umondak still managed to turn her attention away from the screen for a few seconds to wink at me and bid me welcome. Her glow, warmth make one feel at home around her. There was no air of arrogance around her at all being the wife of a former governor.
Her debut show on AIT, ‘The Udy Factor’, is one of the ways she hopes to change the game in the history of TV shows in Nigeria. Her choice of subject is fierce and largely uncommon. She has decided to take on topics that are usually discussed in hush-hush tunes in the society.
She tells me she conceived the idea for ‘The Udy Factor’ in 2014 during the annual fasting and prayer programme organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God. And without any delay, she started recording.
For Umondak, there are many social issues that must be discussed in other to open people’s minds to their rights when it comes to law. She says many people are ignorant of this fact.
“I decided to take on social issues because that is what we live and breathe every day,” she explains. “Social issues, I am sure you can count from the top of your head the number of friends who are having problems with their marriages. You can count from the top of your head so many people who are aging. At every point in our lives, we always encounter those social issues.
“And that is an area where people are not so informed. People are so informed in terms of how to make money but in terms of how to take care of issues that will cause them sleepless nights; that will disturb them emotionally, how prepared are people? That’s why when I sat down to look at so many women who are going through issues I ask myself are they allowing themselves going through all these? It is because of this I decided to look at issues like marriage and the law.”
She says none of her personal life is reflected in the issues discussed even as she is aging gracefully at 58. “Absolutely known. I am aging gracefully. I am 58 years old. And I often look at myself and say: ‘Udy you don’t look your age what do you do?’ I decided to just look at the issues with aging. Issues that has to do with age that you can fight all the way by doing these.”
Umondak is able to handle issues that comes with her new age because she has been reading about these issues since she was in her early 20s. “I was able to handle them because of information,” she explains. “I started reading about it when I was twenty. I read a lot. I can pick a newspaper on the floor and read what is on it. I read about exercise. So I started reading when I was twenty. I read about the benefits of exercise at this age. At that time when I was in my 20s, I read about menopause and how you can slow down the process, all the issues about aging. As I aged, I started doing all the things I have read. I have all the information on my head. When I sit with people and I tell them about menopause they ask me ‘how come you know so much?’ It is because I have that information. How to fight wrinkles, how to fight lines. Things that concerns aging like exercise, and all other things, but the most important thing is the grace of God.”
In one of the episodes shown to the media at the Sheraton Ikeja function room issues on marriage, divorce and the law was discussed. The episode seeks to educate couples especially women on their rights when it comes to divorce and alimony.
In another episode, Umondak is daring enough to take on the subject, sex with her guest, famous professor of anatomy, Oladapo Ashiru. The episode focuses on ageing gracefully with sex by dwelling on how couples can still enjoy their relationship with their spouses in spite of ageing.
“You are bold to take on the subject of sex on a global media platform,” Ashiru tells Udy on the show.
Ashiru argues that sexual drive in human beings decreases as they age. “By age 50, the man is getting tired while the woman is getting active,” he explains. “Men’s anatomy is very aggressive. The solution is that couples must recognise the need to be physically fit. They should as a matter of principle know that this is a problem they have to solve together. They should take a vacation and have companionship.”
“I don’t know why people find divorce sensitive,” says Udy. “If your marriage is not working get out. Anything that will make you lose your self-respect get out of it. That is me. I don’t plan to have a counseling center so that I won’t be accused by a woman’s husband that I am the one who encouraged his wife to flee. I want The Udy Factor to run as long as God keeps it on air. I see it as long as 30 or 40 I am not sure I want to keep something that long but for as long AS God gives me breathe.”
Udy believes the lines on her face as she ages are those of years of laughter. You age but you have to know how embrace it; to make it a part of your life. As long as I can wear my high shoes, it does not matter to me. And I have joy that I am aging, there are so many people who are so sad that they are aging. I have joy in me.”
In addition she says exercise is her beauty routine “It is exercise, no cream. I wake up in the morning I do my prayers; I exercise and eat once a day. Not because I am dieting but it is just a silly habit I have and it has stayed with me. It is when I am starving as if I am going to die that is when I eat. I eat between 12 and 1pm. The most important thing is that I am a very happy person. I laugh a lot. I really laugh about every issue. For me, I can’t stand stress. I stay away from anything that will give me stress.”
At 58, Udy is a very proud grandmother. “My daughter was married for ten years she didn’t have a child. It was a word of prophecy that came before she has the child. I was happy when she had the baby. I had to bath my grandson, fed him. You will love your grandchild more than your own Child. You now understand when your mother will beat you and your grandma will say don’t beat him. That’s the process I am going through now.”