Back in the 90s, Benita Okojie blazed the trail as an astonishing gospel music artiste. Then she was just 12. Now she has grown into a pretty young woman with multiple awards to her credit. She speaks about her upcoming marriage, career and desire to make a big impact on society as an adult in this interview with Tai Anyanwu. Excerpts
Some of your fans have been following your growth and want to know what has been keeping you from settling down in marriage.
I think when it is the right time, I will definitely settle down. I will soon get married. But the process of getting to that level – you know marriage is not what you rush into – it is something that you have to pray about and be sure that you have the leading of the Holy Spirit before you go into it because it is a life time thing.
If you rush into it you will rush out of it, especially if you are not going into it with your right senses. I am taking my time to go into marriage and praying to God to give me the right person; and very soon I will get married.
How soon will this be?
I have already said I will soon get married. It could be this year; it could be next year; soon.
What kind of man do you wish to have as a husband?
Oh; I am actually already in a relationship. So I don’t think there is any need to tell you what kind of man anymore because already the man must have the qualities for him to be in the relationship.
How did you make the choice?
God chose for us.
I mean what are the criteria for your choice of man?
More importantly, a man that loves God and a man that believes in my ministry, those two are the most important qualities.
Your fans have been itching to hear from you, you have not released any album after school. What has been the problem?
I realized also that the music industry is a lot different than when I started; a lot of things have changed. The music industry has involved some good and also there some who are not so good entrants that are also involved in the music industry.
So, I am not looking at rushing back into full time music, more importantly, I am looking at working on singles and then an album, by the grace of God, next year. Before the end of the year, something will be out and everybody will hear about it.
How has it been for you all this while?
There have been challenges. But I am thankful, because I still have a lot of people who believe in what I can do even though I started young. And there are still a lot of people who are very interested in me coming back, and doing music full time. So, trust when I say I have not rested on my oars. I have been working and in due time, everybody will hear all the songs.
And I three songs that have been released, all singles, they are not albums and there are no videos to them and they are really nice songs. If you want to check them out, there is Ayo which is a song that I did earlier this year, in the New Year. There is Jesu na Baba and Kabiyesi that I did with Tony Kore. Those are songs that I have done all these while.
What are you doing presently?
A lot of the time, I get invites to talk to young people about following their passion because I started as a young person. I am also an inspirational and a motivational speaker; I do a lot of motivational speaking. And then, I also have other projects that I am working on that will also help the Nigerian child because I also know that I was a child and I know how I started. And I know how I benefited when I was developing my own talent. So, I am looking at encouraging children, young people to find their talents and put it to use.
You graduated three years ago. Could tell us how you started and what the experience was like?
I went to Redeemers University, the school of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I studied English Language and the first year was a bit rough because I had a lot of young people like myself – you know for some reasons or the other because I was in the limelight –there were a lot of misconstrued ideas about me.
So, I was a bit challenged. But in the second year, I think I gained more friends, mixed with people more and it changed my perspective cause before that time, I was living with my parents. I learnt a lot and made friendships that have withstood the test of time even now that I am out of school. And some still hang out with me. School is just like a place where you go and build yourself for the future; and I will say that I did a lot of self-building.
What is your advice for the singles?
Wait, wait for the right person and wait for the right time. Don’t be in a hurry to get married just because of the pressure from parents, or pressure from society at large. As a young beautiful girl, there is always the tendency for parents and relatives to start asking you why you are not married; and they forget the most important factor about being compatible and sharing the same interest with the person. And immediately they get the couple together they are less concerned about all that.
They are more interested in you just getting married because they are getting older. But I think it is important that we don’t just rush those things and that parents should give their children time to go and learn what they should learn, give their children to know the people they want to get married to and give them time to grow together spiritually.
Most importantly, don’t let pressure make you marry A lot of people have been pressurised into marriage and their marriage is nowhere today. Young people should get married for all the right reasons and prayerfully choose a partner and then let God do the best for them.
You started early as a musician, that time it was sensational. What do you think can be done to encourage the industry either by government or individuals?
I think it is funding, it is the most tant. Funding is a major part; a lot of the time, government parastatals spend more money on secular guys whose messages are not necessarily decent. So, the guys who are doing everything they can to push out possible message that promote morals don’t get as much support as the other guys get. I think government can invest a lot in artistes that are gifted and have a lot of positivity to offer.
There will be a balance and the world will be a better place when people who have positive messages to share with the world are given an opportunity and a platform. We will have more young people striving to do positive things and striving to impact the world more positively. Funding is the most important thing.
Apart from government parastatals, if we also have the multinational companies endorse artistes that have positive messages, the world will definitely be a better place to live in. And it will be cool and OK for young people to want to be like a gospel artiste or to want to emulate the gospel artiste or to want to emulate an artiste who has been churning out positive messages.
Now you are older, do you miss your child years?
When you are no longer a child you can’t get away with a lot of things. You walk in certain way someone will say you are walking for him. You do certain things and everybody is trying to judge you. On the contrary, they will give you that benefit of being a child. I don’t miss it, but I appreciate it that people look at me and say oh; that is that little girl even now that I am older.
It tells me that there was so much impact that I made as a child; and it also reminds me that now that I am older, I need to make greater impact than I did as a child. So, I don’t miss it but I pray to God to help me make greater impact than I did as a child.