Before she relocated to the US over a decade ago. She was a popular Nollywood actress. She was indeed a Star. Everyone knew Regina Askia. She now lives in NewYork. Last week, she was our Guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat. She found fame as an actress, model, beauty queen and Television Producer.
Regina Askia attended Federal Government Girls’ College, Calabar and graduated in 1985. She proceeded to University of Lagos (UNILAG) where she graduated in 1990 with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences (B.Sc. Biology). While in UNILAG, she was crowned Miss University of Lagos in 1988. A firm believer in results oriented approach to service Askia trained in New York, USA, and obtained another Bachelors in Nursing Science (CUNY College of Staten Island, NY) and a Masters as a Family Nurse practitioner (Wagner College, Staten Island, NY) for professional and practical experience towards greater impact on combating the dearth of healthcare practitioners in Nigeria.
Askia runs a Campaign for Nurse Development by activating for capital and skills investment in Nigerian Nurses through a meaningful skills exchange programs with Nigerian nurses in the diaspora. The Campaign features medical missions and several Nurse training programs in Nigeria. She currently sits on the board of African Views an NGO as director of health programs and presents a global reach Internet radio program which focuses on the myriad of health issues on the African continent and amongst its Diaspora.
As a beauty queen, Askia held the Office of the most beautiful girl in Nigeria in 1989. She placed First Runner Up in Russia’s Miss Charm in 1990 and represented Nigeria in a great outing at Miss International 1991, Osaka, Japan. Her office as a beauty queen came with travels around the world experiencing peoples and cultures. Her career path in the 90s as a television producer/model featured her in many advertising and promotional campaigns. This ushered in national acclaim when she featured as the unforgettable gold-digger Tokunbo Johnson in NTAs (Nigerian Television Authorities) soap opera Mega Fortunes. Miss Askia went on to star in several Nollywood films which were featured throughout Nigeria and across countries in Africa. Askia has produced several programs in Health and Beauty and subsequently a soap opera Cankerworm.
Ever on the move in service to the people, Askia has used her visibility to activate for social justice by creating awareness on a variety of social issues affecting women and children as well as activate to unite the divided house of Africa by engaging the skills of the diaspora. In 2001, she partnered with the group Renaissance Network Africa and submitted a proposal that encouraged a unique reunification of Africa and its Diaspora. The project was actualized by the Lagos State Waterfront Development Board and Ministry of Tourism and it culminated in a visit by the Maryland Conference of Mayors on a familiarization and homecoming tour to the slave trade routes of Badagry beach.
In 2005, Askia held a fashion show at the Nigerian Embassy in New York to raise awareness to children’s issues in Nigeria and in 2006, she hosted a charity fashion show at the Lehman College in Bronx New York which displayed the creations of top African fashion designers and introduced her own line Regine fashions. An avid learner, she continues her pursuit of a PhD in Nursing.
Regina Askia lives in New York City where she works in a foremost Hospital as a senior transplant nurse and continues her work as a tireless activist for better health care services and social justice in Nigeria sector. In this interview, she also revealed a lot on why the Covid-19 pandemic is not as bad in Nigeria as they have it in the United State. Enjoy the interview.
Let me start by asking how work has been, how is your family over there?
Work has been good. We are doing our best in the midst of Covid-19 situation. Making sure that we are adequately protected, knowing everything that needs to know about taking care of Covid-19 patient. We do our best and leave the rest for God. It’s quite worrisome, especially now that the lockdown has been lifted and everybody is out, we expect a second wave.
How do you cope with the nature of your job?
You make sure that you wear everything you suppose to wear, cover your head, use your nose mask, put on your PPE from head to toe, cover everything. The scary thing about this virus is that everything keeps changing. Before we thought we needed to put the patient on ventilator and then discovered that is not ventilator they need and all sort. Everything keeps changing, at first they said it’s6 feet later we found out that you need to go further, we found out that it lives for so many hours. Everything keeps changing. We have to stay on top of the information from the CDC and make sure that we follow all directives in terms of taking of ourselves and how to care for the patients who have this virus.
How did you cope with the transition from acting to the health sector?
It wasn’t so difficult because already I was in science, remember I graduated from Biology. It was a natural progression for me, but it was a calmer situation. Superstar status to a place where very few people would recognise your status, but still some Nigerian would come to me in the Hospital. “Are you not Regina, an actress from Nigeria?” That was funny but we thank God.
Do you miss Nollywood, acting, going to locations?
It was very excited in that time, but right now my responsibility changed. I am responsible for children, I am responsible for patients. I am a little older, so, I am not sure I want to work, running up and down running in the bushes. But I might be participating in Nollywood as a producer. I will continue producing, continue to share informational podcast and broadcast, to teach people about their health concern and symptoms they should report to their doctor. Nigerians are finding a lot more information on healthcare and how to look after themselves, because there is no reason for somebody who has asthma suddenly have an attack and die, there is no reason for somebody who have blood pressure should not be able to manage it so much so they suddenly had a stroke and pass. There is no reason for somebody who is obese should remain like that and develop different type cancers in future.
People need to know this kind of information and know how to take care of themselves.
How do you pass all this information across?
I hold a lot of Facebook live programmes. I treat a lot of health information in those podcasts. We also talk about development and situation in the community. Right now we are on a big programme, the 1 million face mask Agenda, we are trying to get 1 million face-mask supply to Nigeria, especially to health-care workers, because the Covid-19 situation is getting serious in Nigeria.
I don’t know if Nigerians recognize how dangerous this virus is. Luckily, the strength of the Coronavirus in Nigeria is not as bad like we have here in America.
Why is that so?
The virus cannot really survive out there, but then there is no cure. You don’t want to be exposed to the virus in any way. It’s very good to stay on top of your Covid-19 social etiquette. Maintain social distancing, hand washing and wearing your facemask. It’s so important. Stay home if you can.
Tell us more about Covid-19 and why Nigerians are luckier than in other countries?
In Nigeria, our culture encourages us to hug people but with the advent of Covid, we know it is transmitted through contact surfaces where the virus has landed on it’s also on transmitted through talking and coughing. Distancing is very critical. The luck Nigerians have is that the strain of the virus that arrived Nigeria is somehow weakened and by the environmental condition. But that does not mean we should take it with levity. The funny thing is that viruses will mutate, adapt to the environment and get stronger. So it is important not to expose yourself to it and any level, why? Because there is no cure.
It works like it’s a malaria parasite but it’s not malaria and it’s not the flu. Sometimes people get treated, get better at the hospital, they go to their house but suddenly they come back with the real infection, and the real infection in some cases worse what we don’t understand is that the virus continue to wreck havoc in the system.
It’s just common sense to avoid exposure to this virus by practicing Covid-19 etiquette that has been preaching all along. Wash your hand with soap and water. Put a little bleach in water and sprinkle around your home, when you are collecting money leave it out in the sun or sprinkle it with a little bleach.
Have hand sanitizer on you at all times or you wear your hand glove.
It has also been discovered that one can be infected through the membranes of their eyes, so we are wearing face seal or huge google when you are taking care of Covid-19 patient. If we observe all this, at the end we would keep ourselves save and keep our community save.
How did you feel when the number kept rising in the United State?
We were very worried, but everybody out of consideration for themselves and for each other, they practice social distancing, everybody stayed home and we noticed that the rate of the admission we were having had come down and the rate of infection that we were noticing had come down, but now with the lockdown ease, we are beginning to see an optic in the numbers of people we are admitting. So, here we go again. It’s sad.
– SUNDAY ADIGUN