Tag Archives: Enyinnaya Appolos

Enyinnaya Appolos: Four Decades Testimonies of God’s Unlimited Grace

On Wednesday, 10th September, 1980, a male child was born to the family of Late Pa Appolos Abakwuo Odingwa and Mrs Juliana Appolos, of Olobawa kindred, Isiko Village, Obi Mgboko Mbu Autonomous Community, Obingwa Local Government Area, Abia State, Nigeria.

The child- Enyinnaya Emmanuel Appolos, is the 4th child in the family of 7 siblings- six men and one woman.

Childhood

I grew up in Isiko. Isiko is a boundary village in Obingwa. Isiko, an agrarian village shares borders with the people of Nto Edino in Akwa Ibom State. It also shares boundaries with the people of the following Ngwa villages: Umuhuaba, Umuokahia, Umuanunu and Ekwereazu Ngwa villages. Major occupations of Isiko people is farming and trading. Isiko is largely a home of very courageous and fearless persons who have distinguished themselves in their various chosen careers, either as teachers, engineers, civil and public servants and of course, journalists, traders and farmers.

My father was a driver and a part-time subsistent farmer. During the Nigerian-Biafran war, he worked with Red Cross Society as a driver. He remained a driver until he was called to rest at the age of 81 in the year 2001. He lived in Port Harcourt, where he worked as a driver. He comes home every weekend to his wife and children. Despite that my father lived in the city, my siblings and I lived with our mother in the village, helping in the family subsistence farming, while we also go to school, primary and secondary, in Isiko and nearby villages.

Both my father and mother were born in polygamous homes in Isiko and Umuopra Egbelu villages. While My father was one of many children of a polygamist, Late Odingwa Isiguzo of Olobawa in Isiko, my mother is born the first child of late Pa Richard Ojinka Nwoko, another polygamist, and his wife Late Jenny Ojinka of Umuebere kindred, Umuopara Egbelu all of Obi Mgboko Mbu Community, Obingwa.

Education

I attended Umuhuaba/Isiko Community Primary School, where I obtained my First School Leaving Certificate in 1993. For my secondary education, I attended Learners Institute of Business Studies, a privately owned commercial school, in Umuanunu village, near Isiko.

In 1997, While in Senior Class 5 (SS2), I took a personal decision to quit school. I took the decision when I discovered my school- Learners Institute of Business Studies, was not a government school.

By then, my friends in government secondary schools were preparing to write senior West African Examination Council (WAEC). My action was completely taken out of ignorance and lack of information because I didn’t know that I could register for WAEC in any government school, even while at the commercial school.

Marriage

I am married to my wife. Ozioma Enyinnaya Appolos. I don’t believe in White wedding. So ozioma and I had our traditional marriage on 26th December, 2012. My wife and I have been married for 8 years by December 26th this year 2020.

Religion

My parents are Christians. As at the time I was born, they were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and have remained till date. I was dedicated to God as a child three months after birth at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Isiko. I was baptized as a member of the church at the age of 17, precisely in year 1997.

From childhood, I chose to be dedicated to things of God. I have been a chorister from childhood. I sang in children church choir, district youth choir and later district senior choir in Ekwereazu Ngwa District of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When I later left Isiko for Port Harcourt to live with my father, he was worshiping at Mile One branch of the Seventh-day Adventist Church located at No 38 Nsukka Street, Mile One Diobu Port Harcourt. When I arrived Port Harcourt in January 1998, my father introduced me to Mr. Kingsely Okoro. Okoro was the church keyboardist and one of the choirmasters. He was also the leader of a singing group called The Harmonizers, in the church. My father told him to admit me as a member of the singing group and in the choir. I became a member of The Harmonizers and the Mile One Church choir also. I later joined the Port Harcourt District Choir. I also joined the Rivers Conference Choir. I remember when one of the past Presidents of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Pastor Jan Paulson visited Nigeria from America, I was a member of the Rivers Conference choir that came to Aba to welcome him. I have always been very active in the things of God in the church.

I also was a Literature Evangelist of the church. Literature Evangelist are those propagating the gospel of the second coming of Jesus Christ through selling/ sharing of literatures. Many of us who were Literature Evangelists then, are Pastors in Seventh-day Adventist Church today. One of them is Pastor Monday Onyekwere. At a point a lot of people thought I was going to become a pastor, including my mother.

Leaving Isiko for Port Harcourt

My decision to quit school at SS2 was received with cheers by my mother. Base on her level of civilization and exposure, She supported my decision and asked me to go and learn how to repair bicycle.

Her plans was for me to remain in the village with her as a bicycle repairer and a farmer. As far as my mother is concerned, the importance of education is nothing but to learn how to read, write and speak English. And by her assessment, I was qualified.

When my father heard of my decision to dump school, he frowned at it. He said, instead of staying in the village to become a bicycle repairer, that I would go with him to Port Harcourt, where he wanted to send me to a Government Craft Centre in Port Harcourt. His wish was for me to become a bricklayer.

I refused both offers from my parents, to be either a bicycle repairer or a bricklayer. I told them I wanted to be a driver.

My father didn’t buy the idea of me becoming a driver. By January 1998, he took me to Port Harcourt.

My father lived in Diobu area of the Garden City. He lived at Nanka Waterside in Mile One Diobu Port Harcourt. The waterside area is usually the end of most streets in Diobu, houses there are usually batcher. Waterside is an abode largely for the poor and wretched.

When we arrived in Port Harcourt, my father said that I needed to know the town so he decided that I should be following him to work. He was then working as a driver with a Block Moulding Company in Mile 3 area of the town.

One afternoon, we were returning to office in Mile 3 from Ukwujiagu area, where we had gone to bring sharp sand for the block moulding firm, while in the truck, my father called and said to me; as my son, I will never deceive you, listen to me as your father. Becoming a professional driver like me will not take you to anywhere in life. I have been a driver all my life and I understand what it’s all about. You won’t be a driver like me. Instead, you will go and learn how to repair cars as a motor mechanic. Even if you decide to become a driver in the future, then you know you have something added to it.

Though my parents were stark illiterates, but they understand the power of communication. They also understand that every child has a right, that the parents should guide. My father, without making much argument, and without forcing it on me, got me to accept going into the mechanic garage as an apprentice.

A Failed Motor Mechanic Apprentice

By January 1999, after I had lived one year in Port Harcourt, my father said; you have stayed one year in town, by now you should know your way around town, so it’s time to face the reason you’re in Port Harcourt. Unknown to me that my father had made enquiries where I would be trained as a motor mechanic. He took me to Elechi Street in Diobu of Port Harcourt, and introduced one Mr. Stanley Okocha, also known as Amaco. Amaco was one of the best Mechanics in the area.

Fortunately for me, Amaco hails from Obingwa like me. He is from Akpaa Mbato community in Obingwa LGA. He took me more like his younger brother, though there were three of us, as apprentice with him; namely Chigozie, the most senior, followed by Okechukwu and myself the last apprentice.

By January 2000, after I had spent one year in Amaco’s mechanic workshop, I became uncomfortable with myself and was worried about my future in the mechanic business because we don’t repair what I called ‘flashy’ cars. The kind of cars that we repair were mostly taxis like: Datsun Sunny, Nissan, Opel, Toyota Corona, all those rickety old taxis you will see along Mile-one, Mile 2 especially those plying Iloabuchi road.

But on the streets of Port Harcourt, you see all kinds of flashy cars and jeeps (SUVs) so I decided to dump Amaco workshop and go elsewhere where I can learn how to repair flashy cars and SUVs. That led me to a place in D/Line area of Port Harcourt where I found a good mechanic workshop by the Railway. The Workshop is owned by one Mr. Edet. It was a very big workshop where big men and companies bring their cars for repairs.

So I went to make enquiries at Mr. Edet’s Mechanic workshop in D/Line without my father’s consent. When I came back and told my father that I don’t want to continue learning the work at Amaco’s place, I told him I’ve found a place in D/Line where I would prefer. I tried to convinced him that at Mr. Edet’s place they repair jeeps and modern cars. My father didn’t say anything.

Without consulting my dad, I went to Mr. Edet told him I wanted to learn from him, and that I was already learning somewhere else and that I had spent one year there. He agreed and said I should go and bring my father, and come along with N40, 000 (Forty thousand naira only). I went back to my father and told him. He said, Enyia, there is no point going there because I don’t have money. Mechanic is mechanic. Free from Amaco’s place first then you can go elsewhere, and work as a workman, they pay you and you learn more.

At that point I told him that I wanted to go to school, and was not interested in mechanic anymore. He reminded me that I left school in the village on my own decision.

Before then, I had an encounter in Amaco’s workshop with the landlady of the workshop. One day, there was no work in the workshop so I went under a parked car where we usually go to rest whenever there is no work in the shop. While lying under the parked car, I brought a pen and paper I had on me and began to write a letter to nobody. I didn’t know the landlady was observing me. I have been taught how to write official and unofficial letters at Learners Institute of Business Studies, Umuanunu.

As I was just practicing what I was taught in school. She asked me, who are you writing that letter to? I said nobody. I told her I was just practicing what I was taught in school, how to write official and unofficial letters. She asked me what an official letter is, I said it’s a letter with two addresses, while the unofficial letter is a letter with just one address. She then said to me: “you are wasting your time here, you better go to school.“ That was the only thing she said and walked away.

So when my father said there was no money for training at Edets place, I just told him it is school or nothing. That time the only certificate I have was my First School Leaving I obtained at Umuhuaba/Isiko community primary school.

I went to a friend of mine, Mr. Chinasa Ojum, he was my close friend in our singing group and choir in church. I told him of my predicament. He said, “the only thing you need to do now is to go to RivCAS”. I said what is RivCAS? He said , Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rumuola. He said: “go there for remedial and preparatory studies, then you can write WAEC and get admission into the University.” I said, fine. That was how I went to RivCAS in 2000, with hope of writing necessary exams in year 2001.

My father’s death and obvious reality

By May 2001, while I was still at RivCAS, my father began to have health challenges. A chronic cough was troubling him. I was the only one with him in Port Harcourt. My father complained severely about the severe cough and his deteriorating health to me, and told me he would go back to the village, as his health failed him and he couldn’t drive again. He left Port Harcourt in May 2001, unfortunately died in June 2001 and was buried on August 9th 2001.

Before then, my elder brother, Chibuike Appolos, who was with us in Port Harcourt, has left to Bayelsa State and opened his Automobile Electrician workshop there. When he was leaving Port Harcourt, he left his motorcycle Rx125 (Okada) for me. Before leaving for Bayelsa, Chibuike had left my father’s one room batcher house in Nanka Waterside were all of us lived, and rented a room apartment at No. 80 Nanka Street. So I had two accommodations in Nanka, one room at No 80 and my father’s room at the Waterside.

A failed okada man

After the burial of my father, I returned to Port Harcourt alone to conclude my program at RivCAS. I was then living at No 80 Nanka. I will go to school with the Okada in the morning, and in the evening, around 4pm when the Rivers State Government Okada task-force must have closed, I will enter the road with the Okada to carry passengers to make money to pay my bills since I was alone then in Port Harcourt. That was how I survived in Port Harcourt after the death and burial of my father, and since I couldn’t come to the village to stay with my mother and to farm, I had to face the obvious reality.

First WAEC, first shocker

I completed my remedial studies at RivCAS by September 2001 and sat for WAEC external exams. The result was not good enough. The bad result I got didn’t deter me. Since i couldn’t go to school the year after the failed result, I remained in Port Harcourt and started hustling again to make ends meet and to prepare to go to school.

Unforgettable okada experience

After failed attempt to WAEC in 2001, I returned to Okada in January 2002. Then I had an unforgettable experience that made me quit Okada. I was on the move with my okada along Woji Road in GRA Port Harcourt, around a popular bar, called Chess Bar. An accident happened. A vehicle knocked down an okada man right in my front. While the okada man was lying in the pool of his own blood, crying for help, and the vehicle drove away, I tried chasing after the vehicle but it sped off, it joined Abacha road, connected Ikwere road and disappeared. That experience hit me so hard. And I said to myself; this could have been me. When I returned to the accident scene the Okada man had been taken away, and I saw his blood on the road. Immediately, I returned home and vowed never to ride okada again.

A successful newspaper vendor

When I got home after the unforgettable okada accident experience, I then ask myself what would I do again. I contemplated going back to Amaco mechanic place, but something in me refused. Going back to Isiko was never an option. Then I went to my uncle, Dee Elijah Ojinka, who is a newspaper distributor in Port Harcourt. After sharing my experience with him, he understood because he was also an Okada man at some point.

I told him I wanted to join him in newspaper distribution, and he said no problem. That was how i became a newspaper vendor. My uncle took me to one Mr. Ahmed and introduced me to him and begged him to give me newspapers to go and sell on the road. My uncle also took me to Woji Road in GRA by Everyday Supermarkets. That was where I sold newspapers as a vendor.

While selling newspaper, I registered for an evening private class to prepare for another WAEC exams. I also registered for the 2002 November/December WAEC. It was that year that NECO started external (November/December), I registered both exams. After selling newspapers from the morning to afternoon, in the evening I go for my preparatory studies for my exams. My NECO result came out first and I had four credits including Mathematics and English. It was only Government that I didn’t have a Credit. By 2003, I registered and wrote JAMB and applied for Mass Communications at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I also wrote POLYJAMB, and applied for same course at Federal Polytechnic Oko, (Okoploy) Anambra State.

Back to school

With my NECO result, I wrote both JAMB and Poly-JAMB in 2003 with hope of going to school in 2004. POLYJAMB came out before UNIJAMB, I had a good score that could give me admission because all I wanted was to go to school and I don’t care whether it was university or polytechnic. When POLYJAMB came out, I completely forgot about the UNIJAMB and just pursued admission at Okoploy. By September 2003, I went to Oko, Anambra State for the first time.

First visit to ‘Aso Rock’

When I got to Oko Campus of the Polytechnic, and asked for where to process admissions, someone I met at the gate said, ‘go to Aso Rock’. Where is Aso Rock? I asked myself. Before then, I only know about the Aso Rock in Abuja, which I read as where the President lives. But then, I didn’t know that the administrative building of Oko Polytechnic is called ‘ASo Rock’. I went straight to the place called Aso Rock. I walked straight to the building and I met two ladies. My later enquiries about them made me understand they had finished their ND from the school and were doing one year IT in the school. The ladies I met looked very responsible. Their decent dressing told their story. One of them Margret, became my destiny helper as far as my getting admission in Oko polytechnic was concerned.

Margret told me that admissions have started for ND. When I told her I was coming from Port Harcourt and had no one, she offered to help me. She took me to the School Librarian then. When the Librarian saw my POLYJAMB result, he liked it and wrote a note for the HOD of Mass Communications, asking the HOD to consider me for admission’. But when he saw my O’leve result that I have four Credits in my NECO , he cancelled what he wrote and said, ‘go to Ufuma.’ I didn’t know what Ufuma was. I asked Margret, ‘what is Ufuma?’ She said its the pre-ND campus.

We left the Librarian’s office and Margret said, will you go to Ufuma? I said yes I will go. She said it was late to go then. She took me to her lodge and begged one male student, she called Zimuzo, to allow me sleep in his house and she told my story of admission to him. Zimuzo pitied me and told me to be strong. I slept in Zimuzo’s house for the night.

The next day, Margret took me to the Chaplin of Chapel of Transfiguration in Okopoly and introduced me to him and shared my experience with him. He asked if I am a born again, without knowing much about me, Margret said yes and told him it was important I go to Ufuma to process my Pre-ND admissions, and joined them for lectures.

Luckily for me, the Chaplin was going to the Ufuma Campus that day, so I joined him. I will never forget deplorable condition of Oko -Ufuma road then, before Governor Chris Ngige fixed it. When we got there he helped me a great deal in processing my admission. Then I realized I was late because lectures have started and students were in school. After that exercise, I returned to Port Harcourt, and prepared myself. Then I told my brothers I was leaving for school. That was how I went to Oko.

So I did one year pre-ND in Library and Information Science because there was no pre – ND for Mass Communication at Ufuma campus. By the time my results came out, I was already qualified to read Mass Communication. After the pre-ND studies, I was admitted to read Mass Communication and graduated in 2006, and I became a holder of the National Diploma certificate in Mass Communication.

Funding my education

From the stories so far, it was clear that funding was going to be a major issue for my education. But God was ever ready to help a needy like me. God provided destiny helpers. But my two elder brothers did their very best. My mother and sister Made sure I never lacked garri and other food stuffs she could provide from Isiko. There was an elder in our church in Mile one, Elder Christian Elemele, he also helped me.

Weekly hustling for school fees

I never relied only on the support of my elder brothers and those who offered to help me. So I continued my business as a newspaper vendor in Port Harcourt, even as a Mass Communication undergraduate at Okoploy. Every Friday, I returned to Port Harcourt from Oko, after church on Saturday, I sold newspapers on Sunday, and return to school in Oko on Monday. All throughout my ND days, I traveled every weekend to Port Harcourt to sell newspapers.

As a newspaper vendor, I make more money selling papers on Sunday than any other day of the week. You know why? On Sundays, offices are shut down. Those who do newspaper supplies to offices don’t do supply, and everybody come to the streets to buy newspapers from vendors.

For that reason, I missed all my lectures every Monday at school, because I will leave Port Harcourt every Monday morning for Aba to enter vehicle at Ngwa Road, either Adam and Eve Motors, or Jenco transport going to Ekwulobia. By the time I get to school, of course Monday lectures would have been over. So I only go to lectures Tuesday to Friday and after lectures on Friday in the afternoon, I will travel to Port Harcourt for ‘business’.

In all of these, God was there for me at all times. And I had great determination to do my best. Though I saw my father as my only helper until he died and I realized that I had no one else but God.

From industrial attachment to full-fledged reporter

By 2006, I was done with my OND, and left for Lagos for my one year industrial attachment. A lot of my friends applied to do the one year IT in banks. The banks were paying well and the money was important. But I refused to do mine in bank and insisted I will do mine in a newspaper house. I arrived Lagos on Monday January 22nd 2007, not knowing anyone personally, in any newspaper house in Lagos. The only contact I had were phone numbers of some columnists I saw on some newspaper back-page. Some of the columnists usually write their phone numbers on their columns. That was how I got the phone number of Mr. Sam Omatseye of the Nation Newspaper. When I arrived Lagos, I called him and told him I wanted to do my one year IT with The Nation Newspaper, and he gave me appointment to see him in his office on Wednesday 24th January 2007, at 27b Fatai Atere way, Matori Lagos. That was the address he gave me and I found the place through Ladipo.

When I got to his office he interviewed me and asked what beat I would like to cover, I said Politics. He later took me to The Nation’s newsroom and introduced me to the Group Political Editor, Mr. Gabriel Akinadewo. Mr Omatseye said to Mr. Akinadewo, “Mr. Politics editor, this man here will stay with us for one year. He is coming from the Federal Polytechnic Oko, he has interest in political reporting.” That was my ‘initiation’ into a national newspaper newsroom. Though I had my 4 month IT with The Tide Newspaper, a Rivers State Government owned platform in Port Harcourt, but coming to The Nation Newspaper’s newsroom was a dream come through.

Immediately Mr. Akinadewo gave me assignment to cover a protest rally by members of National Conscience Party (NCP) at INEC office in Yaba, that was at the buildup of the 2007 general election. So I was lucky to have come into the newsroom as a political reporter in an election year, that helped me a great deal in shaping my reportorial and journalism career. The period was also helpful economically.

By December 2007, when I was about concluding my one year IT, My Boss, the Group politics editor, Mr. Akinadewo told me that I’ve done well as an IT reporter and he encouraged me to either continue if I don’t wish to return to Oko for my HND. He told me that a new newspaper was coming up in 2008, and said if I am interested, I should join him because he was going to be part of the new platform. I agreed, because I was already contemplating- who is going to help me if I return for HND. Wondering if I was going to continue going to Port Harcourt to sell papers every Friday to sustain myself and rely on others to pay my bills in school. So I decided to go with my boss.

By 2008, Mr. Gabriel left The Nation and moved to Nigerian Compass Newspaper. That was how i also moved to Compass, and became gainfully employed for the first time as a journalist as a political reporter. Because I always loved journalism, because I was looking up to Eziuche Ubani and because I have a boss in Mr. Gabriel and later Mr. Dotun Oladipo, who gave me rooms to explore, and become a successful journalist, like them, I didn’t see any distraction, and didn’t see any danger ahead. All I saw was success ahead. And God crowned my efforts.

By 2010, I officially moved to Abuja Bureau of the Nigerian Compass. While in Abuja, I covered the judiciary beat and later posted to the National Assembly. Working as a journalist in Abuja opened my eyes and also opened doors for me.

By 2011, 2012, when Nigerian Compass became unstable, I left the platform and joined The Union. The Union was also a new platform. In my life as a journalist, I have always had the opportunity of been a pioneer staff, except for when I did my One year IT in The Nation. When I joined Compass, it was a virgin platform. When I joined The Union, it was a fresh platform.

Copying Eziuche Ubani

I didn’t know anything about journalism or mass communication until I became a newspaper vendor. But I know there is someone in my village who was a newspaper writer, he is a journalist and writes for a newspaper in Lagos, he is Mr. Eziuche Ubani. By then, Eziuche had worked with several Newspapers in Lagos and was then Special Adviser on Media to Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba, the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003. When Eziuche didn’t win election to represent Ob1ingwa/Ugwunagbo/Osisioma Federal Constituency in 2003, and his boss also didn’t return to the House, Eziuche returned to Thisday Newspaper newsroom as Editor-at-Large, and he began to write the famous EziucheUbani on Friday Thisday back page column. He later won election in 2007 to represent Obingwa/Ugwunagbo/Osisioma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He spent two terms of 8 years from 2007 to 2015.

Mr. Eziuche Ubani is a successful and fearless journalist. And as a newspaper vendor I enjoyed reading him and also selling his products. So he influenced my choice of career in going into journalism. So I became a journalist because there was an Eziuche Ubani from Isiko that is successful in journalism.

Amb Raph Uwaechue, a destiny helper

My financial breakthrough came with my meeting late Amb. Raph Uwaechue. As a journalist, I have serious interest in anything that concerns Ndigbo and our people. This made me to be close to Ohaneze Ndigbo and it’s politics from the days of late Dr Dozie Ikedife as President-General.

The turning point in my life as a journalist, financially, was in 2010 when I encountered Amb Raph Uwaechue. In 2010, the Late Uwaechue was the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

One evening, in 2010, Dr Ikedife, who had handed over to Amb. Uwaechue called me on phone and complained about certain decisions of the Uwaechue leadership in the Pan Igbo Socio-cultural organization, about the 2011 presidential elections in Nigeria. Dr Ikedife, who was on his way to the United Kingdom when he called me, wanted me to publish what he said. I accepted to publish him, and told him that I will publish his side of the story, not until I’ve heard from Amb uwaechue. He said ok, and gave me Amb. Uwaechue’s phone number. Immediately I called Amb. Uwaechue to get his reaction to what his predecessor said about his decision in Ohanaeze.

Amb Uwaechue said to me. I don’t know you and I can’t talk to you on phone. If you want to get my side of what Ikedife said, you must come to the African House in Ogwashi Ukwu in Delta State.

I have not been to Ogwashi before then, and the story before me was a good developing story I must follow up to get the details, and if I must get the details, I must get to Ogwashi because Amb. Uwaechue wouldn’t talk to me on phone. I called my Editor, Mr. Gabriel, who was the Weekend Editor in charge of the two weekend titles of the NIGERIAN Compass, and told him about the situation. He said, Appolos, that is a good crossfire story. Go to Ogwashi Ukwu immediately and get Uwaechue’s interview and write a crossfire story, with interview for the Saturday Compass.

I left Lagos for Ogwashi Ukwu on a Wednesday and arrived Asaba the Delta State Capital, where l met Amb. Uwaechue’s contact person who was already waiting for me. He drove me to African House, private residence of the late Ambassador, in Ogwashi. By the time i was done with the interview with the Ohanaeze PG, it was about 7pm. He wanted me to spend the night in the African House, but I refused. He then ask his driver to take me to a hotel in Asaba.

It was a no-holds-barred and revealing interview with the late diplomat, who was also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the “Know Africa” books, a three-volume book that was published in French and English. He was also the publisher of “Africa Who’s Who” and “Makers of Modern Africa.”

After the interview, I called LAGOS to brief my editor how it all went. And gave him bullet points in the interview. He ordered me to get the interview ready and sent to him before 8am Thursday.

The chilling hotel room in the Asaba was all I needed to transcribe the interview and get the exclusive story ready for the weekend edition of Nigerian Compass Newspaper. Before 2am, the interview was done and dusted and sent to gabyfola@hotmail.com, my editor’s email.

I had a brief sleep and left the hotel room for the motor park and boarded the first bus going to LAGOS. Before noon, I was already at the compass office, located at Isheri area of Ogun state near LAGOS, to join the production of the weekend paper. The Ikedife-Uwaechue crossfire was the big story for the Saturday compass that weekend.

Monday after the interview was published, Amb. Uwaechue called me and invited me back to the African House in Ogwashi Ukwu. That second visit to African House become the turning point in my life and my career, as Uwaechue engaged me as his personal media consultant. He paid me the kind of money I have never seen in my life before. From that point, my life changed financially. I worked with him until he handed over to his successor, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey as Ohanaeze PG.

I bought my first car in my life while working for Uwaechue. I bought the land I build my house in Isiko while working for Uwaechue. I relocated to Abuja from Lagos and paid for an apartment in Abuja while working for Uwaechue.

May the souls of both leaders of Ndigbo, Uwaechue and Ikedife, who I enjoyed very cordial relationship with, until they both were called to rest, Rest In Peace.

Alabo Mujahid Dokubo-Asari on my case

My relationship with Alabo Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is over a decade now. As controversial as Dokubo-Asari is, he is one of the nicest persons I have ever met. The day I was given appointment to meet him somewhere in Lagos, over a decade ago, during the Late Musa Yar’Adua presidency, I prepared to meet a ‘monster’, and ‘drug addict’. But the reverse was the case, as i met a good man. A father of many children, a husband of good wives, an Islamic leader, a social crusader, a freedom fighter, a historian and a helper of the poor, needy and downtrodden.

At the mention of Dokubo-Asari’s name, different things come to different minds. He means different things to different people. He is a devout Muslim. does not drink alcohol and does not smoke. If he ever did that must have been before we met.

I have never been to that part of LAGOS before, and I went alone with direction and was communicating with Dokubo-Asari until I got to him. We ate together, then he told me a long story about himself and the struggle for freedom which he is so passionate about. After spending about 4 hours with him, without any formal form of interview, I left him. Before leaving, he told me he was wanted by the government and that he was leaving the country that evening and promised to call me when he gets to his new destination.

When he got to his new destination, like he promised, he called me. And then ask me to publish part of the things he told me in Lagos. From his new destination, he offered me a job as his media assistant, I rejected and told him I will prefer to be a friend who will always be there for him. He liked that.

When he relocated to Benin Republic, he invited me to know his new ‘home’. He introduced me to every member of his family. His wives and children. When I wanted to marry in 2012, December 26th, he told me he won’t be able to join me in Aba, but he gave me huge amount of money that was enough for my marriage. When I buried my grandmother in December 2017, Dokubo-Asari came in person to support me. He is a senior friend, a big brother, and dependable ally.

The Prophesy of Rt. Uzo Azubuike

I started hearing of Barrister Uzo Azubuike in his days at the Abia State House of Assembly, when he represented Aba Central State Constituency, during which he became the Deputy Speaker at some point in the life of the Abia State House of Assembly.

Hon. Azubuike and I worked more closely when he was elected to represent Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency at the House of Representative, Abuja in 2011.

Though he didn’t employed me as a political aide, but he got me engaged in most of his political events at the National Assembly and here in the state. I was practically his media consultant. He ensured I was part of every trip of the House of Representative Committee on Public Petitions which he was chairman of the committee.

At some point in 2013, when he indicated interest in the 2015 governorship in Abia, he told me about it and carried along in some of his activities for the project.

One weekend in January 2014, he asked me to join him to Lagos as part of his consultations for the 2015 project. We arrived Lagos on a Friday, and he went straight to a meeting somewhere in Ikeja part of Lagos and ask me to wait for him at Ibris Hotel, Toyin Street, Ikeja, where has paid for two accommodations on for himself and myself.

While in Lagos, Hon. Azubuike asked me to call Mr. Raymond Aliga, who I had introduced to him in Abuja the previous year-2013, and get an appointment for them to see again after they first met in 2013. Mr. Aliga gave us appointment for Saturday morning at Raddison Blu hotel at Victoria Island Lagos.

On our way to keep Aliga’s appointment Saturday morning, we were on 3rd Mainland Bridge when Hon. Azubuike answered a call, and told me afterwords that immediately after the meeting with Aliga, that I will return to Abuja while he goes to Umuahia. After our meeting with Aliga, we returned to Ikeja checked out of the hotel and headed for the Airport while I returned to Abuja, Azubuike went to Umuahia.

Immediately I arrived Abuja, Aliga called me to confirm if it was true that Azubuike has pullout of the 2015 governorship, which was why he came to see him in Lagos. Obviously I was not in any position to confirm that to Aliga. I ask him to give me time to get to Azubuike, who was already in Umuahia for another important meeting and get back to him.

When I called Hon. Azubuike to ask him about developments in Umuahia, he told me there was a development, and promised to give me details when he return to Abuja on Monday.

Monday afternoon Hon. Azubuike called to inform he was coming and requested that I meet him at his office at the National Assembly. Later Monday evening we met at his office. In clear terms Hon. Azubuike told me who will be the next governor of Abia in 2015. The first question he asked me was: “Do you know Dr Okezie Ikpeazu?” I said yes, he was the 2011 Campaign Director for Rt. Hon. Eziuche Ubani, who is my elder brother. Then Hon. Azubuike told me that Dr Ikpeazu will be the next governor of Abia State.

Prophetically, Azubuike said to me: “Appo, whosever that will be governor in Abia in 2015 will know you. The person will know you as one of those who work for him, or as one you work against him.”

After the meeting with Hon. Azubuike, i then called Aliga to deliver the message from Azubuike.

At first, Aliga doubted me. He said: “How can Dr Ikpeazu become Governor? Does Uzo (Azubuike) know what he is talking about?”

Later, Chief Aliga called me the next day-Tuesday, to confirm that Hon. Azubuike was right. In fact Aliga told me to come pick him at the airport in Abuja on Wednesday that he was coming to Abuja with Dr Ikpeazu.

Wednesday, I drove to the airport in Abuja, picked Chief Aliga and he then told me that Dr Ikpeazu was on his way from Abia. We went to a hotel somewhere in Life Camp area of Abuja where I met a team led by late Chief Chijioke Nwakodo. The rest is now history.

By February 2014, I officially resigned from The Union Newspaper to join Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in his governorship ambition. It was a hard decision I had to take. God guided me and saw me through.

When I told Mr. Emma Agu, the Editor-in-Chief of The Union Newspaper that I was resigning to join Dr. Ikpeazu, he said to me; “Appolos, in all my years as a journalist, I’ve not heard of any Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in Abia or Igbo politics. Why do you want to risk your job for his political aspirations. What makes you think he will win?”

I replied him and said: “Sir, this is not about Dr Ikpeazu. It is about Ukwa-Ngwa people. I am an Ukwa-Ngwa son, and I know that this is our time to produce governor of Abia State. If we fail to be governor in Abia by 2015, we would never be again. He may not be known, but he will be governor because our people will support him to be.”

At this point Mr. Agu said: “Appolos you have my support. This your man will be governor. Give me your resignation letter, I will keep it with me. If your man didn’t win the ticket of the party, come back and take your job, but if he wins the ticket that means he will win the election, I can the submit your letter of resignation. Meanwhile, go I will pay you salary for up till March, even though you will not be working, but that how best we can support. Make sure you send his reports for us to publish for him.” And I left The Union Newspapers to join the Dr Okezie Ikpeazu campaign team.

Becoming a part of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu Governorship Team

When I joined Dr Ikpeazu in February 2014, he was the Deputy General Manager of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (asepa) in charge of Aba. Dr Ikpeazu by then, was not known to the national media, it became my duty as his Media Assistant/Personal Assistant yo project him.

My core duty was to sale and promote what Dr. Ikpeazu was doing at ASEPA to the media in Nigeria and beyond, using my social media platforms and my contact in various newsrooms across Nigeria. Dr Ikpeazu is a good product, very easy to market, so marketing him, his ideas and what he stands for, going into the 2015 election, drawing strength from what he was doing at ASEPA, was not a hard job for me.

With the special grace of God and mandate of Abia people, Dr Ikpeazu became the 4th democratically elected Governor of Abia State in 2015, and was sworn in on May 29th, 2015, as the first Ukwa-Ngwa man to be Governor in Abia.

I was officially appointed as the first Personal Assistant (PA) to the Governor from May 2015 to June 2016. One year after, I was appointed the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, from 13 June, 2016 to 28th May 2019. After the 2019 election, I was appointed the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor. And the prophecy of Hon. Uzo Azubuike, that whosoever that will be governor in Abia in 2015 will know me, became a reality.

In what may be considered as the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu kitchen cabinet, I am most likely the only one that have held three different offices by the special grace of God, and benevolence of the Governor. I remain grateful to him for the trust and opportunity to serve.

It is instructive that I say it here that I was the very first aide of Okezie Ikpeazu, as far as his governorship project is concerned. And I must give thanks to God and appreciate my principal for finding me worthy to enjoy the privilege he has given me to work with him up till this very moment.

Let me at this juncture, specifically appreciate and thank my Boss, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, for the trust he has towards me. Just like my former bosses in the newsroom who gave me the opportunity to proof myself, Governor Ikpeazu has given me more opportunities to prove myself. I will remain indebted to him. All my appointments came from him, despite all forms of political intrigues and betrayals from some close friends, who for reasons best known to them, ganged up against me, Governor Ikpeazu remembered where he met me and where I started with him.

From my appointment as the first Personal Aide (PA) to the Governor, to my appointment as Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, and my appointment as Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, he (Governor Ikpeazu) alone made it possible.

I pray God Almighty for wisdom and understanding, in the nearest future, to write in more details my experiences and encounters during my service in Abia State under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Time and chance

Meeting and working briefly with Amb. Raph Uwaechue was an opportunity that came my way, and I made good use of it, for my economic gains and advancement, without compromising my job as a journalist working with the Nigerian Compass Newspaper.

Also, meeting and working with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu gave me an unimaginable opportunity. Working with Governor Ikpeazu opened a lot of doors for me. I met people and become close to those I would never have met all my life. Some of those opportunities came with economic benefits.

Only God…

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NLT): “For the LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these FORTY years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”’

Also, from the Bible book of Zechariah 4:6; 7 & 10 (NLT), it says: “ This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it! Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

The belief that everyone in and around the corridors power, who builds a house or buys a car has stolen government money is very erroneous. There are genuine guys who make good use of opportunities to meet their needs.

The truth is; wisdom is the principal thing. Like the Bible admonished, in all your getting, get wisdom and apply it, It will help you a great deal. Don’t forget where you are coming from, remember always your class.

Don’t be carried away by the appurtenances of the moment. Be watchful and careful of sweet-offers and sycophants. Their mission is to derail you and blame when the moment is gone. Make good and legitimate use of the moment. Integrity remains the watchword. Just like the moment can give unlimited opportunities, it can as well ruin. See your exist as you enter. Owe your loyalty first, to your conscience, do that which is right whether it is in your interest or not and speak truth to power even at the risk of the moment. Run away from the gossip around and about power corridors. Open your ears to hear a lot, but speak less.

Identify single story tellers, ensure you hear from the other side and verify their stories before you take any action. Be prepared to be a victim of betrayal and blackmail, especially from those you have given access to you.

Fundamentally, I have achieved, by the special grace of God, what looks very impossible for people from a very poor background like me, to achieve, in the past 15 years of my 40 years of my stay here. God looked beyond my poor family background, my poor academic credentials, my infallibilities and bestow His riches, blessings and unmerited grace upon me. Only God, and God alone can do for me, what He has done. Tehillah!

Significantly, I have come to appreciate that the movement to the top, is not an elevator movement. Whosoever wishes to get to the top in life, should prefer the staircase or the step. When you use the staircase, you mark your step, appreciate every effort made in getting to the next step. When you finally arrive at the top, you will come to appreciate the entire movement.

Truly, I have come to see nothing in life. I have also come to terms with the obvious that, the best for me is to hold fast to God and true friendship. Indeed, things of this life are gradually becoming useless and meaningless to me.

Thank you

I will be an ingrate if I fail to mention, and appreciate those God has used to help me thus far.

To my departed friends, who are not alive today to celebrate with me, I will not forget your great support and push. The likes of Prince Longinus Orjiako, Chief Chukwuemeka Azikiwe (Owelle 11), Dr Dozie Ikedife, and Amb. Raph Uwaechue, God who called you to rest, will give me the power to hold onto what we shared together.

My Special appreciation goes to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Chris Ngige, Emeka Etiaba SAN, Chief Abu Inu Umoru, Elder Christian Elemele, Hon. Aniekan Umanah, Mr. Gabriel Akinadewo, Mr. Dotun Oladipo, Mr. Emma Agu, Mr. Obi Azuru, Chief Ikpeoha Nwamuo, Rt. Hon. Uzo Azubuike, Dr. ACB Agbazuere, Mr. Sam Omatseye, Alhaji Shetima Yerima, Mr. Friday Oloko, Chief Chekwas Okorie, Senator Nimi Amange, Senator Ali Ndume, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Sir Ndubuisi Nwobu, Hon. Uko Nkole, Mrs. Constance Egbue, Mr. Benjamin Obioha and lots more.

To my dear wife, Ozioma, to the good and sweet memories of my late father, to my mother and my siblings, Mr. Okwudiri Appolos, Mr. Chibuike Appolos, Mrs Chinenye Maxwell (née Appolos) Me. Obioma Appolos, Mr. Onyedikachi Appolos and Mr. Osinachi Appolos. I forever appreciate you all.

Conclusion
Permit me to quote the lyrics of a two stanza of old hymn I’ve sang many times in church.

“I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Chorus:
“Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood”

When I looked around me and see all that has happened in this 40 years of my life on earth, I lack words to express my joy and explain my gratitude.

In these 40 years, I have not slept in any hospital on admission. In these 40 years, I have not been detained in a police or any other security custody for any offense. In these 40 years, I have not visited an native doctors for any reason.

So God has kept me healthy and strong, with blessings, favors, and promotions that come from Him and Him alone. I can’t thank Him enough for His goodness and mercies upon my life.

As it is recorded in the Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NLT): “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

Thank you and happy 40th birthday to me!

Enyinnaya Appolos, the Special Adviser to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Media writes from Abia State

How a newspaper vendor became a Journalist and Governor’s Media Adviser: The Enyinnaya Appolos’s Success Story 

Enyinnaya Appolos has served Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in diverse capacities, and is adjudged today as a successful young member of the Abia State Government.

What most people do not realize is that Appolos climbed the ladder of success from the very bottom. He was a motor mechanic, okada rider, book seller and nesppaer vendor as he trekked the path. In this interview, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media tells his success story to Jungle Journalist Magazine. Excerpts:

You assumed a larger than life personality before the 2015 elections and during your service as the CPS to the governor. Who really is Enyinnaya Apollos?

My name is Enyinnaya Emmanuel Ogadimma. This is my name and I am from Isiko in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State. I am a journalist.

Before I became a journalist in 2007, I was in the village, I was a village boy. I was born in 1980, and from then I lived in the village till 1998, when I left Isiko for the first time and joined my father who was then living in Port Harcourt. I went to primary school l at Umuhuabi Isiko Community Primary School, I went to a commercial school that is today no more in existence. It was a private school, and I don’t even know if it was government approved as at then. The school was called Learners Institute of Business Studies, and it was there I had my secondary education. Around 1997, when my friends in government secondary schools were preparing to write WAEC, I discovered that in my school, we knew nothing about it. So I was not happy about it. I became ashamed and angry, but I didn’t know that I could register for WAEC in any government approved school. I didn’t know.

Choosing a profession

I then told my parents that I will no longer go to school, that was in 1997. My mother supported me, she said that the importance of education is to read, write and speak English, and all of these I already know.

She said I was hardworking, and should stay in the village, and do farming with her. She added that I could go and learn bicycle repair works so that if I repair bicycles, I will then do farming. I loved her advice but my father who was then in Port Harcourt had a different plan for me. He came home, and said, ok, can you follow me to Port Harcourt so that you can attend Government Craft Centre, so that you learn building. I asked him, what is building? He said those who build houses. I said no, I want to be a driver.

My father was a professional driver with the Red Cross during the Biafran War. He drove all his life until he died in 2000. The argument whether to learn bicycle repairs and farm in the village, or going to Port Harcourt to learn building was my mum on one side and my dad on the other.

My father then said, as my son, you won’t be a driver like me. He wanted me to do welding, I said no. If I must learn a trade, I will learn motor mechanic.

My parents were illiterates, stark illiterates, but they understood that you have a right. After our arguments, they allowed me to have my way and I went to Port Harcourt with my father. So in January 1998, I didn’t start learning the mechanic I came for. My father said that I can’t just come to the city and begin to work immediately and I should stay at home and get used to the city first. So I will stay in the house, and my father will go to work. We were living at Nanka Waterside, and they were using wood to build the houses. I had some other relatives also living there. I was the kid among them, and since they wanted me to know the city, I started following one of them who hawked clothes materials around Port Harcourt. He used to carry the clothes around and I would follow. From childhood, I had always been a great singer, and was part of the youth ministry in the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Choir Boy

My father introduced me to one Mr Kingsley Okoro in our church, the church organist at the church on Nsukka Street, Diobu Port Harcourt. The church had a singing group called ‘The Harmonizers”. When I came, they co-opted me and made me a member of the group, so I joined and also joined the choir at the church, and at the Port Harcourt district. I also later joined the Rivers Conference Choir. I remember when the general president of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Pastor James Paulson came to Aba. He visited Port Harcourt, and I was a member of the Rivers conference choir that came to sing at that conference. So I have always been very active in the things of God. It got to a point when a lot of people thought I was going to become a pastor, including my mother.

I also became a literature evangelist of the church-people who sell books. Adventist Church is a book church, we were those propagating the second coming of Christ through books. I later discovered that the profit was not much. All these happened between 1998 and early 1999.

How I became a motor mechanic

By January 1999, my father said ok, you have stayed one year in Port Harcourt. Come and start learning the mechanic you came for. He took me to Elechi Beach in Port Harcourt, and I joined one Ahamefula, known as Amaco as an apprentice mechanic. I moved there in 1999. By January 2000, having spent one year in Amaco’s workshop, I was already uncomfortable, because in that workshop, we didn’t repair what you may call flashy cars. The only kind of cars that come there were taxis- Datsun, Sunny, all those rickety taxis. But when you come to the streets of Port Harcourt, you see all kinds of flashy cars. That led me to a place in D/Line Port Harcourt by Railway.

Rich mechanic or nothing!

There is one big mechanic workshop there owned by one Edet. They repaired those flashy and costly cars there. I came back and told my dad that I don’t want to learn work in Amaco’s place again, that I want to learn with Edet. Those jeeps, Honda Civic, modern cars, those were the kind of cars I wanted to repair. I just knew in my mind that the taxi we were repairing won’t help me in the future.

Without consulting my dad, I went to the man and told him I wanted to learn from him, and that I was already learning somewhere else and that I had spent one year there. He agreed and said I should go and bring my father, and come along with N40, 000. My father cannot afford N10, 000. That was in 2000. I went to my father and told him. He said, Enyia, there is no point in going there because I don’t have money. Mechanic is mechanic. Free from Amaco’s place then you can go elsewhere. I refused, and then told him that I wanted to go to school.

How a landlady rekindled my quest for education

Earlier, I had had an encounter in the workshop one day, the landlady of the yard came there one day. I was lying under a car absent-mindedly writing a letter to nobody. I didn’t know she was there, observing me. I have been taught how to write official and unofficial letters and I was just practising. She then asked me, who are you writing that letter to? I said I was just practising how to write official and unofficial letters. She asked me what an official letter is. I said it’s a letter with two addresses, while the unofficial letter is a letter with just one address.

She now said to me, ‘you are wasting your time here, you better go to school. That was the only thing she said. So when my father said there was no money for training at Edet’ s place, I just told him its school or nothing. That time I had no document. I met one of my friends, Mr Chinasa Ojum in the singing group and told him of my predicament. He said, the only thing you need to do now is to go to CAS. I said what’s CAS? He said , College of Arts and Science, and he said go there and do prelim. When you do your remedial studies, you can write WAEC and get admission. I said, fine. And I went to CAS. That was in 2000, and I lost my dad in June that year. I now came back to my dad and said that I was going to school. He won’t listen because it was something he could not imagine. My elder brother had left and moved to Bayelsa.

The illegal okada rider

He left his motorcycle behind, and when my father said that he can’t help me, which is the truth because he earned very little, I took my brother’s bike, RX 125 and would enter the road every evening when tax force had retired as an okada man. That was what I was doing when my father died.

Dad’s death, me, and my God

I was in College of Arts and Science when my father died. His death was a very eye-opening experience, in the sense that it taught me how to live life for myself, an independent life. His death strengthened me, and made me to begin struggling for myself. It made me to realize that truly, it’s now between me and my God, nobody else.

After dad’s burial, I returned to Port Harcourt and completed my programme. By September that year, I wrote WAEC, my first WAEC, external WAEC.

Luckily for me, before the death of my father, my brother had rented a house at No 8 Nanka Street, my father was living in Nanka Waterside, we were all living there.

First WAEC, first shocker

When my brother got that apartment, we all moved to that place. Mind you that my brother had moved to Bayelsa. I wrote that WAEC and made parallel F. The only subject I had C was Christian Religious Knowledge. That was my first attempt on WAEC. That didn’t deter me. So since I couldn’t go to school then, I returned to Port Harcourt and started hustling again.

I will never ride okada again

I began to do okada in the evenings and every Sunday. Then I had one remarkable experience in 2001. I was flying down with my okada along Woji Road in GRA Port Harcourt. There is a popular bar called Chess Bar. While I rode down, one vehicle just came out of the road, and knocked down the okada man right in my front. The experience hit me, ‘this could be me o’, I thought. I returned and said I will never ride okada again, assuming I was the one?

First peek into the media

Then I went to my uncle who distributed newspapers and told him of my experience, and told him I don’t want to do okada again. I told him I wanted to begin distributing newspapers, and he said no problem. That was how I became a newspaper vendor from year 2001. As a newspaper vendor, I registered a private class to prepare for another WAEC exams. I registered for NECO, and registered for WAEC. I went to Elele for the registration. While I sold newspapers, I was also studying for the exams. My NECO came out and I had five credits including Mathematics, English. It was only Government that I didn’t have a C. By 2003, I wrote JAMB to read Mass Communications at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I also wrote POLYJAMB, and applied for same course in Okopoly.

The Eziuche Ubani Twist

I didn’t know about any course in life. All I knew was that there were doctors and lawyers and engineers. I had this mindset that lawyers are never going to make heaven, because I grew up from the Adventist background and was influenced by the things we heard in the village.

Then there is this man in my village, Eziuche Ubani who was already a successful journalist. I now said that whatever made Dee Eziuche successful is what I will do. They said he is a journalist, and that if I want to become a journalist, then I must study Mass Communications. I was already selling newspapers, and was already in the circle of Mass Communications as a circulator of the mass media.

Education finally

WAEC came out 2002, and I wrote to get admission in 2004. So POLYJAMB came out before UNIJAMB, and I had four Cs, and needed five to gain admission. When POLYJAMB came out, I completely forgot about the UNIJAMB and just pursued it. I didn’t need to wait for Nsukka. By September 2003, I went to Oko, Anambra State for the first time.

My first visit to ‘Aso Rock’

When I got there and asked for where to process my admissions, they said, ‘go to Aso Rock’. Where is Aso Rock? Is it not Abuja?, I wondered. I didn’t know that was the admin block. I now went straight to the place called Aso Rock. I walked straight to the building and I met two ladies. They were doing one year IT (Industrial Training) in the school. They told me that admissions have started for ND. They took me to the Librarian. When he saw my POLYJAMB result, he liked it and now wrote to HOD of Mass Communications, ‘consider the applicant for admission’. I remember that was what he wrote. But when he saw four Cs in my O Level, he cancelled what he wrote and said, ‘go to Ufuma. I didn’t know what it was. I asked one of the ladies, ‘what is Ufuma?’ She said its the pre-ND campus. I said I will go and she said it was late to go then. She took me to one brother’s house and I slept there for the night.

I went to Ufuma, processed admissions, and joined them for lectures. That was the beginning of my journey into the media world.

After that exercise, I returned to Port Harcourt, and prepared myself. Then I told my brothers I was leaving for school. That was how I returned to Oko.

So I did one year pre-ND in Library and Information Science because there was no pre – ND for Mass Communication. I spent that one year just to remedy one C missing from my O’level.

By the time my results came out, I was already qualified. I didn’t write JAMB, and I didn’t know that 80 percent of those who were at Ufuma had gone for JAMB that year. I didn’t know. No one told me and I was relying on the fact that I was coming to Oko from there to study Mass Communication.

Another step towards El Dorado

When we were finally done at Ufuma by 2004, we all came to Oko. They said they were taking JAMB first, and would take 100 admissions into ND 1. I saw that majority of us there were coming for JAMB. My name was not in first and second batch but I was lucky that in the third batch, my name came out.

Before admission, I was so sure of admissions that I went and rented a house.

I heard that people were paying so much to get that admission. The truth was that there was even no money for me to pay if I had to pay.

Aluta from Day 1

After I had waited this long, I went to my Literature teacher Mr Umeobi and told him my name was not there. He said he could not help me and told me to go to Deputy Rector’s office.

I went there with a protest letter. Imagine me writing a protest letter that I have not been admitted after I made my result from Ufuma.

When I got there, he almost intimidated me by sounding aggressive. I stood my ground and explained to him my predicament. He looked at my file, and took my documents and put inside one file.

When the third list came out and my name wasn’t there, I rushed to him again. He then said it was a fake list. It was the list manufactured by those who were paid money to. He was the one who told me it was a fraudulent list and was not from the rector.

He opened that same file and showed me my name. So when the list came, I had my name on the list.

The weekly hustle for school fees

From the stories I have told you, you will see that it will be a difficult thing for me to succeed. There was this elder in our church, Elder Christian Elemile. I ran to him in Port Harcourt and pleaded with him. My elder brother, Mr Chibuike Appolos had raised some money for me.

That same year, my immediate younger brother got admission in University of Uyo, and the attention of the entire family was on him. It was from him that the family wanted to start training people in school. We were six boys in the family. Elemile gave me N10, 000 in 2004 and I was able to pay some fees with what both of them gave me. I then came to the reality and every Friday, I traveled to Port Harcourt, worshiped on Saturday and sold newspapers every Sunday.

All throughout my ND days, I traveled every weekend to Port Harcourt to sell papers.

As a newspaper vendor, you make more money on Sunday than any other day of the week. You know why? On Sundays, offices are shut down. Those who do supply to offices don’t do and everybody comes to the streets to buy papers. There are also a lot of people, and I stay in GRA where the rich people live.

For that reason, I miss my classes every Monday because I will leave Port Harcourt on Monday morning, enter vehicle at Ngwa Road, Adam and Eve or Jenco going to Ekwulobia. By the time I get there, of course Monday lectures are over. So I will start on Tuesday till Friday and after lecture in the afternoon, I will travel.

But one thing stood out for me in all of these-my resoluteness to succeed and my strong belief in God to help me. I saw my father as my only helper until he died and I realized that I had no one else but God.

From industrial attachment to full-fledged reporter

By 2006, I was done with my OND, and I now headed for my one year industrial attachment. I did that at Nation Newspapers. I didn’t know I was doing well until my editor, Mr Gabriel Akinadewo, the political editor told me that I was doing well. He told me that a new newspaper was coming up in 2008, when I was supposed to return to school. He said if I like, I should join him. I agreed, because I was already contemplating- who is going to help me? Am I going to continue going to Port Harcourt to sell papers? I was not able to save money because I was told they don’t pay IT students in the Nation, and I accepted.

I was covering politics and it was a political era and I was going from one press conference to another.

But I later discovered that they were paying IT students money. He now pushed for me and they started paying me from September.

By 2008, Mr Gabriel left Nation and moved to Compass Newspaper. That was how I moved to Compass. That was how I was gainfully employed for the first time as a journalist. There, I was a political reporter. Because I always loved journalism, because I was looking up to Eziuche Ubani who by my own standard was a very successful journalist, I didn’t see any distraction, and didn’t see any danger ahead.

Two steps to Okezie Ikpeazu

By 2010, I officially moved to Abuja, and by 2011, 12, when Compass was unstable, I left Compass and joined a new paper coming on, The Union. In my life as a journalist, I have never worked in an established platform. I have always been a pioneer staff, except for when I did my IT in The Nation. When I joined Compass, it was a virgin platform. When I joined Union, it was a fresh platform too.

The dying media industry

But the sad thing about the whole story is that both of these platforms have stopped publishing now, and this is an aspect I don’t feel happy about. Compass was the first newspaper that bought cars for line editors, editors, and all of that, with good salary, yet it’s gone. I joined Union, another newspaper that paid so well. Today, that paper is not publishing. But I left Union and Compass before each stopped publishing. I didn’t die with any of them.

First step into political journalism

By February 2014, I officially resigned from Union to join Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in his governorship ambition. It was a hard decision I had to take, and I needed three people to consult- myself, my wife and my editor-in-chief, Mr Emma Agu. He gave me all the support and told me that if Dr Ikpeazu didn’t get the ticket, come back and take your job. Luckily, we got the ticket, the rest is history.

Serving my dear governor and my lovely Abia State

When we came to power in 2015, I was the PA and media assistant to the governorship candidate, so when we won election, I also didn’t aspire for any office. I have never asked for any office in my life. All the offices I have held just came to me. I moved from PA to governorship candidate, PA to governor elect, and PA to governor. I did that for one year and was appointed Chief Press Secretary, on 13th June 2016.

I was Chief Press Secretary until May 29, 2019. Then after swearing in, I was appointed Special Adviser Media.

In the Okezie Ikpeazu kitchen cabinet, I have been the only one that held three offices. others have been very relevant and retained their offices where they have been. I was the very first aide of Okezie Ikpeazu, I came before every other person. I must give thanks to the glory of God and appreciate my principal for finding me worthy to enjoy the privilege he has given me to work with him up till this very moment.

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COVID-19: This ‘shit’ is making us insensitive to ourselves

By Enyinnaya Appolos

Indeed, Corona Virus (COVID-19) is hitting us harder, making us insensitive to our plights.

Though we have reduced our complaints to the hunger and lack of effect of the virus, truth is that this ‘shit’ is re-setting us. It is setting us against us, making us to, somehow, loose our dignity, sense of reasoning, and jettisoning our core values.

Our tradition, our culture, our normal human routine, our reasoning even our experience are under attack by COVID-19.

How?

It is against our culture and tradition to ask healthy human beings to go inside and remain indoors without going to work. We are hungry, but we are not allowed to go out there to work for food.

Begging for food is not our culture and tradition, but COVID-19’s lockdown and sit at home order, the have forced and turned all of us into beggars overnight. This ‘shit’ is hitting us. It’s turning us against us.

Again, it is our culture and tradition to announce the death of our loved ones and also bury them befittingly. Even the Bible supports a proper or befitting burial for the dead, saying that it would have been better for the dead to be born dead, if such can’t get a befitting burial.

“A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead.” Ecclesiastes 6:3.

(I want to believe that the befitting or decent burial talked about here is according to what you can afford.)

But today COVID-19 has barred us from announcing the passing of our loved ones due to fear of associating such deaths to/with COVID-19.

Despite that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 32 deaths by COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are only aware of one burial, that of Mallam Abba Kyari. When were the other 31 bodies buried? Where were they buried? Who are their relatives. You see what COVID-19 has done to us? We have jettisoned our culture, tradition and also abandoned our dead loved ones.

This shit is making us insensitive to ourselves.

Even the church and her leaders have also abandoned the teachings of the Bible and tradition of giving or returning tithe and offerings, they have become very insensitive to economic plight, suffering and abnormal lifestyle that we all have been subjected to.

You can only pay tithe and offering from the proceeds of your labor. Today, due to COVID-19 we all have been forced to cease from our labors. Nobody is making income, from where he is expected to pay tithe and offerings to the church, but churches and their leaders are encouraging us to worship at our homes, on one hand, and on the other hand, they are asking us to pay tithe and offering to the church. How?

Where do these insensitive churches and their leaders expect us to pay the tithe and offering from, knowing that we have been at home for weeks/months now without working. Many of us are now surviving on palliatives from government and spirited individuals and organizations.

Again, you see what COVID-19 has done to the reasoning and sensibilities of Churches and their leaders. They have also lost their sense of reasoning and empathy to COVID-19. This shit has turned them against those they are supposed to care for.

What projects are these churches and their leaders executing in this time of lockdown that they are asking members to pay money. Unfortunately, many of these churches and their leaders are not even giving palliatives to their members.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

I don’t want to talk about the authorities and their agents enforcing the lockdown and sit at home order, they too are guilty of corrupt and bribe allegations leveled against them. They are insensitive to the plight of those who for very important and necessary reason, are out while the lockdown is still on.

Even you Mr/Mrs citizen, who is supposed to obey instructions and remain indoors, you have also lost your sensibility to COVID-19. Why are you struggling in your unreasonable attempt to frustrate the efforts and measures of the authorities against the control of spread of the virus. Why are you aiding this ‘shit’ to hit us harder?

Indeed, this ‘shit’ is hitting us harder, making us insensitive to ourselves.

I conclude with lyrics from a song I love to sing: “The King Is Coming”

“The marketplace is empty,
No more traffic in the streets,
All the builders’ tools are silent,
No more time to harvest wheat,
Busy housewives cease their labors,
In the courtroom no debate,
Work on earth is all suspended,
As the King comes thro’ the gate…”

• Enyinnaya Appolos, a journalist, writes from Isiko
Sunday, 26th April, 2020

COVID -19: And what about Nostradamus’ predictions?

By Enyinnaya Appolos

I grabbed my pillow early on Sunday 12th April, 2020 and woke up at about 1am midnight Monday 13th April 2020, and reached out to my phone to get updates on global and local goings-on.

There was a WhatsApp message from a friend. The content of the message is about predictable claims or future tellings of Michele de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, the 16th-century physician who lived in France.

According to the WhatsApp message, which am sure is still circulating, Nostradamus ‘predicted’ or ‘saw’ and ‘wrote’ about the 2020 corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night, on a country with 7 hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it”.

First, I was taken aback. What an exact prediction!

Immediately, I opened my google search engine and type “Nostradamus predictions of corona virus”. Indeed I saw there have been arguments around and about it, as a lot of persons and organizations have written to give their opinion on the claims.

As a journalist from Isiko, I remembered the Bible in 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) said: “Study l to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

So I read all I could read about the Nostradamus and the corona virus claims and predictions. I am still studying.

A study captioned, ‘No evidence Nostradamus predicted novel coronavirus’ found on the website of politifact.com reads:

“Nostradamus is best known for “Les Prophéties,” a collection of poetic quatrains that are united in sets of verses, or “centuries,” that was first published in 1555.

“This purported prediction does not follow the pattern of his typical vague, four-line poems, and we couldn’t find anything resembling it in Les Prophéties, or in various versions of his compiled works.

“Recent social media posts also appear to be the first and only occurrences of this prophecy online, and none provide additional details or evidence as to where it was found, which typically indicates it was fabricated.

“There is no evidence Nostradamus wrote this, it doesn’t follow the quatrain format of his predictions and the words cannot be found in his works. We rate it False.”

Also, Stephane Gerson, Professor of French, French Studies, and History at New York University, told Reuter.com that the claims is unfounded.

Reuter.com reports under the heading: “False claim: Nostradamus predicted the coronavirus outbreak” said the claims is unfounded.

“Posts on social media claim 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus predicted the new coronavirus. The different posts include a quote attributed to Nostradamus describing the spread of a plague in Italy that will be the end of the global economy as we know it. Some iterations of the claim also reference Nostradamus’ famous book “Les Propheties” (“The Prophecies”).

“The claims include a prophecy written out as follows: “There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night, on a country with 7 hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it.”

“This claim is unfounded. Reuters found no evidence of this prophecy being written by Nostradamus. Stephane Gerson, Professor of French, French Studies, and History at New York University, told Reuters this text “does not come from Nostradamus’s ‘Prophecies’,” nor from other prognostications made by Nostradamus.

“Gerson told Reuters, “One should keep in mind that plagues were recurrent in 16th-century Europe, during his lifetime. They were one of the travails about which he wrote (indeed, there are at least 35 references to plagues in his ‘Prophecies’).”

“A search for key words in “Les Prophéties” online including “twin year”, “queen” and “east” brought no results.

‘The text is also not written in Nostradamus’ famous quatrains style, a type of poem that consists of four lines. Examples of Nostradamus quatrains can be seen here .

“In his book “Nostradamus: How an Obscure Renaissance Astrologer Became the Modern Prophet of Doom”, Professor Gerson says Nostradamus’ lasting appeal relies on the fact that his “arcane predictions could mean anything”.

According to Gerson, past experts linked Nostradamus’ success to “the “sheer number of quatrains and the Prophecies’ dearth of categorical statements and references to specific times and places”.

Gerson told Reuters why the timing of this claim during this outbreak doesn’t come as a surprise. “There is nothing surprising about the reemergence of such false Nostradamian prophecies in the wake of a disaster. The same thing has happened for over 400 years: invented or altered predictions, endowed with the aura of Nostradamus, surface again and again, part of an economy of forgery, mass media circulation, and yearnings for order and design each time an unforeseen event threatens our material well-being and our conceptual frameworks.”

Reuters Fact-Check team has debunked similar claims on alleged predictions of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Reuter’s verdict is that; “There is no evidence to support that Nostradamus prophesied the coronavirus outbreak.”

My submission is found in the Bible book of Daniel 4:17 (NIV) “The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

Enyinnaya Appolos, a journalist, writes from Isiko. April 13th, 2020.

Abia Govt Image Makers Host Jungle Journalist

Jungle Journalist Media Limited was hosted earlier this week by two top image makers of the Abia State Government.

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the media, ThankGod Ofoelue who visited Umuahia, the Abia State capital last Monday, was a guest of the Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr Enyinnaya Apollos, who gave him a warm welcome.

The two journalists spent over three hours discussing issues around the media industry, its challenges and prospects, as well as issues bordering public relations and governance, which is part of the business of the governor’s adviser.

Apollos also spoke about his career as a successful journalist, and said that he looked forward to returning to the newsroom, when his service to Abia State is over.
“The newsroom is my first address, and I look forward to it when I complete my service to my Principal, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and my dear state”.

“I for one admire what you have been able to do with Jungle Journalist Media Limited, and I must advise that you continue to write for the common man”, he stated.

Later in the day, the Abia State Honourable Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu also had a lengthy chat with Ofoelue.

The workaholic commissioner enumerated the various projects and programmes of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Also speaking about Jungle Journalist Media Limited, Kalu described its reportage as ‘precise, accurate and timely’. He encouraged the publisher to keep up the good work of ‘fair and unbiased journalism’, which he said is the hallmark of success in any venture.

Why Ikpeazu started Abia development from Aba- Enyinnaya Appolos

A lot of Abia people are of the opinion that the government of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu have not done enough in terms of basic development.

Some are of the opinion that while the rest of the state remain poorly developed, the leadership of Ikpeazu has concentrated development on Abia South which is the governor’s senatorial district.

In this interview with Editor in Chief of Jungle Journalist News Corporation, THANKGOD OFOELUE, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mazi Enyinnaya Appolos explains reasons why Aba is a focal point, and how much has been done in the other senatorial zones.

Excerpts:

Why are there so many billboards scattered across Abia State praising Governor Ikpeazu? We thought he warned against that when he became governor.

When the governor came, he said he doesn’t want billboards and didn’t want to be addressed as His Excellency, doesn’t want any awards. It’s too early for celebration. But if along the line, he has been able to do things, then we can celebrate. Even the Bible made us to understand that there is time for everything.

It would have been completely wrong for the governor to have allowed people from day one begin to mount billboards celebrating him.

Am sure you would have noticed that some of the billboards you saw are celebrating achievements of the governor. For instance, you see billboards with roads that the governor has done, quality roads, infrastructure, focused and with vision. So when you begin to see those billboards now, you know there is now something to celebrate.

Also be aware that most of these billboards were not done with state funds. Some were done by local government chairmen and the Ministry of Information. That is the duty of the ministry, to educate and enlighten to people.

Don’t you think the monies spent to make these billboards could have been converted into something more worthwhile?

How much is a billboard? But even at that, if for instance, the man at Ugwunagbo who have never had a tarred road decides that, he will do a billboard to thank God almighty because government has remembered them, is that wrong?

Work seems to be slow at Osisioma flyover. How long will it take to complete the project?

Have you seen where people are building a three or four storey house? The time it takes is not the same time it will take to do a bungalow. The bungalow is faster. What we are building is a bridge. You have to deck it, it’s a bridge, not a road. All types of vehicles will run on it. The construction started late of early us so it’s not much a time. We need to take time my dear brother. We are not building a bridge to collapse after a while. We don’t want that kind of experience here.

The Chinese company is taking time and we are happy that they are taking time. They just completed one lane, then the second lane is coming. When that is done, we then begin to descend both ends. So, it will take some time because of the engineering involved.

That bridge is not in Isiko my village, it’s on Aba Port Harcourt expressway, and it’s going to be a very busy bridge. If you don’t do a solid work, you will encounter problems and tomorrow somebody will say that the first bridge built in Abia collapsed. We don’t want that.

That’s the first flyover ever in Abia, we are ashamed but have to say it. Our people are patient with us because they have seen the quality of work that we are doing. It’s not taking much time because it’s not even up to two years old. But in no time they will be done with the pillars. Then they will put up the other ones they use in crossing it. It’s already moulded. The casting is the main work because they may do just a little in one day, so that it will be solid. As you see it, that is the standard anywhere in the world.

Moreover, we are ashamed that it’s the first bridge in Abia, but we are happy it’s happening now.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has been focusing his works mainly in Aba, Abia South and the people of Abia North and Central are of the opinion that the government has not been giving enough attention to them. Can you tell us why?

I will start by telling you that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is the governor of Abia State. He is not governor of Abia south or central or north alone. Everything about this government is in the open. Our people in all the Senatorial zones appreciate what we are doing so well.

I can tell you that some of the roads we are doing in Abia North, when put together in terms of kilometres, are more than all we have done so far in Abia South. It is wrong for anybody to say that more work is being done in Abia South.

The person is wrong because he does not understand the plight of the state. The oil well of the state is Aba, that is where we do all our trading. I am so happy that people are saying that so much is being done. After all it’s this same Aba that the opposition used to do their campaign in 2015. They were blaming past PDP governments that failed to do anything. As we speak, this government is doing the Idi Abam road.

There was never a road there. It’s in Abia north. We are doing the Abiriba Ring road, it’s in Abia north. We are doing the Abiriba Mkporo road, Abia north.

We are doing the Arochukwu road, and we have successfully completed the Arochukwu bridge, the Okobo bridge. We are doing Mkpa road, the Nneato bridge, and so many other roads around that area. This people should not make the people of Abia South hear that the roads in their areas are longer in terms of kilometres. Faulks Road is about 4.6 kilometres, while the Arochukwu road is about 9 kilometres. Can you compare that?

In Abia we don’t segregate in that aspect, because every Abian, go to Arochukwu, Ohafia, Abiriba, majority of their businesses are in Aba. In fact, it’s in their interest that Aba is fixed. Without Aba, Abia is dead. That is why during the campaigns, the governor said, “I am going to develop Abia from Aba, because we know that if you get Aba right, you have got Abia right.

That is why. We don’t have enough money. We don’t believe that because you are a friend to the governor, he will go and do a road in your village that has no economic value. All the roads we are doing have economic values for our people. It’s either we are doing it for the villagers to bring their farm produce to the city, that’s why we are doing ten kilometres roads per local government.

That’s why you see us giving alternative roads into Akwa Ibom and Cross River because Federal government has refused to fix Ikot Ekpene Road, and it’s affecting us. Businesses were no longer moving. People were no more coming from Cameroon and Cross River to buy from Aba. But today, this government has done two access roads into Akwa Ibom. One of the roads, the Umuariekwerazu -Ntoedine Road is even another short way to go to Arochukwu. Arochukwu people in Aba will now use that road to go home. In Abia, we have common boundaries with our brothers in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers in ghat belt, then Ebonyi. Sometimes it’s easier to connect Abia South from Arochukwu in Abia North when you take a community in Akwa Ibom, and you are back in Abia.

That road is serving that purpose today. The next one we are doing is the Onicha-Ngwa-Owo road, which is giving us direct access to Akwa Ibom. Today as we speak, traders are back to Aba from Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Cameroon. If you go to Aba any evening, you will commuter nudes loaded with goods, sometimes you see only one woman in the front, maybe she is the owner of the goods going. Some to Cameroon.

Federal government wanted to punish us, and refused to repair Ikot Ekpene road, and we don’t have money too. That’s why were decided to open our own roads so that traders can come and buy from us too. They are coming and our people are now selling.

Are you aware that the section of Aba where we have fabrication companies were along Port Harcourt road, businesses were shut down, people left their homes, closed down their business, some relocated? I have a friend. His father is the best horticulturist in eastern Nigeria but they left their homes. But today they have returned. Businesses along the road have resumed. Road construction work is ongoing as we speak. It’s supposed to be a federal government road and we were waiting for the Federal government, but at a point, we said we can’t keep waiting for them because all we have in Abia are Abia citizens. It is the wish of Ikpeazu that we have all the money, so that we don’t look for federal government. Even the Aba Port Harcourt highway would have been taken over by this government.

I noticed that the roads around Ariaria market have been receiving some attention. The government have had to demolish buildings to achieve this. How did you go about it without getting people angry?

If you knew where Aba was before we came on board, you won’t ask this question. Let me talk about Ariaria that you mentioned. If you knew the state if Ariaria before 2015 that Ikpeazu came on board, if you knew how Brass/Faulks Road were, if you knew Samek, Umule, Tonimas were, you won’t ask this question. The place was practically a swamp, and people inside Ariaria had moved out and were now selling on the Express.

Flood from Ifeobara pond had taken over their shops. What a lot of people didn’t understand was that Ifeobara is the lowest point in Aba, and if you fail to tackle the problem of Ifeobara, there is nothing you will do in Aba that will last. Like I said, people were relocating their shops to the express as you are travelling to Port Harcourt.

Coming to your question proper, nobody was displaced for us to build these roads. Before we embarked on any project, the Commissioner held what is called a stakeholders meeting. I remember before we moved into Faulks Road, there was a stakeholders meeting involving original owners of the place (Ngwa people), those living there and those doing business there.
We informed them of what we were coming to do, that we will dualize the roads, and expand them and by doing that, we were going to reclaim land spaces, returning it to the original master plan. They were told.

Because of the deplorable state of these roads, people on their own said, ‘please come and build the roads for us. It will interest you that, immediately the engineers marked these sections, structures that will go down, the owners of these structures were removing them. They knocked off sections of their own buildings to help the government. They were so cooperative to that extent, because it would have cost the government additional money pulling down some of those things.

But they did it themselves because they were carried along from the very beginning. The people wilfully did this, without anyone compelling them to. It happened on Faulks Road, Port Harcourt Road, Osusu Road. The only issue we had on Osusu was the Filling Station man who took his time. He thought it was the usual government story, that we were not going to do anything. Until it dawned upon him that government was serious about it.

In fact, the two filling stations we had on Brass Street pulled their materials off when we marked them. That Total Filling Station in fact, was my best station. That was where I always bought fuel. I remember one day I was at that station and they were joking, telling themselves that they will relocate because government was coming to repair the road. Two of their pumps were removed, without any persuasion. Which one would they have preferred, to lose everything to flood, and now you have seen a government that has come to fix the road asking for your cooperation. Aba people cooperated, and I want them to keep cooperating because what we are seeing now on some of these roads is not good.
People are already trading on the roads.

They will take advantage because it’s a weekend, along MCC Samek, someone will go there, those people selling live chicken will light fire on the freshly tarred road to boil water. They won’t consider that those things are bitumen.

We want to appeal to Aba people to show more commitment, more concern, more understanding. They have been cooperating with the government but they cannot be the one be the ones to destroy what has been done for them.

Thats why when government went on your recently, he was not happy. How can you be trading on a road with earth moving equipment, without considering your own safety? He said traders should leave the roads and move to free zones inside Ariaria market.

What is free zone?

Free zone is the open space in the market where people trade, there are no shops there. Keke people, bus drivers, please move into your parks. One thing you would have noticed on Faulks Road are the laybys. Laybys are places where the buses can drop and lick passengers. Where you don’t have laybys, don’t stay there. Make use of the laybys and laybys are not parks. It’s just a place to drop passengers. Thats why TIMAS have been empowered to ensure Aba people comply. TIMAS is the traffic indiscipline agency setup to manage motorists and traders. It’s a common practice for people to drive against traffic on Sunday. It’s a culture bit government is saying no.

The law that set up the organisation empowered them to take the defaulter for a psychiatric test to see if he’s is mentally okay. The idea is to revamp this town, and we don’t want to talk of what was not done. What we met on ground, we want to change, and seriously, the government is changing.

The Ifeobara pond menace

Landlords who owned four, five storey buildings abandoned their homes. Nobody could live there. I am sure the foundation of those buildings now are not strong enough for people to occupy the houses again because for so many years, they were right inside the water.

Even during the dry season, those houses were still submerged. So what we are doing at Ifeobara is a careful plan of this government. Successive governments before us made efforts, but they failed. A particular politician in this town said that he has followed two different governors to that place, and after a while, the water will return. Now what happened? What we did differently was that we told Setraco that we wanted them to solve the problem of Ifeobara because that’s the major problem in Aba.

Setraco had to go to Netherlands to bring experts in flood management and flood control.

They were the ones who told us because they said Netherlands is a country sitting on water. That they have engineers who are experts in the areas where we needed. Today as you see Ifeobara, we have 6.4 kilometres underground tunnel that takes water down to Aba river. You won’t see it because when they were laying the pipes, they will just open the ground, lay it and close. That tunnel is from Ifeobara to Aba road to where you have Tonimas Filling Station, that junction.

There is another big tunnel there that takes on water down to Aba river.

Also at that Ifeobara are two pumps and two big generators. Once Ifeobara overflows, they will turn it on and it will pump intermittently, taking the storm water through the underground pipe into the Aba river. That is why Ariaria is no longer under river since cover when that job was done. During the last rains, it was far better than is used to be. From Brass through Faulks Road to Aba Owerri road, am sure you saw how much have been done on the road. Am sure you saw what the road is now dualised, but the final asphalting of the road has not been done. The government is going to do a final asphalting end to end, and that road is going to come with street lights.

There is also the walkways and the laybys. You must have seen the quality of the drainage. Ikpeazu said, “I will not just build a road, I will build a road that after 30 years, no government in Abia will think of going back there.

All our roads, especially at the city centres are coming with drainages at both ends. They must be finished too with street lights.

Refuse bins and waste disposal

What we do in Aba is, from the time the governor was in charge of ASEPA in Aba, he made a policy, you don’t just throw your refuse anytime and anyhow. ASEPA has provided the waste buckets at various locations within the city centre. People are allowed to go there from 5pm in the evening to go there and drop their refuse.

The next morning, ASEPA trucks we come and pick them.

So, from 5 pm yesterday till late into the night, they are free to dispose refuse. A bucket attendant is to pick refuse thrown around the bucket, organise the refuse and cover it with a net. When the refuse van comes, it picks the bucket, and returns another one. If you go there as from 5pm, you will see another bucket waiting for Aba people to come and throw their refuse.

Thats the way refuse is disposed in town since the days of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as the deputy general manager of ASEPA in charge of Aba.

But those buckets are old and broken in places

They are still doing the job. It can be old and look old in your eyes, but nobody has said that the vehicles are not able to pick them when it comes to pick them. You don’t expect a bucket that collects all kinds of rubbish, sometimes people put dead bodies inside, you don’t expect it to look like my office. So long as it can hold those rubbish, and so long as the roll off truck can pick and return them, we are okay with it.

The expressway is in very bad state, though it belongs to the Federal Government. Why is Abia government not handling this since its Abia territory?

Did you see trucks parked there?

Yes.

I will tell you what is there. Like you pointed out, that place belong to the Federal government. If the state government wants to do anything there, we need their permission. There was an encounter. TIMAS people wanted to remove some vehicles and some people said that it’s the property of the Federal government. I am aware that this government is making a proposal to the Federal government to allow us plant palm trees in the median, instead of allowing that place remain a bush.

We have a very large palm seedling centre, but we can’t just go there to do it. We have the palm seedlings from Ministry of Agriculture. All we want is for them agree with us. By agreeing, they are giving us ownership of that place. But it will be difficult for them to do, thats why that place is like that.

But still, it’s the state government that has been spending money to go and weed it. I remember that during the last dry season, a man was contracted to do it and it was cleared off, from Osisioma to Asa end.

If you see what the Federal government is doing from Abia Tower towards Isiala Ngwa,they are reducing the grassy area in the median, so we pray that they move their work faster towards Aba.

We implore them to work faster on their job. because of the commercial activity between Aba and Obigbo.