IKA WEEKLY – Determination and truth in God have been said to be the two most-important keys to success in any manâ€™s life. Any man that wants to make something out of life must have the determination to succeed and equally bring himself totally under god who has the power to make all things possible.
That was the position of chief Joseph Okafor, the Ochudo 1 of Ute-Ogbeje in Ika North East local government Area. Chief Okafor who said he lost both parents when he was very young, had to drop out of school because there was nobody to sponsor his education.
He disclosed that after dropping out of school, he stayed with different relations, working for them as houseboy. However, in 1969 he came to Agbor, where he enrolled as apprentice in a vulcanizing shop. He completed his apprenticeship in 1971, and the following year, he left Agbor to Igueben in present Edo State to set up his own vulcanizing business.
Meanwhile, he remained committed to his dreams of acquiring Western Education, and ways always hoping and praying for the opportunity to get back to school to resurface again. He stated that on morning, after staying in Igueben for one year in 1973, he just locked up his vulcanizing shop, after reading in the Daily Times about recruitment into the Nigerian Air force. He said, he boarded a lorry to Kaduna, but unfortunately got to the north late in the evening.
The following day, according to him, he went to the military depot but was told the interview took place the previous day, saying that he became stranded and had to be sleeping in a motor park until he got a job as a houseboy.
Early in 1974 Chief Okafor left Kaduna for Lagos in the company of one of his friends who told him that he had a brother in Lagos who they could stay with. He stated that to his disappointment, on reaching Lagos he discovered that the said uncle of his friend was only staying in a one-room apartment with his wife and seven children.
Chief Okafor said he had to leave the place immediately to nowhere in particular until he got the Cater Bridge and took refuge under the bridge, where an Hausa man was selling tae and bread. He stated that because it was getting late he decided to pass the night there, adding that he was abruptly woken up by a group of young men, who demanded from him what he was doing lying on their cartons. He said he was beaten up and his money collected, with other personal belongings. He disclosed that he left the place the following morning after assisting the Hausa man that night. He stated that it was around 5pm in the morning that the Hausa man gave him a cup of tea and bread to eat.
He revealed that that morning he went in search of job and was fortunate to be taken on by a building contractor, who did not pay him until after two days and because of that he did not eat anything for that two days. He disclosed that he later got engaged with the contractor that handled the construction of the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos in 1974, and was with them until the completion of the project when they were dropped.
Chief Okafor recalled that he became a houseboy again under a man from his village, who saw him along the street of Lagos. But luck was to smile on him one day when he ran into a relation of his, whose husband was driving then in Lagos State Military Governor, Navy Commander Tibitu Ukiwe, and it was thought his in-law that he got enlisted into the Nigerian Navy on 20th December, 1975, as a fire-man. He said on getting the job he instantly forgot all the pains and disappointments he had gone through.
He stated that nine years after, while on his annual leave, he visited his elder brother, who was then a new employee of the then newly established Delta Stell Company (DSC) Ovwan/Aladja-Warri, and got introduced to one of his colleague in safety section of the company, who on knowing that he had safety knowledge assisted him in getting a job with a company.
He said he went back to Lagos after his stay to put up his resignation from the Nigerian Navy and went back to Warri to resume work in DSC in February 1983.
Chief Okafor disclosed that it was while in the DSC. That he started with getting his Ordinary Level (O/L) G.CE. Certificate in 1985, and later went into College of Education Warri for his NCE finally gaining admission into the Delta State University, Abraka where he obtained his first degree, majoring in Political Science both at the NCE and B.sc levels.
The Ute-Ogbe born Chief acknowledged and gave God all the glory for what he is today, stating that if not for Godâ€™s love and his determination to succeed, he would have been no where today.
Chief Okafor disclosed that while he was in DSC he was a Safety Assistant Supervisor. He later moved to NAFCON, Port Harcourt and was there for only about two months before he was given appointment by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Petro-Chemical division, Warri, as Assistant Supervisor. Later, he was promoted to the position of Senior Supervisor before finally moving up to the position of Head of Department (HOD), where he was for five years before retiring in December 2006.
He revealed to Ika Weekly that he was instrumental to the employment of about 20 persons into the NNPC before his leaving the establishment. He noted that he is happy to contribute to the employment of some persons who are currently under his payroll
Chief Okafor who was bestowed with Chieftaincy title of Ochudo I of Ute-Ogbeje by the Monarch of the kingdom in recognition of his contribution to the development of the community, says he had also been recognized by the Ute-Ogbeje Indigenous Teacher Association for Ute-Ogbeje Secondary School, Ute-Ogbeje for his assistance to the school. He is also the President General, Ute-Ogbeje Development Union.
Chief Okafor said he owns over 400 different plots of palm plantation in his hometown at Ute-Ogbeje.
He advised road users particularly the Okada riders to avoid plying one way, as he noted that it is very dangerous to do.
He said that Ika Weekly was one of the good things that happen to Ika nation; saying that he first came in contact with the newspaper at Warri; adding that since returning back to Agbor, he has been consistent in his reading of the weekly newspaper.
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