PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK
A school administrator and a pronounced philanthropist, Sir Steve Awolowo Apaokwueze said it does not require Millions of Naira before one can help others particularly the less privileged because according to him, he became a philanthropist when he was only N400 rich. T
The 51-year old retired principal and now proprietor of Ideal Group of Schools (Primary and Secondary) along Daily Bread Street Uromi Junction, Agbor said those who are ready to help are the average public-spirited men and women in the society and not the billionaires, some of whom are selfish and self centered.
The Alisimie bon teacher, cum businessman said that shortly after he was employed as a teacher in 1979, he came across some of his friends who were faced with financial problems adding that with only N400 in his purse, he started to help them out of their financial predicament.
He said at first he was not asking for repayment or any form of interest but that as most of the people he assisted started not only to pay back but further introduced others who needed assistance, the need to ask for a taken amount as an interest come into play and the business expanded.
He disclosed that with such assistance, he was able to set free, some members of the public who found themselves in financial captivity and the business flourished over the years, adding that ldeal Group of Schools which took off in September 2001 was a product of his financial gains from money lending.
Sir.Apakwueze said his voluntary retirement from teaching service was to enable him face the administration of this his school and do away with money lending.
Born at Idumu Uku in Alisimie, Agbor on Friday 20th September, 1956, Sir Steve Awolowo Apaokwueze had his primary education at St. Markâ€™s Catholic School, Alisimie and his secondary education at St. Columba`s (now Gbenoba) Grammar School, Agbor and came out in bright colours in 1977.
He also attended College of Education, Warri, where he obtained his NCE Certificate, Abia State University, for his first degree and had a brief stint with Benson Idahosa University Benin City for a diploma programme in external relations and diplomacy.
The retired but not tired educationist is correctly doing a degree programme in Law at the National Open University.
Apaokwueze was employed as a teacher by the defunct Bendel State Ministry of Education Benin City 1979, and rose to principal grade before he voluntarily dropped the chalk while he was heading Agwu-Ewuru Secondary School in Ihu-Iyase, Agbor.
Throwing more light into his finance business, Sir. Apaokwueze debunked the notion that some money lenders go to the length of using charms on their debtors to make them unable to repay the loans so that the property they pledged would be confiscated.
He said there are some dubious borrowers who borrow money without visible means of repayment, pointing out that such persons quickly pledge their property as an easy way to get the money.
He said in most cases, after taking the loan, the affected borrower will not come forward to service the loan, let alone paying the capital, adding that in such cases the lender will have no option than to keep the pledged property.
He gave thanks to God that throughout the period he was engaged in the business of money lending, he had no cause to drag any borrower to court or seizing the pledged property, as all his transitions were done with the fear of God.
He however advised prospective money lenders to be very careful and study the business they are trying to go into in order to avoid any regret at a later day.
Above all, he also advised that those who engage in money lending must do so with the fear of God, because the prime motive is to save the customers and not to kill them or do some thing that will make them to commit suicide.
The school administrator revealed that he was winding up the finance business to give him time to administer the affair of Ideal Primary and Secondary Schools as the work in the school is increasing on daily basis.
Asked about his contributions to the development of Ika nation, Steve Apaokwueze said that apart from the pupils and students he paid their enrolment fees, he is currently sponsoring seven students who are not his blood relations in various institutions of learning.
He also said that his relationship at home front (Alisime) has been very cordial and that he has always contributed his quota towards the development of Alisime in particular and Agbor in general, adding that apart from financial contribution, he served as Financial Secretary of the committee that prepared grand reception for the Agbor Monarch during his final return from abroad.
He disclosed that because of the useful role he played during Deinâ€™s return, he was recommended for a chieftaincy title but he could not take the title at that time because he had committed all his financial resources to the establishment of Ideal Group of schools.
He expressed optimism that any time he is ready, the chance is still there for him to take the traditional title.
Sir Apaokwueze disclosed that Ideal Group of Schools began with initial intake of seven students and about seven teachers, adding that at present, the school evolvement has risen to about 500 students and 400 pupils.
He also disclosed that there are 30 workers on his pay roll, made up of teaching and non-teaching staff, saying that, this invariably means that he is taking care of more than 60 families through the employment of the workers.
As a school administrator, Sir Apaokwueze said the issue of juvenile delinquency, youth restiveness or their engagement in social vices should be traced to the home fronts as parents have greater share of the praises and blame.
He remarked that most of the wayward or criminally-minded youths today come from broken homes and strongly appealed to married couples to always find ways of amicable resolution of their marital problems instead of allowing same to degenerate to the level of breaking their marriages.
He said he would ever be remembered for hard work, truth, prudent management of resources and helping others to solve their problems irrespective of sex or tribe.
Apaokwueze called on his peers to be hardworking, people of honesty and integrity and people whose words are their bonds.
And talking about politics in Ika South Local Government Area, Sir Apaokwueze regretted that the Local Government Area has no political leaders and as such, the political class are drifting.
He then advised against politics of acrimony as he pleaded with them to see themselves as members of one family
He said the idea of trying to suppress political opponents is very dangerous because we cannot operate democracy in an atmosphere where people are not allowed to air their views.
He advised those who are in authority to do something for which they would be remembered, instead of acquiring wealth at the expense of the masses for according to him, it is what one puts into the society that one could be remembered.
Sir Steve Awolowo Apaokwueze is a staunch member of the Catholic Church and a Knight of St Mulumba where he is the current secretary, worthy master, Agbor sub-circle
He is married to a graduate teacher and with children, two of the children are already in the University, reading Accountancy and Engineering respectively.
His hobbies include reading and listening to soul-searching music.