Our personality of the Week is Sir Jason Nnamdi Adiagwai, a retired civil servant whose only unattainable position in the civil service was that of the Permanent Secretary. In this interview with Uche Lawrence, he shares his view about child upbringing and life in general
Lets meet you sir
I am Sir Jason Nnamdi Adiagwai (JP), born on 19th May 1949, at Owerre-Olubor in Ika North East Local Government Area, Delta State to Late Mr and Ezinne Jason N. Adiagwai.
Sir Adiagwai, tell us about your childhood days and education
My father, having retired from the military and being a devote Anglican, instilled so much discipline and strictness on me at a very early age, I was the only son of my parents. At about 6 to 8 years of age, I was given out to a teacher from Onicha-Olona by name Ochei in Port-Harcourt, whom I stayed with for a while and returned to Ughelli where I finished my primary education at St. Luke primary school. I had my secondary school education at St Michael’s College, Ogwashi-Uku and had my WAEC examination in 1969, I further went to St. Anthony’s College, Ubulu-Uku where I had my (HSC) in 1971. I attended the University of Benin, Benin City and in 1981, I was awarded a Bachelor of Education degree in History. I did my (NYSC) in Oyo State between 1981 and 1982. I enrolled for my Masters Degree in Education Administration at the Open University (Benin Study Centre). By the grace of God, I am also a Chattered Member of Nigeria Institute of Management MNIM.
How did you start your career?
In the year 1970, I got married to my wife, Late Lady Roseline Nnagbahalimnjor Adiagwai (Nee Chiekwe). I started Civil Service career with the then Bendel State, now Delta State in charge of Examinations Department, in the Ministry of Education Ogwashi-Uku. Between 1978 and 1981, I took a study leave without pay and returned in 1982 to resume duty at the Directorate of Establishments and Pensions, Palm House, Benin City, I was later moved to Bendel Electoral Commission, in 1986, transferred to the Ministry of Works/Transport, Agbor and later to the Directorate of Local Government Agbor and served as Zonal Director, Delta North.
In the year 2001, I was posted to the Ministry of Finance, Asaba and served as Director administration and finance (DAF). Later that same year, I was posted to the Deputy Governor’s Office and served as Director. In the year 2008, I was posted to the Directorate of Youths Development as Director, Planning research and statistics, where I retired on 19th May, 2009 as Director of administration.
All through these years, were you involved in other activities?
Yes, I was a member of Nigerian Red Cross Society in school and afterwards, I was also a member of Delta Farmer’s Association. When I was younger, I farmed a lot. I was the chairman Otu, Ezi-afa Association Agbor. I am also an Adviser to Owerre-Olubor Otu Odinma Obodo, Agbor. I am also a member of People’s Parliament, Orogodo.
In 1986, I was the General Secretary, Nigerian Labour Congress, Ika South Local Government under the chairmanship of Akpara of Agbor Kingdom, Chief Louis Usifo.
Sir Adiagwai, how have you given back to the society?
In my little capacity, I endeavour to help those in need, in 2007; I mobilized the grading of Board Road, Alihame via Direct Labour Agency and Chairman Ika South Local Government. I also attracted the extension of electricity to Owerre-Olubor, my hometown.
Which religion do you profess?
I am a Christian, of the Anglican Communion.
What was your Ecclesiastical contributions to the Anglican Society?
On the 30th of April 2000, because of my activities in the Anglican Communion, I was investitured (Knighted) in order of St. Christopher by Asaba Diocese, by the Late Rt. Rev. Roland N. C. Nwosu, the then Bishop of Asaba Diocese. In the year 2003, I was licensed as a Lay/Reader by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Peter I. Onekpe, JP. In the year 2005, I, along with my late wife, visited the Holy Land on pilgrimage. I was the founding President of Young Men Christian Association, St. John’s Anglican Church, Agbor Chapter. I, along with my late wife was appointed Patron and Patroness for the Girls Brigade of Nigeria, Ika District II on 29th April 2007. In the year 2006, I was investitured as Ezinna Okiki (Leadership) in Agbor by the then Dean of the Cathedral, Ven (Dr.) Udokhai Samson.
At 70, you look healthy and strong, what’s the secret?
It’s been God’s grace, I still do a lot of exercise, I used to be a good farmer, I used to eat very well, I eat often and I don’t select food or time to eat.
How do you exercise?
I trek from my residence to Baleke Market sometimes, go to the garden and I am a free-eater.
Your best food?
Beans and a lot of fried plantain. I also love vegetables.
It’s been almost 4 years, since the demise of your late wife, how have you coped?
My children often assist with domestic chores, those that are far away often come around to stay for a few days. My own mother is still alive, most importantly God has been faithful to me.
Let us look into your family and children.
I have a surviving mother, Ezinne (Nkasiobi) of over 113 years old, she is the oldest person in my community, Owerre Olubor, both male and female. I have seven children, five females and two males, all graduates. I have an Electrical Engineer, a pharmacist amongst them, three masters Degree, One pursuing Ph.D , all to the Glory of God.
What’s your regret?
Hmmm, the death of my wife on December 1st, 2015, she was not opportune to enjoy the fruit of her labour. She became indisposed three months to her retirement as headmistress, Orie Primary School, Igbodo.
What has been your joy?
God kept all my children alive and healthy and made them successful in their different endeavours, I am also glad that they are down to earth Christians.
Do you view yourself as accomplished?
Yes of course, I am accomplished. By the grace of God, I am successful. I grew up as a child through perseverance, graduated and found a job, the only thing I didn’t achieve in the Civil service was a political position like that of the Permanent Secretary not because I was not qualified for it, but because I do not have political Godfathers. Those under me, in terms of level and position in the civil service were promoted to the position of permanent secretary because they had political Godfathers.
What’s your view on marriage of these days?
The only problem with marriages of nowadays is that most children are not well groomed by their families. There is laxity in training of children, poor training, no teaching or grooming; all they care about is money, money, money.
Sir Adiagwai what’s your view on Yahoo-Yahoo?
It takes us back to upbringing. If your father struggled to train you and you are aware of his strives, you would also strive hard to become a better person. If a father or mother is not well groomed, how do you expect the child to be groomed in the right way. The government should endeavour to, at least, make jobs available, so as to curb this trend. Some youths may be weak at heart and easily lured into such acts.
How do you view politics and government of the day?
In those days, people were not carried away by money. They want to be remembered for what they have done and not how much they have accumulated unlike what is happening now in today’s governments.
Sir AdiagwaiDo you have mentors, if yes, who are they?
Jesus Christ is my only mentor; he is my creator, the author and finisher of my whole being.
Sir Adiagwai, if you were to live your life all over again, what are the changes or corrections you would have loved to make?
No changes, except that I would have wished my late wife lived longer to enjoy the fruit of her labour now that the children have grown up.