Our Personality of the Week is Dr. Chukwuma Anuku; The Rector, Calvary Polytechnic. He was born on November 2nd, 1953 in Boji Boji Owa, Ika North East Local Government Area, to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson Anuku and the first son of twelve children. In this interview with Lawrence Uche, Ebube J. Yeolawa and Nicholas Ebegboni, he talked about his career, political views, the need for industries in Ika land, family life, and aims for Calvary Polytechnic, Owa-Oyibu.
Tell us about your parents?
My father is Pa. Johnson Anuku, hailed partly from Owa Oyibu and Owanta, he was a policeman. My mother is Mrs. Lucy Anuku. She hails from Ozanogogo and was a seamstress. We worshipped as Jehovah Witnesses but when I got to secondary school I became an Anglican. My mother is still alive and over 88years old.
Tell us about your educational background?
I attended Baptist Primary School, had my secondary school education at Ika Grammar School Owa, where I wrote my Senior School Certificate Examination in 1970. After my graduation from secondary school, I worked with the then Standard Bank now First Bank. At the time New Nigerian Bank was established in Benin, I was one of those invited to work there, then the State was called Bendel State and under the control of Colonel Ogbemudia.
I left the country in 1973 and went to the United States of America where my uncle was. I went through some hard and interesting times in America. It was more like an educational, culture and environmental shock, in the sense that the environment was extremely different from what we had here in Nigeria, tall buildings, beautiful trees and gardens were seen everywhere; roads were all tarred; greetings were not compelled as it is here.
Can you remember a few of your classmates?
Jim Ovia, Dr. Emmanuel Tibi, Edwin Osunhor, Gen. Nick Aigbogun. We had two principals then, Mr C.G.I Eneli, and Esco Toyo.
What took you out of the country?
The pursuit for Academic laurels was the driving force. There were very few people from here that had traveled Overseas as at that time. I knew about G.C.E Ohen and a few others. One of my friends; Sam Uweh assisted me to get a passport, but then I could not get a visa directly to America. Since travelling through the Commonwealth States was free as at 1973, I travelled to France and Canada and then to the U.S.A.
The Primary aim and driving force was to get educational advancement. My father wanted me to read Medicine; I went in for Biochemical Technology, but because there was neither money nor scholarship for education, I started working. I did dish washing and swept shopping plazas between the hours of 9pm to 5am and then went to school to attend lectures in the morning. My education was fluttering because I didn’t have enough time to rest and read. I changed jobs even though the system did not like immigrants doing that and later got licensed to drive a taxi. Since I was not flowing with my course of study (Biochemical Technology), I approached the school’s counselor who counseled me to change my course of study. I then changed course and applied to study Business Administration. In 1977 I got my first degree, a B.SC in Business Administration and in 1979, I attained a Masters Degree also in Business Administration. In the year 1981, I returned to Nigeria; after nine years of sojourn in North America and did my youth service in 1982 in the University of Jos.
On Returning To Nigeria How Did You Begin Your Career?
I stayed in Jos after my youth service, started basic consultancy between 1983-1985 until I got a job at Agbara Estate in Lagos where I became a Marketing Manager and was there for three years. Subsequently I joined the Federal Government National Cargo Handling Company in the maritime sector known as Steve-Doring Company Apapa for a few years. When I left Steve-Doring company, I started working with General Ephraim Usiade in a company known as Enork Finance in Lagos. At this point, I took the opportunity to acquire another Masters Degree, in Maritime Transport Management, M-Tech, at Ladoke Akintola University of technology (LAUTECH) in Ogbomosho. In year 2004, I resumed work at the Ozoro polytechnic and left in 2009.I also taught at Novena University for two years, and got several awards from the management and students. In the year 2011, I was employed at the Delta State School of Marine Technology as a Principal Lecturer. In 2015, I became the Acting Provost of the school. I took my retirement in November 2018, and I became the Rector of Calvary Polytechnic.
Here in Ika, what have been your contributions to the Growth of Ika Nation?
I have created several opportunities for Ika people to come in and establish themselves anywhere I worked during my different career positions. I have also mentored several youths in entrepreneurship, a few on behalf of Chevron and I never failed to encourage my people. I also organize free weekly business clinics for entrepreneurs and managers. I introduced an NGO; the Academy of Management Science, a task measurement and performance organization. The Agency engages in organizational and administrative forensics and analysis to correct either over utilization or under utilization of resources and staff. We often identify lacunas especially in Ika homeland.
Is this Academy Of Management Science Involved in the Polity?
The environment is divided into two; the micro and the macro environment. The polity is the macro, while an organization as mentioned earlier is the micro, but we use the same tools in measuring. We use some basic administrative format to determine where money is being lost and where it is being made, where adequate training is going on and where it is not . However, what the Academy of Management Science did to contribute to politics last year after we identified a lacuna in the political campaigns of politicians within Ika Homeland was to liaise with the Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN) and they recommended to us “Centre For Righteous Living” (CFRL) an arm of CAN. We discussed with CFRL and decided to mount a programme to bridge this gap. We planted the Ika Political Homeland Aspirant Debate and invited all the contestants including Fada Ibude, Chuky Dandy, Tony Elekeokuri, Victor Nwokolo and Sebastine Okoh to Ika National Hall on the 19th of December 2018. The Debate was conducted for about five hours with over 500 persons in attendance. There was an agreed communiqué at the debate that there should not be any Local Government divide during the discourse and that we should see ourselves as one. It was also in the communiqué that we should not fight one another after the elections and we all agreed to work for Ifeanyi Okowa.
Basically, this is one area where we have had a successful intervention in the issues of Ika land. That communiqué also talked on the resources of Ika nation including human capital and material resources; it was at that point that Hon Festus Okoh (Chuky Dandy) disclosed that he aims to add Ika land to DESOPADEC as one of the oil producing areas in the nation. We also called for a massive sustainable indigenization and industrialization of Ika land.
How Do You View Politics in Ika Land?
The politicians have promised to give us running water and reservoirs including other campaign rhetorics, but they are not working because they are not sustainable. Let them give us industries, good agricultural system, vocational schools, other training facilities and take care of the senior citizens. Everyone is clamoring for youth’s involvement in politics; yes they are energetic but are mostly looking for opportunities to make it bigger than the elders. The Youths should also capitalize on the opportunity to help the coming generations behind them. It is unfortunate that most Governments in Nigeria have no consideration for the elderly, what is wrong with giving someone who is 65years, Ten Thousand Naira or Fifteen Thousand Naira ( N10,000 or N 15,000) to someone who is 70 years on a monthly basis? These people can be identified by their kings in the villages.
At retirement, I looked at the political terrain of Ika land which arose from divergent views of political benefits, diversionary philosophies and ideologies, people will say I am Agbor or I am Owa or Mbiri making us look like we are not together and this thereby engenders the politics of treachery; but we don’t have the issues of religions. It is just this basic issue of differences which ought to be part of our strength. Our political actors were going about their campaigns without direct approach to problems and solutions nor sustainable campaign ideas and when they presented food items, tricycles, motorcycles, sewing machines, wrappers and generators they easily get votes from our people who seem to appreciate such triviality even in this 21st century.
How do you rate Gov. Okowa’s performance so far?
The level of Governance in Delta State has really been face -lifted by Okowa who has been able to touch several areas of the State and create notable solutions. The road network is vivid to everyone although people have questioned the bad materials used to construct some of the roads. The Governor has tried in his capacity, the contractors and construction companies should answer those questions on road quality. We should also have in mind that we do not have the resources to invite Julius Berger to fix our roads. I have driven on my own to some of the interior villages of Ika land and other places like as Nsukwa, Ishiagwu, Ila even Oshimili and observed that Dr. Okowa has opened up the interior lands. The farmers now have easy access to the markets and food has become relatively cheaper in Delta State. He has become effectively detribalized, he is warmly received in all areas of the State and that has really paved way for many Ika people living across Delta State. He is a strategist; a master strategist. Although, no one can get it all perfectly, but the areas of lapses can be very easily addressed if the various Commissioners in those areas are also up and doing. One area is access to fund for business development and industrialization. It is very difficult to get loans, to process a business prospect. The Industrial Development Bank, gives very difficult procedures that pushes away potential business owners. We also appreciate Okowa for the Asaba Airport which is now properly in shape, the Steven Keshi Stadium and other great uplifts he has given the State.
However we need a deep Sea Port in Delta State. Okowa played a major role in sanitizing the militancy issues and bringing peace to Delta State. Cultism has been reduced to a large extent, and security has been promoted in the land. On the issue of herdsmen, Okowa does not talk too much he believes in effective actions and I know he is working on something concrete. I also appreciate the Governor’s effort on the Health sector. The Health Insurance Program is where people have to register and get free medical attention, very laudable it is similar to how it was when I was in the U.S, I got medical attention for free even as a foreigner. I think we are getting there in Delta State, but I will still appeal to the governor to duplicate health Centre’s in the streets to ensure proximity to the people. The private institutions should also be linked to the general hospital so that issues beyond their capacity could be moved to the General Hospital on recommendation. With the information being gathered lately, the General Hospital Agbor, seems to have improved compared to how it was managed before.
Can we not have industries in Ika nation?
Of course, we can have industries; we can begin with micro enterprises and convert them to industries. For instance, a young man named Christian Egiliwe is producing plantain chips in Alifekide and he has become well-known in so many parts of the country because of this plantain. As you know, this plantain can be dried and grind to fine granules, powder form that. There are so many other ways the government can come into such ideas and create industries from it. On the issue of cassava, we don’t need a multinational company to process it. If the Government provides a machine that can wash it, so as to improve the grading process, grind it into friable granules, use a jacking system to press and collect the water neatly, that means the machine will do the drying and frying process. By that, there will be a mechanized batch production process leading to a mass production of cassava products which might even get recommended for exports. To create more employment, we can have one in every ward. The water collected from the cassava contains industrial and edible starch which can be used for industrial purposes unlike when it is often poured away. If the water is allowed to settle the following day, it will create at least 30 percent sediments (domestic starch) which can be processed into other products such as gum. But we often throw it all away. This can be a form of industrialization, not necessarily a very large one, but multiple processing units Ward by Ward in Ika nation. With this, even the private sector can make inputs and cassava would become one of the main stays of our economy in Ika nation. Well the vocational idea by the Governor is also very welcomed, it is said to cover masonry, carpentry and electrical and electronics but while these ones are good moves to support industrialization, we also need the mechanical aspect that would be able to fabricate and maintain them. I believe our state has the capacity to produce one of such cassava processing Units in each Local Government Area. Another is yam, there are several products derivable from yam when properly researched which also have export potentials.
With the ideas you have rolled out now, do you think those around the State Governor are ignorant of such ideas, or simply don’t know how to present it to the governor or they have and it is swept under the carpet?
I would not speak for them because I have not interacted with them, I welcome revolution in the economic sector which I refer to as destructive creativity, this is the angle I want the youths to be more active in, to turn things around and give us an improved version not the same old version. I believe they know and are working towards it but you know it takes process and time . I know Dr Okowa listens and what he does not like he will tell you to go and improve on it, he hardly misunderstands people. Another thing is that they might be speaking with the governor on these issues and might not be articulating it properly. I think those around him are very intelligent and he will not hesitate to listen to them.
The Local Government council now have a responsibility and we as a people have the responsibility of calling their budgets to question, their responsibilities have to be re-identified because the State Government has been carrying both Local and State Government functions and this has to stop. The only thing they do these days is to pay salaries of Local Government workers.
Talking About Human Capital Development, What is Your Take On Okowa’s Appointment Of Several Personal And Political Aides, Amongs Others?
I think it is a matter of inclusiveness, nothing more, the numeracy of the aides may have peculiarly economic or political benefit.
Are You One Of Those Who Advocate For Youths In Politics?
Everybody should be in politics, but not politics as we have it today. There is so much blind partisanship and that does not breed great philosophy, a political party is supposed to have a philosophy that is in consonance with the aspiration of the people. I am not a member of any political party, I see myself as an elder of the society for the welfare and the common good of the people. The youths should be free to participate in politics and not see it as a do or die affair. They should contribute meaningfully but not in sycophancy to political discussions.The youth should see themselves as leaders now and make themselves available to leadership trainings that would build their sense of social responsibility, administration and also make them effective leaders. Effective leadership comes from exposure to leadership information. For instance the elements of management which include, planning, organizing, delegating, recruiting, directing amongst others which true leaders need to know so that they would be able to do very well in governance. They should be intellectually equipped and be voracious readers. How many of our leaders are mentoring the youths positively and what are the youths learning from the elders to make them better politicians? These questions should be answered to consider if really the youths are ready to take up politics. In my opinion, only those youths that have trained themselves in Management Science and have gone through several leadership trainings in preparation for the political offices are fit to take up appointments and not those set of youths that have been mashed in sycophancy. My prayer is that one day, the right person would get into office and would seek meritorious youths to work with and not political jobbers or sycophants.
You Retired In 2018, How Did You Become The Rector Of Calvary Polytechnic?
After retirement, an opportunity to apply as the Rector of Cavalry Polytechnic came up, I sent my credentials, was called and attended an interview with some other persons and I was then employed by the Governing Council and Proprietor of the school , Chief Okwuokenye Nkenchor. Then I used to consult for about four other institutions Calvary Polytechnic inclusive. I told the management of the school that I would have preferred to keep consulting for them but they insisted that they needed a Rector and that was how I became the Rector.
What Have Been Your Contribution To The Growth Of The School And What More Do You Intend Bringing In?
When I became the Rector, I addressed several issues that needed administrative attention. There are already several laboratories in place and fully equipped, I also put in place, certain structures that the school needed and tackled the paramount problem of the school which was on how to get more students, organized a monthly prayer programme, and I appointed a dean of students to bridge the gap between the management and the students.
What helped me to be able to manage the polytechnic was that I was able to marry strategy with experience and applied it where it was appropriately needed. The Governing Council requested I should do something on remedial programs. We started the Remedial Programmes with short courses considering the economy, demography and location of the school. Those courses focused majorly on reducing illegal migration, prostitution and other vices being perpetuated by our youths. It was very difficult to achieve because of the cost implication for a private polytechnic not only in the area of finance but also in competent human resources. We eventually convinced the Governing Council and it was approved. We mounted the course advertised and printed flyers, several interests were indicated for the short courses. We started off with only one programme as a pilot course to check the feasibility of the remedial courses. I took up the leadership and wrote a study guide manual in the form of a preamble, just like a GNS course, today the remedial courses are all actively running in the school. I have to my credit four books published and 25 articles in local and foreign academic journals. Overtime, I have ensured that the pursuit for regular students is attained and have also supported the income drive of the polytechnic by running specialized Remedial Programmes. To reach the outside world, we also appointed a Foreign Desk Officer to project the school beyond the shores of the country so that we could also have foreigners coming into the school, from within and outside Africa. Calvary Polytechnic has been positioned to grow from strength to strength. My contributions have been in the areas of alignment of academic purposes.
How Encouraging Is The Population Strength Currently?
We have students and still need students to run the regular programmes.
Does The School Have Adequate Lecturers?
Yes the school has enough lecturers in every department.
How Many Departments Does The School Have?
We have four departments which include, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Electronics and Accounting.
There Is A Trending Slang “School Na Scam” Amongst The Teenagers And Youths Nowadays, Especially When They See Some Youths Travel Out And Come Back With So Much Money, How Do You View This Scenero?
Education is very important, although the kind of education we have today seems to be limited to making students employees and not employers of labour. This is the major reason the governor is putting up these vocational centres. The Bible says study to make yourself approved but the truth remains that money is a defense and that is why the youths are careless about education since they see friends who get money without going through education. My advice to them is to get an education either academics or vocational because without any of the two forms of education any means of wealth acquisition would be temporary.
What Do You Have To Say To Parents Who Support Their Children In Cyber Crimes And Illegal Migrations?
It is simply the lack of fear of God on the path of both the children and their parents. People are greedy and it has cut across age. Such parents are only digging an early grave for themselves and their children. My advice for them is to desist from such acts before it gets too late.
Compare The Standard Of Education As It Is Now To How It Was During Your Time In Ika Grammar School?
The standard of Education has not really fallen as people say; it is just a matter of time differences. In those days we had very limited access to educational information, but these days we have mass access to educational information. We depended only on physical libraries but now internet library has taken over. Very few schools were available then compared to the numeracy of schools as it is at the moment. Then we had only four schools in the whole of Boji Boji Metropelis, two boys schools; St Columbus and Ika Grammar School and two girls schools; Mary Mount and Baptist Girls High School; but now, there is a multiplicity of secondary schools; if there is any fallen standard of education then it is the fault of the educational institution involved not a general assertion because there is a uniform curriculum in the education system. I hear that there are miracle centres where students have their Secondary School Certificate Examinations and University Entrance Examinations written for them, if that is true then the fallen standard of Education will not be in question and there is presently a very high moral decadence in the society. However, more people are now exposed to education and speak better English these days compared to those days.
Tell Us About Your Nuclear Family?
I got married in 1989 to Mrs. Grace Obiazi Anuku and the union is blessed with 3 girls and a boy. I am also now a grandfather. My wife hails from Agbor Nta and is currently a teacher at Command Secondary School. My first daughter is married and lives at Bauchi with her husband, my son is an entrepreneurial, my second daughter is a midwife while my youngest daughter studied Animal and Environmental Biology.
You are 66 Years old. What Has Kept You Looking Young, Strong And Healthy?
At this point, I have to thank God for His Grace. I operate on modesty, no more alchohol intake. I eat eba, fufu and other swallows at very small quantities. Low intake of beef , and I do a lot of hard work. To keep fit, I use light weight in toning every other morning.
You Seem Intellectually And Physically Busy, How Do You Relax?
That is a serious problem, sometimes I try to go to bed at ten, but by two o clock am up again. Often I try to relax with my computer system and by reading books.
What Is Your Favourite Food?
I don’t have a favourite food but I like this native soup, the one they call fisherman soup, I ate it at Bayelsa State and ever since I fell in love with the soup.
Currently what gives you joy?
The relative peace around me gives me joy and the ability of giving others joy
Is There Anything You Don’t Like?
I hate going to the toilet.
I have about 12 siblings but I regret having a few( about two) that are envious and retrogressive.
Now what have you done to alleviate their retrogressive nature?
I cannot begin to quantify all that I have done; I would not want to assess my contributions to family.
What Is Your Philosophy of Life?
Live and let live, but that is not to say that you would take every slap but then it is not all battles that you have to fight.
What Religion do you profess?
I am a Christian, of the Anglican denomination. I fellowship at St Peters Anglican Church, Owa.
If You Were To Re-Incarnate, Would You Like To Do All That You Have Done Over Again Or Change Anything?
I will be happy to be an Ika Man again, but I will like to see that there are more learning and training opportunities, industries, self employment, and that this dilapidated mud house structures around Ika land do not exist any longer.
Your Positively Memorable Day?
My Ph.D Defence at Madonna University in 2009.
Your Negatively Memorable Day?
My father’s death in 1990. He did not live to see my first child
I have over 20 awards; I cannot even remember all of them.
Mentors while growing up?
Not really, I always find solace in the world of God especially the Ten Commandments.
What Would You Like To Be Remembered For?
A man who contributed to the literary development of the community,
Words of Advice to Ika People?
Let us embrace peace and take advantage of opportunities. To the Publisher of Ika Weekly Newspaper, I want to on- behalf of Ika people say a big thank you for your relentlessness in keeping Ika people informed, God bless you. However we (Ika people) would prefer that it is maintained as a community newspaper, just as it is now because it is one of the strongest in Delta State.