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Okwenna, still active in business at 81

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The Chief executive officer, Chijekpe Okwenna Enterprise, Nigeria, Sir Innocent Okwenna is a former secondary school teacher who worked in Federal Civil Service commission and later joined SCOA Equip. On retirement from SCOA Equip, he ventured into business. In this interview, EUNICE NWANKWO and ADAOBI CHUKWUJEKWU, spoke to him on trading and sundry issues. Excerpts

HAVING worked with Federal Civil Service Commission, SCOA Equip Lagos, how did you venture into business?

After my secondary education, I gained admission into University of Nigeria Nsukka. unfortunately in 1967 ‘the Biafran war broke out, I joined the Biafran Army until the end of war in 1970.

At the end of the war, I had no money for my education, Luckily for me, General Kakubu Gowon gave all undergraduates scholarship for one year. I continued and graduated in 1971.

On graduation, I taught in Sacred Heart Secondary School, Aba, from 1971 to 1973, got employed into the Federal Civil Service, Lagos from 1973 to 1976 and worked with a French company SCOA Equip, where I worked for 19 years as an administrative manager.

Having retired from SCOA Equip Lagos, in 1983, I returned to Ukpor, I was in the village asking myself what next? One day, Sir Steve Nwosu came to my house with the answer. Sir Nwosu told me “if you continue to stay in the village on your retirement, when life still remained in you, you may regret it, Come and open paxson Nigeria co ltd branch at Imo State, I obeyed. In 2002, I went to Owerri and worked with the establishment as business manager for four years and I enjoyed being part of success story of Paxson Nigeria.

Towards the end of my forth year with Paxson Co. Nigeria Limited, Procter and Gamble, where Nwosu is their main distributor was looking for Nnewi in Nnewi North local government area, I was chosen as the sub-distributor, to distributes the company’s products such as Ariel detergent, Always pad, safeguard soap, gullet, oral B.

Having worked as a civil servant and eventually to business, which of the professions do you prefer?

Sincerely speaking, there is money in business, but you continue to hustle everyday; there is no rest. But in civil service you have rest, the little money you are paid there if you utilize it well will be enough for you. Life as a civil servant is enjoyable.

    What are your challenges?

I got married in 1973, we spent nearly seven years before we started having children and God blessed the marriage with four children, two males and two females.

In  2006, my first wife, Lt Col in Nigeria Army, Anthonia Okwenna died, while with Paxson at Owerri, Imo State, an arm robber nearly killed me, be brought out his gun loaded with bullets and place it on my chest, but God was on my side, I struggled with him as an old soldier, overpowered him and disarmed him. I went to the Police with the gun, when it was tested, the gun was loaded with bullets.

Stressing further, the economic downturn is affecting every segment of the economy, we no longer sell our goods as before. There is hardship, people don’t buy goods as before. Moreover, bad roads and lack of electricity are affecting businesses. Government should do something about it.

  What do you think can be done to improve the economy?

Government should create jobs, build industries, train our youths to be self employed, when people are employed and are paid, money will be pumped into the economy, people will have money to buy goods and crime will be reduced to the barest minimum but when youths are jobless, crime will  be high in the country.

Okwenna was born into the family of Philip and Josephine Okwenna on April 8, 1938 in Uboma Ukpor, Nnewi south local government area, Anambra State. He is a knight of Molumba was among the first maiden ofala festival committee, chairman Odike Obi, education foundation, Ukpor (scholarship scheme) Board of Trustee, Ukpor  Improvement Union.

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