PAUL Nwosu is the Special Adviser (SPAD) on Agriculture to Governor Willie Obiano. But he is much more than that. A writer, journalist, public relations specialist and advertising practitioner, Mr Nwosu is the brain behind the Anambra Times, the colourful magazine that anchors on photojournalism, highlights government achievements in a refreshingly different way.
The journalist and communication expert says that as a media personality, he believes that creativity is prime asset of any journalist. Without creativity, he reasons, a media person cannot function effectively in any assigned responsibility.
He has been with Obiano’s administration since inception, first as Senior Special Assistant on Image Management in 2014. He was among the first five Senior Special Assistants whose appointments were made public after Gov. Obiano appointed the first three principal officials. This illustrates the value he brings to the system.
Nwosu is a typical technocrat. Meeting him for the first time, you get a picture of a person who has come to bear a private sector mindset on his assignment. A goal getter that employs professionalism and efficiency, married with effective time management.
He is a man who rewards hard work and loyalty, virtues he imbibed from his father, one of Nigeria’s earliest chartered accountants, Chief Chuka Nwosu with a sense of duty which some people lacked today.
The respected technocrat took after his father, who he described as a strict disciplinarian and the greatest influence in his life.
He refers to his father as a self-made man, not in the sense of business but that his father sold firewood after his primary education to send himself to secondary school and became one of the pioneer students of College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu, where, despite his chores, he still came top in class.
He later secured for himself a job in the civil service but seconded to Nigeria Produce Marketing Board, the company that oversees the export of Nigeria cash crops, a version of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) those days.
“I drew the virtue of hard work, discipline, and thirst for knowledge from my father. He read a lot. When we were little, one thing my father cherished most was his library; he had a large appetite for knowledge. He made us, the children, who we are today,” he said.
Growing up in a loving home, his parents were so accommodating that they had many relations staying with them. He compared their house to a beehive in those days. He was so pampered by uncles and aunts that he relishes wonderful moments but were punctuated with scary moments following the July 1966 Coup, popularly known as the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966.
His family relocated to Port Harcourt at the outbreak of the civil war where his father joined the Biafra civil service. “We lived on the first floor of a two storey building at 5 Ogudu Street, Diobu. Every night, my father would go to work at Eleme, where the Biafra Airport was. There was this night the federal air force came bombing and was able to score a direct hit at the refinery.”
“And the ground which the building was standing shook. That was the first time I could equate that kind of calamity to what earthquake could look like, because the ground vibrated, glasses shattered, the next thing; a huge ball of fire bellowed into the sky and it was about six o’clock in the evening.”
Intermittently, the bombers and fighter jets would made scary dive through their neighbourhood. “I had two siblings after me. The youngest after me was a baby. My mother would strap that one behind her, drag the other one; I was old enough to walk on my own.
We ran for our dear lives. Meanwhile, we were not sure of the situation with my father, because, he wasn’t at home. He leaves home by 4 pm because most of the aircrafts that brought in relief materials, to help kwashiorkor patients, did that at night.”
“When they live for work by 4pm, they work until morning and leave for home. The airport was under camouflage, no movement must be seen there in the daytime. When such attack comes, light goes off. It was much later in the night that my father returned and eventually, the family reunited.
My mother said she couldn’t take it anymore; that we had to leave. The shock was too much for us the children. It was a horrible experience.”
Mr. Nwosu began his formal education at St. Mary’s Primary School, Broad Street, Lagos. He started at Epe Grammar School and after one year, transferred to St Gregory’s College, Obalende, where he finished his secondary school education.
Agriculture requires better approach
He proceeded to Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, where he obtained Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication. He holds a master degree in Communication Arts, from University of Ibadan, Postgraduate degree in Public Administration, from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUTH), Enugu.
Service for the fatherland took young Nwosu on the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme to serve at Crowther Memorial Grammar School, Lokoja, in old Kwara State. On completion of his youth service in 1984, he gained employment with Gani Fawenhimi Chambers.
Before then, he had gained some working experience as a student of Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, during his Industrial Training (IT) at New Times magazine, where he cut his teeth in journalism, under the tutelage of Prof. Pat Utomi.
“I did my IT with Newbreed Organization, publishers of defunct Newbreed Magazine, published by Chris Okoli. Then, we were publishing the President and New Times. The magazines came onboard after Gen Obasanjo banned Newbreed Magazine, which was critical of his regime.
I did my attachment at New Times and it was a wonderful experience with some of the best writers of the time. This is why I still have regards for Prof. Utomi. He was my editor and he gave me wonderful exposure. He was critically reading my stories, pointing out my mistakes for correction.
Getting to work for Gani Fawenhimi Chambers was after a rigorous interview that climaxed with Gani himself interviewing him and one other person from dozens that couldn’t make it to the last stage, where eventually Gani picked Nwosu. At Gani Fawehinmi Chambers, among other job designations, Gani called him his public relations officer.
“You must have heard of the Weekly Law Report, a compilation of judgments of cases passed in previous week by all the courts in Nigeria, published by his chambers.
Eventually, it became an instrument that most lawyers would subscribe to. It was with my background as a journalist that I worked with some lawyers in his chambers for the publication. Gani chambers was the best in sub Saharan Africa.
As far back as 1984, his chambers was computerized. Gani introduced a peculiar approach to his advocacy and human rights activism. He was a charitable lawyer.”
Nwosu resigned from Gani Fawenhimi Chambers when he felt that as non-lawyer, he needed where he would be professionally relevant. Gani affirmed to his decision that he had good plan but asked him to find someone else to replace him and he did and moved on.
Leaving Gani Chambers, he joined Vanguard Newspaper, becoming one of the pioneer staff of the newspaper.
At vanguard, as Special Project Editor, he employed Femi Adesina, former editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper and the Special Adviser on media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari. Adesina had just graduated from the university and was seeking for employment. Adesina worked as a freelancer for six months before his employment was regularised.
“At a point, I told myself that there was nothing more for me to do at Vanguard. I left there as Special Projects Editor/Manager. What that did for me was that I had marketing and editorial skills. So, would I go and kill the paper’s editor to succeed him.
Sam Amuka, Vanguard’s publisher once asked me to be in charge of advertising department, since I have marketing skills and that I can write. I told him that I have finished my assignment at Vanguard; that I wanted to move on.
I left vanguard February 1991, for the Guardian as a contributor, stayed in the Guardian for only six months, and left the paper.”
He left the Guardian to set up the Beacon Communications Limited. The company thrived and had good clients, both local and international, like Microsoft, Dell, among others. “At a point, I was representing Microsoft, with regards to showroom marketing and below the line advertising. In running the company, I still run articles occasionally in different newspapers.”
Mr. Nwosu attributed his change of fortune to setting up his company. “I have a wife, a house, car, and children. The good schools they attended was courtesy of my company because it was the time that I left the newspaper world that I got married. My family didn’t meet me in that career. And that was what I did until Gov. Obiano invited me.”
When Gov Obiano began campaign for his first tenure, he asked Nwosu to join him. “I came down and campaigned for him and eventually he won. He can vouch for my professional competence, knowing where I have worked.
I was made Senior Special Assistant on Image Management in 2014. In the course of that, I tried to come up with a lot of initiatives that will manage his image. Already, he has a squeaky-clean image. All that we have to do is to sustain that healthy image.
Right from his banking days, until he retired, he has no tainted image. I think he was a professional and that was the reason he was asked to contest in the first place.”
In 2017, he was made Special Adviser on agriculture after Gov Obiano felt that his creativity and innovation at image management was needed in agriculture. “People just think it’s all about farming and all about that.
Even as SPAD on Agriculture, Gov Obiano qualifies what I am supposed to do there; to manage farm implements and mechanisation. The way we do our farming is so cumbersome, drudgery and energy consuming, low output and others.
Agriculture requires better approach. Every inch of our soil is fertile and what we have to do is to maximise what we have and the only way to do that is to improve mechanisation, so that output will be more with less human effort. So it is not because I’m an agronomist or agriculturalist or a plant scientist.”
Mr. Nwosu would like to be remembered as someone who contributed to making Anambra State great under the capacities he served. He is married to Lady Antonia Neta Nwosu, a beautiful woman he described as having finer inner qualities. “Beauty! yes but after it fades ,what sustains the marriage?
It is the chemistry of the lady; hard work, tolerance, creative mind, resiliency, ability to tolerate the man’s foibles and excesses sometimes; yet takes good care of the home, which my wife possesses.” They are married with three children.
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