Joe Igbokwe

By Ademola Adegbamigbe

On Tuesday, 20 August, Mr Joe Igbokwe, was among Special Advisers (and the commissioners) sworn in by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State. He is Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources.

Igbokwe has been a butt of verbal missiles from many critics, especially from his kinsmen East of the Niger for his political inclination which they see as too pro-Lagos or South West or All Progressives Congress (APC). While there are people who like to pour obscenities on him, calling him adjectives ranging from “selfish”, “dumb” to “stupid.” There are people who are ready to swear by their grand fathers’ coffins that Igbokwe’s love for the Yoruba and Lagos did not come out of a vacuum. Lagos made him. And he confirmed this in a story he narrated and published on this platform two years ago. It is entitled:

Joe Igbokwe: My Lagos Story

“In 1971, after my primary school education, poverty drove me to Lagos to find something to do to help my poor mother and siblings. Civil War devastated my father’s thriving business in Onitsha and we all suffered from 1966 to 1970 when the war ended.

With four wives and 34 children, my parents could not cope any more. My brothers and sisters dropped out of school to learn a trade. Because I was a little ‘sharp’ in school, my father encouraged me to finish primary school. It is needless here to recall how I and few of my siblings survived to finish our primary education. Consequently when my mates were taking Common Entrance Examination, I did not because there was no need to do so. No money, no three square meals a day, no good clothing, just nothing.

My mother encouraged me to travel with friends to Lagos. We landed at Sawmill Ebute Metta where I worked as a sawdust carrier at seven Shilling, six Pence a day. My job was to pack sawdust from the Machines to the Lagoon from 7am to 5 pm daily. I did this for nearly two years and later I became a danfo conductor plying Idioro/Ajegunle axis. From there I joined my brother in a supermarket business at Ijesha Road, Surulere. I did this until I returned home during Christmas in December 1973. I came home to meet my friends I was beating academically in school trying to make me feel and look inferior. Again I also noticed while in Lagos that if I fail to go to school, I may end up doing menial jobs meant for illiterates till the end of age. I decided to go back to school to add values to my life. But where are the school fees? There was nothing. How I managed to get the first school fee to start and what happened thereafter will take a book to do the narrative.

In 1979 I left Okongwu Memorial Grammar School Nnewi with Division One and was the school Head Boy. I taught in the same school as an Auxiliary Teacher from 1979 – 1980. In 1980 I got admission to read Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and graduated in 1985. I did my Youth Service in Ogun State and thereafter I returned to Lagos in1986 to begin a journey to where I am today.

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