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From Ajegunle Bus conductor to Political Power: The Success Story of Joe Igbokwe

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Born into family of 34 children
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Only family child to achieve primary education
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Poverty drove him to Lagos after Civil War in 1971
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Worked as saw dust carrier & bus conductor in early years
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Returned to school after years of frustration on the streets
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Used NYSC Certificate & Degree as collateral for loan
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Bought first car in 1990
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Hit first million in 1995 after launch of his first book.
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Welcome to the inspiring world of Joe Igbokwe, APC publicity
secretary
 &&&&&&
There are stories that seemingly motivate you once you start listening or reading them. The painstaking ascent of charismatic APC publicity secretary to his present enviable status in the society is one of such.
Excerpt below…
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 Idi-Oro/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 in 1986 to begin a journey to where I am today. I walked the
streets of Lagos from 1986 – 1988 until the then military government headed by
Gen Ibrahim Babangida set up the National Directorate of Employment, (NDE) to
encourage graduates to start their own businesses. I got a loan of N27,500,
using my NYSC discharge Certificate and my Degree Certificate as collateral at
9% interest rate. I set up a Restaurant Business in Western Avenue, Lagos and
hit an instant success. While doing this business, I spread my nets also to the
auto spare parts market in Lawanson, Surulere where my brother thrives as a
very successful importer. I opened a shop there and got a boy to take charge of
the business. From there, I entered into Auto dealership in Western Avenue
Surulere. I paid back that loan in full and collected back my certificates.
In 1995, I wrote my first book,
Igbos: 25 Years After Biafra. I also established National Vision Newspapers in
1997. In 1999, I wrote my second book: Heroes of Democracy. In 2004 I
co-authored 2007: The IBB Option with my good friend, Peter Claver Oparah. One
thing led to another. I became an opinion molder, a public commentator,
political analyst, writer and an advocate of the peoples’ cause. I bought my
first car in 1990 and became a millionaire in 1995 after launching of my first
book.
In 2006, the then Governor of Lagos
State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, made me the pioneer General Manager of the
Lagos State Infrastructure & Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) and I was there
for almost 10 years. I served Asiwaju’s government for the remainder of his
days as Lagos Governor. I served His Excellency Governor Babatunde Fashola for
8years. In September 2015, His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode moved me to
Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority Apapa as Chairman. I became the
Publicity Secretary AC, ACN, and APC since late 2006 till date. By the grace of
God I have been the Chairman of Conference of APC Publicity Secretaries (CAPS)
in Nigeria since 2014. 
These positions and exploits have
put me in the limelight in Lagos and Nigeria since the early 90s, and God has
been kind to me. These offices have opened the doors of the rich and poor to
me. They have opened the inner ways,byways, subways, expressways and highways
to the corridors of power in Nigeria. I have been connected to the pace
setters, policy makers, the movers and shakers of blue chip companies,
newsmakers and the powers that be in Lagos. The magic of Lagos, the beauty of
Lagos, the dynamics of Lagos, the glory of Lagos, the momentum of Lagos, the
capacity, capability and the strength of Lagos touched me in no uncertain terms
since 1986 (32years ago) till date…..and still counting. 
My sojourn in Lagos for 32 years has
also opened my eyes as a historian as to what Lagos has done for my people from
South East. Today as I write this Igbo do not have a quarter of what they have
in Lagos in the South East in terms of investments. As I write this book, Igbo
are the second most populous ethnic group in Lagos. Today, Igbo exert
tremendous influence and capacity in Lagos and its success story. Few years
back two prominent sons of Nnewi told me in confidence that they did not know
they have been wasting their time in Nnewi until they came to Lagos. They said
Lagos opened doors for limitless opportunities and endless possibilities. I
have seen people come from other parts of Nigeria to hit gold mine in Lagos.
I got married in 1990 and all my
five kids are all Lagosians and so are millions of Igbo kids born in Lagos.
They have lived most of their lives in Lagos, schooled in Lagos, worked in
Lagos, made friends in Lagos and have keyed to the Lagos success story. They
know any other place except Lagos. Lagos is their home. This is not limited to
Igbo alone but all other ethnic groups and of course Yoruba from outside Lagos.
Lagos is a melting pot, a mega city, a cosmopolitan beehive. Lagos controls the
heartbeat of Nigeria, its wealth, its influence and its strategic
socio-economic and political hub.  Lagos changed my thinking and original
thoughts, Lagos emboldened me, Lagos motivated me, Lagos challenged me and
Lagos made me. I can say no less. This is the story of Lagos, my Lagos. It is
still unraveling, not for me alone but millions of other Nigerians, to the
glory of God.”
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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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