SELF-CONFIDENCE IN ACTION (NONFICTION)
“If an idea, no matter how innovative, took hold of him, he would knock on every relevant door over and over till he brought the idea to fruition. Some young people can hardly face their lecturers but (he) would call on the principal officers of the university and make himself comfortable, ensuring he airs his views to bring them on board his latest cause.”
This is a continuation of our CELEBRATING SUPER-JACKSONITES (Graduates of the Mass Communication Department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka) series.
SELF-CONFIDENCE IN ACTION
He had the bearing of a prince and even though he didn’t always move with an entourage, you could tell that this young man pulled serious political weight among his peers. If you sought to describe him, the words that came to mind were, “bold” and “relentless”. The fellow I’m referring to is Richie Olieh and the time his student years at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), which terminated upon graduation with a Second Class Upper Degree in 2003.
Richie had the conviction that nothing was impossible and if an idea, no matter how innovative, took hold of him, he would knock on every relevant door over and over till he brought the idea to fruition. Some young people can hardly face their lecturers but Richie would call on the principal officers of the university and make himself comfortable, ensuring he airs his views to bring them on board his latest cause.
Those of us who were often his sounding boards before he took his campaigns higher wondered what gave him the guts to be so imposing. And even when he was advised to tone down his demands and he felt otherwise, he came back with unusual accounts of success.
He understood the game of politics: the mobilization, negotiation, seeking counsel, building of alliances, presenting the altruistic side of his goals, decisiveness and so on. As a result, he held various political offices and achieved a lot thereby. He served as the Secretary of the Mass Communication Association (MCA), the name of the students’ body in the department back then and was a member of the Students’ Union Government (SUG) House of Representatives.
Coming to the faculty, he and other students came up with what seemed like a hare-brained idea to the authorities then: the establishment of a Faculty House of Representatives fashioned after the SUG one. In spite of opposition, they were able to set up the house. They bought the gown, the gavel and other working instruments of the legislature and Richie was elected the Speaker.
The whole idea was to provide the students with a forum for distilling their views on issues, to give them a voice at every level, and thus prevent the authorities from taking them for granted. The motions moved in the houses facilitated consultation and negotiations with the authorities on matters pertaining to the students.
Richie was also a kingmaker of sorts at the SUG level and faculties, including those as remote from Arts where he was enrolled as Engineering and Pharmacy. This clout came from his leadership position in the classy Rotaract Club which drew impressive membership from these faculties. He served as the club’s Millennium President.
During his tenure, in addition to the club’s customary charitable activities like visiting orphanages and making donations to them, the Rotaracts instituted what they called a Scholarship Relief Fund to assist disabled students with monetary grants. Ten such students benefited from the scheme.
WHAT HAS RICHIE BEEN UP TO SINCE HE FINISHED YOUTH SERVICE?
He joined the Orlean Invest Group in February 2005 and has been with them to date. Orlean Invest Africa Limited is into energy-related logistics and he leads part of a team that manages a segment of the shared services portfolio. He is married to a lovely young woman called Ofuchi, a graduate of Computer Science who runs her own company called Fuchis Signature Limited and they have a son.
HOW DO I REMEMBER RICHIE?
I recall his grandiloquent manner of communication, understandable given his political bent and, I presume, a certain fascination with the law discipline. I tried to divorce him from it through the writing courses I taught his class, with little success.
But most of all, I recall his passion to make a difference, his doggedness in pursuit of his goals and his admirable self-assurance. These all make me wonder how he and the likes of Mayor Ikoroha (another Super-Jacksonite and his political mentor) have managed to contain their political juices with the attendant restlessness to serve demurely behind a desk in the corporate world.
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