It’s better to have younger govt appointees –Okeahilam, 36-year-old Imo commissioner

Chidiebube Okeoma

Thirty -six – year -old Ekezie Johnbosco Okeahilam is the Imo State Commissioner for Commerce , Industry and Entrepreneurship . Okeahilam , the youngest commissioner in the state and a first -class graduate, tells CHIDIEBUBE OKEOMA about his transition from the private sector to the public sector

Many people have been talking about your age , saying that young people are often not mature enough for top political offices; what is your view on that ?

Frankly, I am 36 years old and that is a quite a lot of years . But come to think of it, I will be more impressed if I see a 25 -year -old becoming a commissioner . So I do not see how being a 36 – year -old commissioner in 2019 is a big deal . It is about capacity and the ability to deliver.

You graduated with a first -class degree in economics, was Chief Operating Officer for Continental Sports and Head of Business Development, Wakanow , why do you want to occupy a political office at a young age when you can still achieve more feats in the private sector ?

Well, I think the minimum age requirement for President of Nigeria is 35 years , so at 36 years old with a master ’ s degree and having graduated with a first -class degree , don ’t you think I am qualified to be the President of Nigeria ? There is no age limit needed to serve your country and state . When you are called , the best thing to do is to be humble , serve and deliver good things for your people .

It is believed that technocrats who have integrity often find it hard to cope with the politics because of the bureaucracy , corruption and so on there , which are more pronounced than in the private sector . How would deal with that ?

First , I think the way Nigeria is going, there is a need to eradicate corruption in Nigeria . I must say that corruption is deep- rooted in our country . At all levels of the government , you will experience one level of corruption or the other and that is the reason why people of integrity find it hard to cope . You find yourself in a society where the number of persons with integrity is lower versus that of corrupt people , but there is a gradual process to spread awareness against corruption . We don ’t need to abandon our country because there is corruption . We need to step forward and offer quality leadership .

What makes you think you can do better?

To be honest with you, I do not think I ’m better than anyone . I do not have the ambition to outdo my colleagues . I see myself as being part of a team that is trying to build Imo State . I see myself contributing my quota as required by the governor , Emeka Ihedioha , to make Imo better . That is the service I have been called for ; it is not a competition by any means .

How do you plan to navigate the political space that comes with challenges different from those of the private sector ?

I believe I have a boss , who is the governor of the state , and everything that will be executed will be based on his direction and directives and it will also be in recognition of his principles and due diligence and process . No human being should disrupt that process .

What do you think can be done to improve efficiency in government generally to make things run like the private sector ?

At the end of the day , it is the same in the government and the private sector . The only difference is the deliverables ; in the private sector , you are being told to deliver the same way you will be told to deliver when in the government . The only difference is that the government is working more for the people than the private sector . With the injection of fresh people that are committed to serving, the political landscape will start changing for the good of our country , and Imo State , in particular .
The public and private sectors are two different things actually ; I do not think we should start comparing them . They are there to serve two different purposes . It is just to follow due process and I think that is what the governor is all about . The only thing lacking in the public sector is the lack of due process , which is strictly adhered to in the private sector .

After serving as a commissioner , will you be willing to return to the private sector or will you join politics and vie for office after having a taste of the comfort political office can offer ?

This is a call to service . I am not here on my own accord . This is an appointment and I was called to come and serve and I see that as an opportunity to bring value as a trained hand and having worked abroad , outside Imo State and in various places . It is all about bringing all the working experience back home. If at the end of the day my service is no longer required , it will be easy to return to the private sector .

People are saying that your father ’ s influence and political strength got you this appointment . What is your reaction to that ?

A lot of people who say that know very little about me . I am here based on merit , my efforts and contributions , politically . I must tell you that I contested in the Peoples Democratic Party ’s primaries for the House of Representatives election in 2018 – Ahiazu / Ezinihitte federal constituency . I came second in that election , and my brother and friend won the election and ended up winning the general elections . Coming second in a highly contested election comes with a lot of emotional backlashes but I moved on , supported the party until the PDP won the governorship election .

How did you feel when your name was announced as a commissioner ?

It is a call to service . It is not as if I am going to a party ; I ’m going to work , probably round the clock . This is not a situation that will be making me jump and shout ‘ hurray ’. But yes, I am happy because I was chosen among many people . It gives an excitement of joy and a level of satisfaction , but note that we are here to work and push out the deliverables and by God ’s grace , our people will see the results .

Copyright PUNCH .

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