Dr. Ona Ekhomu, is Nigeria’s first chartered security professional and author of the highly acclaimed book on security awareness titled Effective Personal & Corporate Security. He is the president of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) and Africa’s Representative of the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO).
He was born in Irrua, Edo State 58 years ago, precisely March 26 1955. He obtained BA (History) from Voorhees College, Denmark, South Carolina USA 1977; M.A (Political Science) from the Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 1979; and PhD (Public and International Affairs – Policy Management) from the University of Pittsburgh, USA 1985. He attended the Security Officer Training Academy of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania USA (1986). He also obtained the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Act 235 Lethal Weapons License in 1986.
A management consultant, policy analyst and corporate security consultant, he is presently the chairman of Trans-World Security Systems Ltd,the position he has been occupying for 32 years. He is the chairman of the School of Management and Security and Chairman of Trans-World Consultants Limited as well as President of Trans-World Security Systems Inc. of Chicago, Illinois USA.
He is our ICON in this edition of Past Perfect as he takes us around his life and who he is today.
The struggle of my life began as a freelance journalist with NTA when my admission was aborted. As a journalist, I was opportuned to go for a 3-month course on editing at NIJ.
Afterwards, I went back to Benin where I started as a sub-editor at Observer. In July, 1975, I decided to travel abroad to study and after several years of study, I came back to Nigeria. Then, I was enriched with opportunities that helped me in life. I had the contact, chains of degrees, aspirations, so it was a change of level.
I left Nigeria as a little boy who was looking for the golden fleece but by the time I came back, I had an idea of what I am expected to do to make a difference. It was a paradigm shift unlike Nigeria where people are trained to be dependent instead of being independent. Nigerians are not trained to be self reliant or self-starters and that is why most graduates are not making impact in the country.
In our days, we read good books and built solid vocabularies. When I went to the US, my services were being sought after because I could write. People were begging me to write newsletters and speeches for them. I was employed in a school and people were competing for my services because I could write. And I think excellence is the watchword. Whatever anyone could write, it is better, it is written well.
I was not born with a silver spoon. My father was a lonely civil servant. He worked with NPA in Port-Harcourt and my mother was a petty trader.
As a little boy, I hawked castila soap on the streets of Port-Harcourt. We were given orders to go and hawk soap. It is not as if we wished to go on the streets to sell castala soap but there was no choice because we had to help our parents. And so, nobody thought it was child exploitation. Another challenge I had was the fact that my parents could not pay my school fees on time. We were obeying all the rules and regulations. The only thing was that we had the chance to play without restriction. And that was what I liked about freedom of life. But, we wouldn’t neglect all the house chores and those were features of life that helped me. Disobedience was not in the dictionary as we grew up.
But, education helped me through. Apart from the fact that I sold castala soap, I was a boxer at nine years. I was engaged in boxing competition, NPA, Port-Harcourt before my parents decided to relocate me to what is known today as Delta State.
I was to stay with my Uncle
and so, my father suggested that I should be sent out of the vicinity so as not to become a hoodlum. So, I joined my uncle who was a disciplinarian and I became his servant. I used to wash his motorbike in the morning, clean the house and do some washing before going to school. One day, he was transferred from Sapele to Agbor after six months and I joined my family after a while.
My journey as a security expert was not planned. When I was in secondary school, I dreamt about being a lawyer. I used to be the president of drama society in school. But, when I was undergoing my degree, I thought of being a professor, and I obtained both first and second degrees. But, my direction changed when I went abroad for my PHD. I stumbled on some individuals who were looking for market opportunity for security business for their security equipment and so, being a Nigerian, they approached me and after a considerable agreement, I started learning their system. That was how I got into the technical end of security.
Before then, I was training at Mopol 5 in Benin. I was used to law enforcement personnel in that capacity so when I got to the United States, I still made efforts to seek out law enforcement people to collaborate with them by engaging in some trainings.
My parents told me how I used to be very troublesome as a child and how they (parents) used police to threaten me. That built up my respect for people. Besides, I was brought up under the guidance of disciplined Christian parents which built me.
How he met his wife
I came back to Nigeria in 1980 for my PHD thesis and I was doing some data gathering. She has just finished her youth service and so, I was looking for a youth corps member to interview. She was living across my house in Benin. Then, my younger sister introduced her to me as a youth corps member who was of a marriageable age. They brought her picture to me. I liked the picture and that was how it started. They gave me her contact and I called her on phone requesting her to come over to my office but she banged the phone on me. She then requested me to come over to the house and that was how we started. We have so many attributes in common and that was how the relationship kicked up. My mother fell in love with her and they accepted her.
As a young boy, I could cook but since I got married, I started drifting away from the culinary department. I started losing my touch. I worked in a restaurant as a cook in America, I worked in two factories. I worked as a driver too. I was a professional bus driver. I was doing the transportation business on part time.
I have learnt in my life to be hard working and determined. I do not see challenges as obstacles but as opportunities.