By MOSES NOSIKE
Johny Esike was not born with a silver spoon, yet he made a difference in his generation, driving away poverty in his family. The early death of his father was another challenge to his education but in all, he was determined to succeed and prove that the black man is not a dummy. He became a Mechanical Engineer through self struggle. One thing unique about him is that he is very articulate and always committed whenever he wants to achieve anything. Esike has a burning passion to create jobs for the unemployed Nigerian youths.
I’m a son of a common civil servant. I went to a boarding school but a very good one in the 70s. I attended the prestigious Government College Ughelli, from 1976 to 1981. I also attended Federal Government College, Warri. At that time, they were among the best schools in the land. After that, I went to the University of Benin where I studied Mechanical Engineering. But there were no jobs the time we left schools.
Most of us were unemployed graduates roaming around the streets. After that, I had an opportunity working in the defunct Nigeria National Shipping Line as a Marine Engineering Officer. It was there I had my working experience as a youth corps member. That actually positioned me to become an employer and by the grace of God, I have been running this company for 23 years now.
Challenges of growing up
Basically, in the boarding school, I wouldn’t say there were challenges because there was already a programmed way of training future leaders which is jettisoned today. Our today’s schools don’t have such commitment we had in the 60s and 70s. Those who grew up in the 60s would say theirs were the best. We grew up in the 70s and we also had it good, not like today that all manner of people come out of schools with certificates they bought with money.
Those days when you get grade A, you’d know it’s A; if you get grade B, it’s B, and not like what we have today. So, I would not say there were challenges in terms of growing up because there was a standard norm that when you were in the boarding house, you must pass through a boarding school. Boarding schools like Government College, Ughelli give you complete all round training; not just academics.
You wake up at 6a.m and every time of the day is programmed to make you busy. But few years after we went to school, you now have a situation where students, even secondary school students now began to form cults groups. It was unheard of during our time. The discipline and the need for you to do it the best way was already programmed. You had to do it the best way to succeed. You were already cultured for that. That was the culture and the kind of training we had at Government College, Ughelli and Federal Government College,Warri where you have teachers who were committed in teaching values to students.
My success habit
I can say that I had a solid training in my secondary school days; a training that made me become a man and face the challenges of life. And after graduation, as a young man looking for job, I got an opportunity to work in a small technical company that specialised in construction and maintenance. That was around 1990. Before then, I had a rigorous training as a Marine Engineer for two years and that gave me an edge, that if I could work at sea for a year, it’s like working on ground for five years.
What I’m saying is that marine engineers generally are one of the most hard working engineers you can find anywhere because at every point in time in your life, you are busy, your life is at stake, everything must work because everything about you must work. So, when you leave that environment to work in a regular office or regular construction company, it’s like you are playing.
So with that training in marine company, you must do it right and perfectly. It helped me a lot when I started this company you are seeing today. And when you are always doing it right and perfect, even though we are not Jesus Christ that can do all things perfect, people will always call us. However, when people see a little good work you did somewhere; they will call you to repeat what you have done somewhere, and that is the guiding force.
Propelling factor when setting up my company
The propelling factor is that we were in maintenance company even though it was not like I wanted to set up my own. I would say it was by providence. I went for Christmas, came back after the season but discovered that I was neither moving forward nor backward. I was not satisfied with the work I was doing. I actually wanted to start trading and in the course of that, those people I worked for earlier called me and advised me not to go into trading.
So, they called me to help them service an equipment. That was how I dropped the idea of trading and went to service some laundry equipment at Airport Hotel. After that, the engineer in charge told me that my service was good and suggested that I do another one. I went and serviced another one and from there, a company called Europe Sports Province gave me an appointment for installation of boiler textile equipment. They later left Nigeria because of epileptic power supply in the country. That job, I can say was the first major job that gave us assurance that we can be able to run a construction and maintenance company. After that, we started what you are seeing today.
How I relax
In the past, I didn’t observe holidays. But in recent times, I have been creating time for relaxation with my family. Now, I work for a while, then shut down and take a trip to Delta and have a good time for myself. Ofcourse, I have trained engineers who will take over the work we are doing and personally, we are looking at long term sustainable business. We are in construction and we are also looking at manufacturing with the view of creating jobs because employment is a major challenge of the country. My concern for the future is, how do we create jobs for our youths who graduate from the Universities without jobs?
My father was my first mentor even though he died early. And having grown up to be a man, when I look back, I remember one of my primary school teachers who was also my mentor. Then as an adult, one other mentor I have who stimulated my reason was late George Enemoh, the founder of ASCON Oil Ltd. He believed in the ability of the black man. He believed a black man can do things and do it well.
My dress code
I’m not a fashion freak. I wear simple things that give me free movement; shirts and trousers. Most times, the way you are seeing me now is the way I appear but on weekends or when I’m going to party, you can see me in native attires. I don’t use perfumes and necklace, chains, etc. I don’t like anything that is an addition. I prefer being natural. Even some women that dress in flashy attires, fixing attachment to their heads put me off. Anything you put on your body to look good puts me off. I want to see it natural.
My philosophy of life
My basic philosophy of life is to do unto others what I would want them to do unto me. Do good and good will be done unto you. Give and others will give unto you. Above that, the challenge for me as a person is to prove that a black man is not a dummy.