By Florence Amagiya
Sir Kenny Okolugbo may not have appealed to many in Delta state, but as the saying goes, you cannot please everybody. He came into political limelight at the age of 30 in 2003 when he contested for a seat in the House of Reps under the platform of Alliance for Democracy. Although he lost, he stayed focused. He contested again in 2007 on the Accord Party platform.
He was a one-time member of the Youth Committee of the Presidential Campaign team, and a past Commissioner of DESOPADEC representing the Ndokwa nation. He is a grassroot man who before serving in the capacity of a commissioner, planned outstanding projects and ventures to benefit his people. Sir Ken is a business man, married since 2009 with children.
He became one of the youngest Knights in Nigeria at age 37. He is also the Managing Director of Kenkol Company Ltd, and a builder who has a reputation for making ‘dream homes’ come true. In this edition, the Knight of St. Christopher who turned a year older two days ago shared his story…
I grew up in a very strict Christian home with five other siblings. ‘Curfew’ was set at 7:00 pm. We never listened to worldly music, and always attended every church service. I am the last born of my family. My mother used to be the Headmistress of the University Demonstration School, Abraka, back then, while my father was a Reverend and Professor of Religion. Along the line my teacher mother noticed the stubborn traits in me. She caned me at any given instance and picked on me during class lessons.
Several times I wondered if my mother was my real, biological mother, and once discussed it with my elder brother who is a year older than I am, and he admitted to have had similar doubts. I grew up to become restless and got involved in all sorts of vices which my father used to preach against. But in the long run, the discipline I received from my parents helped shape who I am today.
We lost both parents in year 2000. I consider myself to be a very lucky person because not everyone who went through the route I took while growing up would come out as I did, even though I was a very intelligent young man. I was born more than 40 years ago. I attended University Demonstration School Abraka and St.
Gorge’s Grammar School Obinonba. I graduated in 1996 with a degree in Political Science from Edo State University, Ekpoma, with a second class honors degree by the grace of God. As a young man, I can still remember how my fifth year birthday was celebrated. It was so unique judging from the perspective that my parents were extremely God-fearing. I will forever cherish the memory of that particular birthday celebration.
After graduation, I set up my own business known as KENKOL NIG Ltd as l have always been a strong believer in being self reliant. Later, I became property agent. I used to bring buyers of properties and sellers together and I take commissions on the deal.
I became stabilized in my business in the year 2000. I was able to build an estate in Kubwa, Abuja. That was the beginning of my success story. I started representing multinational companies like Microsoft Nigeria, Total and a few others while being paid in dollars. We veered away from just being an agency to building user-friendly homes and increased our client base.
My siblings and I had earlier on built a strong bond with our mother tongue and background, so in 2010, I was inspired to go back home to build a house and a church which we dedicated in June of that same year. After my 40th birthday, under the regime of the former Governor of Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, I was appointed a commissioner on behalf of Ndokwa nation in DESOPADEC.
Meanwhile, before the appointment, I had seen people living in abject poverty and squalor in my home town. I felt compassion and I prayed to God to help me make more money in order to help my people in need. I was working on those dreams when the opportunity fell on my lap.
So all I did was to put my words and dreams into action. So when I was made a commissioner, I left the comfort of my home and offices, moved back to the village, and felt the pulse of my people. It was easier to touch the grassroots, being in the same boat, and that is the reason for the success stories.
I built a borehole in the community and made sure some places where Government presence hasn’t been felt has 24 hours water supplies right in their homes. I set up a scholarship scheme for the schools and donated over 200 tricycles to indigenes, built and renovated classrooms, donated books and incentives to both teachers and students. We setup a solar system powered borehole in over 15 communities.
We built a glass house which is the only one situated in Delta State today. It contains a learning hall, an ICT training centre with over 40 brand new computers, a research/library centre, an event centre, offices and accommodation all fully air-conditioned. All these were put in place to promote the propaganda titled ‘’Delta beyond Oil”; the aesthetics, programmes, job creation and lives that are being touched are part of the give-back.
I joined politics early. I became part of the presidential campaign team in the media section. That shot me into the international limelight because I became the chair spokesman. I spoke on numerous national TV stations including CNN. My fan base began to grow rapidly. During that period, I tried to be neutral when talking or handling issues in politics except when necessary.