By: Onifade Bello
The prominent American industrialist and the founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, could not be more right when he opined that “The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.” Even though he had been a science student in secondary school, Ozibo Ozibo Ekele, went ahead to find his destiny in the arts and humanities. He has demystified the jinx of making history in the Ibadan School of History; having become the premier first class graduate of history in the 69-year old institution. In this interview with The Transverse, Ozibo shares his life experience with Onifade A. Bello. Enjoy the excerpts below.
TT: May I meet you?
Ozibo: It is my pleasure to meet you. My name is OziboOziboEkele from AmaguAgba, Ishielu LGA in Ebonyi State. I am the second in a family of six – five boys and a girl.
TT: How was it like growing up?
Ozibo:Expectedly, growing up was very tough but thank God and my parents that we were able to survive till date. I started my education at Community Primary School, AmaguAgba and then to Community Secondary School Agba where I made my WASC in flying colours, finishing as the best. I can also say that as a child, I hated school with passion but my late father ensured I never missed a single day.
TT: You attended UNN, how was it there? What prompted you to coming again to UI?
Ozibo:In 2008, I was admitted to study Architecture at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus but I transferred after one year (in 2009) to Mass Communication at the Nsukka Campus. Unfortunately, I had some disagreements with my Project Supervisor who made sure I never graduated with my set in 2012. Thus, I left UNN in frustration to pursue a new degree in History at the University of Ibadan. While in Ibadan, the management of MassCommin UNN saw the merit of my case and changed the supervisor such that I was able to come back and finish my degree in 2013. Meanwhile, I was already underway at UI, hence I decided to finish that too.
TT: How does it feel finally achieving unprecedented academic excellence in the Ibadan School of History?
Ozibo:It is important to point out here that I never learned of any unbroken record in UI History Department until my graduation in 2016. When I left UNN, my aim was to get a degree, any degree. So getting a degree, not breaking a record, was uppermost in my mind. Upon learning of the broken record, well, I see it as a journey not a destination.
TT: Why History as a course of study?
Ozibo:Although I was a science student back in the days, I would later switch to Arts (Journalism and History) even to the consternation of my friends and family members who saw the idea as rather crazy. But I stuck to my guns because Journalism, History and Law (which would come later) have always been my passion. Besides, they constitute a powerful weapon in any society and I want to possess that weapon.
TT: In what other activities other than strictly academic works did you engage during your undergraduate days?
Ozibo:Aside academics, I was into student politics in UNN and I participated in debate in UI.
TT:Being a native of Southeast Nigeria and a Historian, what is your view on the secessionist agitations by IPOB?
TT:In what ways do you think History as a discipline can stimulate national cohesion and integration?
Ozibo:The most recurrent themes in history are nation building and national integration as well as the contributions of history as a discipline to the process of national development. Unfortunately, Nigeria and Africa is a clear case of the aphorism that history teaches no lessons. Otherwise, a government with a sense of history would not have ignored the persistent call for the restructuring of “the house that Lugard built” in 1914, which from all indication is long overdue. Thus, Esedebe (2004) posits that “any meaningful effort to address the problems of nation building in Nigeria must be done in the context of our own past in particular and the universal experience of humanity in general.” Thus, you cannot talk about national integration without talking about history because to know where the rain stopped beating you, you must know where it started.
TT:Back to personal life, there is an assertion that ‘behind every successful man, there is a successful woman,’ who is that woman behind your success?
Ozibo:The woman behind my success, if there is any, is my mother who has made countless sacrifices for me. She is always there for me.
TT: What next after school? Where do you see yourself in 5years to this time?
Ozibo:Though I cannot claim to be clairvoyant, in the next five years, I would like to see myself as a dedicated academic, a seasoned writer/columnist and if possible retire to a life of law practice in future.
TT:Could it mean that you still intend to study Law?
Ozibo:In future, yes
TT:How do you mean to begin the journey into legal practice?
Ozibo:When we get to the bridge, we cross it.
TT: What advice do you have for the government of the day?
Ozibo: The government should govern well in the principle of equity, justice and good conscience.
TT: What advice do you have for youths and students in higher institutions?
Ozibo:My advice to other students:First, make sure you read courses you have interests and passion in. As I said, I was a science student and I did well in the sciences, graduating best in WASC. Even in Architecture, Udensi and I were the best in POST UTME with a score of 256; I was also the best in ARC 101 and 102 taught by Gbanigo and Oji at UNEC in 2008. All alon, however, I knew I did not have the passion for sciences despite my performances. Second, work hard and make sacrifices for your studiesThird, never underestimate the power of the internet and the social media. Thank you all.
I believe that nothing is “impossible”; the word itself says I’m possible. Always see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty and improve by focusing on the future. Ultimately, the best revenge is to be successful and if one follows excellence, success will chase one, pants down.
Ozibo: You are welcome