LONG before the rheum of sleep left the eyes of the rest of the world, Africans had held that the flint that would reach the farm is known to the wise right at home, and that, to a reasonable extent, a man’s total destiny is captured in his name.
THE BEGINNING, HIS EDUCATION
Born on February 25, 1969 in Kano to parents who hailed from Ogbekenu quarters, Onicha-Olona in Aniocha North council area of the state,Hon. Ochei has largely lived out in the truism in the indigenous African proverb quoted above: Victor (the one who earns victory); Onyekachi (who is greater than God), and Ochei(the one who guards).
He had his early education in the northern commercial city of Kano, where he was born, before he read Engineering at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), graduating with a Degree in Chemical Engineering. Later, in 1996, he earned the Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the same ivory tower.
He has also since then earned the Master of Science (MSc) in Corporate Governance from the prestigious Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom; a Certificate in Good Governance from the enviable Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and a Certificate In Educational Improvement from the alluring Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ochei equally holds the Degree in Law from the Delta State University (DELSU) and the fellowships of the Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
Ochei, as many will readily agree, is a man of legion positive parts: a builder/developer of man; a manager of men and materials; a politician; an academic; an investor; a sponsor; a philanthropist; a visioner and a pace setter leader, all rolled into one.
As an academic, Ochei has demonstrated sufficient faith in effective formal education as a critical tool of liberation of man by not only his massive acquisition of degrees and certificates in legion fields of academic pursuit, but also by his selfless investment in the effective formal education of others-most unknown to him, as an individual (the testimony to this is his scholarship scheme that has benefited many, and the academic foundation at the Federal College of Education, Asaba).
The huge investment in this regard attests to Ochei’s abiding faith in education as a potent weapon against ignorance and poverty, both of which are akin to Siamese twins, for their debilitative effect.The real value of Ochei’s reasoned acquisition of knowledge in legion fields is anchored on this fact: only truly enhanced world view (which comes from such exposure as he has had) makes good leaders.
OCHEIA AS A CAPACITY BUILDER
As a builder/developer of man as the critical driving force of wholesome societal development, Ochei has legion proofs. His chain of academic scholarship awards; his academic foundation at the FCET, Asaba; the donation of books worth millions of naira to schools in his local government area; the donation of N2m worth of books to DELSU; his extra-scholarship support for indigent students in lieu of school fees; his plan to build a modern Lecture Theatre at the Oleh campus of DELSU (the architectural design is ready) ; his sponsorship of the De Saints International, a club devoted to the pursuit of academic excellence in the state school system and the institution of a N1m yearly prize for the Best Investigative Journalist for the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), all bear clear testimony to the resolve of Hon. Ochei to the building of a more competitive and confident man as the driver of society’s development process.
The true value of investment in education is in the fruits that, over the long-term, it bears for the long-term good of society. In this sense, Ochei, like every truly wise man, is investing in man today for the good of the larger society, for tomorrow and beyond.
As an investor, Ochei, quite early, realised the wisdom in the ancient African saying that only early birds catch the rare worm. Soon after his NYSC scheme, he realised that the way to enduring economic well-being laid in the private sector, in spite of its inclement circumstance at the time. So, quite wisely, he established Davnotch, which, today, has engaged hundreds of staff, and has become the leading indigenous Electrical Engineering firm in the state and one of Nigeria’s icons in that sector.
Though he has divested his investment in Davnotch,by his singular investment in that regard, Ochei has not only invested in the peace and security of the society, but has , equally importantly, invested in the human person-society’s most important asset, and, arising therefrom, assured his future.
Taken together with the effects of Ochei’s huge investment in the effective education of others, the fruits of his economic commitments attest to the faith of a man committed to the good of society beyond the immediate. This bears alignment with the import of the sages’ ageless saying that only the truly far-sighted plant trees, which long-term investments in education and the economy symbolise.
THE SPORTS FAN/SPONSOR
Ochei is a reckonable sponsor of major sports and other events. He is at the heart of De Saints, an international club committed to the development/sustenance of a culture of academic excellence among secondary school students in the state, as well as the mastermind and sponsor of the annual Victor Ochei National Wheelchair Basketball meet for the physically-challenged, the 2014 edition of which held last week, to tremendous glee and glamour.
The annual event, which began in 2012 in Asaba, and has a prize money of N5m, has gone international via this year’s edition which attracted players from other African countries, including South Africa, Togo, Benin, Ghana and Cameroun. In fact, the championship has not only created jobs and opportunity for the physically challenged to put their talents to the test, but has led to the discovery and nurture of many stars who ply their trade in countries in all four winds of the earth. Some of these startling discoveries, now reckonable players in the international circuit, attended this year’s edition of the championship from France, Holland and America.
One of them, Patrick Richard Okigbazi, is now one of the most potent and highly-sought after in America, one of the most active spots in the world in the game of competitive wheelchair basketball.
As a politician, Hon. Ochei has lived out the truism in the axiomatic saying that when a meal is tasty, it can be eaten for as long as the taste bud desires it, by representing Aniocha North constituency in the DTHA for three consecutive times, during which he has redefined service for good, and held enviable positions as head, House Committee on Education; Deputy Minority Leader, DTHA in the Third Assembly, as well as Speaker.
As a politician, particularly as Speaker,( he is the second-longest serving Speaker in the history of the house), he has earned a reputation for being a veritable team player among his colleagues, whom, he describes as a wonderful family of cooperative selfless minds.
But that is not all that there is to the icon called Ochei, who has also become a positive pace setter. Not only has he earned the confidence of his constituents to represent them thrice in the DTHA, he has become the second longest serving Speaker in the history of DTHA, even against the backdrop of the fact that he assumed that position at a relatively young age. He is also the youngest Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) at his installation in 2011.
In fact, his fellowship in this regard is a stoic tribute to Ochei’s contributions to the development of engineering as a discipline and practice in the country, as attested to by his establishment of Davnotch, which, to-date- bear testimony to his revolutionary vision in a sector in which indigenous participation/ visibility is still low.
OCHEI THE PHILANTHROPIST
As a philanthropist, Hon. Ochei has carved out a niche for himself. Aside his educational scholarship scheme, and other non-scholarship engagements (which has benefitted many), Ochei has donated buses to all secondary schools in Aniocha North local government area; instituted an award for the best 10 graduating students in the FCET, as a way of promoting scholarship, and donated millions of naira worth of books to schools in Aniocha North council area, and to DELSU, Abraka.
He is also at the threshold of furnishing the classrooms of Umuebu Secondary School, Umuebu in Ukwuani council area. Long before then-2001/2002 to be precise- Ochei, via the Vitor Ochei Foundation, established in his council area, a mass transit scheme that was famous for its heavily subsidised fares.
The benefits of these included not only the huge economic relief it gave beneficiaries and the employment it generated for those so engaged, but equally importantly for its stoic symbolism of the altruistic disposition of a man for whom effective service is second nature.
This is aside of the yearly empowerment programme of the Speaker under which aegis he economically enables market women, traders, welders and other artisans. In 2013, alone, and at a ceremony that attracted legion diverse interests and dignitaries, including the Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Hon. Ochei empowered a total of 1,020 women in the local government area, with a total of N25.5m.
The good thing about the event was not only the economic and related relief it gave the beneficiaries as well as the bonding it cemented between them and their benefactor, but also importantly, on account of Ochei’s assurance that the empowerment programme will benefit other segments of the broad spectrum of stakeholders.
In relation to religion, Ochei, as a devout Christian, has been quite supportive of many religious interests, particularly churches, including St. Columba’s Catholic Church, Agbor, and St. John’s Cathoic Church, College Road, Off Ekenhuan Road, Benin, the latter of which he donated 100 KVA electricity generator. The list of Ochei’s practical philanthropy is endless, actually speaking. So, it makes as much sense as one holding that Newcastle is rich in coal: nothing can be more self-evident.
THE REVOLUTIONARY INVESTOR
Above all else,Ochei, is a revolutionary leader who has set landmarks in partisan politics(where his effective representation and empowerment programmes have become positive references); industry (where Davnotch, the electrical engineering firm he founded-before he divested his interest-remains a befitting tribute to his foresight, vision and courage, as well as an appealing salute to indigenous creativity); human capacity development and building( where his educational schemes and related activities bear enduring testimony to the wholesome, long-term development of society via the effective empowerment of man, as the driver of all other development initiatives in society); sponsor (of legion sports and other activities) and in leadership and administration.
In fact, in terms of effective cost-efficient leadership, Hon. Ochei has used the platform of his office as Speaker to redefine public administration for good. His commitment to effective vision and even-handedness has led to a leadership culture of across-all-spectra inclusiveness such that DTHA, as a house, has earned public acclaim as a coherent house of proactive members.
This revolutionary trend in leadership has been manifested in the inclusive family approach to issues; the even-handedness of its leadership; the training and re-training of members and staff for a more cost-efficient culture of service delivery, as well as the upgrade of DTHA to what is today Nigeria’s most alluring and technologically up-to-date legislature in all of the country (this much was attested to by participants in the 66th annual conference of the Africa Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association-CPA- which the house hosted).
He has also fashioned a dynamic approach to public administration (that, in the light of the dynamism of society, and its inherent push on the three separate arms of government to collaborate to deliver quality services to the public in the best interest of the society) such that it has established a mutually-beneficial relations with the other arms of government for the good of the society, without impairing the integrity of the different arms.
This novel approach to public administration, like the proverbial harmattan fire, has caught on, so much so that the State Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN), who represented Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan at the opening of the CPA, urged the delegates to go home with its import to their countries as Delta‘s gift to the world of public administration and political engineering. What can be more ennobling?
THE FAMILY MAN
Above all else, Ochei is an endearing family man and caring father of promising children by his wife, Hanatu, ( a growing academic and newshound by right of performance) who, aside of her physical appeal, is acknowledgedly a positive symbol of motherhood.
In fact, so strategic to Ochei is Hanatu that, in a telephone interview from Lagos on Friday, he said, inter alia : “ I met her in 1995 when I went to her aunt’s restaurant on Ibusa Road, Asaba,to eat with a friend, Bala Hamman, and we married in 1999. She is from a strong muslim background, but today, she is a staunch Christian,my prayer warrior, a wonderful wife and guardian of our family and children;in fact, she is an asset of inestimable value.”
That is what Ochei is-and that is what he represents for our society, today, and more importantly, tomorrow and beyond.