Given what Life has Dealt me, I Don’t Think I Have Done too Badly
The hardest part was the constant fear that something could go wrong along the way, that they could fall victim to some negative influences, either through peer pressure or some other external factors like the internet. Thank God that didn’t happen. My mo
have changed, the information consumption habits of the audiences have changed, and so naturally has the skill set required to function effectively in that space. It’s a whole new world out there. And even with all of that everything is still evolving.’’
If a youngster who is passionate about plying the perception building trade, meets John Ehiguese, be sure to expect this line of advice: ‘‘Be prepared, both in terms of training, and the right attitude, especially a learning attitude. You’ve got to be ready and willing to learn new things, continuously. Plus, you must invest in honing your communication skills, both oral and written. That is not negotiable.’’
Insight into life and marriage seems to have prepared and changed his paradigm, as he shares the story behind meeting his wife: ‘‘She was working with a friend, and I met her on a visit to his workplace. She was attractive, good-mannered, and was from the same Itsekiri ethnic stock as my mother. Those were my initial attractions; other things followed as we got to know each other better. There wasn’t really a formal engagement as such. We just went through the comprehensive marriage rites in January 1990. We got married formally on January 13, 1990. I say ‘formally’ because we already had a child at that time. I was 32 then. It was just a small family affair. I have never been a fan of big parties and celebrations, even now. We bought our first house in 2007.’’
He tells the reporter what makes his spouse special and the success of raising his children: “She is very loyal and strong. And she has done a great job of bringing up the kids, who are mostly boys. Any parent out there would understand what I mean. I think that we haven’t done too badly, given that they have all turned out well, each holding his or her own pretty well. They all have a university education, and my youngest child – the only girl – will be graduating from the university in a couple of months from now. The best part was watching them go through all the stages of growth – the struggles, the pains, the changes, the small victories, all of that. I believe very strongly that one of the most profound human experiences is observing a child grow.
“The hardest part was the constant fear that something could go wrong along the way, that they could fall victim to some negative influences, either through peer pressure or some other external factors like the internet. Thank God that didn’t happen. My most important success has been in raising my children well. And the greatest frustration for me has been the near-total erosion of merit in our society today. It is almost impossible to get anything on merit any longer – you have to ‘know’ somebody, or be prepared to ‘share’ money. No society can truly develop that way. And for me, it is sad, very sad.’’
When asked what the feeling is like at 60 and the thoughts of a succession plan, these were his words: ‘‘It’s strange, but I really don’t feel like 60. Nothing extraordinary, I must tell you. When I was much younger, 60 used to look so far away. But now it’s here, and it’s not such a big deal. A few changes though: my body is beginning to tell me things, my energy level is no longer as it used to be. And as you grow older I guess you tend to become more contemplative and retrained in your actions. But in all, I am thankful to God for reasonably good health, for a great family, and for sundry blessings. There seems to be a lot that still needs to get done. My life continues to be work in progress. We’re working on it. It’s not easy in this environment, but that does not mean that it cannot be accomplished.’’
Given what life has dealt him, does he feel fulfilled, yes, but he feels he is still on a journey, even at 60: ‘‘Given what life has dealt me, I don’t think I have done too badly. Yes, there have been some mistakes made, some regrets, but there have also been some victories and successes. In all, it has been a jolly good ride so far, with its own fair share of ups and downs. Every man must define what ultimate life success means to him. For me, I am still on that journey. And loving every bit of it!’’
For those who know JE as he is fondly called, he’s always been a workaholic. But he seems to be gradually slowing down now. He said: ‘‘I have tried to reduce my work hours, and I plan to spend more time travelling and visiting with my children who live in different parts of the world.’’
At 60, he looks forward to a long life, in good health, successful children and a good legacy all-round.