Nkechinyere Obukwanwa Isigwe, a former staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is an engineer, with decades of experience.
Isigwe, who spoke during her 70th birthday celebration in Lagos, recently, is also a member of the Association of Home Builders, United States of America (USA). She urged Nigerians to development entrepreneurial mindset and stop thinking of what the government will do for the citizens because, according to her, the policies they formulate are not helping the masses. She also spoke on other national issues.
Venturing into transportation business
My company is into engineering. However, one of my friends became a top official in NNPC. His name is Bayo and he was in-charge of petroleum products and tankers in petrol stations. He called me to come and do trucking. I told him I don’t have money for the contract. I failed the first time it was given to me before the company in Asaba Mega Station was given to me, and the person in that station refused to touch it until I came. I became the first woman to transport product in NNPC and I still transport products for them till today.
Nigeria’s economic situation
Like I tell people, we have tried government all this long and it did not work. In other countries, governments formulate policies that favour the masses but you know our government and its policies. But as engineers, we are to solve the problems, whatever they are; we should come together and solve them because we are meant to solve problems. So we decided among ourselves that if every engineer could bring between N10,000 and N100,000 every year into a common fund, we can start something with it and they should come up with any innovation they can boast of and we can start with our own and stand by them.
We are not waiting for government for power but we should start using solar energy. We should start generating solar energy, after all, the government is not disturbing people using generator, so they will not disturb those using solar energy. So we support our members who are generating this and before you know it, industry will spring up everywhere in the country. I know in the next few years people will see industrial revolution in this country.
Advice to government on energy
Incidentally, some of the energy systems are manufactured here. Government set up something here called NASEMY. It has a parastator under it called generator incubator. I really don’t know what to say about government. Sometimes they have good ideas but when those ideas begin to generate good income, they remove those people initially put there and put their own politicians and the whole thing goes down. That is why we are advocating that we should do these things ourselves and forget about government. We are saying come as a group not as an individual. Don’t do it individually. If I have the capacity to generate energy, I’ll generate and sell to the man who is interested. If we keep talking about government, you will just have blood high pressure. Let’s see what entrepreneurs can do.
And we are starting it in (APWEN). We want to create jobs for the young ones; the jobs that government create are only on paper. I know we don’t have money but we are putting our resources together to do this, and make sure it works. Sometimes when you are doing something people are taking note. We will get there.
Entrepreneurs taking charge
They still have not got to where they should be. But we still need to encourage our young ones on how they should go by mentoring them. And I am sure they will key into it.
Life at 70
Being 70 for me is a number; it’s just a number and you really don’t know when time passes and before you know it, you are on the road to 70. It looks as if it was yesterday except that the body slows down a little bit; that is how you know and it tells you that you are growing old. Before, when I want to dance, I will bend down but now, my body will tell me slow down it’s not like before.
Women caring for themselves when advancing in years
Healthy diet is key to ageing well. I have not taken any sugar for the past 20 years.
One thing I’ve also noticed is that when you read the word of God, may be twice everyday, your youth will be renewed. Everyday I read the Bible and as I read it, it makes me happy. Once you are happy, you don’t age because the Bible says so. When I am waiting for somebody, I bring it out and read. When you smile, you cannot get wrinkles. If you keep that at the back of your mind, you’ll be fine. As I usually tell my siblings, in life, don’t think of what people will do for you but what you will do for people. And don’t put in mind what people do to you.
When my father was alive, if he did anything to me, I would tell him to his face and ask him to stop doing it. When school fees were delayed, I followed him to the office to demand for my school fees because then he was working at the post office, and I would plead with his colleagues to tell him to pay my fees or else I would not leave the office and that was it. Still he would look for money to pay my school fees.
My landlady, when I was to move into her house, said another person was on hand to take the house because he had money, but she said God showed her in a dream to give me the house. Even though I had no money, some how God prevailed on her to allow me pay a little money before I was able to pay the complete rent. It took me time to pay and because God talked to her, she was calm.
Always be kind, and smile, do good for people because there is nothing like people’s prayers. I urge everybody to read the word of God, be kind to people. And always smile because there is no problem without a solution. I urge people to do good to others. I don’t stress myself, I sleep when necessary.