Dr. Victor Ide-Okoye is a first-class Chief in Igbo land and a cultural icon who has earned numerous chieftaincy titles from different traditional rulers in Igboland. But he says that the recognition that gives him the most joy was the prestigious “Ichie” title that was conferred on him by his ancestral home town, Umuoji. The “Ichie” title is solely reserved for men of honor and impeccable integrity. Dr. Victor Ide-Okoye holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management; an MBA in Global Management; MBA in E-Business and a doctoral degree (PhD.) in International Business from Argosy University. At present he resided in Boston, Massachusetts with his family. Afripol‘s Mark Wooten and Emeka Chiakwelu conducted the below interview.
“I am a first-class Chief in Igbo land” – Dr. Ide-Okoye
Good day Chief. It is a pleasure being with you today. Afripol seeks this interview because of your relevance in the Nigerian American community in the United States and especially within the Igbo community. Sir, first and foremost, could you tell us about yourself?
Ide-Okoye : My Name is Dr. Victor Ide-Okoye. “Ide of Umuoji” “Ichie Idejuogwugwu” I was born in the Eastern part of Nigeria, Anambra State. My home town as you can tell from my title name is Umuoji. I left Nigeria after secondary/ High School in the 1980s, and arrived Boston, Massachusetts, as a young man to pursue my University education, and as they say, the rest became history. I have been here in Boston for over 30 years. So, you can basically call me a Bostonian.
Looking at your resume, you have been in the business world for many years. How did you transition from academics into the business world?
Ide-Okoye : Great question! As a young man growing up, my father told me that every Igbo man is a business-man. Honestly speaking, I have not really worked for anybody. I have told this story many times; but wouldn’t hesitate to re-tell it again. I took a business course that dealt with writing a business plan and somewhere during that class, I learnt that the staffing industry in US was a multi-billion-dollar industry. At the conclusion of that class, I was convinced that I would write my own business plan and start my own staffing Company, and that was exactly what I did. The truth of the matter was that I established my business before graduating from undergrad and guess what, I am still in the same industry today. so, essentially, I was running my company and pursuing my academics work as well.
Your educational background is quite impressive. How were you able to do it, in spite of all the challenges of being a recent immigrant to USA?
Ide-Okoye : My brother, it was a serious struggle, basically combining everything together. Glad, you brought this question up, I always tell my children how we used to struggle in those day; trying to balance doing business or working full time and combining same with school sometimes, on full time basis. I am pretty sure that this sounds familiar to so many of us immigrants. The struggle is real for sure.
At a point you became interested in Nigerian politics and you tried your hands in it. What was your motivation? How do you assess Nigerian politics?
Ide-Okoye : Yes, indeed! My brother, I did run for Senate in Anambra State, Nigeria under PDP in 2007. It was perhaps the biggest sacrifice given that I had a really young family at the time but bottom-line was that I did it for “love of country”. It was an eye-opening experience.
“A country where the election results were tallied even before people go to the polls and for the most part, their votes are not even counted”
How do I assess Nigeria Politics? Well, politics is the realm of the rough and tumble but politics in Nigeria is at a whole other level of the rough and tumble experience. The truth of the matter is that Nigeria politics is extremely dirty. And I don’t really think that we actually practice true democracy in Nigeria. When I ran for senate, people loved my platform and message and if it was a true democracy where people are allowed to vote, I honestly believed that they would have voted for me. The system is so corrupt, and I am beginning to think that it might take a literal miracle as in “an act of God” to save us from what is happening to our country. Look at what is happening in Nigeria now, the same group of people who rob us blind, use the stolen money to maintain power. They use the army to subdue and intimidate the people. Most of those guys are so corrupt and that is why I had to cut ties with some of them after my senate-run experience. The purported elections held in Nigeria are mostly a sham. A country where the election results were tallied even before people go to the polls and for the most part, their votes are not even counted. Sometimes, I wish I could blanket from my memory some of the things I saw when I ran for senate.
Will you ever dabble into Nigerian politics again? Do you have any future in politics?
Ide-Okoye : People always ask me if I would run for any office again in Nigeria and my answer is always, “never say never.” For now, I have no interest as I’m busy now raising family and establishing more businesses.
You have been known as a man of culture and tradition. You are a titled chief – Nze and Ichie bestowed from your ancestral home town of Umuoji in Idemili, Anambra State.? Tell us about it
Ide-Okoye : I am a first-class Chief in Igbo land. Yes, my title name is “Ide of Umuoji” and my Ichie title name is “Ichie Idejuogwugwu 1 of Umuoji” I have numerous chieftaincy titles from different Igwes in Igbo Land but the title I enjoy most is the prestigious Ichie Title that my town conferred on me, a title strictly reserved for men of honor and impeccable character, so I value that title tremendously.
Recently, Umuoji Improvement Union (UIU) USA elected you the president general of the union in North America. What are your plans and agenda for UIU in America and Nigeria?
Ide-Okoye : Yes, I am the current National President of Umuoji Improvement Union of North America, UIU/NA.
We have a slew of things on our agenda. We plan on visiting some of our branches, opening more branches, creating a UIU North America Youth Wing, and embarking on more Medical missions in Umuoji and possibly build another health Center in Umuoji. Also making sure that we do what is necessary in terms of security to keep our folks in Umuoji safe.
Afripol : Chief, we thank you for your time.
Ide: You are welcomed. Thank you too.