My IPOB turbulent moments under Ikpeazu — Apollos, Ex-gov’s spokesman

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•Says being CPS made him public enemy
•‘Those after my job planted spies to monitor me’

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He stubbornly abandoned his training where he was enrolled to learn automobile repairs to become a newspaper vendor and against all odds, went back to school to pursue his dream. That’s the grass-to-grace story of Enyinnaya Apollos, the former media adviser, Chief Press Secretary, and personal assistant to the immediate past governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. While sharing his experience working as the governor’s spokesperson, Apollos reveals that managing information during the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, protests was the most turbulent moment for him. He also reveals how those who were after his job planted spies to monitor him. Excerpt:

What’s the experience like from being a journalist to a public servant?
I would rather start by sharing my experience on how I became a journalist because I didn’t know I was going to become a journalist. When I joined my father in Port Harcourt, he enrolled me in a mechanic workshop to be trained in vehicle repairs at Elechi Beach. I stayed for one year and four months in the mechanic workshop and I told my father that I didn’t want to become a mechanic, that I would want to further my education. My father told me that there were no plans for me to further my education.

Somehow, I was stubborn, and during the period I was pushing back and forth, my father died. I decided to join my uncle, Dee Elijah, who was a newspaper distributor, in the job. I later became a vendor myself. So while I was selling newspapers, I picked a serious interest in becoming a journalist so that people would also read what I write and vendors would also sell newspapers I contributed in writing. To achieve my dream of being a journalist, I had to also abandon my vendor job for further education. I got admitted to study Mass Communication at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State. While in school, I picked interest in writing for campus publications.

Mentorship
When I was done with my Ordinary National Diploma, OND, in December 2006, I went to Lagos in January 2007 for my one-year Industrial Training (IT), and luckily for me, I was offered the opportunity to do my internship with the Nation newspaper through Sam Omatseye who took me to the newsroom and handed me over to the then Group Political Editor, Mr. Gabriel Akinadewo. While in the Nation, Mr. Gabrial picked serious interest in me and mentored me.

By the end of my internship in December 2007, Mr. Gabriel asked me to join him at a new newspaper that was about to be unveiled and I accepted the offer. That’s how I became a reporter with the Nigerian Compass Newspaper in 2008. I became a full-fledged journalist, that is, from being a trainee with the Nation newspaper to gaining employment at the Compass. I was later transferred to Abuja from Lagos and while in Abuja, I became the Judiciary correspondent, and later, the National Assembly correspondent.

Greatest Achievement
In 2013, I left the Compass and joined the Union Newspaper. Just like Mr. Gabriel, my new boss, Mr. Emma Agu, was also interested in seeing me succeed. He was always encouraging me to do more. So for me, being in the newsroom was one of the most beautiful things that happened in my life because it gave me the opportunity to meet those that I would ordinarily not have met.

The joy of achieving my dream of becoming a journalist is something I will never exchange for anything. In fact, it’s the greatest achievement for me that from nowhere, I became what I had wanted to become after I stubbornly told my father that I didn’t want to be an auto mechanic.

So, how did you find yourself in government?
Well, sometime around 2013, when I was still at the National Assembly as a correspondent, Hon. Uzo Azubuike, who was representing Aba North and Aba South Federal Constituency, told me of his plans to run for governor of Abia State in 2015 and asked me to join his team. So we started working for the realization of his gubernatorial aspiration.

However, sometime in January 2014, he withdrew from the race and requested that we support Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. He said Ikpeazu was going to be the next governor. Then, I didn’t have a personal relationship with Dr. Ikpeazu but I had a senior friend, Chief Raymond Aliga, who was very close to him. It was Aliga who introduced me to Ikpeazu as a journalist from Obingwa based in Abuja. After I was introduced to him, Ikpeazu asked that I join his team.

Joining Politics
Each time they came to Abuja, they would call me. In one of such visits, Ikpeazu asked me when I would be relocating to Abia and I told him that I would get back to him. So after that encounter, I went to the office and informed my boss, Mr. Emma Agu, that I would be relocating to Abia to join a governorship aspirant. Emma said: “Appolos, I don’t want to lose you because you are one of our best hands.


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