Up Close with the Pillar of DOSAD Sports Engr Vincent Okeke
By Uche Enem
Hello readers. This Christmas Edition, we bring you Engr Vincent Ikechukwu Okeke, who is a philantrophist, manufacturer, entrepreneur, Chartered Accountant, Engineer, Sports Promoter and above all, a principled man. Vincent hails from Umuatulu Ifite Ani of Enugwu Ukwu, Njikoka LGA of Anambra State. He is a devout Catholic and he is happily married and blessed with children.
By education and training, Vincent studied Engineering to his Masters level. Also, he read Finance to Masters level. In 1992, he qualified as an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and became a Fellow of the institute in 2007. He has a Doctoral degree in Business Administration and in a few months, he hopes to bag another Doctoral degree in Management. Presently, he is into diverse businesses and remains the Manufacturer of standout Intercolor Paint. He is an entrepreneur and runs diverse hospitality services and businesses.
Engr Vincent is currently championing a revolution of grassroots sports through DOSAD Sports, where he is the Grand Patron and Chief Financier. In the last four months alone, he has sent not less than twenty one youth footballers to Europe through his sponsorship of football international scouting programmes at Abuja, Lagos and Nanka here in Anambra.
Can you tell us about your Early Education?
My Primary education started at Enugwu Ukwu after the war. I attended Council School Ifiteani, where I did my Primary 1-3 between 1970-1972. I attended St. Theresa’s Primary School Enugwu Ukwu where I did my primary 4. Because of the change in the educational system, I was able to do my primary 4 so quickly. So, when we moved to Abakaliki in late 1973, my father wasn’t satisfied with the change in the educational system, so I repeated primary 4 and finished my primary 4-6 at St. Clement’s Primary School, Abakaliki and that was between 1974- 1976.
In 1976, I entered Presbyterian College, Abakaliki (PRESCO) which is now called Abakaliki High School. I left the College in 1981. After I left the college, I did auxiliary teaching for one year which was between 1981- 1982. In 1982, I gained admission into Anambra State University of Technology. The university had campuses in Enugu and Awka at that time. The Enugu Campus gave rise to Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) while the Awka campus later became Nnamdi Azikwe University (NAU). I studied Chemical Engineering and graduated among the top 5 students in the entire faculty of engineering in 1987. After that, I served in Exxon Mobil at Akwa Ibom State.
After service, I worked briefly and entered into production of glaziers putty, a paste used to hold glasses for metal-framed windows. I produced it at Enugwu Ukwu and was selling it in Onitsha. Along the line, I got a job with an accounting firm, called PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Lagos in 1989 as an audit trainee, and I was trained in auditing, accounting, and management consulting. While working for this firm, I passed my final ICAN exams in May 1992. In 1993, I left the accounting firm and worked for a finance conglomerate in Lagos as their Group Financial Controller. The conglomerate had a finance house, mortgage bank and also a trading company. In 1994 I was hired by the then famous tomato paste manufacturer- VEGFRU as corporate chief account based in Lagos. In 1996, I joined the commercial function of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in lagos and was later transferred to Port Harcourt as a Contracts Engineer. I worked in Port Harcourt for a year plus and was sent on cross posting to the Middle East as a Senior Contracts Engineer. I stayed in the Middle East for some time and when I got tired of the job, I resigned from Shell.
Working in the contracting department of Shell grew my interest and I realized that my interest was actually to work for a construction company. So when I left shell, I joined a construction company called Adamac group which had some subsidiaries in construction. I joined them as their Group General Manager for Commercial and Strategy and I stayed in the company for five years. When I left, I formed my own consultancy firm and I partnered with a French company. We were into providing technical services to companies in the areas of offshore construction. We worked very well with Total Exploration Nigeria. In 2010 I took up a contact employment in Lagos with an offshore construction company. I was their Commercial Director for two years and by the end of 2012, I was out of the company and I started running my own businesses. Currently, I am an entrepreneur with interest in manufacturing, hospitality, management consulting, and sports development
Can you tell us about your higher degrees?
While I was working for Shell, I did my masters degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos. I also did my Masters Degree in Finance at the University of Lagos. My two Masters degrees were between 1996- 1998. My Doctoral Programmes were all online and in residency. The Doctor of Business Administration was with Robert Kennedy College which is a Swiss based school with residencies in Switzerland; and my PhD in Management was with Walden University, USA. For PhD management, my residency education were in Paris, Barcelona, and London.
How did your passion for sports start?
It all started from the family. My father played football at the National level. He was a strong footballer and he played the NFF Cup which was then called Governor’s Cup during his days in the 60s. My father played for the Old Ogoja Division which is the present day Ebonyi State and part of Cross Rivers State. He played Governor’s Cup to the National level and was a great Sports Man who studied Physical and Health Education. He was really good in almost all the Sports. I used to have three male siblings and one sister but we lost one male later. Among the four kids, three of us did competitive sports from primary school level.
Personally, I played football till the zonal level during my Primary School Days. In my Secondary School days, I played Academicals and we won at the Zonal Level so many times. I was in Abakaliki zone which is the present Ebonyi State. At that time, we had three zones ( Abakaliki, Enugu and Onitsha) but later it became five zones (Onitsha, Awka, Enugu, Nsukka, Abakaliki). Academicals ends at the state level and in my Secondary School, I played Academicals to the highest level.
For athletics, I competed at Secondary School only. I participated and represented my hostel in 100 Meters, 200 Meters in interhouse sports. I also participated in Sprints associated relay races and long jump. My late younger brother played Football at the club level. He played for Proda FC. In fact, my male siblings played competitive Football to the state level. I have another sibling who was a sprinter. He was so exceptional that he was nicknamed TRACAS in Abakaliki. He was the fastest in sprint at Abakaliki and probably the second overall in the old Anambra State. The sports blood is in the family. I played some other games but not at the competitive level like squash, table tennis, lawn tennis and today the sports I am regular with is Golf. I enjoy playing Golf.
What position did you play?
I played left half back. Some other times, I played as center forward.
You have been a major sponsor in DOSAD, so what is the drive behind this?
I usually see DOSAD as a platform for some kind of philanthropy basically because it deals with young people. Football provides opportunity for potentials and helps in the transformation of people. There are people who were picked from the streets and today they are stars and celebrities earning huge money because of playing Football. I believe it is the best way to invest in young people as a philanthropist. This is because it not only involves feeding people but opening opportunities for them to become great by providing huge economic empowerment.
My relationship with DOSAD didn’t start with sponsoring scouting programmes. It started long ago when they approached me to be their patron. The Director of DOSAD, Rev. Fr. Obinna Dike, came to my house in the village and explained to me the prospect and vision of DOSAD. He invited me to DOSAD training ground at St. Anthony’s Enugwu Ukwu and I saw a lot of young men in the field as I watched them play. I went to inspect the open hall where they slept and noticed they slept with mats. I immediately provided funding for beds for them and we made beds and bought mattresses, and constructed mosquito nets to give them a bit comfort. This is what gingered me and to the best of my abilities, I have been supporting and contributing to them.
I have been receiving good news of their performances and exploits which is very encouraging. For example, I heard that their goalkeeper who is incidentally from my community is already in Europe. Personally, this is basically an avenue to support young people. It is very fulfilling when you provide help to young people you may not know. I feel good that they are doing well and that their lives are changing gradually. I also feel fulfilled that I am able to make them happy.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Engr. Vincent? As we mark this Christmas season, I wish you the blessings of this season as we reflect on how we could improve and touch lives through charity and love.
Happy Christmas readers! And thank you so much for your sustained readership.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!