Precious Ikeakhe is a famous entrepreneur, political analyst, youth advocate and the managing director of Nigerian bottle water company, Frost Water.
In an interactive session with Vanguard he mentioned how he is driven about the betterment of Nigerian politics and gave details about how the spirit of a hardworking mother could deeply give her son a success story. He said, his mother was a very ambitious woman who started building a business empire from her childhood.
Can you tell us about your background?
I was born and brought up in Benin City, Edo State Nigeria. I grew up in a religious home because my parents are very devoted Christians. I lived in a comfortable home with my siblings; we grew up in Ikpoba Hill, Benin City. My siblings and I lived together in harmony until few of my siblings got married. Most of us saw the need to leave the country to pursue our dreams. My dad is a retired civil servant, he worked with Edo State water board for 35 years and my mum is a typical entrepreneur who worked for years to build the business empire we know now.
What is your educational background like?
I schooled at Oregbeni Estate Primary school in Ikpoba Hill, Benin City then commenced junior secondary school at Grace College Secondary School. Moving on, I kick started my senior secondary education at Nosakhare Modern Educational Center, and then furthered my education at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. While I studied at the university, I wanted more, so I applied for various universities outside the country fortunately my application was approved and I got admitted into Synergy University in Russia where I studied Economics and currently pursuing a second degree in International Relations. Education means a lot to me and it all started from my father’s love for sound education, my parents worked so hard to give us the life we live now.
As a well-known business person, what is your entrepreneurial journey?
I would say my entrepreneurial journey started from my mother. She is my greatest inspiration I learnt a lot from her entrepreneurial skills, ethics and values while growing up. She was a very ambitious woman who started building a business empire at a tender age, she sold cookies and candies to her class mates. And saved enough money to open a shop outlet where she sold fried Akara (bean cake), roasted plantains and cooked beans during her Junior Secondary School and gradually evolved into a big food production business. At thirty five, she became a reputable person of high standard in Benin. She had big show glasses in every filling station and Motor Parks in our city where she sold Kebab meats, Egg Rolls, Mini Cakes, Sandwiches, Meat Pies, jollof, fried rice E.T.C.
Due to her activeness, skills and enthusiasm, she built relationships with top business and corporate individuals who funded her business by expanding it into a bakery and a sachet water production company. She taught us that, the best attribute a successful businessman or woman could have is being resilient. Learning from her story, I started selling sachet water to the workers and customers at the bakery, kitchen and water factory. I remember telling her that I would love to be a sole supplier of wrapping nylons because lots of nylons were used to package her products to consumers. She gave me the opportunity and I made cool money.
Several years later, we re-branded the businesses into a more structured and modern business enterprise. The popular CAROLINE’S Kitchen and Bakery and lastly the pure water factory was transformed into a Bottle Water company Called ‘FROST WATER’.
My siblings and I ventured into hospitality, Media and Entertainment business space. We combined the experience and knowledge gotten from the family business into our new business field.
Where do you place Nigerian youths compared to those of other developing nations?
The Nigerian youth in comparison to other youths from developing nations is very clear. We are more sophisticated, creative, innovative, resilient, ambitious and hardworking in a smart and unique way. Any part of the world you go today, the Nigerian Youths are the most educated and industrious amongst every foreign youth from a developing nation. I don’t know if it is as a result of our tenacity and resilience due to all we’ve suffered from bad governance but it makes us very ambitious.
Although, you live abroad but have so much interest in the Nigerian politics, what is your opinion on the current Edo State politics?
Edo State is the Heart Beat of the Nigerian project. The Kingdom of Benin has a history that dates back to the 11th century. The kingdom is one of the oldest and was the most developed state in West Africa. Our politics has been more democratic in nature in comparison to other states since the inception of democratic rule in Nigeria. We have been very successful in keeping monarchy system as our traditional and fundamental leadership structure with the Oba of Benin being the father of the land and still has topmost respect and reverence.
We are a very educated electorate and have successfully elected all our leaders in a free and fair way. Even when a certain governorship election was rigged a decade ago, the Edo people didn’t accept the results and fought against those electoral ills legally and with massive street protests to recover mandates which led to the emergence of the highly respected former Governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.
We are currently going through a time of political challenge as a result of the forth coming gubernatorial election which will be held on September 19th 2020. The election is between an incumbent governor, Godwin O. Obaseki and former Secretary General to a previous administration Osagie Ize Iyamu. I would say this is the most contentious gubernatorial election in my life time.
The infrastructure that brought in the current governor does not want him to continue his leadership in the state for different reasons and has denied him the mandate to run for a second term on its platform. The same infrastructure has therefore given their mandate to a man who ran against them in the opposition in the last election.
The current highly respected Governor alleges that he is being vilified and denied a mandate to continue his leadership because he is trying to fundamentally change the political and leadership antics we were used to in our state and this change is not in the personal interest of the power elites.
I support the governor for so many reasons and in my opinion; I would say he has done really well so far. Looking at the type of reforms he is making pertaining to policies, laws, and seeing the kind of infrastructural developments and new institutions he has built with good structures, I can say that he has a long-term plan to improve the social and economical value of our state with sustainability.
I sincerely think he has a long-term clear vision and goal because he is very strategic with his investments, development and policies. He is building a foundation for strong and sustainable institutions.
Do you consider joining the Nigerian politics anytime soon, if yes, what would you start with?
I am actively into politics but I am interested in the Edo States politics for now. I see my involvement in politics as a patriotic act and a service to Nigerian project. I haven’t formally joined any political party yet because the Nigerian political party system is not ideologically driven, they are perceived as vehicles to get to positions of power.
I am ideological when it is about politics and I am more in line with progressive and liberal values. I do not see any Nigerian political party that sincerely possesses those values right now. I keen to have an executive role like Councilor, Local Government Chairman, and Governor, President or even commissioner and minister.
I don’t mind the legislative roles but I think with my talent, I would make more impact as an executive than a legislator. I believe in grass root politics, so I might start as a councilor or chairman to create a visible impact before aspiring for other higher positions.
What have you done to develop or change your society in the last few years?
I would say being an employer of labor and a provider of good services and products to consumers which is the most impact that I have made to the society.
The greatest joy of being an entrepreneur is seeing smiles on the face of my employees and their families. It gladdens my heart when I receive feedbacks from customers about how much my products and services have made a positive impact in their lives. It’s also a thing of joy to know that I am able to provide for my employees and satisfy the wants and needs of my customers.
I have also made great impact in the society by educating people around me and positively influencing and impacting their lives morally and economically as much as I can. I am a philanthropist and I got it all from my mother she was and is still a big philanthropist, so I guess it’s in me to help people and improve their lives and wellbeing to the best of my ability.
Apart from being an entrepreneur and a political analyst, what other passions do you have?
Asides from business and politics, I have passion for arts and creation consumption. I also love philanthropy as I referenced above. It’s always a beautiful feeling putting smile on people’s face.
What advice do you have for other Nigerian youths sitting out there?
My advice is not just for the Nigerian youth but the African youth at large. We live in a very fast world and we are lucky to be young in this time of the world’s history. We are literally the pioneers of the 21st century which is the foundation of the new world order for centuries and generations to come, so we are advantaged in comparison to past generations.
We have a unique opportunity to better our lives and create a good standard of living for our children and generations to come. With our resilience, ambition, creativity and innovative minds, we cannot just change our livelihood at home but create a foundation for Africa to lead the world ‘once again’ and bring back that societal and economical moral balance the world desperately need.