Dr. Chuks Osuji, is public relations consultant and the chief executive of Opinion Research and Communications Incorporated which had spanned over thirty eight years in public relations and public education. He has good number of consultants working with him on ad hoc basis.
Osuji, 84, was the former Director of Mass Mobilization for Self Reliance, Social Justice, and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) Imo under President Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. He also served the former governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lar as his public opinions adviser. He is a member of the Order of Nigeria (OON) and a prolific writer. He has written and still holds columns in many newspapers.
In this interview with our Editor, Afam Echi, Osuji explains his growing up days, the damage the British colonial overlords did to our culture and his suspicion that revolution will eventually happen in Nigeria if our leaders fail to take precaution.
What is your humble beginning like and is it true that you never attended a secondary school?
Yes it is not disputable that I did not attend secondary school. I came from a humble family in Ihitte Afor Ukwu Mbaise. It was a polygamous family.
My mother died when I was only 12 years of age and because of the polygamous nature of my family my step mother did not handle things very well.
In a polygamous family the basis of the survival of any child rested on the mother. Our father was a mere distributor of family wealth in which every woman has to take her proportion for the children.
When my mother died in 1947, 31st December, the unbearable nature of polygamous family became obvious. I was not feeding well so I took off and ran to my aunt from where I ran to Aba and from there to Port Harcourt where I became a street urchin.
From there I began to fend for myself. I was a houseboy to so many people, I sold groundnut, I sold Akamu for an Hausa woman, and because of my interest in newspaper I became a vendor selling several newspapers like Daily Times, West African Pilot,etc.
As I was sleeping in the market one night when police pursued a man that had intruded into the market stores so they woke me up and after satisfying themselves that I was not the person that they were pursuing they left me.
But incidentally one of the security people was a man from my area, one Michael Aliagha, when I mentioned that I am from Ihiteafoukwu he grabbed me and said that this is my own brother and he gave me to one James Uchegbu and from there I took interest in going to school.
That is how I started my life. I was making reasonable money as a load carrier in Port Harcourt market and there was a night school there owned by one Maduneme from Nnobi and I decided to go back to school.
I had a problem doing this because when I ran from my village I never left with my transfer certificate but one of my friends, Michael Uzuegbu took me to St. Paul School, Diobu.
My teacher then was Melford Okilo who later became governor of Rivers State. When I could not produce the transfer certificate here a friend of mine took me to AME Zion Church at Habour road and they gave me examination to access what class I would fit
in. I was put in standard 4, I could read the Reader very well.
When my mother died in 1947, 31st December,
the unbearable nature of polygamous family
became obvious. I was not feeding well so I took
off and ran to my aunt from where I ran to Aba
and from there to Port Harcourt where I became a
street urchin. From there I began to fend for
myself. I was a houseboy to so many people, I sold
groundnut, I sold Akamu for an Hausa woman,
and because of my interest in newspaper I became
a vendor selling several newspapers like Daily
Times, West African Pilot, etc. As I was sleeping
in the market one night when police pursued a
man that had intruded into the market stores so
they woke me up and after satisfying themselves
that I was not the person that they were pursuing
they left me.
What happened after primary education?
I got enrolled into Wolsey Hall Correspondent College London where I had 3 year tuition to qualify to write the
General Certificate of Education (GCE) so it can qualify me to go into University. Before this, after my Primary education I went to learn Stenography (typing and shorthand). After I had learnt it I opened my own school at 69, Owerri road Port Harcourt.
Within 3 years I had become an affluent person. I bought motorcycle. When Nigerian Independence came in 1960 I had become a matured person who owns his own school which blossomed.
I made money which made me get started reading for the O’level GCE which I passed in 1963 and later the advanced level which I passed in 1965 in History and Constitution.
This qualified me to get admission in University of London. I went to the University of London in August 1965 and came back because of sickness in December 1965. After treating myself I returned to London on Jan 2, 1966 and thereafter heard about the military coup in 1966. When
the sickness continued I gave up and came back. I sold my school to make money to go to London. Then I was a star because I donated Cups to Primary Schools in Diobu and Apara Districts.
When I came back I opened my school again in Port Harcourt. I lost the school in 1967 when PH fell because of the civil war. We trekked from PH to my village in one and half days.
I waited till the war finished. During the war I was appointed officer in charge of National Rehabilitation Commission and posted to my town to take charge of refugees.
I had 1777 refugees in my camp at St.Charles, Ogbor Ihiteafoukwu. I got married in 1969. After the civil war I moved to Aba and started seeking admission focusing on America this time.
I got admission at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in the United States to read journalism. I left my home town Jan 2 1970. I moved to the University of Texas where I did my first and second degrees and my Ph.D in all Texas University in 1979. After my Ph.d I came back home.
What was your work life like after school?
One of the reasons that I came back is that Mbakwe pressurized me to come and take position in Alvan Ikoku College of Education as it was then called. I was very friendly with Mbakwe. When his wife came to US for medical attention he was staying in our house.
So when I came back he said that he would give me a job where I will be acclimatized first. So he asked me to go and teach at Alvan. When I got there I discovered that it was a dead alley. They don’t have the instrumentality of intellectual activities. So for unexplained reasons I resigned and opened up this my office.
How long have you practiced Public Relations?
How did your sight challenge arise because you were not originally blind from birth?
You know it was progressive.
My sight problem started many years ago without my knowing because it was diagnosed as glaucoma. Gradually I was losing my sight until all along the line I had 4 surgeries all in the US but they couldn’t succeed. I lost my sight finally in 1998. By then I had worked for the federal government as the