As Acclaim Nigeria International Magazine (ANIM) forges ahead in the promotion of ‘Project Nigeria’ positively’ across the globe, its journalistic searchlight continues to beam on great minds and helping hands: people of recognition, relevance-and responsibility, committed to humanity & environmental improvements. And, one of such cherished human assets currently on our media radar is a Nigerian Pride. He is a man whose devotions and passions on nation-building and an improved Nigeria & Africa are awesome. We met and engaged him recently in Luxembourg and was pleased with his personal, corporate and humanitarian strives.
Enjoy this rich and impactful interview with a fertile and versatile mind.
Can we briefly meet you sir?
I am Greg Acha, I studied Food Science & Brewing Technology at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. I have 22 +years corporate experience from diverse industries with expertise in multi disciplines. In my career I have successfully led global program for top global companies.
My passion is in giving back to my roots through investments, sponsorships and mentoring programs that empowers the next generation of young leaders to build a new nation – a society that works better for all. I fly four flags. I am Nigerian by birth, Polish by inclination, I spent a great part of my life in Italy and currently reside in Luxembourg with my family.
You are one of the Nigerians making us proud in the Diaspora, especially in Luxembourg and Europe; tell us how the journey (from Nigeria) started to where you are presently?
I lost my mother as a child and learnt to fend for myself very early in life; I went to Government College Umuahia, Abia State–I am an “Umuahian” and growing up I worked at night to sponsor my university education.
“Each of us holds the pen to write and rewrite our own story” Greg Acha
I left Nigeria for Europe in 2002 and continues to improve myself. As I continued to learn and be curious, I remained open to learning new ways of doing things, including adapting to my new environment in Europe. After residing in 4 countries and over 15 different roles across the different organizations, I have grown from entry level employee to the executive level.I have worked for the Coca-Cola Company, Stanley Black and Decker and I currently reside in Luxembourg and work for Amazon AWS as Head of PMO.
In every step of my journey, and wherever I found myself I strived to be the best ambassador of Nigeria and mankind. When I came to Europe, I came in company of other young men, while I focused on learning the language and integrating into the society, some of them focused on getting money quickly. They ended up in prisons and in comparison, I am here doing well and making impact in the lives of other people.
You are writing a book ” I AM OKÆY”what informed this effort and what do you aim to achieve through it?
My memoir “I AM OKÆY” – is a title coined from the diminutive form of my native name “OKEY”– the full name is Okechukwu (which means God’s portion or God’s special creation) and an indication that despite all I have been through I am “OKAY”. In the book I look back on my life, and can’t help but feel a warmth in my heart—a sense of achievement and gratitude for the windy paths I’ve traveled, and the victories that I have experienced which shaped me into the person I am today.
I wrote this book, to encourage people who might have the same story as me, or who can see themselves and their experiences in my stories to know they will be OKAY.
I want the readers to see beyond the letters but to catch up with the spirit behind the stories. Be reminded that every human has a spirit that is unstoppable, invincible and capable of doing remarkable things. No matter what you are challenged with in life, in the face of adversity remember your inner strength—the power to rise, endure, and create a world brimming with compassion and inclusivity. Most importantly this book is a reminder to all and sundry that each of us holds the pen to write and rewrite our own story. I welcome you to be on the lookout for the launch of the book this summer. You can already follow the book Instagram page so that you are informed (@iam.okaey).
As one who has experienced western civilization and progress, how do you compare this development to current realities in Africa and what do you think key development players in Africa can do to improve the continent?
As a person who has experienced both Western civilization and the current realities in Africa, I believe it’s crucial to acknowledge the diversity and complexities of both contexts. Western civilization has undoubtedly made significant progress in areas like technology, infrastructure, and governance. However, it’s important to avoid making direct comparisons as Africa’s development trajectory is unique. To improve the continent, key development players in Africa can focus on several key areas.
Firstly, fostering sustainable economic growth through investments in infrastructure, education, and entrepreneurship can provide a solid foundation for development.
Secondly, addressing governance challenges and promoting transparency, accountability, and the rule of law can create an enabling environment for progress.
Furthermore, investing in healthcare, access to clean water, and sanitation can greatly improve the well-being of African communities. Additionally, being intentional and strategic in supporting local industries, empowering women and youth, and embracing innovation and technology can contribute to long-term development. In addition, it is essential for development players in Africa to collaborate with local communities, governments, and international partners to design solutions that are context-specific, inclusive, and sustainable, ensuring that progress benefits all strata of society.
The Japa syndrome in Nigeria and illegal immigration prevalent among African youths to Europe have become a source of worry to many, how can these dangerous movements be curbed and how best can we change these negative narratives and inspired these productive young minds running away from home towards nation-building efforts?
The mass exodus of Nigerians from their home country, as well as the prevalent issue of illegal immigration among African youths to Europe, has raised concerns globally. This phenomenon highlights the need for effective strategies to curb these dangerous movements while simultaneously inspiring and engaging the productive potential of young minds in nation-building. By adopting a comprehensive approach encompassing various aspects of socio-economic development, governance, and cultural transformation, Nigeria can work towards reversing these negative narratives. However, I must add that there is a right approach to “Japa” which is to empower youth via exchange programs to the developed countries to learn how things work, and return to implement their learnings in the communities:
Below are five key actions that could help, in another medium I am happy to dive deep in each of these points:
- Economic Empowerment and Job Creation:
One crucial aspect in curbing mass migration is addressing the underlying economic factors. Nigeria should prioritize policies and initiatives aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, investment, and job creation. By fostering an environment conducive to business growth, providing vocational training, and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, opportunities for economic advancement can be created within the country. This approach can help stem the desire to migrate in search of better economic prospects.
- Strengthening Governance and Tackling Corruption:
Efforts to curb migration must include enhancing governance structures and combating corruption. Transparent and accountable governance systems will boost public trust and confidence, ensuring that resources are effectively allocated for development purposes. By strengthening institutions, promoting the rule of law, and fighting corruption, Nigeria can create an environment that encourages its citizens to stay and contribute to the nation’s progress.
- Promoting Positive Narratives and Mentorship:
Changing negative narratives requires a concerted effort from various stakeholders, including the media, civil society, and community leaders. Highlighting success stories of individuals who have contributed to Nigeria’s progress and emphasizing the benefits of staying and working towards nation-building can serve as powerful motivators.
Telling the African Story from the African point of view – highlighting the enormous opportunities, countering the single stories sometimes portrayed by foreign media and news sources.
Mentorship programs that connect successful professionals with aspiring youths can also play a crucial role in inspiring and guiding them towards productive paths. This is dear and near to me as this is one of the aspects that lifted me from squalor to a near success, I am still becoming! Mentors are magical, they help the mentees navigate and avoid potholes.
Empowering the youth through mentoring program is key to building the youth for a new Nigeria. The mentoring program that involves pairing Nigerian youths with Nigerians in diaspora to exchange ideas but provide guidance will birth so many business opportunities, sponsorships and create change makers.
- Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Diplomacy:
Addressing illegal immigration requires collaboration and cooperation between countries. Nigeria should actively engage in regional forums to address the root causes and consequences of migration.
By fostering partnerships, sharing best practices, and working collectively to create opportunities and improve conditions in the region, it becomes possible to address the push factors that drive youths to embark on desperate and dangerous journeys.
- Investing in Education and Skill Development:
Investments in education and skill development are pivotal in inspiring and engaging young minds towards nation-building. Nigeria should prioritize providing quality education, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as vocational training programs aligned with market demands. This will equip the youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to participate in the nation’s development, fostering a sense of pride and ownership in their homeland.
My Specific advice to African youth, specifically Nigerian youth can be summarized as following:
1) Embrace your potential and seize every opportunity for growth – be intentional about it.
2) Invest in your education, knowledge they say is power. Learn new things, llearn technology.
3) Explore and focus on developing your passions, get new passions and develop the old ones.
4) Cultivate a strong work ethic, and ethics in life, the next generation must be a generation of high ethics and it starts with you!
5) Stay resilient in the face of challenges and never be afraid to dream big.
Remember that your unique perspectives and talents have the power to shape a brighter future for yourself, Nigeria and our mother Africa. Believe in yourself, stay focused, and let your determination guide you towards success and indeed you’ll be successful.
In conclusion curbing mass Nigerian migration and illegal immigration requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses economic empowerment, good governance, education, positive narratives, and regional cooperation. By addressing these issues, Nigeria can create an environment where young minds are inspired and motivated to contribute to nation-building at home, ultimately reversing the current trend and transforming the narrative towards a brighter future for the country and its people.