Hello dear readers, this week, LR comes full swing after we omitted to publish last week due to sudden unforeseen circumstances beyond the entire team’s control at the time. We thank all of you who reached out to us via phone calls, text messages and social media to find out what was happening. These acts encourage us – it implies that there are many out there, tuned on to this ‘borderless motivational space’.
When an ardent reader of LR approached one of the team members to feature someone she knows who is doing extraordinarily well in his chosen field of endeavour, we subjected the proffered name to the usual LR rigorous research standards. The more we found out about him, the clearer it became why this reader sees him as an inspirational person whose story we should share on this platform. How does a man rise from being an illegal immigrant, street hawking across the streets of Europe despite the language barriers, to becoming a parking attendant and finally ends up running one of Nigeria’s foremost Plumbing and Building Companies?
This week, we see how a young man left his nation in search of the usual “greener pastures” only to meet a rude awakening – the pastures were not green at all. They were not even brown rather; they were bleak colourless pastures, a sojourn in the back alleys and underground ghettos of Europe. Nonetheless, this young man did not let the obstacles in his way prevail. In his famous words during his British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview, he stated;
“If you go to Europe to simply look for money, you are wasting your time…”
Meet Anslem Okoukoni, a man with determination that can only be likened to steel. Today, he runs one of the most successful plumbing and construction out fits in Nigeria – Ansko Building Services Limited.
I left Nigeria for Europe in 2002 immediately after I graduated from University, in an attempt to provide for my poor widowed mother and six other siblings behind me. I finally got into Italy with a Schengen Visa after several attempts and desperation to get a visa to many different European countries. In Italy, I did street hawking and all manner of odd jobs, living an indecent and un-fulfilling life.
I didn’t have much choice as there were few jobs for immigrant and it is worse if you can’t speak the language, which was my case. Secondly, there was no way I could go back as I had to scrape out the school fees of my younger siblings and cater for our struggling mother.
In 2004, after I had spent 2 years in Italy I decided to relocate to a country where English Language is the primary vehicle of communication. I was tired of the communication barrier. I needed a place where I would feel more useful to the society. That country was the United Kingdom.
I arrived the United Kingdom in August 2004 and with the help of friends I got a job within one month of my arrival – a parking attendant. This was a kind of job I could not dream of doing when I was in Italy. Following the breakthrough of opportunity, I got some more energy to push my self further. I also thank God for good friends and their positive influences. I decided I needed to make better meaning of my life. So in 2006 I got admission to Hackney Community College to study Plumbing and Heating. Even before I finished my studies I got a job in a big Plumbing and Heating firm as a trainee engineer.
There was no stopping me any more. I was determined to become an employer of labour. I needed to get to the zenith of this trade. It was becoming clearer to me, what my path in life was going to be. I needed to perfect my skills to be able to transfer them to other places and other people. It was with this mind-set and renewed vigour, that I sought and 2010 I gained admission to Northwest London College of Technology to study Higher National Certificate in Building Services Engineering.
As soon as I finished in 2012 I started making preparation to return home (Nigeria). It was clear to me that was where I could make the desired difference to humanity I so wanted to impact. I was born a Nigerian for a reason and home to my people I went- my time in the wilderness of life was spent. A new and perhaps more difficult chapter was about to begin.
As soon as I arrived in Nigeria I joined Property Development Company in Lagos and worked there for 3 months. The reason for the job was to understand building construction industry in Nigeria. I needed a community reintegration point and this served the purpose.
While I was with the property development company I was also busy with the registration of my company. That my dear readers is how Ansko Building Services Limited was birthed. It was not an easy ride in the beginning but I hung in there. It was either I cracked it, or I cracked it! There was no going back for me – after all, this was home now! In 2014 I started getting contracts and employing workers as well.
We are mainly into Plumbing, Air conditioning and Ventilation services. I run my business in South-west and South-south regions of the country. Presently I have 20 staffs and 2 apprentices working for me. The plan is to train more people in this trade and open more branches across the nation and western Africa.
For any one who is very keen to succeed, I would advise you draw up your long term and short term plans. At the same time, continue to empower your self and develop skills that are useful to humanity. That way, when your opportunity comes knocking, you not only very quickly identify it, but also, you are prepared and waiting. Simply put, when opportunity meets preparation, the rest is history.
We at LR are very impressed by Anslem Okoukoni. He has summarised here in a few paragraphs, his entire life story that fascinated even the BBC enough to make them do a profiling on him. He is indeed, a fighter who understands that determination and hard work can transform our everyday lives into extraordinary living that impact positively on the rest of humanity. We say well done.
Do not forget to hit the comments section as we continue our joint partnership, generating positive dialogue across borders.