Chief Dr Chimezie Anosike Kingsley (KSC) (Ebubemba Ikeduru) hails from Umueziogwu Uzoagba, Ikeduru LGA of Imo State.
He is based in Sydney, Australia, with his family and is a renowned Nigerian – Australian billionaire business mogul, politician, and Forensic Psychologist. Among his companies where he functions as the Chairman/CEO is the News Echo newspaper and News Insider – Magazine Nigeria.
Ebubemba Ikeduru is indeed a philanthropist. An entrepreneur, who has sponsored over 70 Igbo sons and daughters to Australia, provided empowerment to youths and churches in his community and other parts of Nigeria.
In this chat with our Editor, he reminisced on his childhood, giving the damning verdict that modern life has denied youths the opportunity which communal life can provide to shape life. Enjoy the read.
Can we have an insight into your academic qualifications?
I have a lot of academic laurels. I have a Bachelors and Diploma in Theology,
Bachelors and Masters in History and Political History,
Bachelors of Community Services, Bachelors and Honours, Masters in Psychology and Forensic Psychology,
Bachelors of Dementia Care, Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education, Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies,
Certificate IV and Diploma in Community services, Diploma in Disability work, Diploma of Youth Work,
Doctor of Theology, Honorary Doctorate of Philanthropic Management.
At a time many people feel that economic factors and other issues pose great challenge you chose to plunge into newspaper publication, what are the gaps that you want to close?
I have two things in my mind. I need to create a platform for young men and women in the media industry to practice trustworthy journalism.
This is my reason for venturing into it. Doing it at a time of economic downturn in the whole world is something that I learnt from the former Prime Minister of Australia (Kevin Rudd).
When there was a time of recession in the country, he floated money and did a stimulus package or a stimulus measure called the Economic Security Strategy. He stimulated the economy of Australia and took it out of recession.
Now, why did I venture into this? At a time of difficulty is really the time you need to pump money into the country. As a leader, you need to put money and let the money circulate and recycle to boost the economy.
In my little way in Imo State, indeed in the South-South and South East, it is to engage them, those in need of a job, pay them and make life a little easier for my people. I found that this is the best time to do it.
What are your views about media practice in Nigeria currently?
I have always said that Nigeria’s media practices have lost their value, lost their taste and lost their glory.
It has been bastardized, with some joining it for fame, financial gain, and to support their political interest or that of their masters.
There are many reasons that people plunged into the industry, which has made it collapse.
Press people are highly respected in Nigeria in the past, but the present generations of journalists are promoting politicians that are treating them like animals, politicians that don’t care about the welfare and well-being of our people.
Journalists are now running after them and eating from their crumbs.
I am not saying 100 per cent that there are no genuine people practising journalism in Nigeria.
I mean that many more fake people are doing the wrong things in journalism than real practitioners.
Those practising trustworthy journalism don’t have money, and it is very difficult even for the masses to hear them because they don’t have the resources to air their voices and publish what they are writing.
Those who are hobnobbing with corrupt politicians are the ones who can get some money to promote politicians. They now sing praises of politicians.
You have done many philanthropic activities for the youths, church and communities, typical of what we see in Nigerian politicians. What are your motivations?
I don’t have any political interest as far as Nigeria is concerned. It might also interest you to know that I am the first black man in Australia that contested the New South Wales State parliamentary election in 2011 and the first African to establish a political party in Australia.
Now when it comes to Nigerian politics, I don’t have any intention, and I don’t have any plan to join any party in Nigeria.
My intention is purely philanthropic, humanitarian, purely to alleviate stress and poverty in people’s lives. For instance, the motivation is derived from the fact that I was born in a very poor family and understood poverty.
I know what it means for somebody to wake up in the morning and don’t have food to eat, and you look at your parent’s faces and see that they are about to cry, when they look at their children, and there is nothing to eat, no money to buy food.
I have been there; I have experienced that. I know that there are millions of Nigerians today who are suffering more than I have experienced.
That is why I told God not to bless me but to make me a blessing because there is something better than been blessed, being a blessing.
I pray that God should make me a blessing so that I can bless my people. When you become a blessing, you can bless others.
So it is part of my covenant with God to be in a position to support others. If we can have many people rendering a helping hand, I think Imo State, Nigeria and the world would be a better place to live.
You are an indigene of Imo State. Your governor Senator Hope Uzodimma marked his one year in office with pomp and pageantry some days back. In your view, how would you assess the performance of the governor?
I will first congratulate, His Excellency (Senator) Gov Hope Uzodimma for his one year in office.
And I will urge him to continue doing his good work for the good people of Imo State, believing that as a good son of Imo State, he would have the best interest of Imo people at heart.
In the spirit of Igbo philosophy of ‘Aku ruo ulo’ (think home), how well do you think that the Igbo in Diaspora has fared? They have a lot of investments outside, but down-home, there is nothing to show about their wealth.
I would say that my experience about ‘Aku ruo ulo ya ekwuo onye kpara ya’ (when wealth gets home, it would announce who made it). Igbo people are one ethnic group that I know loves Nigeria more than any other group.
Igbo people believe in one Nigeria. When you come to Nigeria, you will see the Igbos in Diaspora with houses in the North, Yoruba land, but sometimes don’t even have any in Igbo land. I think now the message is that we should extend the same in Igbo land since we have investments in other places and other parts of Nigeria. It is a message that we will gradually drum home. Every person should acknowledge this philosophy which is part of our culture.
If you are made the president of Nigeria right now, what is that thing in your mind troubling you which you would embark on to spike up development?
The first thing that any president of Nigeria would do is to salvage, resurrect Nigeria from this coma. Remember, any person in a coma is about to die. For Nigeria to survive, we should be prepared to welcome all our people (professionals) sojourning in other lands, including Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, the USA, Europe, and all parts of the world. You will see that Nigerians are the most intelligent, the most brilliant specialists and professionals we see everywhere, but they are developing other places. But these people do not have a workable channel to develop their own country. We need to bring our professionals and expertise back home and give them a free hand to re-write all the wrongs in Nigeria, and Nigeria will become once again the giant of Africa.
Looking back at your childhood while growing up, what are those virtues that you have acquired that have helped you attend the height you find yourself now and which you notice is missing among the present generation of youths?
Most of us are guilty, and the development and civilization have contributed much to the problem that we have today. For instance, when I was growing up in my community, I farm for my family, farm for others and raise a lot of money to support myself and my family. I used to visit the bush to pick up some palm kernels, crack and sell them, build ridges for people. I use to climb trees and build local fences. Right now, many children don’t even know again what the local fence is. I use sticks to support growing yams. We use to pick up varieties of mushrooms, which are quite medicinal. We visited the streams, combed the bushes for oil bean seeds, etc.
The so-called civilization has robbed our people of so many things of enjoying life. Today, many kids in the villages have lost touch with these things, having become sophisticated speaking English instead of Igbo. If a child cannot speak Igbo; how does he know the names of the local items like ololo, (caterpillar), aku (edible winged termites), eruru (edible maggots from palm wine tree). Painfully too, our people are no longer into farming as it used to be like when land is left fallow for so long before usage.
My acquaintance with the village life prepared me very well to struggle through life to achieve. Most children growing up have become strangers even to their environment. I was opportune to learn so much from village struggle, which I adapt to modern life. I had the advantage of experiencing good and healthy life first hand, natural, cultural heritage at its best. Reminiscing further, I can no longer see palm wine trees in our villages. Many things are gone. We should return to the basics. Today people are eating all manner of frozen chicken from all parts of the world that they cannot determine their health status.
What is it that can be described as your philosophy of life?
The world is very round. Life goes round, and it comes back. So it is for people to be good and fair to other people. Treat everybody the same way that you want to be treated. Keep your hands clean, doing nothing wrong to one another. This is because you don’t know if the person that you are casting down today will be the one to support you tomorrow. My life philosophy is to live harmoniously with one another; no man is an island because you must certainly live with people, and what you give out, you must eventually reap.
It is said that politicians are the bane of development in Nigeria, do you agree?
I would rather say that Nigerians are the reasons that Nigeria is not developing.
Can you explain this, Sir?
I would not blame politicians alone, and if I do, it means that I am not a fair person. A politician cannot go and steal votes in the polling booth. They use people. Politicians cannot carry a gun to kill or to go and kidnap someone; they send someone. Suppose the so-called Nigerians’ mentality can change today, and we all demand development and security from the leaders and our politicians. In that case, we should stop and refuse to be used by any person. When the politicians know that nobody is willing to be used, they will start doing the right thing. Nigerians are being used to suffer themselves.