Professor Olusegun O. Sogbesan Director General and the owner of Onitsha Business School arrived Agulu in the then old Anambra state in 1985 from his native in Osun state not sure what the future held in stock for him.
He was young, impressionable and this was his first time of crossing the Niger bridge but before he arrived, he was inundated with gory tales and stereotype message of how the Igbos living in the east are hostile to other Nigerians who don’t speak their language.
He was specifically warned by his parents to be careful because those guys are not friendly to strangers so armed with all these negative information, he arrived Agulu with that mindset, conscious that he was in a hostile environment as he was told so he needed to be careful this 1 year he would spend in Agulu before going back home.
After the induction and all the rituals that comes with being a corper in this part, young Olusegun settled down to his primary place of assignment nervous and scared of his life.
For Olusegun, he can’t wait to go back Lagos to look for a proper job after NYSC.
Along the line, Young Olusegun noticed that the people of Agulu are hospitable and too nice to a fault to him.
He was confused at this point, is he not the same people they told him from home to be wary of because they are hostile to strangers?
Segun was shocked the way he was accepted as a son of the soul even though he does not speak the language.
Every one he met on the way were kind and went the extra mile to make him feel at home.
This was Segun’s first rude reawakening.
In his many visit to the commercial city of Onitsha, Segun fell in love with the traders that he met there.
Their energy was too beautiful to watch.
Some of them did not go to school but they understood trade and commerce very well.
Segun saw resilient, dogged traders who built viable small-to-medium size enterprises which are completely independent of government.
As Segun continued to visit Onitsha main market , he realised that those traders who did not go to school are not exception, but the norm. Many of these traders do not have a university education, they just have a unique understanding of the mechanics of business fostered by a strong entrepreneurial culture.
And then a dream was born.
After his service year the following year in 1986, Segun refused to go back home.
His parents were stunned,” Which juju did these Igbo people give to our son? “ they wondered.
But for Segun, it was not a matter of being under any spell rather he saw a need to empower the traders with the right information because he saw a gap due to his numerous interaction with those traders.
Segun believed that with the right exposure, information and training, these traders will live to their highest potentials.
There might be arguments that these people have made lives for themselves without the need for University, but as the world changes, so do the dreams of people. An academic program tailored towards business will provide a young Igbo boy that has completed Imu-Ahia choices – the ability to go to his shop during week day and then to Segun’s school on weekend while will provide better quality and well-rounded people.
Onitsha Business school, the first business school in Anambra was later established by Segun and the idea was to empower these traders with the right skills and tools they need to run a small scale business in this 21st century.
I first heard about Onitsha Business school from my brother Chijioke and In his words, traders are always thronging to Segun’s school to learn new knowledge about business and to equip themselves for the new frontiers.
Prof is never in short supply of students who are traders.
My good man Johnlex Aniagboso just rounded up a program in Segun’s business school and the money spent is worth every penny, he said.
More often than not, I have heard this wicked malicious lie from a group of people who are insulated and have not traveled outside their comfort zone in Lagos that Igbos are not accommodating.
This is not true and as Chimamanda Adichie said:
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story”.
Prof Segun has lived in Onitsha for over 33 years and he has flourished all these period because the people he met never discriminated against him rather they took him as one of them which is the proper thing to do.
For Prof, he has lived majority of his adult life in the east, he is even fluent in Igbo language more than I do.
I was born In Onitsha, Prof was not born there but he speaks better Igbo than I do today.
It is safe to say that Prof has adopted Onitsha as his home.
During the times of crises, some misguided Nigerians attack the likes of Prof who are found all over the country especially in Lagos where i live and work and then tell them to go home because they don’t belong here.
Today Segun speaks igbo, deliver lecture in igbo.Where is home?
Posted by Chike Ofilli