A former lecturer, Prof. Joseph Ezigbo, shares his fatherhood experience with OLUSHOLA RICKETTS
What is your definition of fatherhood?
It is hard to describe the feeling of being a father. It is a wonderful thing. Holding my first child gave me an overwhelming feeling. She was a girl and a bundle of joy to the family.
Were you financially buoyant when you started a family?
Being an only child, when I wanted to get married, financial consideration didn’t play a lead role. Though I was emotionally and mentally ready for marriage, I believed God to see me through the journey. Once one has a woman, who is ready to go the extra mile with one, one can achieve anything.
At what age did you marry?
I married at 28. For some people, getting married at 28 is early. But for others, it is late. It generally depends on the individuals involved. For me, I think I married at the right time.
Looking back, would you have loved to marry at a later age?
I think I married at the right time.
Did you ever wish you had a boy as your first child?
I have a strong belief that one should have a girl as the first child because women stabilise the family. I don’t care what people say, but I wouldn’t mind having only girls as children. If you visit a family where they don’t have a girl child, it is always disorganised. Once men are married, they focus on their wives and children. But the same cannot be said about women. Despite marriage, they still remember their parents and play a huge role in their father’s houses. In other words, the women return to look after their parents unlike the boys who don’t really care.
Most people don’t know that we are in a woman’s world. This is a bit controversial but women are more intelligent and responsible than men. We are physically stronger and we think the physical strength makes us intelligent. But in every successful man, there must be an intelligent woman behind him.
Women are so intuitive and if you listen to their intuition, you can be guided by it through life. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t have women who are devil’s incarnate. When a woman is bad, she is thoroughly bad but we have a little number of them.
How many children do you have?
I have five boys and four girls.
Were you in the labour room during the birth of any of your kids?
I was in the labour room when my wife had all our kids. I was part of her experiences at childbirth. All my children are now adults. My last child is 16 years old.
Did you use the cane while raising your children?
I believe in spare the rod, spoil a child. When it was essential, I disciplined my children but I didn’t overdo it. If you don’t discipline a child, you may lose him or her. When a child needs to be pampered, you should pamper him or her. But once he doesn’t do well and you need to use the cane, do not hesitate to do so.
Is any of your kids following in your footsteps?
I don’t really understand what you mean by “following in my footsteps.” All my kids, except the last one, are graduates. I don’t think any of them needs to be like me, as we have different gifts and callings as humans.
For me, the path (academics) I took initially meant that if I wanted the best out of it, I needed to have a master and a PhD. As a university lecturer, I wanted to get to the apex.
Also, when I quit lecturing and I went into the gas business, I aspired to get to the apex. I am in support of any child in whatever he or she does. But if my child’s profession is to clean the windows, I expect him or her to do it well. Whatever my child does is immaterial, but he or she must aim for the zenith of the chosen profession.
When did you become a professor?
I became a professor in 2000. When you set eyes on something, you must work towards it. There is nothing difficult in life as long as you believe in God and yourself. When you do researches and get required publications, they will make you a professor. There is nothing dicey about professorship.
Why did you quit lecturing?
At some point, the leaders of the country stopped providing funds for researches. That was why I left the university system. I couldn’t imagine myself teaching students new things in the university without embarking on researches. It doesn’t make sense if students didn’t see things with their eyes.
Also, at a time, gas flaring was also intense in the country and it caught my interest. I don’t regret venturing into oil and gas.
What role has your wife played in your success story?
We work together. I am the Managing Director of Falcon Petroleum and she (Audrey Joe-Ezigbo) is the executive director. Together, we have run the company to where it is today.
Don’t you find it strange managing a company with your wife?
There is a book my wife wrote, Double Impact, which focuses on managing both the home front and work. I know people wonder how I spend hours with my wife in the office and still go home to spend hours with her. The office and home are two different settings and one needs two different attitudes to manage them.
Whenever we are in the office, we can argue and no one can tell that we are a couple. We argue about things that will benefit the business because we both believe in it.
At work, I am the boss but she is the ED. When we get home, I am her husband and the father of our children. Also, at home, she is my wife and the mother of our children. I believe the woman is the neck of a man; so, I see her as my neck even though I have the head. We all know that once the neck and head disagree, there is a problem. Wherever the neck moves, the head must follow. If the neck moves and the head refuses to move, there is a serious problem.
Did she give you a tough time when you showed interest in her?
I think I am blessed. Convincing her to marry me was a smooth sail. However, we went through the thick skin together at the early stages of our marriage.
How were you able to convince your wife’s father, Ndubuisi Kanu?
I confide in him a lot and he also does too, but that was not the way things were at the beginning. We had our issues even though we are best of friends now. While he had his reservations when I wanted to marry her daughter because of his love for her, my wife told him that it was me or nobody. Everyone is happy now.