This Week’s Feature – Fredrick Okagua Esq
Fredrick Okagua is the legal compliance officer with China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Nig. Ltd, in Lagos. He operates the South West offices of the Company.
Prior his recent appointment he worked with the law firm of Eric Grant LP in Victoria Island Lagos, where he advices on corporate restructuring (M&A), Trademark, Patent and represent clients in court and involves in dispute resolution through ADR.
He currently advises on Employment contract , construction projects, project finance and private investment in high capital intensive infrastructure projects through Public Private Partnership (PPP).
Fredrick holds a diploma in law certificate and Bachelor of Laws both from the prestigious university of Benin. He has also successfully completed his vocational training with the Nigerian Law School Lagos campus. He has a deep passion for legal advocacy and while he was a student he actively got involved with mooting activities which endered him to win lots of moot court competitions.
In 2014, Fredrick Okagua was among the team that represented Nigeria in the Philip Jessup moot court where Nigeria emerged as the best team from Africa.
As an Advocate, Fredrick was appointed President of the Freedom of Information Vanguard to oversee 21 local government in kogi state while serving the nation as a Youth Corper.
He currently resides in Lagos, Nigeria and is also involved in leadership and several advocacy programs
I: Who is Fredrick Okagua?
F: Fredrick Okagua is a Nigerian, a lawyer, a civil rights activist. And some of my areas of specialty are infrastructure and human capital development, youth empowerment, leadership development. I am a crusader for justice and fairness, national growth, leadership and i’m someone who tries to use law as an instrument for social change. I’m from rivers state. I grew up in port harcourt and then i went on to study law at the university of Benin. Attended law school at the Lagos campus. I am the founder of the “Young Citizen Inspire Africa” (YCIA) initiative, a non profit organisation that is designed to re-orientate and empower the youth within Africa, with Nigeria as a starting point in areas of leadership and entrepreneurship
I: Alright. Frederick could you please share with the readers some wisdom or knowledge you have garnered on your journey thus far?
F : I would say very concisely that life is in stages. The more experience you have of life, the more you learn. Both the good and bad. As they have a way of making you and refining you so you might become a better person if only of course if you learn to see the positive sides of rather negative challenges. It has not been rosy for me as life has been full of challenges, Though each time i have encountered a challenge, i always look for a way and with the help of God, surmount it. I take the best part of it so i can learn my lesson and become better. Some of the wisdom i have to share are of persistence, resilience, belief, courage. Even if you fall at some point, you just have to rise up and get pushing ahead. I’ve also learnt that you need to be focused, that you need to be futuristic. I believe in setting goals for the future and working towards them. I come from such a background that i never thought i would become a lawyer but when i look at where i am today, i realise that if i didn’t take the right decision so many years back, i don’t think i would have found myself like i have today. And i’ve also learn’t to make good decisions out of critical evaluation. Sometimes when i’m pressed to make a decision between conflicting options, i simply calm down and think about the future effects of what i’m going to do. Discipline and hardwork are key aswell
I: Can you share with the readers one experience that has done the most work in defining the man that you are today and that you are still becoming?
F: i would say that it was the time when it seemed i would not get admitted into the university because though i got a mark far higher than the cut off the portal said “not admitted” I honestly did not know how to deal with this as it felt as though all my hopes and dreams had been dashed. But later on, i checked and i got the admission as ny name subsequently came out on the supplementary list. One of the lessons i learned is that no matter the circumstance, to not give up. Believe in God. Sometimes life may not give you exactly what you want but don’t give up. When i was in 200 level, one of my friends, Mr Prince, who’s currently in florida, asked me if i have heard of the jnternational law students association. He asked me if i would like to travel to the US to represent the university of Benin in one of the world’s largest moot court? I thought he was joking. But i started to actively participate in mooting activities. Subsequently, my friends and me, the late Austus Ekioba and Maduka chibueze began representing the school at National mooting competitions. As we made a formidable team, we won most of all the competitions we participated in. Then we had the opportunity to represent Nigeria at the 2014 Phillip C Jessup Moot competition. I didn’t believe it till i first of all got my visa, and then suddenly found myself in washington DC. I would think back to two years before when Mr Prince asked me if i wanted to do something like this and shake my head in amazement. And from this i would like to share that it is important to have a clear picture of what you want. Always try to imagine what it is you desire and somehow, circumstances will work to push you to where you want to go. Imagination can take you to the future and back. It sounds spiritual but that’s the truth. Vision is one of the secrets of success. Asides diligence, hardwork and all of that, vision is key. You have to believe the pictures you conjure of yourself for the future. The power of imagination is not overrated. Even when you do not have the resources you think you need or the capacity, what you need the most is your vision. Suddenly people see what you’ve got to offer and they become instrumental in helping you get to your desired end. They become like the springboard to your future as you have imagined it. Somehow, eventually, it becomes your reality. So i’ve learn’t that you can become anything you want to become in this life. If you believe it, if you speak it, and if you can imagine it. I can confidently tell the readers that the road to success is not necessarily paved with hardwork because there are people who work very hard, but are yet, not successful. They have nothing to show for all their effort. However, hardwork mixed with focus and imagination -the vision that you see yourself at your desired level, will inevitably lead you to success. You need to have a projection of the future. You need to be able to strategize on a conscious level with utmost deliberateness in regard of your vision. You need to be asking yourself “how can i make this happen?”
I: Alright. Thank you very much Mr Fred. Could you give us an account of your reaction in times where, lets say, perhaps life has thrown you a curve ball? Many of my readers are students like myself so i figure its a necessary skill. You know, being able to deal with stuff when things go awry
F: I think You need to be strong willed and determined. You might want to consider for instance, the effects the wind will have on a building if its foundation is either strong or not. If its weak, the building will collapse. If it is strong, well, you can imagine. But for this to be possible in the first place, the right tools and instruments have to go into the “setting” of this foundation. Relating this to actual, concrete context, this would be perhaps, like in my case, the inspiring words that have guided me thus far….
I: Mr Fred, please could you share with the readers some of these “inspiring words that have helped you?” Especially since its more than a likelihood that someone needs to actually hear them right now and also considering that this blog is about elevating consciousness apart from all the wonderful fantasy and romance that it promises?
F: First off i think it comes down to who you choose to listen to. For me, its been the words of motivational figures really. But most importantly, My Father’s own words.His counsel of wisdom on all things concerning life will stay with me forever. He would tell us to always be fair, kind and that no matter what life throws at us, we should stay strong and keep pushing. His life is a reflection of his teachings and ideals. I think i should state that i am not a product of a particularly wealthy family. I would say, least average if i am to be honest. It was tough growing up in a very harsh environment to be honest. Regardless of this, his words have been and will always be my guiding torch in living this life. Asides from that, i have kept friends who are especially great influences to have present in your life. One worthy of note that comes to mind right now is is Mr Festus Oria, the chief executive officer and founder of Dex Mobile consulting, a big consulting company here in lagos. He’s a banker. He used to advise me on the importance of discipline, hardwork etc if i want to be successful like he is. Those words helped me not to look at some of my peers at that time who were not doing well. Most of whom are not particularly well of today or at the very least on a set path towards something of a vision. The inspiring words of these people have helped to shapen my life thus far. So, despite the ups snd downs, i because i have a strong foundation due to the guidance and encouragement and motivation of these people, i’m confident in my capacity to withstand any challenge that comes my way. Bottom line, the company you keep matters alot.
I: Fears. Do you have fears? How do you deal with them?
F: The scourge of fear is a very human element. Honestly fear gets to me sometimes. I’m this person who likes to weigh the pros and cons of a matter so much so that it can dampen my determination to do things sometimes. But i’ve also learn’t that inspite of the fear, you need to press on. Its that simple. As at the time i was serving in kogi state. Lokoja to be precise. I was the president of information vanguard responsible for overseeing the 21 local governments in the state. The information vanguard was a creation of freedom of information act established by the national orientation agency in conjunction with the voice of Nigeria. The whole idea was to give flesh to the act which was passed into law in 2011. I was constantly engaging with other youth coppers and government parastatals to proffer ways to create an egalitarian and bettet functioning society where there is of course positive and inclusive governance with a keen eye on the children, women and the civil service basically. The need was to come up with ideas and solid plans to manifest the aims as earlier stated so that the state may become truly renowned in its own right. My planning committee and me had laid down all the necessary plans which entailed creating the necessary level of awareness within the state and such. The problem however, was implementing it. I got scared that something might go wrong which consequently made me feel as though i did not have the capacity to pull it off. This delayed the plans for three weeks. But it got to a point when i just went like this had to be done. So with all the fear, i pressed on and it proved to be a phenomenal success. After this i realised how pointless fear really is. Its only use is that it doesn’t let you function. Its useless
I: Thanks for sharing that with us Mr Fred. Really. So what are your current projects and hopes and aspirations for the future?
F: As i am the founder of the “young citizen inspire Africa initiative” which is a youth agenda program empowering youths with leadership and entrepreneurship skills because these two elements are very fundamental for nation building. The idea is to train youths on entrepreneurship debelopment. From how to build small scale businesses to fortune five hundred companies. Also, how the government can also fund them to empower them with skills acquisition programmes so they become employers of labour instead of just job seekers. I’m a crusader for youth empowerment in light of creating an economic ecosystem that favours the youth and helps them to thrive. In summary, that’s what the initiative is about. These are the issues the initiative looks to tackle critically.
As a lawyer, i’ve also developed a level of expertise in infrastructural development. I have noticed some deficiencies in the railway industry. This issue begs my attention on a personal level. I ask myself questions like “what can we do to revamp the railway industry?” “How can we actualise intra state railway operations to reduce traffic on the roads?” “How Government can invest so much in these through public-private partnerships?” Also in consideration of how the Government can employ the instrumemtality of special purpose vehicles to ensure the financing of high profile infrastructural development so we can have a better society. Once this is done, whoever has invested in the projects will get their money returned with the interests attached. All in the encouragement of private sectors in infrastructuamral development. And for this i would suggest the “build, operate and transfer model” The decided company builds and operates the infrastructure – operating it with the context that those who previously have invested, recoup their investments along with the interests attached after which operations are transfered to the government that now begins to derive interests and profits from there. A good illustration of this is the Lekki toll gate. I would say it is the panacea for solving the country’s infrastructural deficit.
I: Your top 4 short term goals
F: first, developing myself further in these areas of expertise. Secondly, engaging with business and industry captains in these respective industries. Thirdly, possibly getting my masters in one of the areas i am passionate sbout. Fourthly, to become a reference point when it comes to construction/infrastructure law.
Follow him for more inspiration as he advances on his path towards self actualisation.There’s too much to learn from this undeniably great mind
Facebook – Fredrick Anthony Okagua
Linkedin – Fredrick Okagua