James Emejo in Abuja
The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) Alumni Association, Abuja Chapter has conferred an award for excellence on the outgoing Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Issac Okoroafor.
He will be retiring from the apex bank on October 1, 2020 after clocking the 60- year mandatory retirement age.
According to the association’s president, Mr. Uche Obasi, Okoroafor was among other things recognised for his selfless service to humanity and his numerous contributions to national development as well as his commendable efforts towards to “restore the dignity of man”.
He said having been conferred with a degree in both character and learning by the university, the CBN director had further demonstrated exemplary leadership and professionalism as spokesman for the apex bank, adding that he also brought goodwill to his Alma mater during his service in the public sector.
Okoroafor, who is an alumnus of Nigeria’s first indigenous university graduated from the economics department in 1984.
However, speaking to journalists during the award ceremony which held over the weekend, the CBN director expressed fulfilment in the service of the nation, adding that, “the greatest fulfillment a man could aspire to is service to nation and ordinary people that lack opportunities.”
He said: “I look at my service years in public sector from the point of view of national service. National Service comes above every other thing after the worshipping of God. National service takes precedence over every other thing and it’s been like that about 15 years plus.
“I came from the private sector and I told my people before I left Business Day that I was going on national service; and that I have done. Our country needs to be served whether we like it or not; whether we are happy or not we must continue to do whatever we can to make sure that the people of Nigeria, especially the ordinary people who do not have the opportunity some of us have; we must continue to work for the betterment of their lives.
He said: “That is the greatest service anybody can give. As you serve the nation and ordinary people, you serve God. As for me, it is service to people that will lead me into service for God. I am very happy; I am much fulfilled that I am coming to the end of my service in the public service. But national service continues and I will continue to do that until all of us come out to serve this country.”
Reliving his experience as the apex bank’s spokesman, he said likened the office to a battle front.
According to him: “Running a corporate communications is like being in a battle front every day. There is no weekend, no holiday; there is no vacation. If I traveled outside the country my phones will be ringing and I must operate from there. It has been a whole lot of work; it denies everything even your private life, community life.
“At a time my town union granted me leave, that I should come whenever I felt like coming because they understood what I was going through. Corporate communication management is a very tough battle, you must be strong physically, you must be strong and alive mentally; you must be somebody who must move on -the go; to be able to keep up with the pace especially social media. You have to also manage stakeholders.”
He said: “There are people who do not see well in what you are doing. Of course, there is contending interest, they are always there. It is your job to manage them and make everybody feel happy.
“You might not succeed in making everybody feel happy, but you strive to make most of the people understand your point of view so that they can buy into your policies and initiatives, you can make some progress. It has been a very exciting thing.”
He however, attributed his successes to his hardworking staff.
Okoroafor said: “I couldn’t have done all this without the gentlemen who have worked with me. We have established a pattern. No matter the time of the day or night we worked, we issued press releases at times 2 a.m in the night. We all know once a phone call goes, people don’t sleep. I will continue to pray for my colleagues that I leave behind. It has been a very resounding experience of team spirit working with them; and I continue to pray for them and stand by. Any time there is a problem they think I can come in to help I will be there”.