Communications expert par excellence, Ehi Braimah, the Chief Executive Officer
of Neo Media and Marketing Ltd., has carved a niche of distinction
for himself within Nigeria’s blooming marketing communications industry. He
added another year recently and sat to an exclusive interview with OVATION,
recounting the highs and lows of his journey to prominence. Far from being a
jolly stroll in the park, you will find in this interview that his path to success
was not always paved with the milk and honey of fulfilled dreams and the glitz
of the limelight, but also with the thorns and thistles of betrayal and
disappointments. His is an inspiring story of dreams, discovery, tenacity, determination,
hard work and above all, the grace of God.
How significant was
your background and foundation
Let me be honest with you, it was a
solid foundation. I went to a good school. It is best compared to similar
schools abroad at the time like Eton College in the United Kingdom. Government
College, Ughelli provided what we could call a sound, moral,
knowledge-based and quality education and things 86 were working in
Nigeria at the time too. I must say, I am one of the privileged Nigerians who
went to what we call a proper Secondary School in Nigeria when things were working.
As at the time I joined Government College, Ughelli at the age of 10, the
Principal, Mr. G.A. George was a white man. I was quite young, probably the smallest
in my class but everything was clockwork.
When you were admitted, you would get
your uniforms and uniforms were sent to laundry. There was a sickbay, classes
were not over-crowded and the teachers came in and left. There was light, water
and the hostels were not over-crowded. So, everything was working well. It was
a great experience because even universities of these days do not have anything
similar to what we had at that time.
Can you still
remember some of your classmates
A couple of them like Clement Agegeh, Prof.
Label Onunu(Prof. Medicine, Uniben.), Sam Omatseye (Editorial Board Chairman of
The Nation) and a couple of other people that you may not know.
What was your nick
At the time, I am not too sure I had
nick names then, but much later my friends started calling me some funny names.
Tell us about your
first trip to Lagos
Let me not lie to you, when I finished
Government College at the age of 15, I moved on to do the Higher School
Certificate (HSC). I finished my HSC at 17 and I went to Benin.My parents were
in Benin at the time so I moved to Benin. I wanted to make some money before
going to the University. At that time, we had Prof. Ambrose Alli (of blessed
memory) as the Governor of Bendel State, under the Unity Party of Nigeria. The
party introduced free education and free textbooks. There were so many new
Secondary Schools and also a crave for Mathematics teachers too. That was when
I was employed to teach Mathematics at Iyekogba Grammar School, Ebo. I taught
there for two years and I felt that I had enough and I was then admitted into
the University of Benin.I should add that teaching was a great experience. I
got an appointment letter with my total annual salary as 1500 naira from
the Ministry of Education. It was a
lot of money then. I also took active interest in Football. During that period,
I also made some money for myself on the side.
I was a private Tutor. I was paid good
money at the time by many parents and then took it a step further when I and
three other guys set up a Summer School business. Every long vacation, we used
to organize the summer lessons. We were making good money, I was teaching
Mathematics and Physics. After the long vacation classes, we would then move to
evening classes, preparing students for GCE. I always had a full class because
Mathematics was compulsory. Each student then paid 10naira per subject.I was
not taking money from my parents because I was making my own money.I was having
fun. We were the first set of people to buy Stretch Jeans from Forestry Road in
Benin City N45 which was such a big deal because it was a lot of money. If you
imagine that my salary in a month was around 110naira every month, I was making
triple the amount from summer classes and preparing students for GCE.
Mathematics was my favorite subject right from time.
I remember then in our first term in Secondary
School, as I said earlier, I was the smallest in class, so,when the results
were announced, M.D. Asoro; my Class Master came to the class looking for that
Ehi Braimah who came first in the examinations. I was using my full name
Ehimare. He asked me to step out. I remember he called me ‘small man, big
brain’. I used to be top in Mathematics and they would give me gifts like
oranges and other items. In Government College, I was in the Sciences and after
then, I moved over to the University of Benin to study Industrial Mathematics.
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