Comrade Ibrahim Tajudeen Ohize is the President, Dockworkers branch of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). Comrade Ohize even though is from Kogi, speaks Yoruba fluently.
He said his foray into Labour in the maritime was not deliberate but because he had no choice after being duped by fraudsters who collected all his savings in the name of providing travel documents to Italy for him.
He found out he had been duped when he was close to Italy but had to be turned back.
Today, he says he is happy being a dock worker because of the reforms introduced by Comrade Tony Nted and Comrade Adewale Adeyanju who introduced reforms that now make the one time dreaded profession into an attractive one.
He revealed many things about himself which are not known to the public in this interview with SEGUN OLADIPUPO.
Tell us about yourself.
I am Comrade Ibrahim Tajudeen Ohize, a native of Okene in Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State.
I am an employee of ENL consortium Ltd – 26 Burma road, Apapa.
I am the President of Dockworkers branch of Maritime workers union of Nigeria. Situated at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal /jetty, Sunrise Bus Stop, Olodi Apapa, Lagos.
I had my primary and secondary education in Okene precisely before I proceeded to Lagos for my tertiary education. And I have recorded many glorious attainment and still counting. All to the glory of God Almighty.
I was born at number nine Brown Street, Oshodi and I grew up in Shogunle where we have our family house. Precisely, Ajisegiri Street.
I am from a royal family but I don’t bear Prince because I don’t like the way they do their things. If I am called to be one in future, I will not accept it.
My favourite colour is white because I like something pure from Tom. Even my room and my bed are white.
My favourite food is anything solid but that does not mean I don’t eat other food types.
I don’t like football but in those days, I was a weight lifter and boxer when I was still young. One day, something happened. I was coming to the stadium from Mushin inside a molue and I mistakenly matched an army officer and he slapped me and I asked why he slapped me and he said if I talked, he will slap me more and he did.
I slapped him with the pole at the middle of molue and the pole removed and hit the soldier and blood started gushing out.
I ran from inside the molue that day and since that day, I stopped training. I didn’t even know I wounded until I had gotten to Ilasa. That was how I quit boxing since that day.
How I forayed into maritime
What happened was that I gathered money and I wanted to go to Italy and somebody duped me. I was seeing the country from distance but I was sent back to Nigeria and by then, I had sold everything I had and I had to begin to look for another job. Somebody now introduced me to the port.
I see one thing in port operations, thank God for the two leaders we have that is, Tony Nted and Adewale Adeyanju.
Before they came in, it was hooliganism and thuggery. People that are not relevant in the country are the people you see as dock workers. In fact, in those days, nobody wanted to be dock worker except those that had problems.
The era witnessed a lot of hooliganism but when they came in, they sensitized and educated people now came to do the job.
That is why you have the reform we have today. I believe these two leaders should be honoured for making us to have what we have today.
My experience in the port is a hard one because it was like a jungle then. If you give somebody job then, he will be fighting you that he would take something by force. When they came in, they sanitised it and we found ourselves where we are today.
Are you happy being a dock worker today?
I am happy because the profession is no longer like before. Today, you can beat your chest and say I am a dock worker. Today, we have graduates, masters degree holders working as dock workers.
How do you relax?
Before I became dock workers President, I always found my way to relax because I was a district chairman then but you know the job is double now and if you are working with my PG, you must be a soldier because most times, we work on Saturday and Sunday.
I don’t know how God created the PG, the man hardly rests. In those days when I was a Labour, you will see Adeyanju as early as five in the morning at the gate. We were coming from Abule Egba then and we usually come early and despite that, we will meet him at the gate. That is one virtue I copied from him.
But anytime I want to relax, I always like staying with my family because I am from the family of 28 and I am the only man in the family.
It was our mother that took care of us and I vowed that I will not be a father that will have children and not take care of them.
My father had nine wives but I have only one.
Do you have ambition of becoming MWUN PG someday?
No. If you are contented with what you have, you will be favoured. God chooses leaders. I didn’t know I was going to become dock b4workers President. It was one day, this present PG called me and said I should go and prepare for leadership.
I didn’t understand until PG emeritus called me and said I was going to be the next dock workers President. I couldn’t sleep when he told me that.
What are the traits expected of a leader?
You must be tolerant, trust worthy and transparent. You must listen to your followers, you must have a shock absorber because there are the good, the bad and the ugly.
You have to carry everybody along because nobody is perfect. You must also be obedient and respect your leaders too.
Perception of life?
I believe life is nothing. You don’t have to take life as if without you, nobody.
I take life as one that came to the market and will go back one day.
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