Like father like son, Dr Paul Ojeih mounts his father’s saddle, hits instant success *Says, "I miss my dad." - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Like father like son, Dr Paul Ojeih mounts his father’s saddle, hits instant success *Says, "I miss my dad."

Dr Paul Ojeih
Flamboyant alternative medicine practitioner, Prof. Paul Olisa Ojeih, the ex Chief Executive Officer of IRIS Medical Foundation who died quietly in December 2011, has come alive in his eldest son Dr Paul Ojeih, who now runs the multi billion naira empire that his father left behind.

Dr Paul Ojeih who claims that, "I do not bother about how to fit into my father's shoes because, I am already in my fathers shoes, in an exclusive interview with  this Paul Ukpabio Blog said that, "my father prepared us all to take over from him."

But how does he feel mounting his father's business saddle in his youthful age and running the entire business and family structure his father left behind?

"It doesn't really feel different to me. My father knew there was time for everything, he used to say that when he gets to 70 that he will step down for us to continue. And when it was time, he went on to go and rest.
Late Prof. Paul Olisa Ojeih
Dr Paul Ojeih went on to narrate how his father 'saw death coming'. "On December 24th, we had the Iris Medical Foundation staff party as we normally do, and on the 26th, which was two days later, we were having party for family members, when at that occasion, he made a statement that he is very tired that he wants to go and rest. 

He said he had worked very hard! And true, he had! When I am having my bath at 6am, he is usually on his way to the office. 

Everyday was the same. You remember he used to move to the office with his policemen escort in a convoy.

"But when he said he was tired, he wanted to go and rest, I felt indeed, he was going. Something touched me then because of the way he said it. When later that day, he went in to lay down and the next thing he was saying was that he couldn't breathe. 

We knew he was going. He started speaking in Latin, in different languages. Great men always plan their exit. People like the famous, Late Pa Obafemi Awolowo planned his exit. Late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe planned his exit."

Dr Paul Ojeih
Now that Dr Paul Ojeih is doing well in the field of alternative medicine like his erstwhile famous dad, one couldn't help but ask if he misses his dad. "Yes, I do," was his reply. "What I miss about him is that we used to argue. 

He was my argument partner. He was a stubborn man, and so I am (laughs). I also miss his flamboyance. He will ask, which car is on board? He loved cars. One of his friends who is a prominent person in the society used to say that, each time that he wants to know the car that is in vogue, he comes to Professor Paul Ojeih's house.

Asked if his father was happy leaving his herbal treasures to his children, Dr Paul Ojeih replied, "My father loved cars, loved the good things of life, but he was never a greedy materialistic person. 

He was happy, he had prepared us for this, we worked with him. He had always been a giver, he unilaterally built our former church for instance. Whichever church he stepped in, he made sure that he contributed to its development. He ensured that his staff built their personal houses, and after he died, we had so many people who came around  to say that he had done this or that for them."

Late Prof Ojeih had lived a colourful life. He lived his life in public view. From anchoring his popular Tv programme on alternative medicine to attending and identifying with the rich and the poor at the same time, and then attending society events, he became very popular. So many wondered how old he really was.

His son laughed when asked this question and said, "My father died at 71, people kept disputing his age. But to him, he had even stayed long, he told us before he died that if he had practiced just medicine, he would have lived longer, but that he practised more than medicine, that he gave his all, he expended so much energy.

When he started medicine, there were no scientific laboratories to test his medicines, he volunteered himself, he used himself as the guinea pig to test the efficacy of his new drugs and medications. He never joked with our star medicine which is Venedi. 

He loved the medication Venedi which is derived from 24 plants and 20 was sourced from outside the country and when it was time for him to present the medicine to the world, he used himself to test the efficacy of that medicine. He gave himself to medicine."

But considering that the Late Professor Ojeih had a large family we asked his son if his father left a succession plan behind?

"Yes, he did. He said his first son will take over with his second son. So today we have Dr Solomon Ojeih who happens to be the Deputy Managing Director of Iris Medical Foundation and I the Managing Director. We also have our third brother Iris whose name was used for the name of the company. 

He happens to be the operations Manager for the organisation. I even plan to be on this seat for the next ten years, after that, I intend to move on to other things. That is because we have been able to expand the franchise, we have Iris Medical Foundation which I run, then Iris food and drugs which Dr Solomon runs and also Iris International which the third son runs. 

We are expanding, we are looking at opening a herb bank which other practitioners can come in too, and source for herbs to build their personal practice. I hope you remember that my father set up a College for Herbal Medicine Practitioners, he brought professors from the United State all the way from Monroe, who came in and taught some doctors here, how to go about alternative medicine. 

My father wanted to establish a herb bank, whereby you can import the class of herbs that you understand. So we have so much to do, I can't be here on this seat for ever."
Dr Paul Ojeih

Talking about your dad again, for those that used to depend on your father, it is a big family for you, so how have you been coping?
(Laughs) 

Let us call a spade a spade, after an emperor departs, it takes time to re-build, re-adjust before moving forward. But some people felt that the man left behind fabulous money. 

The truth is that, he left behind fabulous properties and a solid business organization. My father's properties are still intact, we didn't sell anything. Somehow my grand father is still alive. 

He advised us that if we have issues with funds like we had after he left, that we should approach the banks. But my father all through his time, did not take any facility from any bank. He financed his business with his money. So I started thinking that why should I take bank facility?

So, what inspires this young man who is already at the top, "a lot of things inspires me," he replied. "I read and write and that inspires me a lot. I learn, I research, I'm internet savvy and on the move!"

But wait for this, Dr Paul Ojeih is indeed very much, every inch of his late father, a carbon copy so to say. Guess what, like his father was against the controversial Aids virus which he declared did not exist but a creation of the United State of America, Dr Paul Ojeih told us that Nigeria should be cautious of the intriques of the West! 

"It is a pity that the international press does not report good things about Nigeria. Take for instance when the Ebola case took place, it is my believe that the man Sawyer was sent to come and spread Ebola in Nigeria. 

He knew he had that virus and he still came to Nigeria, to infect us. And today Dr Stella Adedavor of blessed memory is gone. I have great respect for that woman and Late Dr Dora Akunyili. We have to be careful of the Western powers. We have to be careful about everything that comes from outside the country.

"We have to find a way of creating a better Nigeria. We have to come together to build a formidable nation together. What does America have that we do not have. We can make Nigeria be another Dubai, all it takes is for us to come together and agree to do it, and turn this nation around for better." 

As the interview drew to an end, we asked him about Ghana where his father used to have business ties, he smiled and replied, "Ghana, yes, Ghana, is our second home. We have kept all the ties that my father used to keep with Ghana. And the Ghanaian government has been able to allow a conducive environment for alternative medicine to thrive. The policy there is not as much difficult and we have access to the Ghanaian market."

So what does the future look like, for the young industrialist? "As a nation, Nigeria's future is bright, if that's so, then we can say our future is bright too!" He replied, standing up to hug a business tycoon that has just come into the office to have a meeting with him at his Ikeja Office in Lagos.

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