Pascal Odike is an outstanding Nigerian youth with international recognition. As a result of his contributions to the development of humanity, he was elected the 100th president of Junior Chambers International (JCI). In this chat with the Publisher of Public Faces Magazine, Adebola Solate, the Microbiology graduate of the University of Port Harcourt disclosed what he wants to be remembered for and also commented on global issues.
Kindly share with us your experience as JCI world President?
It has been a humble experience because at some point, I thought it was undeserving of me to have been the world JCI President due to what I know about the past Presidents, so for someone like me from a very humble background to have this kind of opportunity, I want to thank God and I thank JCI members of Nigeria for finding me worthy and I thank my country Nigeria because if I was never born a Nigerian, I probably wouldn’t have been the JCI world President. It’s not a smooth road, it has been challenging but one thing I believe in life is whatever your mind can perceive, believe that it can also be achieved.
As a Microbiology graduate, do you still practise?
I used to practise Microbiology, but I had to drop it at some point. Reason is, I wanted to follow my passion, and my passion is about moulding young people to becoming future leaders, talking to them and changing their mentality on why they must not idolize or complain about the government and things not going right, but they need to ask themselves, ‘what can I do for myself and my community?’ So I decided to follow my passion. I have worked in four different companies in eight years, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t find satisfaction, so I thought let me go out there and engage young people and that is where my passion for JCI came through. The world has changed a lot, in the past, you are expected to stick to what you studied but I believe that I should follow my passion; going to the University was to empower and enlighten me. Going to the University does not stop me from doing what I have passion for; my passion is in training, coaching, service to the community and humanity.
(Cuts in) Are you taking that as a profession now?
I still do my job which is fire protection and security service, I run a company with some partners, but beyond that I do not believe that life is all about money making. I believe that life is all about giving and when you give, you will receive and that has been the story of my life. So, I commit more to giving service back to young people and being part of a solution to my community even when I may not have been part of the problems.
As a product of University of Port Harcourt, when and how did you join JCI?
In November 1996, I met a friend who was beautifully dressed then, heading for a meeting and I asked where he was going, he said he was going to attend JCI meeting and I said my brother used to be a JCI but I never bothered to ask him or understand what JCI is all about, so he encouraged me to join him at the meeting and when I got there, I met young men and ladies speaking good English. So I thought this is an opportunity to improve my English skill because I was a poor speaker, that was why I joined the organisation. I later realized that it was difficult to stop because I became a professional MC for my community and that was where the passion grew. So I thought if JCI could provide that platform for me to be able to express myself before people, then I could turn that passion to express myself into trying to help young people and communicate change in the lives of people and that was how I started, eighteen years ago.
As the most decorated member of JCI, how do you balance this position with family affairs?
One of the greatest gifts I have gotten from JCI is an understanding wife, I met my wife in JCI, she is a JCI member, so she also understands that my commitment to JCI is a commitment to humanity and she appreciates the fact that our lives would not be complete if we do not contribute to the community and humanity, so she has consistently supported me for the past six years that we have been married. I thank her and I thank my family because without them, I would not be here and my wife is very understanding as long as I am able to make that little money to fulfill the basic needs of the family, not the wants of the family, she’s willing to give me the support to go ahead and that is what has happened.
You have been visiting countries of the world as the JCI president, what are those things you do when you get to those countries?
I say this everywhere I go, I love my country Nigeria and for me, this is the best country irrespective of what the challenges are at the moment. I have had the opportunity within the past 10 years to live outside this country but I prefer to stay in Nigeria because my destiny and my future lies in this country, so when I travel out, I tell people that I am a Nigerian and there are beautiful things about this country so I share with them the beautiful and positive aspects of this country just to balance these negative things they hear which most of it are not true. I also give messages to young people especially in Africa, to say that we can take responsibility to correct the wrongs in Africa and our challenges and the best way to do that is not to complain but for us to look at what we can do from our communities to our states, our countries and Africa to see how we can be part of the change process.
So far, what are those Legacies you want to leave behind when you leave office?
I am initiating what we call “Peace in the World Campaign”, it would be our biggest project in 2016. Today, the challenges of the world are steering at us in the face and its crisis from one region to another, there is no safe place in this world anymore. It has become a concern for us. For us to bring peace to this country and the world, we need to begin to address a couple of things and some of those things are the 17 global goals for sustainable development, from poverty, to zero hunger, climate change, unemployment issues, segregation and racism, social inequality, if we are able to address all of these challenges, we would have taken care of at least eighty percent of the challenges and that takes us close to peace around the world and that is the message I am taking to the world and at the end of my Presidency, I want to be remembered for adding to the voice of young people of JCI to enthrone peace in the world while also making sure that I represent my country very well, serving with integrity and accountability, commitment to the organisation and young people.