A foremost Nigerian publisher, Engr. Anthony Akpokene has advocated for establishment of more libraries and educational facilities in rural communities, as panacea for spate of crime and youth restiveness in the country.
According to the Petroleum Engineer, government should promote the culture of reading and academic capacity of children and youths by building modern libraries across the Local Government Areas(LGAs) of the country.
Speaking in an interview, he said ‘the general decline in viable schooling and employment opportunities for young citizens, is exacerbating violence and vices in society.’
He urged the authorities to promote learning by providing scholarships for brilliant students as well as the less-privileged.
He also enjoined parents to encourage their children and wards to read, at least one book in a month and two books during holiday periods.’
Akpokene, who was the Vice President of Christian Booksellers Association(Nigeria CBAN) in charge of training, decried the high cost of importation of raw materials for book printing and appealed to the authorities to remove the five percent import duties.
He expressed optimism that books will not be dislodged by eletronic publications because of their intrinsic benefits.
His words: ‘In 2013 a study was done and the results, published at the London book fair indicated is that printed books will continue to be relevant into the foreseeable future.
‘Also e-books have the disadvantage of negatively affecting the eyes,’ he added.
Engr. Akpokene was born on September 20 1961 in Kwale Delta State to late Deacon MM and Rev (Mrs) Hope Akpokene.
He attended St. James Primary school in Benin city, Edo college Benin City and University of Benin.
He graduated, as a petroleum engineer in 1983 did his NYSC with Mobil producing Nigeria in Eket and at the end joined Shell petroleum development company (SPDC) and worked as a well site petroleum engineer responsible for the technical aspects of drilling and operations in several fields across the Niger Delta.
From being a junior operations engineer he became, a reservoir expert, where he participated in the design of the Utorogi gas wells that supplies gas to the Egbin power plant near Lagos.
Akpokene was also involved in the drilling and completion of the wells and the commissioning of the gas plant under the then military president Ibrahim Babangida.
His career, peaked when he participated in the drilling of the first horizontal well in Africa, called the Sapele 26.
It was achieved through a new and novel technology that is used in reservoirs, with high viscous crude oil for enhanced productivity.
From there he was asked to set up the shell special intensive training program (SITP), where fresh graduates were trained to a level where they were recruited.
Additionally, as the academics coordinator, the engineer was responsible for interviewing the lecturers as well as designing of the curriculum. The program was rated the best-run during his time.
He quickly moved up to the learning and development section of the organization, and became the head of the petroleum engineering training.
After 21 years of meritorious service he took an early retirement in 2005 and began to pursue his passion of emancipation of Warri people from indolence and fighting to scholarship as well as education.
The book lover did this through creating viable opportunities for students and the public for reading and educational activities.
As part of his commitment towards improving educational standards nationwide, he established the first FLOMAT BOOKS Annual Lecture Series.
The first edition featured Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who spoke on ‘The stage of Nigeria and the way forward’ and Pastor Sam Adeyemi on the ‘Church as a catalyst for community development and transformation.’
Other highlights of the event were skills acquisition project in Oleh in Isoko south LGA, Science and Maths quiz competition amongst secondary schools.
He has participated in many book expositions like the London bookfair, book expo America and Frankfurt Bookfair, acknowledged as the biggest in the world.
He also attended several Nigeria International book fair in Lagos Unilag and has written several publications some of the key ones are ‘ignite your mind,’ ‘Challenges of doing Business in Nigeria,’ among others.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of Polygon Energy Services, with focus on providing training for operators in the Petroleum Engineering trains to the oil and gas industry, in collaboration with Prof. Babs Oyeneyin of Robert Gordon University Aberdeen.
As a seasoned church administrator, he has successfully organized many interventions in churches under crisis.
He is married to Dr. Ngozi Akpokene the CEO of Flomat eye care with practices in Warri, Port Harcourt and Lagos. They are blessed with two Childre Kezi, a girl and Tano, a boy.