Privately fighting the course of women, children and the vulnerable in the society is Lucky Igbokwe (also known as Don Lulu). A United Nations Mayor for Peace, the serial entrepreneur has his hands in many pies; including entertainment, construction among others. He is also into charity; establishing the Green Peace Nigeria and Don Lulu Foundation that provides access to quality education for children, shelter to the less privileged, widow empowerment.
With a strong passion to transform lives through his Foundation, the prominent indigene of Umuahia in Abia State, recently, launched the foundation’s poverty alleviation project in Ohuhu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State. The event attracted top dignitaries and celebrities in the entertainment industry. An important highlight of the ceremony was the commissioning of projects executed by the foundation; they include a foundation laying for a block of classrooms at the Central School, Umuawa Alaocha, Ohuhu Umuahia North LGA, completed bungalows built for the less privileged, a 300pm Megawatts capacity of electricity power transformer, a 40 million Naira interest free revolving loan facility accessible to artisans and traders, as well as the empowerment of widows and physically challenged.
The event also saw the United Nations Polac hoist the United Nations Flag in Don Lulu’s residence in recognition of his attainment of the highest level of global peace advocacy.
What is the objective behind the launch of the Poverty Alleviation Project?
The Don Lulu Foundation decided to launch its version of the Poverty Alleviation Program, to qualitatively transform the lives and education of our children through our Back to School campaign and Scholarship Endowment Fund.
We want people to have access to quality education through our Back to school campaign and establishment of the Scholarship Endowment Fund, Provision of shelter and housing to the less privileged, Widows empowerment and the setting aside of a counterpart funding 40 million Naira interest free revolving loan facility to artisans, traders among other indigent members of the community and support for a broad range of social, health development projects.
As a UN Peace Ambassador, what are you doing to ensure that women in igbo land especially, those in your community are not denied inheritance rights?
My position as a UN Mayor for Peace is evident in the way I live my life. I Practice “living for the sake of others” which is the guiding principle for building world peace and a global community.
Now to your particular question, the Nigerian law provides for a widow of a civil marriage to be entitled to the couple’s property upon the death of her husband. However, as we all know, the Nigerian reality is different. The right of the widow has often been ignored, or challenged by the family of her dead husband.
In Nigeria, there are recognised inheritance laws. According to statutory law, a wife inherits half of the whole estate if there are no children; but customary law says that a wife cannot inherit but can stay in her husband’s family, by agreeing to be inherited by one of his kinsmen.w This is archaic but still practiced in many parts and I totally disagree with this law.
I and my foundation are for women’s rights, and I think we all as men, need to take steps to ensure that women in general and especially in my community, are not denied their inheritance rights.
As husbands, we need to make provision for wives in case of anything. We must not shy away from making our wives our next-of-kin, a relationship recognised in law as conferring the rights to an individual’s entitlements or property from a third party, especially if the man died without a will. If all men take this upon themselves, I think this issue of women being denied of their inheritance will be reduced considerably.
How do you fund all these projects?
Right now, it is self- funded through my other businesses ; 2Flame Entertainment and Lucion Towers Construction company.
How do you ensure that items donated or bought for the indigent women and children get to them and not hijacked by others?
Like I explained, right now, we do not take donations from any individuals or organisations. This is something we have been doing for over 10 years even though, we just officially launched it. My team and I go down to the grass root and access those that are in real need. So we liaise with the people on a one-to-one basis.
We have a lot of Foundation that claim to assist the poor and some turn out to be fraudulent. What stands your foundation out from the numerous ones we have in the country?
The evidence is there for everyone to see. We have been doing things for the past 10 years. There is a saying that charity starts at home, so we started with my community in Ohuhu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State. We have been alleviating the plight of people in this community in the last 10 years. We have provided education for children up to university level, we have empowered widows and petty traders during this time as well. The evidence is there and those we have helped, can testify to this.
An even more concrete evidence is the foundation laying for a block of classrooms at the Central School, Umuawa Alaocha, during our launch recently. We also completed three modern bungalows built for the less privileged, provided a 300pm Megawatts capacity of electricity power transformer. Now, we are executing a 40 million Naira interest free revolving loan facility that will be accessible to artisans and traders. We have been and still continue to empower widows and the physically challenged.
What inspired your going into different business and projects you are involved in?
I would attribute it to my mother, my mother was an astute businesswoman, who is very hard working, and knows how to put in all her strength and energy into whatever she sets out to do. She trained us with that spirit of hard work, endurance, and doggedness and that has been my strategy in business and life in general.
As a voice in the entertainment industry, how would you describe the music industry and what would you say is not done right, that should be done differently?
The Nigerian Entertainment industry has grown tremendously in the last 10 years. Nigerian music is recognized everywhere in the world, the world is yearning for our music and talents. Our artists are doing phenomenal foreign collaborations, making moves that pioneers of the industry could only dream of. My advice to artists is that they need to remain focused and humble because talent alone cannot get them far. For some of them, the sky is just a starting point. So, I would say they need to always remember their humble beginnings.
On the business side, I would say they should work with a label company and management that would guide them in the right path. In my experience, most of these artists do not understand the business side of music. They just want to become famous, and like they say now, “I want to blow”. They need to understand that it’s not about being famous, but, also about having longevity in the career.
In the area of regulation, intellectual piracy is a major issue making it difficult to make money. With greater regulation in the entertainment industry, we would see more growth: which means more tax revenue for the government.
The government also needs to invest in developing the technological expertise, and infrastructure that can support our industry. The entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Nigeria, but it needs a support system if it is to grow further.
What challenges have you faced so far doing your businesses?
This is not peculiar to me or my business alone. The country at the moment is facing economic recession, and that has been a challenge for every business within the country today. Aside the economic recession, the enabling environment suitable for businesses to thrive is not in place. We are faced with poor infrastructure, challenges in energy generation and security: and that has made the cost of doing business very high with businesses losing profit.
What can be done to solve some of these challenges you have mentioned?
The government should try to improve infrastructure. They should work on improving power generation as that will enhance business growth and attract investment into the economy. In my line of business, aside infrastructural challenges, piracy is one thing that is killing the entertainment industry. The government should endeavour to improve on the law that tackles the challenges of piracy in the country. As it is right now, the players in the industry are not making the required profit and that is stifling both the practitioners and the investors in the industry.
What is your eventual dream for the foundation?
I have come to realize that the only way to create long-term improvement and empowerment, and literally change somebody’s life, is through education. That is the reason for the creation of my Back to School campaign and Scholarship Endowment Fund. So my dream is to inspire and empower people to become the best versions of themselves.
It is my dream also to make all the campaigns of the Don Lulu Foundation accessible to anyone in Nigeria. I want to be able to empower children to get the education they need, provide things that are basic amenities elsewhere in the world such as electricity, water, healthcare. I want to empower entrepreneurs, widows and everyday citizens with the skills, tools and financial support they need to live better lives in their communities. It’s a big dream, and I am just getting started.
What would you want to be remembered for in life at the end of it all?
I would like to be remembered as that man who lived for others, cared for the less privileged, while pursuing his passion to the fullest.
What inspires you in life?
My daily experiences and interactions inspire me.
When you not working how do you take time off to relax?
I am a typical homeboy; I derive immense joy hanging out with my family and my friends.
What is that one lesson you would say life has taught you as an individual?
My greatest lesson in life was learned when I lost my father. It was a really difficult time in my life.
How was your growing up years?
I am from an average home. At some points, life was tough but my parents kept us going under strict parentage. They never allowed my five siblings and I to stray from the way they created for us. wanted to bring us up.
You obviously love fashion, what is your must keep style tip?
I would say keep things clean and simple, that has always worked for me.