Twenty-year old graduate of Electronics Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Daniel Okike, is the 10th Ultimate Man for 2013. For his feat in the deepest forest of Usaka, the Abia state native is now N10 million rich and owner of brand new Mitsubishi Pajero.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Dennis revealed his most challenging experience and what winning the quest will do in his life…
The feeling is indescribable. I have actually longed for this for three years, I worked hard and I actually trained for close to eight months for this. And I must acknowledge God because apart from my efforts. God’s hand was present too because without God, I won’t have been where I am today.
At a point you were like an underdog, how did you turn that around?
When a stranger gets to an unknown land, he has to first understand and observe people around that environment very well. So, I couldn’t have come to this environment which was new to me and start behaving as if I was superior to everybody. I had to learn. When others made their mistakes, I learnt from them and I kept on pushing hard. It took me three years to get here, I tried two years ago, I did not make it, last year I tried too but didn’t make it to the jungle and this year I made it and I’m actually a conqueror..
When it dawned on you that you had won, what was going through your mind?
I guess it was that point that I realised God’s faithfulness in my life. It meant that all the efforts, planning and training were not in vain so I give God the glory.
When you reached the last four, who did you find most challenging?
I believed that anybody could win, so I was focused on myself. I knew that if I didn’t get it I wouldn’t forgive myself so I put in my all.
You have just won for yourself, N10 million and a Jeep. What’s going to change about you now?
Nothing is going to change about me, if money can change you then you’re not real. Now I have the opportunity to assist some people, my family and loved ones. I already have plans for myself.
I want to go further in my education because I’m an engineer. I studied Engineering at the University of Nigeria, Nssuka. Whatever I choose to do, you’ll find out.
What if you hadn’t won?
I still would have gone home with money. But the most important thing is that I am happy I came for the show this year, which gave me the opportunity to get a GUS pendant I have longed for. I want to be a part of the GUS family. I wasn’t keen about winning. But when I got into the jungle and I saw the contestants, I realised that I should win. Some of them hadn’t been through what I have been through in life. Some of them are comfortable in life. I felt I hungered for it more. The hunger kept pushing me. The longer I stayed in the jungle, the more I got weaker. People felt I was losing focus but I am human. God just protected everyone of us.
Can you tell us some of the challenges you have been through in life?
Honestly, I have been neglected by friends. I am an only son and it sort of made me to be a one man army. I grew up having the sense of being on my own. I had issues in my family. My father was comfortable at a point but later got shot in 1998. You know what happens when the breadwinner is not able to bring in money into the family again. Things became bizarre. I can’t really say most of the things that happened. Going through the university wasn’t easy at all. But I am this kind of person that even if I wear bathroom slippers, I would still look good. I didn’t let hardship get to me. I have tasted hardship.
Let’s talk about your experience in the jungle. You didn’t have a very good relationship with the other contestants?
I wouldn’t say it that way. I didn’t want to be lukewarm. I wanted the fire to continue burning in me. I didn’t want to continue joking and laughing and playing. At a point, I felt it could make us forget the reason we were there. They said I was quarrelsome, I was just being defensive. I don’t like being bullied.
What is next now?
A new phase of my life has begun. I don’t have to rush. I had my plans before I went to the jungle. Now that I am out, some plans might be altered. Better plans have come. I am not going to sit down and start spending the money. My plan is to see if I can double the money.
What of your girlfriend?
I don’t have to say anything about that. I will keep living my life. I live a decent life and I will not have issues. I will not bring out my private life in public.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR