Dr. Okoi grew up in southern Nigeria, where the effects of oil extraction are still being felt. He first studied Civil Engineering and worked as a project engineer in the oil industry where he experienced the catastrophic impact of energy corporations on local communities, magnified by staggering levels of inequality that awakened his passion for social justice and peace.
Realizing the power of education in fostering social justice, he went further to earn a BA in International Development Studies with an emphasis in International Political Economy at Trent University. While at Trent, he attended the Development Economics Course in Poverty and Inequality Research at The World Bank Institute in Washington, DC. There, he interacted with senior Bank scholars to gain an insider perspective of The Bank’s contributions to development challenges in the Global South. He also participated in the Expert Group Meeting in Sustainable Development at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and was an Observer at the 53rd Session of the UN General Assembly on Small Arms Control in Africa. He obtained a Master of International Public Policy, specializing in Global Governance and Human Security from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, an MA in Political Science, specializing in International Relations at the University of Windsor, and a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba. As a doctoral student, he worked collaboratively with his Advisor to develop the Africa Working Group Consortium at the University of Manitoba, where he convened seminars that brought together scholars, students and community leaders to explore peace and conflict issues on the African continent and beyond.
Dr. Okoi is a dynamic speaker on transformational leadership, peace leadership, peace engineering, and nation-building. He convenes programs that inspire young people to think and act as champions of social, political and economic change. He has helped audiences across the world gain innovative tools for leading transformational change in poor and conflict-affected societies where governance systems are dysfunctional. His goal is to educate, inspire, and motivate.
Dr. Okoi’s interdisciplinary research explores areas such as conflict-induced population displacement, natural resource conflict, post-conflict peacebuilding policies and practices, sustainable development and peace, inequality and peace, and the complex relationships between engineering, social justice and peace. His recently completed research examined the factors and actors that are implicated in the production and reproduction of protracted armed insurgency in Nigeria’s oil region, as well as the policies and practices to reduce violence and insecurity and enhance development and peacebuilding initiatives. This work brought out his innate desire to uplift the ethos of peace scholarship with a renewed critical focus on the relationship between engineering and peace. His current research program casts a theoretical gaze on the relationship between technology, inequality, and peace.
Dr. Okoi has published his work in reputable journals such as World Development, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, African Security, International Journal on World Peace, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, and Africa Portal, and has presented at national and international conferences. He has contributed to the scholarly community as Convener of the Youth and Peace Commission at the International Peace Research Association, and has peer-reviewed papers for high quality journals including Conflict Resolution Quarterly, International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace, African Security Review, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Brazilian Journal of International Relations, Journal of Public Health, Sustainability, and Health and Social Care in the Community. He is the recipient of numerous awards for academic distinction and leadership including the University of Manitoba’s Naylah Ayed Prize. In 2016, the Universal Peace Federation awarded him the Ambassador for Peace Award in recognition of his contribution to peace leadership in Africa. Dr. Okoi is the author of a forthcoming book Punctuated Peace, which examines the successes and failures of post-conflict peacebuilding efforts in Nigeria’s oil region.
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Professor, he lectured in the Human Rights program at the University of Winnipeg, and in the Global Studies department at Wilfrid Laurier University. He served as the Coordinator and later Associate Director of the Africa Working Group Consortium at the University of Manitoba, where he convened monthly programs that brought together scholars, students, and practitioners to explore peace and justice issues on the African continent. He is a Research Affiliate at the Canadian Network for Terrorism, Security, and Society, where he contributes to policy-relevant research on efforts to counter and prevent security threats, and the impact of terrorism and securitization on society.
Dr. Okoi has contributed to a global policy response to address the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on vulnerable groups through the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a member of the high-level expert advisory team mobilized by GovLab, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, to advise political leaders from Argentina, Bahamas, Ceará-Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago on supporting marginalized and vulnerable populations during their COVID-19 response.
Dr. Okoi with Prof. Johan Galtung, the father of peace studies, in Istanbul, Turkey, 2014.