By Sam Otti
The ongoing Medical Research Centre at Umuchukwu community in Orumba South Local Government, Anambra State, would soon turn the obscure locality to a city of knowledge. On completion of the 15-storey building project, funded solely by Dr Godwin Maduka, the Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, the largest pain treatment centre in Nevada, USA, the rural community will become the hub of medical research in the country and African continent.
Dr Maduka, an adjunct clinical Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Management and Surgery, Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nevada, USA, tasted poverty during his childhood after the death of his father. He struggled through high school on the meagre income provided by his mother, a widow. Like a child destined to rule, he conquered poverty by dint of hardwork, and bagged three doctorate degrees from Havard University.
The high-rise building, which will serve as the Medical Research Centre, the first of its kind in the country, was at 80 per cent completion stage when Campus Sun visited Umuchukwu community recently. A close aide to Dr Maduka said the centre would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities in medical science, to assist students in clinical training, as well as provide quality resource materials for lecturers and researchers.
Campus Sun learnt that the edifice, when completed, would also serve as the temporary site for the College of Medicine, Anambra State University. A formal request has been sent to the appropriate authority to consider the befitting structure for the temporary site of the state university, where medical students would be exposed to modern equipment in medicine and pharmacy.
To ensure a delightful campus life for staff and students, a four-storey building, with 40 flats, located few metres away from the research centre, has been completed to serve as residential quarters. In addition, a modern guest- house, furnished to taste, is also ready for use within the premises. A gigantic water plant, constructed by Maduka, supplies water to the community, even as more structures are being developed on the expansive hectares of land that would make the area a campus of first choice.
The legal adviser to Dr Maduka, Ray Onyegu, expressed optimism that Umuchukwu would soon become a university town. According to him, the Medical Research Centre would water the ground for a private university that would raise the bar in medical education and healthcare in the country. He described Dr Maduka as a philanthropist, driven by the passion to transform the rural Umuchukwu community to a modern city.
“Ultimately this is going to be a university town. His interest is in the area of preventive health. He wants to establish a university that would have a strong presence in preventive health”, he said.
Campus Sun learnt that the ongoing Umuchukwu Medical Research Centre, when completed, would be modeled after the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, the largest and most comprehensive pain treatment practice group in Nevada, USA. The facility in the USA is widely respected as the premier, one-stop destination for pain treatment and relief, where teams of experts in pain medicine, physical therapy, radiology, and wellness work together to decrease pain using the latest technologies and research.
Onyegu, who is also the President and Chief Executive Officer, Socio-Economic Rights Initiative, a human rights advocacy group, explained that Umuchukwu community has the attractions of a university town, with an expansive serene environment spread on the outskirts of the bustling Awka capital. He said crime has been reduced in the community to zero level, with Dr. Maduka donating four two-storey buildings to serve as police barrack, patrol vehicles, a bungalow for officers’ mess and another one-storey building to serve as an operational base for the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). In addition to these is another modern structure duly completed for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
With several landmark projects already completed by Maduka in the community, such as: Magistrate Court and the ongoing High Court, modern civic centre, Umuchukwu has become a gold fish that cannot hide. It was gathered that Dr. Maduka’s foundation also attracted the attention of the former Governor, Peter Obi, to the deplorable state of local roads in the community, and volunteered to bear the 50 percent cost of construction. This humanitarian gesture moved Obi, who during his visit to the community was overwhelmed by the laudable development in the area and constructed the Owerre-Ezukala, Umuchukwu-Ogbunka roads while in office.
The President General, Umuchukwu Progressive Union (UPU), Hon Okechukwu Nwele, said Maduka preaches education as the potent weapon against poverty. Having tasted poverty, he does not hesitate to wipe the tears of the poor. According to him, he (Maduka) built the Immaculate Conception International College, a boarding secondary school where students from Umuchukwu enjoy full scholarship from JS1 to SS3. It is believed that out of 100 graduates in the community, Maduka singlehandedly trained 90 percent and helped them secure jobs.
“In Umuchukwu community, money is no longer a hindrance to anybody that wants to go to school. Anybody that fails to go to school has no excuse to give,” he said. “Last year, he empowered 56 youths of the community with N56m to support their business.”
One of the beneficiaries of the scholarship programme at the secondary school level, Ukaegbu John, said the package covers tuition, hostel, feeding and books. Other beneficiaries include: Ikedi Okafor (JS3), Nwabuisi Francis (SS2), Ike Moses (SS2), among others.
During an earlier interview, Maduka, christened as Lion of Africa by his people, said, “I am praying to God to see Umuchukwu town more than where they are now. Most of what I do, though God takes control, that’s where my faith comes in. I will like to see a major university here; I will like to see some kind of factory or some kind of establishments that will get people gainfully employed. I will like to see state, federal or international presence here because, after all Umuchukwu, right now, have everything an urban city has.
“We are very well-protected in terms of security. SARS, Police, Civil Defence and army still patrol here. We have motorable roads, good source of water: you don’t have to dig long here to get a borehole and, it’s still practically a city with fresh air because of the vegetation. We don’t have much pollution yet, and also as you know, we have the tallest building in the whole of the South-Eastern Nigeria, 15-storey high and 17-decking tall. So, I think five years from now, of course, it can’t go down, it has to go up from what is on ground”.