…As Ikeoha Foundation gives laptops to 45 Enugu rural schools
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
In the Enugu East Senatorial District, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy senate president, is their son in whom they are well pleased.
For the people of the zone, they wouldn’t mind if Ekweremadu is the only one going to Abuja to represent them in the Senate because of the dividends of democracy he has brought home in the last 12 years.
Indeed, Ekweremadu has transformed his senatorial zone and beyond, especially using his Ikeoha Foundation in spreading philanthropy.
Last Thursday, when the senator turned 54, he extended his philanthropic hand to rural schools in Enugu State by donating laptop computers to enable students in the state acquaint themselves with the machine now used for most external examinations.
The Ikeoha Foundation had fashioned out an ICT programme in partnership with Ingrace Foundation to donate two laptop computers each to 45 public secondary schools in the rural areas of Enugu State.
Thus that morning of the birthday of Ekweremadu, the principals and students of the benefitting schools had gathered at the Independence Layout office of Ikeoha Foundation to take delivery of the computers with bold smiles on their faces.
The Enugu State Commissioner for Education, Prof Uchenna Eze who presented the laptops to the beneficiaries, said that Ekweremadu had looked into the future and decided to arm students in the state with his gesture.
His words: “This is the kind of thing that we desire. I want to thank His Excellency, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Ikeoha, for this very kind gesture. He understands very well where this nation is going to in the 21th Century.
“No school system can function again effectively without being ICT compliant. The world today is becoming a global village and that was made possible because of ICT, and today, for our children to go to school and compete effectively they must be ICT complaint.
“And to say the least our examinations today are moving from using your biro pens to write to computer-based tests. And our young ones definitely will not be able to cope if they are not properly equipped to write the exams. Ikeoha Foundation has intervened at the right time.”
Prof Eze noted that the government alone can no longer fund education going by the current economic situation in the country, saying that interventions by individuals have become very necessary.
He, therefore, exclaimed: “If this is how to celebrate birthdays, I will say that Ikeoha should be celebrating his birthday every day so that our school system will continue to be assisted in this manner.”
Enjoining other Nigerians to join in wishing the deputy senate president a happy birthday, he also urged “well-meaning citizens of Enugu State to donate just a laptop to a secondary school in their communities like Ekweremadu had done.
“If in every community one person donates one computer, before you know it all the schools would have been equipped.”
He also admonished the teachers and students of the benefiting schools to put the computers into good use.
“These laptops are meant to be used, they are not meant to be things of decoration in the office of the principal. And let me also warn that it is not a personal property of the principal. And now that you have this opportunity, you have to make sure that it is handled by somebody who knows how to use a laptop so that you don’t get it today and tomorrow you tell us that it has packed up.
“So, please it has to be properly guided to serve the purpose the donor expected it to serve so that these students will be ready for any computer based test like JAMB. We pray that God Almighty will continue to provide for him so that he will also continue to provide for us,” Eze said.
In a chat with newsmen, the Executive Director of Ikeoha Foundation, Mrs Cindy Ezeugwu, said that they were happy to have converged on the birthday of their boss to flag off a programme that was so dear to them.
“Today, we have multiple programmes and incidentally it happens to be the birthday of our chairman and the founder of Ikeoha Foundation, Dr Ike Ekweremadu.
“And in his unique way he decided to celebrate his birthday by rolling out 100 Personal Computers (PCs) for over 45 secondary schools in Enugu State. To Ikeoha, everybody is his brother and everywhere is home. He said that we should do it across the state so that all the rural schools will have access at least to two pc. The essence is that recently the Federal Government introduced computer-based test for JAMB candidates and you can agree with me that most of these students in the rural areas do not know what the computer looks like; so he decided to give out these computers to enable them have access and interface with computers for them to prepare for those exams and compete favourably with their peers.
“Secondly, we are introducing to them rural oral hygiene therapy so that the students will know basic ways of treating their teeth and we are doing it in conjunction with Oral-B who donated the tooth brushes and toothpastes and other basic hygiene items for the students and their teachers. And we also have books for these students in addition to the tooth brushes and pastes; that is why we are here today,” she said.
The 45 rural secondary schools across Enugu State that were benefitting from the programme, Mrs Ezeugwu said, were the first batch as the programme was an ongoing one.
According to her, the objective of the computer programme, was to expose the students to computers so that when they go for their public exams like JAMB, it would not be a new thing for them.
She pointed out that the Foundation brought the state Commissioner for Education and other school administrators to ensure that the computers are put into the use for which the Ikeoha Foundation founder intended.
Her words: “The commissioner is here with us to monitor what is going on, the PPSMB (Post Primary School Management Board) is here too, so intermittently they will go to the schools to ask them questions, that was why we insisted that the principals should come with their ICT teachers and the students so that they will act as checks and balances too. The unit cost of the HP computer here is N192,000; they have all the features and programmes in them.”
On how the beneficiaries were selected she said: “We asked the PPSMB to give us the list of all secondary schools in Enugu State and they were able to separate the government schools from the private schools and we were able to also separate the ones in the rural areas, there are some who don’t have computers at all, there was already some intervention from NCC and some schools have some; one, two or three; there are schools that don’t have any, so we are starting with those schools that don’t have at all.”
Also happy with the Ekweremadu gesture at the occasion was Igwe Prof Silas Ukpabi, the Eze Oha 1 of Ekoli in Aninri Local Government Area of the state.
Eze Ukpabi thanked the Ikeoha Foundation and its founder, Senator Ekweremadu for providing and equipping indigent students in the state for the future.
“We will remember him very well for the good work that he is doing. Today, he is trying to empower various schools with laptop computers to modernize them. We thank God for giving us somebody like Senator Ekweremadu who goes to where things are lacking and provides those things,” the traditional ruler noted.
He expressed optimism that the laptops would help the benefiting schools even as he urged them to put them into the use for which they were given to them.
Another traditional ruler, HRH Igwe J,C. Egwuatu prayed that God raise up more persons like Ekweremadu in the state so that his good deeds would be multiplied.
He pointed out that the computers would help the students in their exams, as well as make them prepare for the digital society of today.
He urged the schools that benefitted from the programme to use the machines to advantage by making sure that the students become computer literate in no distant time.
All the students who accompanied their principals to take delivery of the laptops were full of joy as they sang and danced to wish the senator happy birthday, long life and prosperity.