…Natives defy rain to savour Ikeoha Foundation N40 million, other gift items
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
By noon last Saturday when the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu and his entourage arrived at Aguobu-Owa, the headquarters of Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, the weather was threatening to send down the rain.
However, before the arrival of the Deputy Senate President who is also the Chairman of Ikeoha Foundation, the pavilion at the council reception ground and other canopies erected opposite the headquarters have already been filled up by people from Ezeagu and the other four local government areas of Aninri, Oji River, Awgu and Udi that make up Enugu West Senatorial District represented in the Senate by Chief Ekweremadu.
Also the reception ground was filled with pieces of grinding, sewing machines and motorcycles.
These were items brought by the Ikeoha Foundation, a non-government organization, established by Ekweremadu to build people and empower communities, as they gathered to mark this year’s Ikeoha Foundation Adult Literacy Day/Exhibition, Scholarship and Bursary award ceremony and Ikeoha Foundation Widowhood Empowerment Initiative.
The people of Ezeagu had seen this programme staged in other councils and were therefore looking up to it.
Thus as the showers began trickle down instead of running away to take shelter, the people defied the rain to savour the good spirit exhibited by their foremost illustrious son, Senator Ekweremadu.
The Ezeagu Council Chairman, Fred Chukwudi Ezinwa, could not hide his joy as he welcomed the guests to the colourful ceremony, saying that he was jealous the last time the ceremony took place at Awgu and had prayed that it would one day come to his council.
He noted that Ekweremadu had started the programme long before he became a senator, pledging his council’s support for the initiative.
Also speaking, an ostensibly elated Executive Director of Ikeoha Foundation, Cindy Anene Ezeugwu, who was very busy as she walked all over the reception ground to ensure that things were going on as planned, said that the event was another proof of Senator Ekweremadu’s commitment to continuously empower the people of Enugu West through initiating and carrying out viable programmes intended to better the lives of the people.
“Today, Ikeoha Foundation will offer bursary award to 300 undergraduates from universities and polytechnics across the country, 16 undergraduates will also receive full scholarship to the tune of Four hundred thousand Naira (N400,000) each, packaged to fund their education from their first to final years.
“Today also our graduating adult learners from our 32 adult literacy centers who sat for the 2015 FSLC Examination will receive their certificates, testimonials and they will be empowered with over 200 grinding machines while other learners will go home with different gift items and cash awards. Over 250 widows will also be empowered with different machines to help them take care of their homes.” She said.
She also disclosed that the Ikeoha Foundation has so far established and successfully operating 32 adult literacy centers in the five LGAs in Enugu West namely Aninri, Ezeagu, Udi, Oji River and Awgu, as well as provided quality education to over 10,000 adults.
“The programme has remained one of the cardinal approaches through which the Foundation fulfills its mission of building people and empowering communities… through reintegrating men and women, who before now do not have the opportunity of formal education, into mainstream social, economic, and political activities of their communities and by providing them the platform to learn and become literate. Competitions among the learners such as spelling Bee, Quiz, Debates, Reading, Dance, Drama, Recitation, Relay, March pass, and craft have being packaged today prove to all of us that it is not too late to learn and indeed our adult learners have learnt so much and are now able to function effectively in the different domains of learning namely, cognitive, affective, and psychomotor: they can now manipulate their phone and communicate with their loved ones, perform some arithmetical operations that can help them to enhanced and grow their businesses, trades and vocational operations, they can now engage in various other craft and skills that can help to sustain them and their families, as well as being able to perform their civic, social and religious duties,” Ezeugwu said.
She also disclosed that in 2004/2005 academic session, the Ikeoha Foundation commenced a full-time scholarship programme, which it has continued to use to offer lifeline by way of cash and material awards to brilliant, well behaved and indigent undergraduates in Enugu West Senatorial zone and by extension Enugu North and Igbo-Eze North LGA to enable them overcome their financial difficulties.
“This is in addition to the N40,000 annual bursary awards of the Foundation to indigent undergraduates in various higher institutions across the country. The Foundation pays the fees of the beneficiaries from first to final years to the tune of N400,000 each to help see them through in their educational pursuits,” she explained.
Ezeugwu thanked Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for coming with his entourage to be the special guest of honour at the ceremony.
Indeed, some of the adult literacy learners who spoke on the occasion proved that they had learnt a lot and that the programme was not a waste of time and resources.
One of them, Mrs Grace Eze noted that education is necessary for everybody to acquire, saying their learning had enhanced their communal relationship, as well as made them to now know their rights.
Similarly, Mr James Nwokolo, another adult learner, thanked Ekweremadu for giving them the opportunity to learn at old age, saying that he is now hopeful to gain admission into higher institutions.
Also Dr (Mrs) Nwanneka Ekweremadu, who is a member of the BoT of Ikeoha Foundation, who distributed the sewing machines to the widows, said the Foundation was mooted many years ago by his husband and her out of the passion to empower their people.
She told the widows that the sewing machines would help them to provide food on their tables so as to take care of their children left behind by their husbands.
The women from the five council areas who have been the major beneficiaries of the Foundation since 1997 came forward to make their widow’s myth presentation of wrappers to Mrs Ekweremadu and some food stuffs according to Igbo tradition of showing appreciation.
Mrs Ekweremadu thanked the women for their kind gestures, assuring them that his husband would always remember them.
Her husband speaking said that God has been very kind to him through the people and since he cannot see God but them, the best way to say thank you to God was to say thank you to the people.
“That is why I have decided on annual basis to assembly in one place to say thank you God through human beings like you.
“Earlier today, we saw brilliant performance from our adult learners; that was made possible by the instructors and the supervisors, there are 45 instructors and five supervisors. In appreciation of their efforts to make it possible for old men and women in the villages who have been left behind to be able today to read and write; these 50 will get a brand new motorcycle,” he said.
He assured the people that he would overcome his current travails at the Senate, urging them not to be wary as God was on his side.
He told the gathering that the various categories of support by the Foundation to the people was his only little way of being thankful to God.
He also thanked God for giving Enugu State a good governor in Rt. Hon. Ugwuanyi.
Ekweremadu noted that while other governors could not pay salaries, Ugwuanyi had proved that he was ready for good governance.
He promised the governor to support his administration as he prayed for God to protect him.
He also thanked the Ezeagu council chairman, Ezinwa for accepting to host this year’s event.
Governor Ugwuanyi who attended the event with his deputy, Mrs Cecilia Ezilo and other principal officers of his government thanked the management of Ikeoha Foundation for packaging the programme, which he said was wonderful.
Ugwuanyi said that the programme was laudable as it promotes literacy among the people of the state.
He thanked Ekweremadu for providing access to education for the people of the state as a means of fighting poverty.
He said that Ekweremadu has done very well, which informed his decision to attend the event in person, urging other people in the state to emulate him.
He reiterated that the importance of education has made his administration to set aside huge resources for the education sector.
Close to the end of the event, the result of the five councils that participated in the march pass was announced with Ezeagu coming first, Aninri, second and Oji River, third, with each of them receiving a cash reward of N35,000, N25,000 and N20,000.
The occasion was graced by House of Representatives members, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Hon Dennis Amadi; former Aviation Minister, Mrs Fidelia Njeze; state PDP chairman, Austin Nnamani; Rt. Hon. Abel Chukwu; Prof Jerry Okolo; Chairman of Enugu Traditional Rulers Council, Amb. Lawrence Agubuzo; Amb. Goddy Agbo, state ALGON chairman, Chief Cornelius Nnaji, among others.