Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Ekwegbe community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu state was agog and residents were practically in a joyful mood on January 4, when Governor Ifeanyi Uguwanyi led other dignitaries to the area to lay the foundation of a private university there.
The community has justifiable reason to thank God without limit for the bold step of Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi to build an entrepreneurial university in the area.
Before now, the community, which has very large expanse of undeveloped land, hardly had a mention in the news except for occasions when daredevil criminals who made the bushes in the area their den struck.
Daily Sun was told that the name of the community made headlines in 1985 when school children perished in a motor accident in the area while returning from a march past, an incident that brought sadness to the entire state and nation.
The military government in the state at that time, according to the traditional ruler of Ekwegbe, Igwe N.T. Ezeani, had promised that the state government would build a cottage hospital in the area as it was difficult to find a hospital nearby to take care of the accident victims; a promise that is yet to be fulfilled 35 years after.
Notwithstanding Ekwegbe’s large expanse of land lying fallow, no government had found it necessary to site any project in the area, leaving it to wallow as a haven for criminals to terrorize innocent commuters.
No wonder the villages in the community did not waste time to release their land on request by Dr. Onyishi, proprietor and owner of Peace Mass Transit Company for the proposed Samuel Maduka University, Ekwegbe.
According to Onyishi, 53 villages gave the institution land for the project and they showed their excitement by trooping out en masse during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the university at Agu-Ekwegbe.
Expressing their joy over the university project, the monarch, Igwe Ezeani, said his people were in unity in releasing the vast land to Onyishi because of their trust that whatever he touches turns gold.
Ezeani recalled the 1985 incident and decried that government after government had not found it necessary to build the hospital in the community and urged Governor Ugwuanyi to ensure that his administration fulfilled the promise made by the state government over three decades ago.
While urging Onyishi to remember his people in the project, the traditional ruler called on the state government to turn to the side of the community with development projects now that an individual had started to build a university there.
Also eulogizing Onyishi for siting the university at Ekwegbe, the Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Chukwuka Utazi said by the project in the area, he has brought light and changed the narrative there.
“With your investment here, you have changed the face of this area that criminals had made their den.”
Governor Ugwuanyi on his part said that locating the university in the area would help in taking care of youth unemployment.
He said: “As we are aware, one of the greatest challenges of this country is youth unemployment. An entrepreneurial university will address the issue of youth unemployment by making graduates not only to be self-employed, but also employers of labour themselves.
“I, therefore, salute the courage and vision of this consummate entrepreneur, Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi, in proposing this entrepreneurial University. This is where Nigeria should be in a technology-driven 21st century.”
Explaining the reason behind the investment, Onyishi said it is a social service which should improve the lives of people of all races, “mould for limitless attainments, children of all people of the world, irrespective of creed or class.
“The vision is to have a citadel of learning in all ramifications, founded on the best principles and run on the best ethical practices.” He stated his resolve to build structures that would stand the test of time.