Obinna Odogwu, Awka
It was a moment of thanksgiving, celebration, and appreciation recently at Igboukwu community, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, as the Nze Basil E Osuokwu Scholarship Foundation marked its 15th anniversary.
Beneficiaries of the foundation, their parents, friends and well-wishers of its founder, Nze Basil Osuokwu, praised the philanthropist for helping the needy and the less-privileged in their community.
On that day, parents of those on scholarship and others that have benefited from Osuokwu, came to thank the philanthropist.
That day also, some of the beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme from secondary to tertiary level had their school fees for the 2019/2020 academic year given to them. Also, the first graduates from the tertiary institution, whose education was financed from secondary school to that level by the philanthropist, were celebrated. They have since been directed to proceed for their Master’s degree level by the philanthropist.
In the latest school fees disbursements, three of the Junior Secondary School 1 (JSS1) students in the scholarship scheme were given N25, 000 each; JSS 2 got N20, 000 each, JSS3 got N30, 000 each and Senior Secondary School 1 (SSS1) got N30,000 each.
The scholarship beneficiaries in SSS2 numbering four were given N25, 000 each; SSS3 students, two in number, got N35,000 each while students in the tertiary institutions who were five in number were given N50,000 each.
Their teachers, eight in all, were not left out. Each of them got N10, 000 and a bag of rice.
Commenting on the development, the state Commissioner for Public Utilities, Mr Emeka Ezenwanne, an engineer, commended Nze Basil Osuokwu for his magnanimity and interest in the future of the children of the community.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in the 2017 governorship election in Anambra, Mr Barth Nwibe, an engineer, said: “This is very commendable. He is using his wealth to touch the younger ones and that is what is expected because education is the future.
“He is not going to get immediate benefit from the investment he is making today but in the next 30 years, he will have so much to gain from these kids. He will be a fulfilled man. He has done something quite commendable. I praise him. He has done it for 15 years. It’s a commendable effort,” he stated.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the foundation, Chief Jude Osude, said the hard time the philanthropist had had to endure as a child spurred Osuokwu to embark on his philanthropic works.
He said the residents of the community were happy that he had relieved many families of the burden of school fees and other financial burden.
Chief Medical Director of APEX hospital, Prof. Uchenna Nwosu, said: “It is extremely impressive what Ezeomenyiliora has done. And this is going to be an example to all of us who have the capability to help others.
“The best investment that we can make is in the younger generation. We are very proud of Ezeomenyiliora for what he has accomplished and what he continues to accomplish”, he said.
Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Charles Soludo, commended the philanthropist, saying he was leaving a good legacy worthy of emulation.
Soludo said: “He is leaving a legacy that I think is worthy of emulation. Like I said earlier, it takes the individual, the community and the government to be able to build a better society. Government cannot do everything.
“That’s the hallmark of all developed societies. And for us as Ndigbo, the concept of leave no one behind is at the heart of our tradition, values, and culture. So, O’ Bassey and his wife are living this out,” he added.
In his speech, the foundation’s founder, Nze Basil Osuokwu also known as O’ Bassey said that he was motivated to set up the foundation about 15 years ago because of his hard experience as a child growing up. He recalled that he could not go to school because of poverty and therefore decided to help the young ones who were facing similar challenges.
“I decided to embark on this because of what I went through as a child when I finished primary school. We looked for someone to sponsor me through the secondary school but could not find.
“As a result, I went to learn a trade where I served as an apprentice. I did that for nine years and by God’s mercy I started mine. In 2004, I decided to give back to the society, especially the primary school I finished from.
“That’s why I established this foundation. Every pupil from Elementary Six, the first best three students would be taken. Initially, I restricted it to the secondary schools, but as time went on, I extended it to the tertiary level and from there I pledged to support those who wish to pursue Master’s degree.
“It was because of the difficulty that I passed through. It did not start here. These are the ones that are under my foundation. I have trained so many people that were not under this foundation.
“I have trained over 20 priests through the Awka Catholic caritas. We have done a lot. We have built houses for the less privileged. But this particular one is under my foundation.
“I decided to embark on this so that those who wish to acquire education would not go through the difficulty I passed through. We are 15 years now and all along I have been financing it singlehandedly.
“But after this 15th year, we will seek support through fundraising appeal so that we can expand it beyond Igboukwu community so that others can also benefit from this foundation,” he stated.
Speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, Ifeanyi Okonkwo who graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, thanked their benefactor, saying that their joy knew no bounds for what he has done for them.
“It started way back in primary school. I was so excited when the then Headmaster entered our classroom and made the announcement. Inside me, I knew I would meet up with the cut off mark. I was confident about it. To the glory of God I was among the beneficiaries,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, the parents of the beneficiaries presented a goat to their benefactor, while the two graduates from the tertiary institutions also presented their token of appreciation.