•Former Anambra Gov turns ‘Education Ambassador’, commits resources to salvage distressed schools
From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Few politicians honour their words but the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has kept his covenant with schools. Many years after he had left the corridors of power, he has become an ‘Ambassador’ for schools, soliciting funds from organisations and associates to support schools in need.
Recently, he visited Aji High School, Enugu-Ezike, Igbo-Eze North LGA, Enugu State, and donated N1m for the renovation of dilapidated classroom blocks.
Obi’s philanthropy has no boundary, making his shoes too big for anyone to step in. Although he hailed from Anambra State, he had severally crossed the line to the neighbouring Enugu State to support schools. Among the beneficiaries were St Patrick’s College, Obollo-Eke, Mater Amabilis Secondary School, Adani, Uzo-Uwani LGA, Godfrey Okoye University, among others. Few weeks after the hostel of Mater Amabilis Secondary School, Adani, was razed, Obi promptly rebuilt the hostel and saved the students from accommodation crisis.
The former governor, in his humble style, visited Aji High School, a rural community school, where he made the donation purposely to improve the learning condition of the students in the area.
His passion for quality education started during his administration. Using the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) as a springboard, he gave priority attention to the state education sector, offering lifeline to many public and mission schools. From direct fiscal intervention for rehabilitation and building of school blocks to provision of education materials, sports facilities, internet facilities, sick bays, libraries, buses and generating sets, the education sector thrived so much that students from the state emerged the overall best in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) results released by the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC).
Many years after Obi left office, he has continued his support for schools in need. The Sun reporter, who whispered to Obi’s ears the horrible condition of the school, facilitated his recent visit to Aji High School. The former governor was received by the traditional ruler of Aji community, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Simeon Osisi Itodo, former Deputy Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. David Atigwe, General Manager, Enugu State Rural Electrification Board, (ENREB), Dr. Simon Atigwe, staff and students of the college.
While presenting the cheque, Obi told the excited audience that he had to take such long journey to Aji, Enugu –Ezike community because he believes that among the young students studying in the community school were future governors, doctors, lawyers, priests and others who can determine the future of Nigeria one day.
He noted that his love for education knows no boundaries since he believes that education remains the bedrock of any nation or people. According to him, he has visited many schools in Enugu State in the past but knowing that Aji High School was a government owned school, he had to personally notify the Enugu State Governor, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, of his intention which the governor graciously accepted with gratitude.
Obi urged the excited students to be mindful of the fact that their greatness starts in school and encouraged them to make the best use of the opportunity it provides. He charged them to overcome inferiority complex, noting that despite the fact that they study in the village, they can still compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere with the right mindset and diligent study.
He recalled his days as a pupil at Sancta Maria Primary School, Holy Trinity Cathedral Onitsha, when out of childhood exuberance; pupils climbed the mango trees scattered in the compound to pluck the fruits against the directive of Cardinal Francis Arinze, then Archbishop. He disclosed that the Cardinal would carry his seat and stay under the mango tree waiting for an offender to climb down but they would rather remain on top for hours to escape his wrath.
Obi recalled that he met the Cardinal many years later as a governor and the Cardinal jokingly asked him whether he needed three buckets of mango now so that he (the Cardinal) would provide.
While presenting the cheque to the Senior Prefect of the school, Darlington Ogili, and the Deputy Senior Prefect, Odo Maryann, Obi reminded the students to embrace education with all their heart and with God on their side, their greatness is assured.
He promised to visit the school again to monitor the rehabilitation project and possibly give more support. He noted the poor condition of the school library and non -functional computers for the students.
Responding, the traditional ruler, Igwe Itodo praised the former governor for his magnanimity to the school. He said Obi has lifted a very big burden off the community and has also challenged them to seek ways of developing their community instead of waiting for government intervention.
The monarch noted that there were plans in the offing to come to the aid of the school by the community but Obi’s gesture has challenged them to redouble their efforts.
The Principal of the school, Onah Cletus, thanked the former governor for investing in the future of the young ones, noting that generations yet unborn would remember his kind gesture.
Donates N5m birthday gift to school
On July 19, 2015, Obi stunned Nigerians when instead of making merry or hosting a banquet to mark his 53rd birthday celebration, he chose to visit the students of Holy Name of Mary Secondary School, Umuchu, Anambra State to celebrate with them.
At the school, he gave a cheque of N5m birthday gift to him by a bank to the proprietor of the school, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor.
He said that one of his greatest joy as a former governor was the revamping of education in the state through return of schools to the mission. He noted that he was encouraged to continue assisting the church because of the successes recorded so far.
Bishop Ezeokafor, who was overwhelmed by the donation, said Obi represents genuine and honest commitment to humanity while his lifestyle has remained consistent both in and out of public office. He prayed to God to continue to give the country such leaders like him at all times.
20 schools get N20m in one week
Findings by Sun Education revealed that Obi kept his covenant with schools, as he made personal donations to lift them from misery. Some of the schools he visited included: Holy Child Nursery and Primary School, Isiagu, Holy Spirit Secondary School, Ebenebe, St. Anthony Secondary School, Ikenga, Holy Family Secondary School, Igboukwu, St. Anthony Nursery and Primary School, Ekwulobia, Immaculate Conception Secondary School, Umuchukwu, Michael Tansi Secondary School, Akpu, Ekwu Memorial Secondary School, Owerri-Ezukala, among others.
Speaking further at Madonna Nursery and Primary School, Agulu, Obi said that he has been engaging a lot of international organisations to get them to assist Nigeria in the area of education, noting that he met with the leaders of Build Africa in London for the same purpose.
Students, teachers hail Obi
In February 2016, students of Mater Amabilis Secondary School, Adani in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area danced for joy over the handover of their rehabilitated hostel by Obi. The hostel got burnt last year.
Speaking during the event, Rev. Fr. Fred Omegoha, said Obi’s philanthropy has touched lives of rural people, who ordinarily would not have anybody to assist them.
The Principal of the school, Rev. Sr. Jane Onuorah described the former governor as a gift from God, describing his love for education as legendary.
Staff and students of St. Patrick’s Secondary School, Obollo Eke also in Enugu State were overwhelmed with joy when the former governor presented a cheque of N2m for infrastructure upgrade that would ensure quality and sustainable teaching.
The School Manager, Rev. Fr. John Martins Chikani, expressed surprise that the former governor can travel to the remote part of Enugu State to assist their school.
In an interview, Obi said he believes that people should give back to the society through the execution of life-changing projects.
“I always watch with dismay the amount of money people spend in the pursuit of vanity, when they would have channeled such to what will be beneficial to humanity,” he said.
He also called on wealthy Nigerians to commit certain percentage of their profits to support worthy causes as a way of giving back to the society that made them what they are.
Uzo-Uwani schools waiting for help
Although the former governor brought relief to Aji High School, Enugu-Ezike, he would weep at the miserable condition of other public schools in Uzo-Uwani LGA, Enugu State. Pupils in the rural schools in the area still study in hellholes, despite repeated appeals to the state government.
When Sun Education visited the area recently, a large number of pupils sat on bare floor during lessons for lack of desks. Most of the classroom blocks were dilapidated, with no toilet facility or water for children’s use. Some of the schools include: Model Primary School, Ugbene Akutala, Local Government Education Primary School, Ugbene Akutala, Central School, Ugbene Ajona, Oriental Primary School, Akibite and Hill Top Primary School, Ajona-Ugwu.
A retired teacher in the area, Richard Eze, said most of the classroom blocks were over 50 years old. These buildings, redolent with age were often without doors or windows, ripped by cracked walls, broken floors and sagging roofs.
Foundation, EEDC donate 500,000 books to schools
From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) in collaboration with Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) donated over 500,000 books recently for distribution to 15 tertiary institutions and 30 secondary schools drawn from the South East.
The gesture attracted the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, who was represented by Dr Beatrice Okonkwo of the state Library Board. Obiano described the gesture as symbolic, an area, he said, many wealthy Nigerians have neglected. He stressed the roles books play in human development.
The governor noted that it was only through books that human minds could be well developed and properly positioned to achieve the ideal society. He urged other individuals and corporate organisations to emulate the nice gesture, because government cannot do it alone. He described the donation as a shinning example of social and corporate responsibility, which according to him, was one of the major ways to give back to the society.
“The need for books cannot be over-emphasised. The books will help to develop the minds of our children, our youths and the adults because the more you read, the more you acquire knowledge. Teachers should, please assist the target audience, which are the students to harness the knowledge buried in those books,” the governor instructed.
The Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Robert Dickerman, said the electricity distribution company is set to support schools and institutions in its catchment area to achieve the company’s set educational goals for the over all development of Nigeria.
Mr Dickerman said the initiative would not be one event ceremony but a continuous process of lighting up the minds of the people of the area by constantly distributing books and other materials to them at no cost. He noted that his outfit was embarking on the project because of its realisation that education is key to the development of any nation.
Dickerman reiterated the commitment of EEDC to lighting up the South East through distribution of quality electricity for domestic and industrial consumption but reminded the people that his organisation could only distribute power made available to it by power generation companies.
Earlier in his address, the coordinator of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Hon Tony Obi, noted that the EEDC, one of the latest outfits of the Chrome Group, deemed it necessary to positively touch the lives of the populace within the area of operation through education.
Hon Obi said that the foundation, in carrying out the various objectives of providing for the needy in the society, has education as one of its priorities. In addition, the foundation offers scholarships to indigent but intelligent students, donating books to schools, among other initiatives.
“This is a joint venture between EEDC and SEOF. The latter is a non -governmental, apolitical organisation founded by Sir Emeka Offor which serves as the window through which companies within the Chrome Group give back to the societies certain benefits that accrue to them from profits of various investments of the group,” he explained.
He said individual state government within the South East zone chose the benefiting institutions. He also explained that the categories of books for distribution covered tertiary and secondary levels.
He stressed that books and other materials donated must be used for the purpose of actualising the objectives of the foundation.
One of the speakers on the occasion, Dr Nkem Osigwe, a librarian, further laid emphasis on the need to invest in knowledge. Dr Osigwe, however, regretted that allocation to education in Nigeria’s budget had not exceeded 12 per cent, which he said was below the standard and stipulations of the United Nations on education.