On August 31, the third edition of the Back to School Programme, an initiative of the Anioma Youth Network for Development (AYND), took place in Onicha-Ugbo, Delta State.
No fewer than 100 students and pupils from Onicha-Ugbo, Issele-Uku, Ubulu-Uku, Obior, Asaba, and Igbodo shared in the school materials made available by the non-governmental organisation founded by Mr. Odita Sunday-Udemaguna, a journalist with The Guardian newspaper.
Hundreds of school pupils as well as orphans and widows have benefitted from the initiative since the first edition of the project in 2017.
At this year’s edition, many people eulogised the programme and its founder. The Onicha Ugbo monarch, Agbogidi Victor Chukwumalieze, who was royal father at the event, recalled how difficult it was for underprivileged children of his generation to access Western education due to poor parental background and lack of help. He expressed joy that kind-hearted persons like the AYND founder were now giving help to the indigent.
The monarch urged the beneficiaries to endeavour to be good citizens of Nigeria by shunning social vices.
Earlier in his welcome speech, Odita had pointed out that the Back to School Project was strategically planned to take place at a time when primary and secondary schools in the country were about to resume for a new academic session: “It is a period when parents are usually under pressure to pay school fees and buy all the necessary books and materials for their children and wards.”
He said the project was not driven by any political intentions or monetary gains, “but by the passion to be my brothers and sisters’ keeper through this task of giving a helping hand to our less privileged ones.”
He said he was inspired by Dr. Ned Nwoko, an Idumuje-Ugboko prince and former member of the House of Representatives.
This year, two widows joined the beneficiaries, and each went home with N25,000 to aid her trading activities.
A former House of Representatives member and current director-general, Asaba Capital Territory, Amaechi Mrakpor, was also full of praise for the AYND and its founder for identifying with the needs of the less privileged.
Speaking through her representative, Andrew Uwaje, the former lawmaker noted that for any child to have a strong foundation in life, the child needs a very good educational background. She commended AYND for encouraging less privileged children to go to school.
Delta State Police Commissioner, Adeyinka Adeleke, who was represented by the Area Commander in charge of Ogwashi Uku, Uche Obiozor, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, spent quality time sharing with the students and pupils, most of whom were having their first opportunity to be addressed by a senior police officer, the dangers of associating with social vices. He encouraged the pupils to learn how to live a contented life by not coveting what does not belong to them, even as he charged them never to bow to ungodly peer group influence that could lead them into crime. He encouraged them to aspire to be great doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists and other noble professionals while also advising them to shun the get-rich-quick syndrome which has largely devalued the values and cultures of Nigerians.
Also speaking, the vicar of St. Stephens Anglican Church, Onicha Ugbo, Rev. Ijezie, admonished the children to always remain appreciative of what AYND has done for them. The man of God also reminded parents of the biblical command that they should train their children in the way of the Lord so as to lead a blissful and godly life devoid of crime and social vices.
The third edition of the Back to School Programme featured a number of activities, including a quiz competition for secondary school students. The programme challenged the intellectual capacity of the students in current affairs, Christian Religious Knowledge and spelling. The event organisers promised that more enlightening and engaging features would be added in subsequent editions.
Copies of the Holy Bible, which were donated by the Commander in Charge of Area F, Lagos State Police Command, ACP Akinbayo Olasoji, were also shared among the students and some guests at the event.