•Sixty students get scholarship from US-based entrepreneur
From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Ijero-Ekiti, a historically significant town in Yorubaland and headquarters of Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State, came alive.
Thousands of people from different walks of life converged on the Onisile Events Centre, Ijero-Ekiti, for the launch of the Tope Aroyi Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded by Mr. Temitope Johnson Aina.
No fewer than 60 students were given scholarships by the foundation, aside from other gifts donated to commercial motorbike operators and other organisations across the local government.
Founder and CEO of the foundation, Aina, is a United States-based accountant and entrepreneur. He disclosed that the foundation would cater to the needs of the less privileged, indigent students and other vulnerable persons and groups in Ijero council and other parts of the state.
He encouraged the pupils that received the scholarship to be focused in life.
“That way, you can achieve whatever you aim for in life, regardless of your background,” he said.
A number of dignitaries, including royal fathers, attended the event. Some of the royal fathers are High Chief Odunayo Obasa, the Odofin of Ijero-Ekiti was also in attendance.
Others were the Ajero of Ijero Kingdom, Oba Adewole Adebayo; Oluroye of Iroko Ekiti, Oba Sunday Ekundayo JP; Oba Onikun of Temidire-Ekiti; Oba Alayegunle of Ayegunle-Ekiti; Oba Olowa of Odo Owa-Ekiti; Oba Elejiyan of Ejiyan-Ekiti; Olupoti of Ipoti Ekiti and Elepe of Epe-Ekiti.
Also at the event was the representative of Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Dr. Olusola Kolapo; notable businessman and grand patron of the foundation, Mr. Abiodun Arokodare; a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, Hon. Bode Ajewole; Executive Secretary, Ekiti State Scholarship Board, Mr. Ajimati; patron of the foundation, Mr. Anthony Patunola, blogger, Mr. Charles Kehinde Alasholuyi, and Features Editor, The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Tope Adeboboye, among others.
Popular Nollywood personality, Tunde Bernard, was the master of ceremonies at the event.
In his speech at the occasion, Aina explained what the foundation would do for the people.
“The foundation is founded to empower the youths, young scholars, to motivate them and make them realise that there is somebody out there who cares for them and wants them to achieve their goals in life. We are empowering 60 students now and we have taken three students from each of the secondary schools in Ijero Local Government Area.
“We know that there are many students in the local government whose parents could not afford to pay for their West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) fees. We’re paying the fees of 60 students who are currently in SS2,” he said.
Aina explained that the foundation, whose motto is “Lightening others’ burden,” would make the scholarship awards a continuous exercise. He appealed for support from well-meaning people and groups, saying the foundation would also reach out to students from other local governments in the state.
“We gave out 100 safety kits to commercial motorbike operators (Okada riders) in the local government. We have also visited the Erelu Adebayo Children’s Home in Iyin-Ekiti and would be reaching out to them in cash and kind in August this year.
“We also sponsored a football competition among youths in our communities and handed out handsome rewards to those who performed well,” he said.
He asserted that his humanitarian activities had no political motives.
Scores of the beneficiaries were clad in white T-shirts that bore the name and logo of the TopeAroyi Foundation. Those who spoke with Daily Sun expressed gratitude to Aina.
Alabi Temidayo, 13, said: “I am so grateful to Tope Aroyi Foundation for giving me this scholarship, which would see me through senior secondary school. This has greatly helped my parents who have been worried when I was promoted to senior secondary school 2 recently. Now, my parents have been relieved of a great burden courtesy of the NGO. God will bless them.”
Yunana Endurance, 14, another beneficiary, also lauded Aina’s efforts.
“Mr. Tope Aina has lightened the burden of my parents by offering me this scholarship. I pray that God will bless him richly. He said it was a scholarship he got from our LGA that inspired him and I want to say that I have also been inspired to give to others when I can, because of what he has done for us today,” the student said.
In a chat with the reporter, Aina stated that he was inspired to set up the foundation because of the scholarship he got from Ijero Local Government in his secondary school days.
While schooling in the sleepy community of Iroko-Ekiti, his dad, the Very Reverend Joseph Ajekigbe Aina, a clergyman with the Methodist Church of Nigeria, was on mission work outside the country, and the family underwent some hard times. But he benefitted from the scholarship scheme of the Ijero LGA, which gave him a two-year award that saw him through that phase.
“Since then, I have always desired to assist indigent students. I remember things were difficult for my mum and I then because my dad was outside the country for some time. We were selling amala, and I would hawk amala on the streets of Iroko, my community, even as the Senior Prefect of my secondary school, Itamarun Comprehensive High School.
“I later got the scholarship award from the local government to complete that phase of my education. That scholarship was a big relief for me. I prayed to God then to empower me so that I could give back to society as a reward for the scholarship.
“Today, the prayer has been answered,” Aina said.