Jude Chinedu, Enugu
The popular saying that there is always light at the end of the tunnel perfectly describes the feeling of thousands of indigent women, youths and students who were part of the recent official launch of The Michael Odo Abonyi Ichakproko Foundation (TMOAIF).
The foundation, set up by a veteran journalist and columnist, Ike Abonyi, with his siblings, in honour of their late father, Chief Michael Odo Abonyi, will partner organisations and government for the benefit of indigent residents of Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Spokesman for the family, Godwin Abonyi, Ada, Obollo-Etiti, in Udenu, venue of the event, said their father was a politician and community leader: “Our father joined his ancestors on February 20, 2010, after 85 years on earth during which he made modest contributions to the development of his environment. We his children did not actually appreciate the impact of our father much outside seeing him as a caring dad.
“He preached to us the importance of good name being better than riches. Another aspect of him we easily realised was his love for education and care and protection for the vulnerable group. The magnitude of his charity work was so much that we considered setting up a charity foundation to act as a platform to continue his work, hence this day.”
He explained that, for a start, the foundation was endowing a trophy for secondary schools in Udenu LGA for the best essay writer biannually with cash prize to be agreed on by the trustees.
According to him, “The trophy is to be retrieved and replaced with a plaque but the cash prize is for the student. If a particular school wins it three times, it retains the trophy permanently.”
In his speech, Governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said that, “the foundation opens a vista of women and youths empowerment for productive engagement, wealth creation, poverty reduction, crime reduction and responsive citizenship.
“I want to identify with the mission and vision of the foundation. I deeply appreciate all those who have nurtured this idea to fruition, especially the illustrious children of this sage. The Ichakproko Foundation provides us with opportunities to expand the frontiers of giving, service to humanity and social reengineering. I therefore like to inspire us to do more.”
Also, vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election and former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, eulogized the Abonyi family, urging the students to maximize the opportunity afforded them through the foundation.
“I thank you, not because you are remembering your father but because you are linking it to the most important investment that any person or society can do, education. I want to encourage you to do anything you can do in celebrating education.
“I want students to listen carefully. Your governor here is governor because of education. Chief Nnia Nwodo is president-general of Ohanaeze because he is educated. All the people you see here is because of education. What I mean here is basic education. So, take your school seriously,” Obi advised.
Lending his voice, president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nwodo, praised the Abonyi family for their foresight stating that, “It is not because they are richer but because they have wisdom and they deserve congratulations from everyone who loves progress.
“They’ve decided to use the little they have to set up a foundation so that intelligent but indigent students can go to school. They want to encourage intelligent students by giving them a prize. This too will encourage their teachers who will feel proud that the community recognizes their efforts in the classroom.”
One of the students at the launch, Ugwuanyi Chidozie Ugwuoke, highlighted that many of them came from poor families and might not have the chance of attaining their academic goals.