By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA– OKIJA, one of the largest communities in Anambra State, which few years ago became famous due to the infamous Okija Shrine, recently honoured six professors from the community who had excelled in their various fields of academics. The event was put together by a social club, the In-Home Club, made up of elites from the town residing within the country and in Diaspora. The auditorium of the newly approved Legacy University, Okija, where the ceremony took place, was filled to capacity as friends and well wishers of the awardees assembled to give honour to whom it is due.
Those who received the awards at the impressive ceremony include Mike Asuzu, a professor of public health and community medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan; Professor Fidelis Ejezie, deputy provost of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus; Professor Ifeoma Enemuo, former deputy vice- chancellor, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus and Professor Sylvester Madu, immediate past deputy vice-chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University.
Others were Professor Timothy Obi, former head of department of veterinary medicine at the University of Ibadan and Professor Ikenna Onyido, professor of chemistry and former vice-chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Umuahia.
Also honoured was Dr Dan Chukwudozie of Dozzy Group who has consistently been paying WAEC fees for all final year students in two secondary schools in Okija for the past three years. The schools, Okija Grammar School and Union Secondary School, have had their population increased since Chukwudozie took over the payment of WAEC fees for all final year students in the two schools.
Since its formation in 1972 in Lagos, the Okija In-Home Club had embarked on various projects, including offering scholarship to needy students from the town.
President of the club, Mr. Nnaemeka Nnubia said the decision to honour the professors and Dr. Chukwudozie was because the association had identified excellence as a key ingredient for the growth and development of any society.
He said: “The In-home Club has remained in the forefront of efforts towards the development of Okija by mobilising resources and creating platforms for ideas. For instance, the club has in partnership with some good spirited Okija indigenes, executed noteworthy projects for the good of the town.”
The chairman of the organising committee for the programme, Mr. Innocent Iheabunike said the main objective of the club is to continue to make positive impact in Okija through various activities. “This year’s activity is unique in the sense that we took it upon ourselves to assemble and honour our people who had attained excellence in the academics. We profess that they are a rare breed and deserve to be so honoured,” Iheabunike said.
Delivering a lecture titled Achieving excellence and success through knowledge, diligence and hard work, Professor Asuzu advised youths to always achieve some level of education before going into business, adding that such knowledge would become handy in the day-to-day running of the business.
Asuzu said: “Obviously, nobody generally succeeds in anything in life without sound knowledge of the things that they are working at. Currently, Okija is home to two accredited universities, Madonna University and Legacy University. I am not aware of any other rural town in Nigeria that is so blessed.
“What this reminds us is that we have a duty to ensure community support and inputs into these establishments in a civilised and educated manner to the extent that the powers- that-be in such institutions would desire, ask for or allow us to do.
“The beauty of being truly educated is that such a person gives and shares his God-given wisdom gladly. If there are Okija people wanting to play politics, build educational institutions or industries in the town, we owe them all the moral duties in this world to assist them to do so successfully and without rancour.”
Pharmacist Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher of Pharmanews Publications, Lagos and a former president of the club, who chaired the ceremony, said there was need for Okija people to unite and move the town forward. He commended those who have contributed in various ways to bring development to the town and urged others to emulate them.