By Father George Adimike
When Maduka becomes the principle of education, potential turns into capital. Lately, commerce characterizes the reputation of Onitsha, and hardly is she associated with educational feats, exploits and victories. Even though Onitsha is one of the few cities to pioneer education and to possess reputable secondary educational institutes in Nigeria, commerce defines its identity. The concentration of some of the best pioneer schools, such as Christ the King College (CKC), Denis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Queen of the Holy Rosary College (QRC), All Hallows Seminary, and St Charles College in Onitsha makes the veracity of its robust educational background compelling. The reductionist narrative has become ingrained with the successive neglect of education by the civil authorities in the State such that Onitsha entrepreneurial character is abbreviated to a centre of commerce.
The dark age of education in Onitsha, if not for the entire Anambra State, was during the complete shut-down of schools for a year due to the inability of the Mbadinuju-led administration to pay the teachers. Mbadinuju’s government brought to a full swing the destruction initiated during Ukpabi Asika-led government seizure of schools from the missions. The Church rescued education in the state in a similar way the monasteries and cathedral schools rescued European civilization during the dark ages. Such an intervention gave birth to university education through the impetus and drive of Pope Saint Gregory VII. In the middle ages, these cathedral schools and Scholastic Guilds transformed into the pioneer universities some of which are University of Bologna, Italy (1088), University of Paris, France (ca. 1150), University of Oxford, UK (ca.1167), University of Modena, Italy (1175), University of Cambridge, UK (1209), University of Salamanca, Spain (1218), University of Toulouse, France (1229), University of Siena, Italy (1240), University of Vienna, Austria (1365), et al. Similarly, the Church in Onitsha accentuated her focus on education in order to rescue the state.
At the appointed time, through the combined efforts of the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev Val Maduka Okeke, the Anambra bishops and the then-Governor, Mr Peter Obi the Schools were returned to the church with a public apology. Yes, with an apology! You heard it well. Unprecedented, Mr Peter Obi did it. He established a system of restitution in consort with the Church. The dioceses having a strategic partner in the Obi-led administration engaged the state, and the Archdiocese of Onitsha swung into action with its educational principle, accelerated velocity, and the results are self-evident.
Evaluating the victories secured in serious academic competitions both at the global and local levels, I was able to discover the secret. The miracle of Onitsha verifies and validates the principle of the leadership of the Archdiocese in making the dignity of the human person and human capital development the cardinal drive for her educational policy. It underscores the belief of the Archbishop that a well-formed youth is the greatest legacy the Church and the society of today will bequeath to the future.
The philosophy of the educational drive is, therefore, Maduka (the pre-eminence of the human subject and the regal quality of his inalienable dignity as a child of God redeemed by Christ). Maduka, that belief that man in Christ is the measure of development and meaning of enterprise, becomes the principle of education for societal development and national transformation. Man, as the greatest resource in any society, offers a sure ground for this idea. With this philosophy, the Archbishop of Onitsha swings into action: launched an educational policy, wrote a pastoral letter where he spelt out his vision and mission relative to education and the youth. What is more, he re-organized the Education Commission and trained and appointed competent personnel.
Crucial to his engagement with education is the policy of ensuring that almost all his middle-aged and young priests have professional training in Education (PDGE), and training about ten priests up to PhD level in Education in the Philippines, USA and Italy (Rome). Some still are engaged in further studies in Education in Nigerian universities. These priests with specialized training in Education from reputable universities in Europe man these secondary schools. While the Education Commission (led by Fr Pascal Onwugbenu, PhD) focuses on the quality assurance, the Priest-Principals and Managers of these Schools implement the vision of the Archbishop and Archdiocesan Education standard. The result is the harvest of victories and awards.
Within the course of the last one year, students of Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha prepared by Fr Jerome Ezenwelu and Fr Vincent Ezeaka won the Technovation Competition in California, USA, trumping all other nations that participated. A couple of months ago, St John Technical School, Alor led by Fr Francis Unegbu, PhD achieved the same feat in Tunisia. Locally, it has been harvest and bazaar of victories for Christ the King College, Onitsha, All Hallows Seminary Onitsha, Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha and St Joseph Seminary Science School Awka-Etiti.
The quick succession of these victories motivated Fr Dr Dile Onwuekwe to challenge me to write on the good news of the ingenuity of Archbishop Val Okeke’s educational principle. I accepted the challenge because, in my thought, no amount of effort put in highlighting the true, the good and the beautiful is unmeritorious. The promotion of good necessarily glorifies God, countervails and liquidates evil, inspires others and encourages the agential subject. Noteworthily, Archbishop Val Okeke’s success in educational apostolate funds the idea that the transformation of the society is only realizable when well-trained and formed persons drive the process. His exploits prove sufficient warrant and possess an epistemic value relative to the essential importance and agential indispensability of the subject for societal development. Maduka¯thoroughly formed person¯typifies Christ in whom man’s the pre-eminence resides.
The Onitsha educational miracle bespeaks the transformative possibilities when educational development runs on Maduka principle. In Onitsha-Anambra, Maduka principle serves as a definitive anchor inexorably interwoven with the episcopacy of Archbishop Val Maduka Okeke such that human potentials flourish and fructify into capitals to miraculous proportions. As such, Maduka transforms the dark age of Onitsha area with a domino effect on the entire state because Maduka employs Maduka principle in his efforts to produce Maduka in the youth of Anambra. Precisely because Maduka adroitly implements Maduka principle, education in Onitsha leapfrogs to excellence. Therefore, I heartily say a big congratulation to Archbishop Val. Maduka Okeke for the educational miracle of Onitsha as he celebrates his 16th anniversary as the Archbishop of Onitsha.
Father George Adimike writes from Rome email@example.com