Time for a New Beginning

Being address by Prince Ike Chioke on the commencement of academic activities at the rebuilt Central School, Obioma, Udi Local Council, Enugu State on Wednesday, May 4, 2022



1. Protocols:

Greet and acknowledge a few people and stand on existing protocols

2. At the entrance of gate of a university in South Africa, the following message was posted for contemplation.

“Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles… It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students.

Patients die at the hands of such doctors…

Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers…

Money is lost at the hands of such economists & accountants…

Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars…

Justice is lost at the hands of such judges…

The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.”

This simple act of building a primary school to be fit for purpose is part of our collective journey to rebuild our nation.

Time for a New Beginning
Philanthropist/Group Managing Director of Afrinvest West Africa, Prince Ike Chioke (fifth left) during the opening of the newly-built Central School in Ameke, Obioma Kingdom, Udi Local Council of Enugu State… recently.

3. The land upon which this school stands was acquired from Obioma community by St. Theresa’s Catholic Mission in 1937.  The original church started in the stone building just a few meters from here in 1941.  Subsequently, an L-shaped school building was erected on the site between 1947 and 1949.That building continued to serve as a church on Sundays and a primary school during the week.  This continued until 1996 when the current church building of St. Theresa’s Mission was completed.  The L-shaped building continued to serve as a primary school until September 2021 when it was demolished to make way for the new school building.  In fact, the concreted upper level of the courtyard upon which we are standing is part of the original floor of the old school building.

Presentation by pupils of Central School, Obioma.

4. This school could not have been built without the support of many organizations and individuals.  Let me start first with ENSUBEB and Enugu State Government for granting us the permission to commence the project in the first place. I also want to acknowledge the support and encouragement friends and well wishers including: Governor Godwin Obaseki and his dear wife Betsy who was here last December to personally commission the building, Abu Inu-Umoru – Chairman of Setraco, Andrea Geday – CEO of Elalan Construction, Bernard Gabriel – CEO of Raycon, Chidi Eneh, The Onwudiwe Family, Martin Onyia, Uche Njoku, Chika Nwobi – CEO of Decagon, Dapo Oshinusi, Nath Ude – MD of Nova Merchant Bank, Osondu Nnamchi based in Atlanta, Nnamdi Ebu of Springhurst Ltd, Adewale Folowosele – a board member of Afrinvest. However, this project could not have been done without the focus, commitment and dedication of many members of Obioma community who are here today to witness the result.

The new Central School, Obioma.

5. But this is just the beginning. Having a brand new building with modern facilities does not make a school.  A school is made by the collective will, capacity and commitment of teachers, parents, administrators and indeed the entire community to create the right learning and nurturing environment for our children to gain quality education.  So all we have done thus far is perhaps Phase 1 in our journey of educational transformation in Obioma. 

  • Phase 2 will involve the acquisition, installation and management of expensive educational tools and resources such as computers in the ICT room, books in the library, inverters and solar panels for our renewable power supply systems, training of existing teachers supported by private instructors to supplement the educational curriculum as well as equipping and staffing the clinic.  The successful completion of this journey would be when we begin to see outstanding results from students of this school that compares to the best schools in Nigeria.

  • Phase 3 would further involve the use of this building for further educational impact initiatives for our young and not so young adults.  Training programmes on coding skills, agricultural entrepreneurship and civic responsibility will continue to remain critical in rebuilding our nation, one village at a time.

6. We are all too familiar with Nigeria’s appalling development indices: no growth; no jobs; millions out of school children; ethical decadence; high maternal and infant mortality rates; stunted and malnourished children; increasing extreme poverty, and low ranking in almost every measure of human progress, including sanitation and hygiene, and innovation.  Nigeria presently tops the world perhaps only as its poverty capital with all the frightening and nightmarish consequences of insecurity, kidnapping and banditry which we are living with today.

Prince Ike Chioke (fourth left); Country Manager, Vlisco Nigeria, Mrs Yvonne Chioke (fifth left); Executive Director, Strategy, Total Nigeria, Jeff Nnamani (seventh left) during the opening of Central School, Obioma.

7. We cannot continue to stand still and watch our country being destroyed while praying for enlightened, value-laden, empathetic leadership. History has taught us that indifference (Politics is a dirty game; I don’t want to get my hands dirty; I am not a politician) and prayers alone cannot save us.  If our leaders are incapable of resolving our Nigerian dilemma, in converting our diversity into strength, in leading from the front to clean-up the political process, modernize and secure the nation, and give every citizen a stake in it now and in its future, then the citizens must regain their voice and reclaim the space for Nigeria’s renaissance.

The old Central School, Obioma.

8. Where are the citizens who understand the urgency of now?  Nation building and constructive citizenship demands deliberate efforts from all of us.  We are all politicians and we must collectively act to defend our land starting from our children.  Luckily, another election cycle is upon us and all adults with permanent voter cards shall have the choice to select new leaders.  Will we as usual feign indifference and stay at home on Election Day or sheepishly sell our votes to known criminals and 419 experts? Or will we pluck the courage and do what is necessary to vote in women and men of good character, capacity and energy to lead us out of our present quagmire? Your guess is as good as mine.

Time for a New Beginning
Presentation by pupils of Central School, Obioma.

9. In the early days of missionary control of schools in the Eastern region of Nigeria, flower beds were significant features of school compounds. Different species of flowers were often planted and grown in those beds for the purpose of teaching and learning in addition to beautifying the school compound. Flowers like hibiscus, allamanda, African marigold, corks comb, lantana, sun flower, frangipani, etc, welcomed everyone entering the school compound.

The Frangipani tree standing proudly in the school courtyard today is likely to be one of the surviving flower trees of the old generation flowers that once graced the flower beds in the school. The Frangipani tree has the unique capability of regeneration when cut down. It is quite likely that the tree standing now was a regenerated stock from an old stock that was cut down earlier. In like wise, new Central School Obioma has been regenerated from the foundations of the old school building which was demolished to make way for the new school building.

10. The significance of this tree should not be lost on us. Our nation Nigeria is severely challenged with leadership problems that must be cut down to make way for fresh, new leadership with the creative energy to take us to the promised land.  That is the promise of Central School Obioma.  We promise that all children that pass through this school will henceforth be trained to be able to meet the challenges of a 21st century world and grow to be leaders who recognize that contributing towards public service should be their highest esteem.

Thank you.

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