Parents, students, educational stakeholders, teachers and principals were all filled with joy, thanksgiving and excitement as they all gathered at Rosary High School, Awgu to commend Hon. Toby Okechukwu, the Deputy Minority Leader and member representing Awgu, Aniri and Oji-River Federal constituency as he once again paid WAEC fees for over six hundred public secondary school students.
Okechukwu who has made this a yearly event through his foundation ‘the Toby Okechukwu foundation’ made this year no different as he gathered all the selected students, principals and teachers together on the 10th of December to hand over the cheque to the schools.
Stressing on the importance of education, Okechukwu stated that “The difference between someone who is roaming about in the village, the Fulani boy who works in the bush and the person who has gone to school is education. “Education is the Pasport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”
“Sometimes people think that the best way to overcome poverty is to have education, it is not only the best way to overcome it but it is the best way to fight it. So you must always take education very important, and I ensure that if we have up to 70/80 % literacy in Enugu state the world will be in our palm and it will make the difference in our lives. So today, we are just trying to make efforts to that will transit to higher education”, he said.
Thanking Senator Ekweremadu for setting the pace for him and other lawmakers in the state, he said “I must let you know that the intervention we do in education was set forth by Ikeoha ndi igbo. We have had testimonies of people who were able to go to school just because of his foundation.
“Igboeze north is one of the first places he introduced scholarship, he also introduced it in Enugu south where he lives and also the whole of Enugu West” he said concluding.
Commending Okechukwu’s generosity, Ekweremdu who graced the occasion with his presence said “I will describe Okechukwu’s philanthropy as the humanity in him, because he is not owing any of this people, its just his humanity.
“He is not the only person in public service, but he has decided out of the abundance of his heart to and the godly nature in him to support this people so that they can receive education. Its possible some of them would not have paid the WAEC fees for this year and probably would have paid it next year but that will draw them back by one year.
“So he has given them the opportunity to make progress in their career. Maybe when they get to the next stage someone else will help them, but if they don’t cross this stage they won’t be able to get to the next stage.
Speaking on how the children can pay back his generosity, he thanked Okechukwu for being kind to his being, adding that “I believe our children will appreciate this gesture by being good citizens, read their book to pass so that as they advance they will remember this day, and then when they grow up and have the opportunity they can also do for others things like this, so it’s very remarkable”.
Hon. Dennis Oguerinwa Amadi who stood in for Toby Okechukwu and Senator Ike Ekweremadu at the event before their arrival described the program done by his colleague as an evolving program that have touched every aspect of human and society, especially the emerging youths of Nigeria in Aniri, Awgu and Oji-river.
Drawing attention to the goodness and courage it takes to pay for their WAEC fee and the running cost, he added that Okechukwu has invested heavily in human capital development.
“These kids are the leaders of the society tomorrow and from here I look forward to seeing Presidents and Governors of Nigeria and various careers happening in the society today and even the emerging ones.
The value chain of this program is enormous and is highly elastic and beyond measure. I don’t want you to see it as are program of government extravaganza. We are looking forward to putting up a new society that will ran by those of you who are here.
“Our goal and objective of this program is to turn out the best of Nigerians that will match the evolving community globally so that you can compete with students in New York, Uk and any part of the world.
“Toby Okechukwu have brought in a new style that gives you competitiveness in the educational sector, especially at your level. Those who were not opportuned to get the fees now will get it in the higher institution, the foundation is there and according to Toby, he has a rolling plan not just for this level, but also for the tertiary level”, Oguerinwa added.
Hon. Chinedu Otaka who also came out with others to commend Okechukwu for his good work stated that “This is what he does in order to compliment the good work of Ugwuanyi in the state”.
Advising the students, he added that “If you want to make Toby proud what you have to do is to make sure you don’t fail any course in your exam by reading your book. Because it pains for someone to spend money on your fees and you fail the exam. And I assure Toby Okechukwu that you all will make him proud”.
The former commissioner for information, Dr. Godwin Ikechukwu Uduele who was head of the organizing team for the program stated that the program has ensured that so many students who ordinarily would not be there today were part of the selected people.
Stating that the process used in selecting the students was impeccable, he said “This process is one of the best processes we’ve had since the inception of this program. There was no petition or complaint as it is very transparent.
Explaining why the number of beneficiaries this year was lower than the previous years, he said “Toby was supposed to pay for everybody, but due to scarcity of fund he said he could only afford to pay for 600 students from his constituency.
“What we did is that in every zone or school we get to, we bring all the final year students we do simple random sampling by having a piece of paper wrap that will tally with the number of the entire students.
“In that piece of paper we have ‘yes now’ which means he will pay for your WAEC and pay for the running cost, when you get ‘no later’ which means that he wants to pay for you but it will be later. In all the 60 secondary schools we elected 10 students into 60 which are how we got the 600 students gathered here”, he said.
Sir Wats Udeh who represented the commissioner for Education Enugu state who was unavoidably absent at the event expressed his over what the lawmaker have been doing by giving back to the society.
Describing it as a special investment, he said “He is doing it to help those who would have found it difficult paying for their WAEC fees. There are no sponsors, no percentage to him, his only gain is the good performance of these students he is paying their fees.
Adding that examination mal practice is no longer condoned in the state, he said “how you can pay back to Toby is to pass and enter the university. He has elevated a lot of burdenfrom the parents by paying this. Many are suffering because of the school fees, and are having high blood pressure because of it, but Toby has relieved them by doing this”, he concluded.
Hon. Ugonna Ibeh, the commissioner for Culture and Tourism in the state who was also present in the event emphasized the need for human empowerment as the biggest empowerment.
“Am happy to be here as our people are being empowered through education. If you ask me I will say that education is the beginning and the end of human capital development, because there is no better way to empower people except through education, because with education you will ensure that you know your does and don’ts and you are liberated from forces of ignorance. This is one area that the governor is doing a great job at”.
The principal of the hosting school Rosary High School Awgu, Rev. sister Aniekwe principal thanked God for the life of Okechukwu who made it possible for all of them to be there, adding that “I also want to thank those working with him and carrying out all his instructions. Am happy to have you in my school. The day I was told that am going to host this I was so happy and excited, so I thank God for today”.
Speaking with UGAMATV, Mrs Felicia Onyeazo, the principal of Girls High School Ihe revealed that this was not the first time he was doing this as it has become an annual event which most principals look forward to every year.
“We usually hope on it as they last hope for students who have no way of paying their fees. And the surprising thing is that God helped those students who don’t have hope of paying their fees because most of them were the ones who picked the yes”, she said.
Mazi Emeka ikpenna, the Chief Supervising Principal for PPSMB while explaining how important the program was for the upliftment of education and the state at large said “Am particularly very delighted that this is happening while am the CSP.
“Hon. Toby Okechukwu has done this before, but this is the first time he is doing it under my regime and am very happy. What he is doing is what our governor has been doing. He has empowered some of our students by giving scholarships, and for Hon. Toby to be contributing too that makes it much better because when there are more people, more students will benefit.
“Am very happy that many people will benefit from this. My principals have assured me that the students are ready to do anything humanly possible to bring out the best in these children, so that Toby will not be disappointed by the time the results are out.
“I wish more people will toe the line of toby Okechukwu. Assuming 3 more people do this same thing in this zone that will cover almost the whole registration in the zone, and this will go a long way to help education in Enugu state”.
In an interview with Comrade Abba Anthony, the President General Obeagu town union Awgu lga and the secretary general of all the president generals in Awgu local government, he told UGAMATV that he commends Okechukwu for hosting the event every year.
“My advise for the students is that they should try to reciprocate by reading their books and passing their WAEC in flying colors so that the man who is doing this for them will be happy because that is the only area he will benefit from all the money he is spending on them.
“Parents should give their wards time to study their books and try to look through what they do in school. The teachers should also come to school in time and focus on what they teach and should also teaches the students well”, he said.
The students were not left out as they thanked the Honorable for his large heart and generosity. Speaking with Chioma Udeh, a ss3 student of Rosary High School she thanked the Honorable for the opportunity saying “Am really excited and I pray that God will grant him his heart desires. I will try my best to pay him back by reading my books and passing all my exams”.
At the end of the program, Toby gave the schools 24000 exercise books, 400 for each school and also promised to give them 180 magic board and duster for SS1 to SS3 at the beginning of January 2022.