Ongoing Developmental Projects in Ihiagwa
IHIAGWA SECONDARY SCHOOL
When we assumed the leadership of our community, one of the problems we identified and singled out for immediate remedy was the extensive dilapidation of our Secondary School. I want to remind us that this school was built with the effort of our community in the late 70s. The need to widen the educational opportunities for our people, particularly, for the children and wards of indigent families, drove our people to initiate and execute this project. We are still faced with that need, especially now that there is pervasive poverty on Nigeria. Many of our people are still unable to make ends meet not to talk of sending their kids to far-flung schools. So, in order not to lose the school as this possibility was looming then, we committed ourselves to its renovation and elevation to a standard that our children and wards that pass through it would be able to qualify to access programs offered by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), and qualify for spaces in other higher institutions in the country.
We have not yet brought the school to our dreamed status, but we have made appreciable progress. To get to where we are now, first we reached out to the government to assure them of our commitment to get the school back to life in the shortest possible time. This prevented its closure. Then, we started contacting our sons and daughters in Nigeria and abroad. You were one of those contacted. To achieve immediate result, I felt I needed to meet our people personally and explain the dare situation to them. So, I decided to embark on overseas trip. Last year I was here with you before proceeding to the UK. It was a humbling experience for me the day I gave a speech to you at your Convention in Dallas, Texas. The response I received was prompt and positive. Our daughter, Chief (Dr.) Patience Onuoha immediately took up the renovation of one block, while Mezie Ihiagwa as a body took up the renovation of another block. May I salute her courage and ask her never to relent. We are proud of her and that was why during the 2010 Ihiagwa Day celebrations in December, she bagged the title of Ada Meziri Ala Nnaya I.
In London, the Ihiagwa Community under the umbrella of Ihiagwa Progressive Association (IPA), which I inaugurated during the trip, like those of you in the States, took up the renovation of one block. I wish to once again appreciate Chief (Dr.) Patience Onuoha, Mezie Ihiagwa in America and Ihiagwa Progressive Association, London for their wonderful and timely support. These noble actions encouraged us. In addition, you constituted various committees that will respond to most of the socio-economic needs of our people. I sincerely thank you for this proactive decision. We hope you will be interfacing with our home based committees to realize our collective dream of improving the lots of our people.
At home, I salute the Abuja Branch of IWA, the Lagos Branch, and the villages in Ihiagwa, individuals, associations and friends for rising up to the challenge under the CEC leadership to take up one block. With these efforts, we have been able to partially complete four blocks.
Currently, we are working on the control of erosion within the premises while also hoping that we will get funds to complete the shutters and other remedial works, and take up other outstanding buildings. What remains to be done is more than what we have done. We still have daunting tasks. But they can be surmounted with your continued support.
Again, we now have a borehole in the school to assist in the provision of potable water to the students and teachers. We require an overhead tank and a generator to power the system. As soon as we are able to get these, we will make the system operational.
We are considering naming the ‘Houses’ for the school’s Inter House Sports on completion. Our thinking is that they should be named after Members/Associations or loved ones of individuals, dead or living, who helped the community to renovate or build new blocks. This will also apply to friends and organizations that assist us to do a block or two. This is our way of recognizing them and concretely thanking doers in our community. We see this as a way of encouraging others to actively participate in the development of our community.
It is very cheering to note that the school is now making progress in every area. This year, the students participated in the Children’s Day celebrations on May 27 after several years of absence. The Debating Society, Press club etc. are back again. Our children and wards are engaging in extracurricular activities again.
We realized that our ultimate goal of putting our school in the league of those capable of preparing the youths to compete in the 21st Century will be defeated if the school does not have effective and efficient teaching staff. To guard against this, we approached the Ministry of Education for assistance, and they sent two teachers. As an interim measure, we invited all our unemployed graduates of various disciplines who willingly accepted to assist as volunteers or PTA teachers in the school. This has led to the formation of Ihiagwa Graduate Association (IGA). Please, help me in saluting these young people for their courage and spirit of community service. On my part, I like to on behalf of the CEC and Ihiagwa Community express my profound gratitude to them. Their association was inaugurated on 1st January 2011. Also, we approached National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) directorate in the state and they gave us four (4) teachers. We rented accommodation for them at Umuchima and all these cost money.
Permit me to appreciate Chief (Dr.) Cyril Okoro who donated one hundred thousand naira (100,000.00) towards the payment of allowances to the volunteer teachers. This indeed has been one of our greatest problems, because CEC spends a minimum of sixty thousand naira (60,000.00) monthly on their allowances and as a people we do not generate this money monthly. Hence, just a few Ihiagwa sons are making this sacrifice. Through this scheme, we have created employment for our unemployed graduates and they are in turn assisting us in teaching the students. We believe that keeping the youths busy is an effective way of checking crime rate in the community. They have all done so well.
Also, our son and brother, Dr. Ogu Manufor (The Chairman, Imo State Board of Internal Revenue, BIR) has assisted two of the volunteer graduate teachers to secure permanent employment with the State Government. We commend him for his shining example.
To increase the population of the school from about 45 students we had to introduce free tuition for a term for the first 100 Junior Secondary School (JSS) 1 students to register. This really helped us. Thanks to Deacon James Nwosu and some members of CEC. Also, we wrote to the churches to inform parents and guardians on the need to bring back their children and wards to the school. The response was tremendous. Now, the population has increased to about 400 students. We expect that it will continue to increase as the place is made more conducive for learning and recreation.
Other Positive Developments in the School:
The former member representing Owerri Federal Consituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Ernest Ibejiakor, donated some tables and chairs to the school. Also, during the year, we hosted an NDDC team from their head office in Port -Harcourt. Their visit was at the instance of Port-Harcourt Branch President of IWA, Mr. Anthony Udokporo who facilitated and led the team that visited the school. They came to see how they could assist us in the school. We are still expecting some assistance from them.
Our market is partially wearing a new look due to the on-going construction of an ultra modern market by a private developer, Capital Structures Ltd. The good news is that 20 percent of whatever structure they build is owned by Ihiagwa. Indeed, it was a very difficult bargaining, but thanks to Hon. Innocent Ekemma for the co-operation that existed during the bargaining. Today, we have 11 shops representing our share of the blocks already completed. We have the allocation papers from the government and we have commenced the renting of the shops to generate revenue for the community.
To increase our people’s access to water, a water scheme of 20000 gallons facilitated by the Central Executive Council, through the Anambra Imo Basin Development Authority has been commissioned and is now operational. It is located within the premises of the Baptist Church at Umuchima. It is now our responsibility to operate and manage the scheme. The existing water scheme at Nkwo-Ukwu has been rehabilitated by the State Government. The scheme has been converted to a solar powered one. However, it is not yet commissioned.
PROJECTS BY DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES
Fadama 3 Project:
We are pleased to report that we have completed all the necessary documentations required for the co-operative societies in our community to benefit from the Fadama 3 Project. Once again, let me seize this opportunity to appreciate the efforts of Mr. Precious Nkemdimma Opara who has been in the forefront of ensuring that our people benefit from it. I implore him not to relent.
As a follow up to the activities executed last year, let me crave your indulgence to remind us of the essence of this program. It is aimed at assisting the local farmers and rural communities by way of grants. To qualify for this, we organized various groups into co-operatives, (26 Co-operative Societies) or Fadama User Groups (FUGs). And to qualify for Fadama Community Association (FCA) vis-a-vis the Ihiagwa Welfare Association (IWA), we must have a minimum of ten (10) co-operatives. We complied.
So far, we have paid our counterpart contribution of three hundred and sixty thousand naira (
N360, 000.00) to enable members benefit from the Fadama Community Association (FCA) grant which is three million, five hundred thousand naira ( N3, 500,000.00). This will be disbursed very soon and our target is the construction of the Traditional Market Development for our women. Meanwhile, barely few days ago they disbursed the sum of one million, four hundred and sixty thousand naira ( N1, 460,000.00) to Co-operative Societies or Fadama User Groups (FUGs) in Ihiagwa as their first tranche for their various projects. These bodies are all in Ihiagwa and managed by nde Ihiagwa. It will help in poverty alleviation in the community. It was not easy to access this grant, but we have been able to do this through the cooperation of our people and a focused leadership.
European Union (EU) Inside:
We have benefitted from the above body too through a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called FHED in the construction of public toilet facilities situated at the Central School (CMS) Ihiagwa. It has been commissioned and is now functional.
World Bank Grant:
Last year we applied to the above body and listed our areas of interest. After several meetings and paper works they approved the sum of ten million naira (
N10, 000,000) for us, but our counterpart contribution is one million naira ( N1,000,000). This is a pre-condition we must meet for us to benefit from the grant of nine million naira ( N9,000,000). At the moment, we are working on the designs (drawings) and completion of their forms before disbursement. Once we complete our own side of the requirements, they will disburse accordingly. We have already set up a committee as required by EU for implementation. The entire community assembled at Central School (CMS) during their visit and elected the following persons as members of the Community Project Management Committee.
- Chief J.A. Osuji – Chairman
- Evang. Solomon Nze – Vice Chairman
- Precious Opara – Secretary
- Engr. Emma Ude – Assistant Secretary
- Mrs. Rose Ajoku – Treasurer
- Mrs. Mbaka Theresa – Financial Secretary
- Apostle Augustine Opara – Auditor
- Mrs. Victoria Agbagwa – Provost
These persons will be responsible for the execution of the following projects as approved by Nde Ihiagwa in the assembly;
- Further Development of the Nkwo ukwu Market
- Erosion control along Amachara, towards the Secondary School and its environs
- General roads rehabilitation (Grading) within the Community.
Again, please note that on erosion control, we have also made contacts with the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Ecological Fund Office in the Presidency to come to our aid in the control of erosion in Ihiagwa. Already, we have identified all the erosion sites. They have been surveyed; appropriate designs prepared and submitted to the Ecological Fund Office for consideration and inclusion in future appropriations. Hopefully, we shall begin to reap from those contacts very soon.
IHIAGWA POST OFFICE
Our dilapidated post office has been renovated by the Federal Government. We understand that on re-commissioning, it will start offering internet services in addition to postal services. We thank the Federal Government for the decision to renovate and modernize it.
Recently, our customary court was commissioned. That means Ihiagwa now has a magistrate court and a customary court. It is the only community in Owerri West Local Government (OWLA) so blessed with these institutions. Even though the wheels of justice grind slowly in Nigeria, the expectation of our people is that with the nearness of the customary court in particular, which is structured in our ways, justice would be easily sought and obtained.
We have continued to appeal to the conscience of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) authorities on the above. We believe that a situation where our sons and daughters apply for admissions and employment and are turned down should be condemned in very strong terms. While we appreciate the recent shift in policy where some of our youths have been considered and offered admissions and employment, we will continue to demand for our people to be given what is due to them in the admission and employment policy of the institution. In addition, we will ensure that our successors do not relent in getting them to do what is proper on these issues.
BUS STOP PROJECT OF IWA YOUTH WING AT NKWO-UKWU
It is worthy to mention the effort being made by IWA Youth Wing to build a bus-stop at the market square to save commuters from the impact of the elements, particularly, rain. We commend their effort and encourage them to see to it that the project is commissioned very soon. I also appeal to nde Ihiagwa to identify with this body.