WE all owe our society more than it owes us. We only have to pause a while to find where our inputs are needed to turn the doom around us to boom the way some genuinely active citizens do.
Citizenship and nativity come with a lot of conditions even when one is born free. There are derivatives as much as responsibilities. But only people of high faculties and good understanding of the essence of life realise that they owe their land and humanity crucial duties to make things better than they met them. Much more important than what exists on ground or what one inherits is what he transforms the environment into. We owe our society more than it owes us.
Thirty-fifth president of the United States of America (USA), John Fitzgerald Kennedy, made this truism popular on January 20, 1961, during his oath-taking when he called out his countrymen thusly: “my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Beyond the social and political gimmicks of the maxim, are its philosophical properties. Through such nuggets of wisdom, we are reminded of the mandatory bond between man and nature; the import of community as a collective of active human entities and the essence of capturing relevant chapters in history as prize of living within a space and time.
In Isiokwe community of Akama-Oghe of Ezeagu local council, Enugu State, Stanley Chukwudi Udedi rallied his friends to buttress this aphorism through a landmark electricity project that was commissioned recently.
Dr. Udedi, not a money-man by any ranking but an active professor of applied biochemistry in Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, Anambra State, who hails from Isiokwe, committed his means, as well as rallied financial, technical and operational support from his partners to tackle a four-decade problem of public electricity supply that kept the community out of national grid over time.
To the delight of the governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, former Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, former vice chancellor of NAU, Prof. Eberendu J. Ahaneku, among other dignitaries who were present or represented during the commissioning occasion chaired by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Imo State, Prof. Francis C. Ezeonu, the novel Isiokwe Electricity Project brought life and energy into the community. The event, held at Oboli, Umudenkpolo, Isiokwe began with a holy mass presided by Rev. Fr. Jacob Ugwuoke, among a team of clerics.
The early afternoon of Saturday, April 27, when the tape of the project’s commissioning was cut and public electricity light brightened Isiokwe horizon and homes, there was clear message of relief and joy in the beaming faces of natives and sojourners in the serene town set on the undulations of Enugu/Udi hills.
Prof. Udedi, who is currently the Dean, Students Affairs, NAU did his best to capture the mood of his people, although in contained narrative thusly:
“Today is indeed historic in many regards as Isiokwe community hosts political chieftains, academic giants, business moguls and captains of industries. Today also, we commission the Isiokwe Electricity extension project and celebrate the joy of my people in this regard. It was exactly on 16th April, 2019 at 4.00pm that Ugwu-Isiokwe was connected to the national energy grid after over 37 years of darkness. It is indeed a thing of great joy. We thank you all for sharing in this joy and for being part of history. I particularly appreciate the prompt financial and technical support of my partners without which this commissioning will not be taking place. May our resurrected Christ reward you all abundantly.”
While explaining how the natural setting of his homeland hindered its linkage with the rest of the country in national electricity network, the challenge surmounted in getting the project accomplished became manifest. The physical features of Ugwu-Isiokwe make it a difficult terrain for installing the poles and wires of public electricity supply. The topography also hinders stability of the vital installations and their maintenance which may explain the 37-year gap in sustenance of public power connection since it debuted there.
Possibly, the location scared away public and private organizations that would have earlier engaged on the project. But nothing motivates towards an adventure more than emotional attachment. Being a son-of-the-soil, the young don was as challenged to solve the situation as he was committed because it’s his home. He also reasoned that there are other infrastructural necessities that elude the community as a result of its unique setting and absence of electricity. Counted among such conspicuously inexistent public facilities are public water supply and incentives for small and medium scale businesses.
“Ugwu-Isiokwe community,” said Udedi, who further urged special guests to the event and his friends to still come to his people’s aid, “situates on hills and valleys and this negatively affects the living conditions of the people. Access to school, church, market, water and health centre is as a result of this difficult and drastically affects both the living standard and economic output of the people. The lack of power supply until now made the matter worse. Thank God for today. It is a renewed hope for greater output and productivity by the people. We are committed to continued development and will effectively put our resources for greater exploit in the future. We therefore need a solar powered motorised borehole, a primary school with a football field and attached health centre that will serve both the school and community.”
While appreciating the support, the town’s cultural leaders, the Onowu and his Cabinet, Akama-Oghe Town Union and Isiokwe General Assembly, the professor and former seminarian acknowledged “the solidarity and brotherly support of the traditional rulers of Amankwo-Oghe, Oyofo-Oghe, Ihionyia City (Amansiodo-Oghe) and Omasi in Ayamelum LGA of Anambra State.”
The Udedi and partners’ feat in Ugwu-Isiokwe comes across as volunteering as much as it communicates practical expression of active citizenship through philanthropy. More importantly, it is noteworthy for its constructive programming of the pulse of development in the community. The eventual presence of public electricity sets a fertile template for future developments in the town and environ. Hence, the chemistry professor by investing his time, talent and means, as well as, connecting real friends has employed a practical alchemy to turn a society’s gloom to bloom. Offering the seed project as a catalyst, he has smartly galvanised the current drawback there to set his society for future wins.
This is a trend of constructive philanthropy, “an informed giving and engaging with the world around us in generous and daring ways” (Kin Hanson) that should be encouraged and emphasised.
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