BY EMMANUEL AHANONU, ENUGU
They converged from different states but on strict invitation. Being a national executive member and an indigene of Abia State were the sole criteria. The door of the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, was thrown open to them because it was time for the state government to present its scorecard to students before seeking renewal of its mandate. Students were the celebrants.
The August visitors included the National Association of Nigeria Students NANS JCC and Abia Zone B arms, Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Wing, the national bodies of all the student ethnic groupings in the state. The host was National Association of Abia State Student NAASS while the special guest was his Excellency Chief T. A. Orji, the governor of Abia, along with his subordinates.
The event that took place at Michael Okpara Auditorium in Government House, Umuahia, marked the first time that Chief Orji will be meeting with a conglomerate of the students’ bodies since his emergence as the governor some eight years ago. Before this time, his meeting had been with either one students group or the other.
The one-hour town hall meeting started at about 3pm with accreditation for only the real students’ leaders. Even though impersonators were shut out, the hall was filled to full capacity. The erstwhile National President of NAASS, Comrade Jude Ezeibe, led in the procession with 15 minutes lecture which centered on the responsibilities of students of Abia origin, the ethics and what the state abhors, leadership and the prospects of Abian youth. He summed up his lecture with a call on the students to see themselves as not only the future leaders but also today’s leaders. He also called on them to behave responsibly during the elections.
In his address, the governor who prided himself as the first governor of the state to rally together the various students’ associations thanked the students for responding to the invitation on impromptu notice. He noted that the reason for the meeting was to rub minds together and to know how the students are faring. He praised the academic achievements of Abia students at home and abroad. An Abia student in Maryland University of United States of America has been the best overall for two years, he said. He also lauded the state’s students for constantly maintaining the second-place position in WAEC exams. This, he said, is as a result of his government’s education-friendly policies.
“The government has never and will never play with the welfare of Abia students because our students have really made us proud,” he added. While noting that Abia students are not backward in education, he appealed to them not to be political novices. “Whenever any politician comes to your institution to woo your votes, ask the person what he has done for you,” he advised them. He finally noted that there is need for the students to support a student-friendly governorship candidate who will continue to cater for their welfare.
After a question-and-answer session, the meeting ended on a funfair note when Comrade Ihedigbo Uchenna, the National President of NAASS represented by Israel Ahamefula (the SUG President of ABSU) informed the governor that all the students’ leaders have unanimously adopted Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as its sole candidate alongside other PDP candidates.
Apart from the governor, other dignitaries who graced the occasion include Chief Donatus Okorie, Hon. Israel Anyaso, former Commissioner of Agriculture, Dame Victoria Akanwa, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Dr. Stanford Ubani Secretary to the state government Prof. Mkpa, Commissioner for Education and Dr. F. M. Philip.
Ahanonu is serving with NYSC, Enugu State.