an Absalom rebellion in Abia

Chido Nwakanma looks at two pieces of good news for education in the south east from the efforts of two billionaire philanthropists

Two positive events of great significance happened in education in the South-East recently and deserve our commendation. They concern the enabling environment for higher education.

One happened in the public-school sector and the other in a private school.

Billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu of Bua Group stepped out 8 October 2021 with the donation of N1billion for the construction of a multiplex Students Centre at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The bequest to Unizik will build a structure comprising the Students Affairs unit, International Students Centre, Centre for Council and Career Development, Amphitheatre, the Students Union Government secretariat including their respective arms, among other features.

Abdul Samad Rabiu

Bua Group disclosed that Unizik was the last of the six tertiary institutions to benefit from its education support fund that targets all of Africa. The Director of Government Relations, BUA Group, Dr Aliyu Hong, said, “The annual ASR Africa Fund for Social Development and Renewal is an intervention of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative for Africa targeted at impactful and sustainable interventions in social development, health and education in Africa”.

Dr Rabiu added, speaking through a former minister of health, Dr Aliyu Idi Hung, “We have a commitment of setting aside $100 million annually of which $50 million is set aside specifically for Nigeria and the remaining $50m for the rest of Africa.”

Project managing director, Ubon Udoh, revealed that the project would take off as soon as the UNIZIK management can constitute a team that would allow for interaction to fine-tune the design to achieve the desired goal. Udoh explained that the NUC ranking, the global universities’ ranking as well as developmental strides played a major role in the annual selection of the benefitting universities across the country.
Unizik Pro-Chancellor, Prof Sulyman Kuranga, posited that the project would rate as the first and best among universities in Africa.

Prof Charles Esimone, Vice Chancellor, and his team at Unizik have their work cut out to ensure optimal utilisation of this boundary-crossing bequest. They must fulfil the promise of building a world-class facility while observing the finest principles of project management.

Uturu, Abia State was also in the news. Gregory University Uturu named its Pharmacy School after renowned pharmacist and current president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Dr Sam Ohuabunwa. Ohuabunwa OFR, was managing director of Pfizer Nigeria. He is part of Nigerian corporate lore for leading the Management Buyout that birthed Neimeth Pharmaceuticals.

Ohuabunwa is the foundation president of the West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. He was also the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and former chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. He is an icon of Corporate Nigeria.

Sam Ohuabunwa

Ohuabunwa deservedly exulted at the honour. He captured it on his Facebook handle.

“It was a great honour for me to have the College of Pharmacy, Gregory University, Uturu named after my humble self. I had the distinguished privilege to commission the Mazi Dr. Sam Ohuabunwa College of Pharmacy building Gregory University, Uturu (GUU) on the 14th of October 2021.

The Mazi Dr Sam Ohuabunwa is one of the most well-equipped Colleges of Pharmacy in Africa, comparable only to Pharmacy schools in South Africa and Egypt and the method of lecture delivery and research designs like the Pharmacy curriculum adopted in Canada and North America.

I have no doubt that the Mazi Dr Sam Ohuabunwa College of Pharmacy is the institution of choice for prospective pharmacists who desire a strong foundation to succeed in the prestigious profession of Pharmacy as the college is equipped with all required instructional equipment for learning.

This enviable pharmaceutical college has five departments namely:
• Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy practice
• Pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry
• Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology
• Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology
• Pharmacognosy and Traditional Medicine
• Pharmacology and Toxicology.

I am elated that want started as a dream to have a school of pharmacy in Abia state has been brought to reality. I couldn’t be prouder that Abia state has two schools of pharmacy with one named after me, making it one of the few Schools of Pharmacy to be named after Pharmacist who have distinguished themselves and all of this happened under my leadership as president of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.
Therefore, I have announced the establishment of a 100-million-naira endowment fund to further advance the work that has to be done in the school, also support research to produce Pharmaceutical products such as drugs and vaccine especially as we strive to achieve drug independence in a post-COVID era”.
Gregory University has toed the right path in honouring a distinguished citizen. The reciprocal action of Ohuabunwa in establishing an endowment for the College of Pharmacy is appropriate. May his backers respond enthusiastically to surpass the initial target.
Endowments and bequests represent global best practice in funding and equipping educational institutions.

According to Claire Routley, Adrian Sargeant, and Scaife, Wendy A. (2007) “Bequests to educational institutions: who gives and why?” in the International Journal of Educational Advancement, “Legacy income has been vital to educational institutions for hundreds of years, from William of Durham’s 1249 bequest which founded University College, Oxford, to John Harvard’s bequest of £779 to Harvard in 1638”.

Back home, Corporate Nigeria fell over each other to fund construction of the Lagos Business School of the Pan Atlantic University. TY Danjuma’s bequest built the huge TY Danjuma Academic Complex at the main campus of the University. UNN has also attracted some bequests.

Popular wisdom attributes to Anambra State the gift of many silent billionaires. Other states in the South-East similarly have such people. They have built imposing country homes that lie fallow most of the time even while they are alive. They should consider grants to our educational institutions

The actions of Dr Ahmad Samad Rabiu and Mazi Dr Sam Ohuabunwa are the kinds of positives that should be the central narrative around education in the South-East and not the one of forced absence of students.


Good news for education in South-East