Mbuze Mbaukwu

When former President Goodluck Jonathan said he had no sandals during his school days, many people thought he was making a political statement.

I for one did not believe him, until the day my friend, Ozo Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe, former Director General of Centre for Black African Arts and Culture (CBAAC) and an alumnus of Uniport, hosted the former President, also a former student of Uniport, in his Enugu residence.

The occasion was attended by some other Uniport alumni. In the course of the conversation, the former President repeated the story of how he went to school without sandals in his early school days.
It was a very touching story.

When former President Jonathan left the place at dusk with some of the guests, some of us who stayed back resumed discussion on what he said about his early life experience.

I didn’t know there are many Goodluck Jonathans in Nigeria.
I didn’t know there was another Goodluck Jonathan even in my own Obizi clan, until the day I met Chief Kodilichukwu Okelekwe , Ubom- Nibo as he is better known.

The story of Kodilichukwu is as touching as, even more, touching than Jonathan’s version. If for no other thing, in the case of Jonathan, both of his parents were alive to struggle through poverty together.
Kodilichukwu Okelekwe was not as opportune, as his mother struggled alone throughout, to send her son to primary school.

What was even more touching was that in spite of her abject poverty, Ubom-Nibo’s mum, though uneducated, valued her son’s education so highly that she chose to suffer so many deprivations to see that her son went to school.

Another touching story was that after paying his school fees each time, there was little or no money left in the house, and mother and son went for days without breakfast and supper until the woman was able to sell some farm produce.

That was how they coped with life through Kodilichukwu’s primary and secondary education.

I don’t want to bother you with how he eventually secured admission to the university of Jos.
I don’t want to bother you with how his mother sold everything sellable, including personal belongings to supplement her son’s savings through menial jobs.

I don’t want to bother you with how he successfully finished his university education.

These are long stories that border on mystery or divine providence, enough to make a whole book.

The next interesting story is that after Kodilichukwu eventually rose from grass to grace by dint of hard work, he did not forget where he came from.

The other beautiful thing I love about him is that he did not forget the suffering and deprivation his mother underwent to ensure that he went to school in order to make it in life.

He has not forgotten that he is a product of poverty and hardship, which made him devote himself and his fortune to the cause of the poor and less privileged in the society as he once was.

This was the philosophy of life that inspired him to establish Chiamaka Okelekwe Memorial Foundation in honour of his mother for the purpose of assisting the less privileged and indigent people through scholarships and financial empowerment programmes.

Although he is one of those who don’t like to advertize charity, it is an open secret that under the Chiamaka Foundation, apart from giving scholarships to hundreds of indigent students at primary, secondary and university levels, the foundation has financially empowered so many widows and youths to start a business, both small and large scale and built houses for many poor families both in and outside Nibo.

Still, he was not satisfied stopping at this level of concern for the poor in his immediate environment in Anambra Central, seeing the teeming number of poverty-stricken, indigent families, widows and jobless youths all over the place.

Perceiving that he cannot go it alone in providing succour to these unfortunate people, he decided to seek the platform of politics to actualize his vision, hence his aspiration to the Senate in the next election, under the APC, where he intends to collaborate with his colleagues to effect far-reaching poverty alleviation and reduction measures at national, State and constituency levels.

Among these measures are the sponsorship of a bill on free education at all levels of education in the country as well as a bill for an Education Trust Fund for indigent pupils and students at all levels of education.

Back home, he intends to work in synergy with the State governor and Senators from the other zones to fight poverty in the State.

With this vision, Kodilichukwu will replicate what Jonathan did in his own Bayelsa State where he sponsored a mass empowerment programme specifically to give a better life to people living in poverty as he once did.

If Ubom- Nibo can actualize this vision, Anambra State and Anambra Central in particular will witness a more socio-economic revolution.

It is indeed good news to the people of Anambra Central that another politician with a positive mindset of true service to the people has emerged in Anambra Central in the person of Dr Kodilichukwu Okelekwe.

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