Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It was an atmosphere of joy and jubilation at Civic Center Ifitedunu Dunukofia local government area of Anambra state, as children from both public and private schools led by their principals and teachers converged to show profound gratitude to the Chief Whip and member representing Dunukofia state constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Lawrence Chukwuweike Ezeudu, for single-handedly paying the West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees of all the SS3 students in his constituency.
The occasion afforded the youngsters ample opportunity to shower eulogies and encomiums on the lawmaker who the children described as Godsent and first representative of the constituency to undertake such an unprecedented task to ensure that they all write their forthcoming WAEC examinations without tears and there were no dropouts in the area. It was indeed an occasion to be thankful to the benefactor as the children took turns to share their experiences on the impact such unexpected generosity had on them.
Akunwata Emmanuel, a student of Walter Eze Memorial Secondary School Ukpo Dunukofia local government area said no one else could have paid their WAEC fees apart from the lawmaker. The young lad explained that though the senior secondary school examination was fast approaching, he didn’t know where his fees would come from because his parents could not afford it but he became very happy, when he heard that the lawmaker has taken care of the WAEC fees.
Also, Nweke Joseph of St. Mary’s High School Ifitedunu said the lawmaker’s kind gesture would motivate them further to put in their best to ensure they come out in flying colours after the examinations even though he admitted that he had no hope of paying the fees, but the lawmaker’s timely response to their educational needs restored their hopes and aspirations. He said such humane attitude has not been felt before in the area but promised to make the benefactor proud by ensuring that he succeeded in the WAEC examinations. Moreso, Oluebube Nwaforoba, a student of Walter Eze Memorial Secondary School Ukpo Dunukofia local government area, noted that she was happy that the lawmaker has offset the bills, stressing that it was the first time she had such experience.
Addressing the students, the state commissioner for basic education in Anambra state, Prof. Kate Azuka Omenugha, stated that the lawmaker’s feat should be encouraged She emphasized that good representation was what the people needed to be encouraged further.
Omenugha who described good representation as giving back to the society through empowerment programmes, noted that educational empowerment was indispensable because education was the only thing that could make the child of a pauper dine with the high and mighty in the society.
She however admonished the students to have confidence in themselves, have a vision as well as ensure that they have syllabus to enable them to read ahead of their teachers even as she cautioned against wrong use of the internet
and other social media networks.
The commissioner said the parents of the students need not worry about where to get the money to pay for their children’s WAEC fees because the lawmaker has cleared all the bills, noting that what the lawmaker did was exemplary and that it would also motivate them to study hard for their examinations. She said it was important that the children have focus and eschew all forms examination malpractice in order not to jeopardize their dreams and aspirations.
Also, the Transition Committee Chairman of Dunukofia local government area, Engr. Emeka Okonkwo, said the lawmaker’s effort was commendable. He explained that many of the students would have dropped out of school if the lawmaker had not paid their WAEC fees. He pointed out that over 100 students had their fees paid by the lawmaker. Although the local government chairman admitted that something similar had been done in the past, it could not be compared to what Hon. Ezeudu did for the students, stressing that the lawmaker’s philanthropy was on a larger scale because of the amount of money expended in paying the WAEC fees.
Lawrence Ezeudu who ensured that all the SS3 students in Dunukofia wrote their WAEC examinations without anyone dropping out of school, stated that the idea began with a research he conducted in the constituency and found out that most children dropped out of school without writing the WAEC examinations, when they got to SS3. According to him, some parents believed that when their children attain SS3, they have done their beat.
Ezeudu noted that Dunukofia was still semi-urban and there are children from not-so-rich homes whose parents can not afford the N17,000.00 to pay for their WAEC fees. He noted that from the interactions he had with some school principals and teachers, he was reliably informed that most parents could not pay the WAEC fees and so, their children dropped out of school. With this revelation, he took the bull by the horn to pay the WAEC fees of all the children of Dunukofia extraction studying in public schools in Dunukofia local government area.
The lawmaker said that WAEC is so fundamental that every child must undertake it because it is the foundation to other achievements. He said that through the educational empowerment programme, children of Dunukofia will all be holders of WAEC certificates, adding that Hon. Ezeudu Lawrence Foundation has equally mapped out a scholarship scheme for the best five students and that over 700 students benefited from the educational empowerment scheme even though the lawmaker raised a concern about Community Secondary School Nawgu, saying that it is the only secondary school in Dunukofia without perimeter fence and cattle breeders take their animals to the school for grazing. He said it wasn’t a good development but he was working assiduously to get the school fenced, emphasizing that he did the perimeter fencing for Central School Umunachi, Ozala primary school and a host of other schools.
Delivering the vote of thanks on the occasion, Mr. Cyprian Emelife, the Principal Nneamaka Memorial Secondary School Ifitedunu, said cases abound of students dropping out of school when they got to SS3 because they couldn’t pay their WAEC fees. He described the lawmaker’s philanthropy as an unprecedented occurrence, saying that such has not happened to schools in Dunukofia local government area.
Emelife therefore advised the students to shun examination misconducts because a lot of software applications had been introduced to detect all forms of malpractices. He also stressed the need for the students to study very well and pass their exams, as it was the only way they could show gratitude to the lawmaker who undertook to pay for their WAEC examinations to enable them to continue to the next stage of their lives which is the pursuit of post secondary education so they could realise their respective ambitions.