Obinna Chima writes about the intervention of the Unubiko Foundation in the community of Abam in the Arochukwu local government area of Abia state
The sleepy town of Abam in the Arochukwu Local Government Area came alive over Christmas due to interventions by the Unubiko Foundation.
The organization during the period delivered a self-developed set of infrastructure to the community.
In line with its objective of promoting the development of infrastructure in the communities as well as promoting justice and peace, the Unubiko Foundation on Tuesday, December 20the, 2022, deliver a newly built Amaelu-Abam Customary Court to the community. Also, on December 25, 2022, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Atan-Abam; the Atan-Abam Women’s Development Center and Ovukwu Abam Secondary School, Atan-Abam, built by the Foundation, were dedicated and handed over to the community, a ceremony that drew dignitaries from all parts of the country.
All the projects were executed through the Unubiko Foundation. But St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was built jointly by the Founder of the Unubiko Foundation, Chief James Ume and his uncle, Prof. Kenneth Kalu.
During the handover of the multi-million naira court building, Abam Development Union General Chairman, Mr. Mike Onwuchechekwa, stressed that the occasion was a historic milestone in Abam’s history.
He explained that the story behind the Unubiko Foundation’s renovation of the pitch was inspiring and said it rekindled the true spirit of self-help in him as he saluted Ume for the intervention.
“The news of the relocation of the common court first broke as a mere rumor. Our executive sought confirmation of the veracity of this information through our Nde eze/traditional rulers. In addition, our executive wrote a letter to the Abia State Customary Court of Appeal, duly signed by me and the clerk requesting clarification on the status of the customary court.
“He confirmed to us the relocation of the customary court to Ozu Abam, as the new president and court members could no longer stay in the dilapidated old courthouse. He assured us that the pitch would be relocated as soon as it was renovated and ready for use,” he added.
According to Onwuchechekwa, this led members of the Abam Development Union to approach illustrious sons and daughters of the community, requesting financial support for the project, but the Ume Unubiko Foundation, when approached, opted to fund the project. .
“A man of humility, kindness and disarming compassion, Ike Abam listened intently as we advocated for the renewal of the customary court. When we were done, he asked us if we had any architectural designs of our choice to which we answered in the affirmative and proceeded to hand him a design.
“As it has become his trademark, he quietly informed us that he alone would bear the cost of rebuilding. For our delegation it was like a pleasant dream; God in his infinite mercy and grace had decided to dry our tears through one of our illustrious sons in the person of Ike Abam. Our gratitude that day knew no bounds,” he added.
Commenting during the customary court handover, Ume said: “I’ve been doing a couple of things for Abam in Abia State and beyond through our Unubiko Foundation. They called me to address the challenge they had with the court and through the Unubiko Foundation, we decided to embark on this project. I am happy that our people have received it well.
“I don’t like politics and I’m not running for office as you can see, but I’ve been doing a lot for my people. What we do at the Unubiko Foundation is to serve humanity. I believe in every segment of society, as individuals we can make our contributions and we don’t all have to be in politics to contribute.
“I am also taking this opportunity to encourage other Abams who have been contributing to the development of the community over the years to continue the good work they are doing for their people and I believe that at the appropriate time they would be celebrated,” he added. .
Abam Traditional Rulers Council Chairman Eze Ogbuka Origa urged all Abam sons and daughters to emulate Ume.
“We are here to celebrate him for what he has done for the community. This our son has a passion to reach Abams in all parts of the world. His reach has reached various areas and people,” he added.
Abia State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Chief Uche Ihediwa, urged communities to partner with the government in developing the state.
Ihediwa, who was represented by Mr. Kenneth Ogbonna, thanked Ume for helping the government build the customary court.
In addition, on December 25thethe Unubiko Foundation handed over the state-of-the-art school built by the Foundation to the Abia State Government.
The school was initially built over 70 years ago, but like most government educational facilities, due to lack of care, it fell into disrepair. When the Unubiko Foundation was about to start the project, most of the buildings had collapsed.
Also on the occasion, the philanthropist promised a N20 million scholarship for the students of the school, saying that the education of the children would ensure the development of the community and the state.
The Labor Party’s gubernatorial candidate in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, speaking at the handover ceremony, encouraged other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate Ume.
He advised all successful Nigerians to seek to improve the lives of those around them.
The Unubiko founder, who is also the publisher of THE WHITSLER, also handed over the rebuilt Nigerian Presbyterian Church, Atan Abam Parish, on the same day. The church was first planted in 1919 by Chief Eme Nkugba, a merchant from present-day Akwa Ibom State. In 1920 the Church attracted the Atan Abam Church of Scotland Missionary School. Church members had worshiped in a building erected by OK Onyike in the 1980s. In January 2022, Ume and Prof. Kalu undertook the reconstruction of the building and completed the project in October 2022.
The Prelate and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, His Eminence, Ekpenyong Akpanika, who spoke at the launch of the project, praised Ume and Kalu for their service to humanity.
According to him, the reconstruction of the historic church showed the commitment of both Ume and Kalu to the service of God and humanity. Akpanika said Nigeria would witness socio-economic progress when philanthropists actively participate in community development.
Mba Idika, former Prelate and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, during his commentary, described the project as the only one of its kind.
Speaking about the building donated to Atan Abam Women Development by the Unubiko Foundation, a former Information Commissioner in Abia State, Eke Agbai, said Ume’s gesture would challenge other well-meaning Nigerians to push development projects in the state.
He said that such development projects were expected to be carried out by the government. He called for public-private partnership to develop states.
He said: “If you can’t be accountable, you can’t lead. You must trust someone to whom you can leave your money in their hands. A good money manager is a man who can provide leadership.”
Speaking at the school handover, Ume said that her Foundation’s intervention was part of the Foundation’s life-touching projects, expressing her belief that the renovated classroom block, courtrooms, the Development Center for Women and the church would be highly valued and urged community members to protect the facilities against vandalism.
“The Abam Onyerubi community in Arochukwu local government of Abia State has long desired the transformation and upgrading of the old community development.
“We listened to the cry of the indigenous people and we embarked on these projects that restore hope to the entire community,” he said.
It revealed that before the intervention at the school, students were learning under a dilapidated building, which was also a great discouragement for school attendance.
He wondered what kind of learning outcome under such a dilapidated structure would produce students who would be able to compete with their peers in other parts of the world.
“The government and the people must do more to support education, we need collective action on infrastructure development if we are to produce the right leaders of tomorrow,” Ume added.
The Foundation had previously implemented many intervention programs in the areas of skills acquisition in digital technology and other areas, youth and women empowerment, job creation, and poverty reduction, among others.
Previously, the Foundation had embarked on various youth empowerment programs in Abia State. He noted that interventions were needed to accelerate the shift towards digital empowerment of youth in Abia State due to growing insecurity and youth unemployment.
He had also stated that his goal was to re-channel the negative vibes that some young people invest in unproductive companies into something useful by starting to build durable products and solutions that would drive Africa forward with technological innovation.
Other sons and daughters of Abam are expected to emulate Ume’s good gesture for the development of communities and the improvement of people’s lives.