In Philanthropy He Trusts

0

As the race for the Anambra governorship election hots up, one of the aspirants hoping to run on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Obinna Uzoh, is banking on his philanthropy to secure the party’s nomination, writes Shola Oyeyipo

Many factors, including political antecedents, the pedigree of the personality involved, previous contributions to the development of the state, philanthropic efforts, church affiliation, senatorial district, financial war chest and others will play a key role in determining who will emerge as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming governorship election in Anambra State.

Many of the individuals that have already signified their intention to pursue their governorship ambition on the platform of APC in the state no doubt have sterling qualities that qualify them for the job. This will certainly make the selection process a tough one.

Among the array of aspirants, Dr. Obinna Chukwudum Uzoh is gradually worming his way into the hearts of opinion molders as someone capable of giving APC the needed victory in the state.

His growing acceptance is not by any means a fluke. He has a lot going for him as he enjoys a huge acceptance among the people for his tireless philanthropy. He has done so much for the people of the state but more importantly, he has done more in assisting the churches and this is presently counting in his favour.

A former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi while extolling Uzoh’s contribution to the church on an occasion, said: “Remarkable too is your spirit of philanthropy which has continued to earn you goodwill in Anambra State and beyond. You have equally excelled in missionary work, contributed in many ways to the Christian Youth Development, which you most recently demonstrated by building and donating a multi-million naira hostel edifice to the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha at Holy Family Youth Centre, Amansea. This gesture of yours is a challenge to other wealthy Anambra citizens on how best to give back to the society.”

Apart from being a major financial contributor to the building of churches across the country, Uzoh singlehandedly built the All Saints Catholic Church, Ihiala for his community. He completed the Saint Silas Anglican Cathedral, Ihiala, singlehandedly and also donated an ICT and skill acquisition centre to the All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha while the building of Youth Centre for Nnewi Diocese in Ihiala is ongoing. He is also reputed for his sponsorship of Christians for pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome.

Apart from his efforts in the churches, he has awarded scholarships to several students in primary, secondary, colleges of education, polytechnics and universities across the country, provided special scholarship award to indigenes of Anambra State in Medicine, Law, Accountancy and Engineering and others. He donated a 3-storey building to the Law Faculty of Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State, donated and renovated schools across the country, constructed and equipped several computer and science laboratories in secondary and tertiary institutions in Anambra State and also distributed text books and instructional materials to schools across the state.

He had also established small scale enterprises for indigenes of Anambra State and engaged in rural road construction and rehabilitation. He had also provided boreholes, rural electrification and transformers to towns and villages, provision of special fund to assist pregnant women, widows, disabled people, and people with heart, kidney, lung, sight and spinal cord problems. All these are in addition to providing drugs for free medical outreaches to Saint Charles Borromeo Hospital Onitsha for some selected towns and villages in Anambra North senatorial zone and many other notable efforts too numerous to list.

Many respected people have testified to Uzoh’s philanthropic character and antecedents, including the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. (Dr.) Val Okeke, who in an exclusive interview with an international media outfit stated that: “I have closely followed Dr. Obinna Uzoh’s activities towards the less privileged and they are edifying. He has assisted many indigent students through scholarship. He has built houses for the poor, built hostels for students, churches for worshippers of different denominations and he identifies with the poor and the lowly.

“Right now, he is renovating one of the dormitories at the Onitsha prisons. He has not excluded the rich, his friendship cuts across the poor and the rich. He has identified with the governments, states and federal. He is a good man in all sense of definition.”

The dominant church in Anambra State are Catholic and Anglican churches. Of all the governorship aspirants in Anambra State, he is the only person who has done so well for both the Catholic and the Anglican, as well as other religious and non-religious organisations. He has been recognised by Pope Francis as a Knight of Saint Gregory. In fact, he is the only Papal Knight in the race.

His good deeds are now speaking volumes for the teacher-lawyer-turned politician. An an astute entrepreneur who successfully nurtured his private business enterprises, Gocuz Group, from a very humble beginning to one recognized internationally.

Among his long list of awards is the Knight of Saint Gregory the Great conferred on him by Pope Francis, Philantropist Extraordinaire and Business Titan award by the Anambra State Government during the event marking the 25 Anniversary of Anambra State. He is a Fellow, Institute of Cost Management, Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration, Fellow, The Direct Marketing Association of Nigeria, Fellow, Postgraduate School of Credit and Financial Management Studies, Patron, European Economic Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry (EEIG-NG), Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Internal Auditors of Nigeria and recipient, Africa International Achievers Merit Award for Excellence among others.

He was the governorship candidate of National Democratic Party (NDP) in Anambra State in 2003 before joining the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but as today, he holds sway as a chieftain of APC in Anambra State.

On the burning issue of zoning, Uzoh’s argument is that since there is currently a preponderance of politicians from the Anambra North Senatorial District claiming that the incumbent governor, Dr. Willie Obiano has disappointed them with his abysmal non-performance and should step aside to give another person from Anambra North a chance. However, considering the fact that Anambra Central senatorial district has had 11 years in power and the north has had a single term of 4 years with an overwhelming agreement on lack of confidence and abysmal non-performance, equity requires that the Anambra South senatorial district, precisely the Ihiala LGA where Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju comes from should be given the opportunity of completing a second term in office.

Reacting to those calling on him to stay out of politics having recorded outstanding success in his private business, Uzoh said: “My sole intention for doing this is on account of a sense of mission I feel deeply inside. It is a mission replicate on the level of success which by God’s grace I have recorded in my private engagement as a businessman, an industrialist, an academic, a lawyer and a philanthropist. It is my intention, with your agreement and cooperation, to take Anambra State to another level.

‘Anambra State, given its human materials resources, is naturally positioned to be among the leaders in the 36 states of Nigeria. It is a state which is home to such illustrious Nigerians as the right Honourable Nnamdi Azikwe, Dr. Akunwafor Nwafor Orizu, Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Kenneth Dike, Louis Mbanefo, Jerome Udoji to mention only a few. With its position beside the majestic River Niger and crisscrossed by numerous other smaller rivers, Anambra State is naturally positioned to be the hub of business activities in the whole of the South-east.

“There is every sign that we are performing below our endowment. We are still far from the place we should be in all performance index within the Nigeria context. The indicators of underperformance are there for all to see. Our institutions are almost all second rate. Our young ones are still moving in droves to search for greener pastures elsewhere in Nigeria and abroad. Anambra state has little or nothing to offer to the young, resourceful and efficient, qualified youth who are in abundance in our state.

“Our educational institutions are still very much in the mediocre range. Investment in productive industrial sector is paltry or non-existent; foreign investment is almost completely absent, and for many reasons local investment, even by our fellow Anambrarians find home in other parts of Nigeria instead of in Anambra state. On account of all these, prospects for our teaming job-seeking youth are really bleak.

“This is why I am presenting myself as a humbler servant to lead the next state administration in Anambra State. My conviction is that with ever ready help of God, we will bid farewell to the current situation in which we are. We can and must strive higher. We must look into the future and shape the present to make that future brighter for our children. My antecedents have prepared me very well for this task which with your help I can perform very creditably.”

Quote.

Many of the individuals that have already signified their intention to pursue their governorship ambition on the platform of APC in the state no doubt have sterling qualities that qualify them for the job. This will certainly make the selection process a tough one.