Mrs Chinelo Bob-Osamor in a group picture with beneficiaries of the COF scholarship programme

Chike Okagbue, a consummate Anambra businessman, died in 2004, but in his name, some students in Anambra State are still receiving quality education at no cost to their parents, reports David-Chyddy Eleke

If you mention the name Chike Okagbue, some people in Anambra State may feign ignorance, but shout Bessoy and lots of eyes will turn in your direction. He was a businessman who bestrode the business world during his time like a colossus. He was the founder and first Chief Executive officer of Bessoy Group. Bessoy Group is a conglomerate that is into petroleum, scientific equipment, cement and textile.

Though he was not formally educated, Okagbue was a lover of education and made up for his inability to acquire formal education by helping less privileged people around him, educating as many children that he knew whose parents were unable to meet their responsibilities in that area. He was also known to have a rich library with the works of great writers and also devoured them with relish.

It is in the name of this icon that over 60 children are currently receiving junior and senior secondary education free of charge, in a full scholarship paid for by Chike Okagbue Foundation. Chairman, Board of Trustees of the foundation, Mrs Chinelo Bob-Osamor, told THISDAY in an interview that, “My father’s love for education informed the decision to setup this foundation in his name, and also make education the main focus. It was founded in 2008, with the motto ‘Touching lives’.”

She spoke further that, “The Foundation awards scholarship on merit to students who have excelled in common Entrance Examination. The Foundation currently has Sixty (60) Students. Offering full scholarship covering junior and Senior Secondary school. The Foundation has so far graduated three sets of students in 2015, 2016 and 2017. This is the fourth set of students. Plans are in the pipeline to usher in the tertiary phase of the Foundation.”

THISDAY gathered that the foundation on a yearly basis selects 10 pupils who performed exceptionally in their common entrance for full scholarship. In this year’s graduation ceremony of Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Eziowelle in Anambra State, the students and their parents were overjoyed for the privilege afforded them by the foundation. The parents were particularly happy that their wards received quality education in the school, which is deemed as one of the best secondary schools in Anambra State at no cost to them.

The graduating students; Okoye Florence, Okeke Ebele, Ezenwaka Chidinma, Okafor Chiemelie, Ido Jonah, Nnaji Chidubem and Udezue Chiemelie, who spoke to THISDAY at the event expressed joy over the mentorship they received from their benefactor, saying the meetings, which afforded them the opportunity of being with the chairman, board of trustees of the foundation, Mrs Bob-Osamor, provided a mentorship session for them. Unlike their peers, the mentorship was already manifesting in them as each of the beneficiaries of the foundation already had a clear vision of the dream they wanted to pursue in life.

They do not only have visions of their preferred professions, but also have ideas about the workings of the professions they have chosen. Though the beneficiaries were supposed to be 10 in number as it has always been every year, only six were at the graduation ceremony. Bob-Osamor, first daughter of Chief Chike Okagbue, told THISDAY in an interview that these set of graduands brings to 40 the number of beneficiaries that have been seen through secondary education. 50 more of the beneficiaries were still in various stages in secondary school, while 10 more would join the foundation by September when a new school year commences.

One of the parents of the beneficiaries, Mrs Ifeoma Okoye, mother of Chinenye Florence Okoye, told THISDAY that what was more significant about the Chike Okagbue Foundation Scholarship was that it was total. She said the scholarship comprised of tuition, boarding fees and educational materials such as books, desk and others. She said what was even more amazing was that the foundation knew none of the recipients nor their parents, but were strictly chosen because of their performance during common entrance examination. The parents of the recipients, thanked the foundation for their support.

Bob-Osamor disclosed that the foundation plans to extend the scholarship scheme to students of tertiary institution. She told THISDAY that plans were in advanced stage. She however commended the efforts of the benefiting students for their hardworking, saying that such glowing performance spurs the foundation to do more.