Sunday Ehigiator writes that the recent scholarship awarded to 12 indigent students by the old students of West African Peoples Institute, Calabar, Cross River State, was a ray of hope for the beneficiaries
For Master Divine Etetim Willie, an SS1 student of West African Peoples Institute, (WAPI), Calabar, Cross River State, though in his teens, his future like many others had been rather bleak.
Curiously, it was due to no other reason than the fact that the wherewithal to actualise his dream of using the platform of education to fulfill his dream of a great future was lacking.
In fact, that he was able to get to his present class was a miracle because his path from the beginning had been filled with thorns due to his poor background.
Though brilliant, the thought of being sent away from school daily agitated his mind because he was not sure where the resources would come from. Coming from a state that has many young children hawking on the streets of Lagos or Abuja or serving as househelp, his prayer must have been that he should not end up in this group.
As if God was listening to his prayers, hope eventually came his way as the news of a scholarship scheme for indigent students filtered into the school last year.
Many of the students especially the indigent ones never believed what they heard as what they were told was unprecedented in the history of WAPI, which was founded in 1938.
However, whatever doubts they had faded when the school principal, Mrs. Mercy Etim confirmed the authenticity of the news to the students and teachers.
She told them that the scholarship which is courtesy the school’s 1997 set would be awarded to 12 students in junior and secondary classes and would also cover payment of WAEC and NECO fees.
This was unlike past scholarship schemes enjoyed in the school which only saw beneficiaries through their secondary education.
Etim, however, added a caveat – the would-be beneficiaries though indigent must possess sound moral and academic records.
The news was like sweet music to the ears of Divine, who though was qualified on the two fronts, still prayed to make the list.
Eventually, the school set the ball rolling to pick the 12 deserving students and a list of awardees was made public late last year.
Those who were lucky in the junior secondary school category included, Idongesit Francis Eton, Elisha Samuel Offiong, Cletus Ekwere Edem, Favour Thompson Okon.
Awardees in the senior secondary category were Otu Archibvong Nyong, Divine Ikechukwu Amadi, Sunday Joseph John Ekpenyong and Andem Etim Effiong.
As the gates of the school were flung open for the formal presentation of the scholarships on December 29, 2018 anxiety was boldly written on the faces of the beneficiaries and their parents. However, all that faded much later as beneficiaries were called one after the other to receive their scholarships.
So impressed was the chairman of the occasion, Barrister Ansa E. Ansa, an old student of WAPI who showered praises on the 1997 set of the school for their benevolence, that he particularly singled out Mr. Emmanuel Umohinyang, one of them for rescuing the school from a state of hopelessness through several intervention initiatives.
Ansa, a 1978 set of the school did not mince words when he described the 1997 set as the most viable set WAPI has produced since it was founded in 1938.
According to him, the turnaround that the school underwent to bring to its current state was the handiwork of the 1997 set.
He said: “Having seen what the 1997 set of this school has done, I make bold to say that you are the most viable set. Many of what has been achieved can be attributed to the support of Mr. Umohinyang.
“I have heard so much about him and I am happy to see him. Nobody has organised their set like Mr. Umohinyang has done.”
As the chairman of the occasion was speaking, a former Physics Teacher in the school, Mr. Awosiminiala Fila smiled and nodded endlessly. When he eventually rose to speak, he thanked God for what his old students have become and the fact that they remembered the school that made them.
He said: “I’m so glad in my lifetime that the labour of the past will not be in vain. When we were growing the seeds, we never knew that the seeds would grow into trees. I pray for Barrister Umohinyang that God will take him to where he should be.”
Others in audience could not but speak highly about the contributions of the 1997 set towards the development of the school.
The set is linked to the provision of furniture for staff and students and the new borehole. This is aside other multi-million naira projects, including perimeter fencing, repair of the school generator, refurbishing of the administrative blocks, school hall and more.
So happy was the school principal, Mrs. Mercy Etim that she heaped endless praises on the ’97 set for their support, even as she singled out Umohinyang.
In his speech, Umohinyang whose foundation partnered the 1997 set for the scholarship award said the initiative is just one of the avenues through which they are giving back to WAPI.
He said: “Whatever we are doing today is our way of giving back to our roots. I almost could not write my WAEC despite three extensions of date during our final year, but for our then principal, Mrs. Mbang who rallied support for me, after discovering that I had not paid for my exams because I had no parents to do.
“I want to assure you all that we shall continue to do our best for WAPI in the years ahead as our own way of giving back to the school and humanity.”
One of the scholarship awardees, Divine Willie was full of praises for the Nkanu Nkanu-led 1997 set for coming to his aid, saying “I want to assure you on behalf of other awardees that we shall not disappoint you all.”