By Chukwudi Ikpe
Academic activities resumed at Obazu Community Grammar School (OCOGRAM), Obazu Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State last Monday following the official re-dedication and re-opening of the school by the Supervisory Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Maduwike (JP), assisted by the Bishop-elect, Ven. Chukwuma C. Oparah.
The main building of the school has been completely renovated while renovation work is on-going in other buildings, within the school premises which is located opposite Holy Trinity (Ang.) Church Obazu Mbieri.
Performing the re-dedication ceremony, Bishop Maduwike disclosed that the salaries of the teachers will be taken over by the Diocese and appealed to the Bishop-elect to ensure that OCOGRAM and other schools, in the Diocese stand.
He thanked the Old Boys Association who masterminded the project for a job wonderfully done and urged the people to always remember the place that made them.
The prelate, who noted that ‘education maketh a man,’ also advised the students to take their studies seriously and listen attentively to their teachers.
Bishop Maduwike pointed out that it will take more than ten years for the school to start yielding dividends and called on the host community, parents and all stakeholders to put in their best to ensure that the school makes progress.
Earlier in a brief homily, the Bishop-elect, Ven. Chukwuma Oparah who expressed gratitude to God that OCOGRAM has resurrected, also reminded Christians to always return thanks to God when he has done something for them.
According to him, giving thanks is important, especially when God has done something good for us.
Ven. Oparah, who is an Old Boy of the school, recalled that ‘OCOGRAM used to be a very popular school in this clime adding that “we are happy that we are going back to the time of academic excellence that made our parents bring us here”.
He appreciated the Supervisory Bishop, who he said, God has used to achieve the great feat, describing the reopening of the school as a landmark achievement.
To the students, the Bishop-elect said, “you have made history. In the days ahead, the church, your parents and the community will be proud of you”.
Speaking, the Director of Educational Services, Diocese of Owerri, Ven. James Onyekwelibe said that education involves teaching and learning and pointed out that as a mission school, the students will receive academic, physical, spiritual and mental transformation from there.
He explained that qualified teachers have been selected for the school. He then presented the teachers to the Supervisory Bishop and the Bishop-elect.
The Diocesan Education Director assured the host community that the school will be a blessing to them.
In his vote of thanks, the principal of the school, Ven. Chike Anurigwo thanked the Supervisory Bishop and the Bishop-elect who incidentally is the chairman of OCOGRAM strategic and Technical Committee. He also appreciated the Director of Education and expressed loud kudos for members of the Old Boys Association of the school “who are responsible for what is happening here today”.
Ven. Anurigwo also thanked in a special way the Managing Editor of Christian Voice Newspaper, Sir Martin Ebe for his relentless support as well as Obazu Community especially the Traditional Prime Minister (TPM), Chief Victor Iroegbu for their co-operation. The TPM Chiekf Iroegbu and the President General of Obazu, Mr. Amaechi Ejiogu, thanked the Old Boys for their efforts in reopening the school.
Earlier in an interview, the National President of OCOGRAM Old Boys Association, Barr. C.H.O. Achonulo explained that the school has shut down more than 10 years ago following a disagreement between the host community and the church, after the school was handed over to the Anglican Diocese of Owerri by the Ohakim administration.
According to him, the Old Boys were not happy over the condition of the school which was commissioned in 1962 by Former Premier of Easter Nigerian, Dr. Michael Okpara.
“This is where we were nurtured. It is the cradle of our development as human beings and we can’t allow it to go down,” Barr. Achulonu said.
He said that the intervention and efforts of the Old Boys which took them to visit the Supervisory Bishop and the host community have become a reality.
Barr. Achonulo revealed that members of the Old Boys all over the world including USA and England were involved and they have started paying in funds for the renovation of the school.
He made particular mention of and appreciated Dr. Michael Ihemaguba, a USA based medical practitioner who he described as the brain behind the motivation.
Barr. Achonulo appealed to the host community to continue to co-operate with the Old Boys to see that this will never relax’.
Present at the ceremony were the clergy of the Diocese as well as members of the OCOGRAM Old Boys Association.
Also present were people of Obazu Community led by the President General Mr. Amaechi Ejiogu, Secretary General Chief Sir Rowland Nze and Traditional Prime Minster (TPM) Chief Victor O. Iroegbu who spoke on behalf of the Traditional Ruler, His Royal Highness Eze Francis Elendu Agunwah.
The Managing Editor of Christian Voice Newspaper, Sir Martin Ebe who is an Old Boy of the school as well as Sir Dan Asinobi, the first senior prefect of the school and Sir G.C. Ekezie, the first National President of the Old Boys Association were equally present at the ceremony.
The Archdeacon of Obazu Mbieri, Ven. Feddy Mbalisi was also present at the ceremony.