Okopoly Staff, Students Want School Named After Ekwueme
…as Oko indigenes declare Ekwueme as founder
By O’star Eze
As part of efforts to immortalise late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria’s former vice president and founder of Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Orumba North LGA, Anambra State, the college’s staff and Oko indigenes have called on the federal government to convert the institution to a federal university of technology and rename it Alex Ekwueme Federal University of Technology.
Speaking to Orient Daily during a colloquium recently in Oko, as one of the polytechnic’s scheduled activities to pay last respects to her founder, the Public Relations Officer, Onuchukwu Obini, said that the Federal Polytechnic, Oko was late Ekwueme’s brainchild and therefore deserves to be named after him.
He said that the institution had been persuading the federal government to rename the institution after her founder and as well upgrade the school to a federal university of technology given that it has attained the human and physical resource capacity to make the transition.
“Late Dr. Alex Ekwueme was the founder of Federal Polytechnic, Oko. This is why we have been calling for an upgrade and rename of the institution just as was done for other elder statesmen like Obafemi Awolowo. With the present demise of the founder, we believe it is high time the federal government gave our prayers serious consideration.
“We have enough infrastructure, enough Ph.D. holders, enough landmass, enough manpower, enough teaching aids and every other thing it would take to make the transition to a federal university a smooth one. So, let the pronouncement be made and we will take it up from there.”
Obini said beside the ongoing colloquium in honor of late elder statesman, which Oko Poly is hosting in conjunction with Old Aguata Union and Oko community, the institution has declared February 1 and 2 public holidays to enable staff and students attend and participate in funeral activities.
He added that the institution has made their academic environment available for the burial activities.
In the same vein, Dr. Allen Nwosu, a lecturer of the federal polytechnic said that Ekwueme placed Oko on the map of the world, his foundation helped a lot of indigent ones to gain western education and was the chief patron of education in Aguata.
“He helped a lot of Aguata people travel outside the country to advance their studies and exposure. The community hospital and the federal polytechnic were all his initiatives and the list continues of the modernisation Alex Ekwueme attracted to Oko community and Old Aguata,” he said.
He said that gaining employment in the polytechnic as an indigene helped him to advance his academic pursuit up to doctorate degree level, stating that he would remain indebted to Late Ekwueme for this.
“Judging from the foregoing, the institution is long overdue for bearing late Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s name,” he said.
Honourable Nwammuo Ike Cyprain, the national president of Oko People’s Union, described the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme as an illustrious son of Oko as well as a father, adding that Ide Aguata was so patriotic that he single-handedly developed Oko, having laid the foundation that led to accelerated development of the community.
These, he said, are the motivators for the efforts being made by the federal and state government as well as the community to give him a befitting burial.
“Roads are being patched, streetlights are being set up and structures being erected to see that late Ekwueme is given a befitting burial,” he said.
Continuing, Nwamuo said, “Oko community loves Ekwueme. During his lifetime, he was peaceful, unassuming and approachable. We intend to set up a structure of Ekwueme in bronze at the Civic Centre.”
He disclosed that Ekwueme had commenced the process of setting up a skill acquisition College in Oko few weeks to his demise and that the committee will ensure that the project is completed and named after Ekwueme, while calling on the federal government to “do the needful by immortalising him and naming Federal Polytechnic, Oko after Late Dr. Alex Ekwueme.”
“We are trying to see if we can continue from where he stopped as a composite body. During Ekwueme’s time, he was a one-man army. He will be remembered as the frontier of democracy being the founder of People’s Democratic Party and therefore deserves to be immortalised,” he said.
Chief Austin Ezeobele, a member of Oko Nze n’ Ozo told Orient Daily that given that late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was their member as well as Ide Oko and Ide Aguata, he will be accorded all the traditional rites befitting a man of his status.
“Ekwueme was the only man who saw gain and called his brethren to it, a feat that is not normal. He was a cheerful giver, a philanthropist par excellence and deserves to be given all the honour he wants.”
Another Oko native, Mrs. Lucy Ezeokafor, said the reason late Alex was given the title “Ide”(pillar) was because of his role as a pillar for Oko as well as Old Aguata in general.
“He built Oko community when there was no hospital in Old Aguata as a whole. A lot of lives was saved thus. Though his father died when he was a toddler and his family was poor, Ekwueme was diligent and intelligent and went through school with scholarship. God blessed him with wisdom which he consolidated on when he travelled outside the country and when he came back he started implementing it in developing his community as well as his country at large.
“Ekwueme was a very benevolent man who loved helping people but would never make noise about it,” she said.