Visits never left them screaming in fear. Instead, they leave with the similitude of a yellow face with small, open eyes and a large, round mouth slack with surprise or shock. And this is no sign of sorrow.
First, it was a former Liberian Vice President, Hon. Joseph Boakai. Then followed a former Vice President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr Edward Singhartey. Even Dr Johnnetta Cole,President National Council of Negro Women and former Director of Smithsonia National Museum of Africa Art came all the way from the USA to the same effect. But what did they see that gave them such feelings of awe and disbelief in a relatively unknown village?
Former Senate presidents Anyim Pius Anyim and Ken Nnamani must have thought so too after their visits, without prior “warning,” culminated in positivity.
Former Abia State Governors with their Deputies, and the current executive at the helm are no strangers too. They know Amaokwe Achara, Uturu in Isukwuato Local Government Area. So, it was not surprising they visited too.
Yes it is true that between 2103 and 2020 the serene town of Amaokwe Achara Uturu was blessed with the visit of such distinguished personalities as Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, Sen. Theodore A. Orji, Sen. Orji Kalu, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, Sir Emeka Amanamba and Rt. Hon Udo Okochukwu. What is however puzzling is that their journeys all ended with the puzzling wow expression.
I guess it is the search for answers to this puzzle that prompted newsmen to corner one of the prominent Abia statesmen, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kalu( may his soul rest in peace),who also visited Amaokwe Achara Uturu while he was still alive. And he had this to say:
“After touring the facilities inGregory University Uturu and taking stock of the achievements of the founder and Proprietor, I can say that Prof Gregory Ibe stands shoulder above his contemporaries. I do not doubt that the future is bright. There is no better exclamation to describe the transformation I saw than wow!”
If Ndubuisi Kanu’s observation was a bang, then Goodluck Jonathan’s assertion was a banger. The multiple-award-winning former Nigerian leader came calling last Wednesday and lifted the lid off the mystifying wow.
He also gave insight into the virtues and achievements of Prof Gregory Ibe that the late Ndubuisi Kanu described as distinctive.
“Prof Ibe has shown that with the little God blessed us with, we can change society positively,” Jonathan said after he commissioned and energised a 5MVA 33 KVA electric substation Prof. Ibe procured and installed for his community.
In the words of the former president,”The provision of electricity to an entire community is not a joke. Ibe has shown that he has the heart of gold.”
Of course, it is a known fact that power illuminates life and society and triggers development. But could it be the only reason a relatively unknown village has been playing host to several high profile dignitaries? Certainly not!
There is a changed narrative. The meteoric rise to fame of Amaokwe Achara isn’t by a providential stroke of serendipity. The catalyst is the vision Prof. Ibe has been nurturing since 2012.
According to the Deputy Registrar,Media of Gregory University Uturu, Sleek Ogwo, “the vision that Prof. Ibe has is what triggered the development and gave rise to the kind of infrastructure we have on the ground.”
Perhaps, what provoked the wow exclamation is how a vision that started on a low key metamorphosed into a massive project that is moulding tomorrow’s leaders for Nigeria in all facets and also shaping the future of Nigeria and the African continent in health care in less than 10 years.
“We started with three colleges — Social and Management Sciences, Humanities and Natural and Applied Sciences — in 2012 and subsequently began to acquire so many other programmes and each programme has a specific requirement in terms of infrastructure,” Mr Ogwo said.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Augustin Uwakwe, added, “We have moved from three to 10 colleges. We even have a post-graduate school. We have colleges of pharmacy, engineering, environmental sciences, law, agriculture, education and medicine.”
He said although the Federal Ministry of Health released the FMC, Umuahia, to them for use as part of their teaching hospital, Prof. Ibe did not rest on his oars.
“Just like every visionary leader, Prof. Ibe built an ultramodern pathology block, the best in Nigeria. It is properly equipped to cater to every area of clinical medicine. He did not stop there. He started building our own university teaching hospital in Ezinnachi” he said.
He added, “we have spent over N3 billion to build the best university teaching hospital in Nigeria.”
I know you are tempted to shout wow too. Jonathan did. His forecasts that the teaching hospital will revolutionise health care in the African continent is proof.
“I have confidence in the Chancellor of Gregory University, Professor Greg Ibe when it comes to the provision of quality health care to the people.This 1000 bed teaching hospital is a very ambitious project that will change the face of health care not just in Nigeria but Africa,” he said.
There is no doubt that as Prof Ibe continues to perfect the structural masterpiece known as Gregory University Uturu, all in a calculated bid to transform the institution into the emerging hub of entrepreneurial education, visitors to the host town of Amaokwe Achara Uturu will continue departing the academic city with the signature expression of wow!
ProGIMA-Prof Gregory Ibe Media Associates.