05 Mar 2020 Speech and Video slideshow of the OCI Foundation’s 2020 IFOMSSA Awards Presentation Ceremony (March 2nd, 2020)
Video of the Speech and Picture Slideshow
TEXT OF THE SPEECH BY THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF THE OCI FOUNDATION, DR. CHRIS IFEDIORA, AT THE 2020 IFOMSSA AWARDS PRESENTATION CEREMONY, HELD ON MONDAY, THE 2ND DAY OF MARCH, 2020, AT FATHER JOSEPH MEMORIAL SECONDARY SCHOOL, AGULERI, ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA (PRESENTED BY BARR. STEVE ONYECHI ONONYE, THE LEGAL ADVISER TO THE OCI FOUNDATION)
Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,
On behalf of the OCI Foundation, I welcome you all to this occasion of the “2020 IFOMSSA Awards” presentation ceremony. This is the 4th Edition of this annual event, and the fact that we have come this far, is a testament to our consistency and commitment to education in the Omambala Area of Anambra State, Nigeria.
“IFOMSSA” stands for the “Ifedioramma Okafor Memorial Secondary School Academic” Awards, and was established in loving memory of the late Ifedioramma Isaac Okafor (1939 – 2016), who was the father of the OCI Foundation’s Founder. The late Pa Ifedioramma was a firm believer that Education holds the key to limitless successes, not just for individuals, but for the society at large. His influences on his son, and his son’s desire to perpetuate Pa Ifedioramma’s educational legacy, led to the establishment of this noble scholarship program.
After 4 years, anecdotal pieces of evidence indicate that the actual impact of the IFOMSSA Scholarship Scheme is clearly visible to all keen observers. We have been reliably informed that, since the inception of the IFOMSSA Awards, students from the eligible schools in Anambra East LGA now perform above expectations in their WAEC and NECO exams. We have also been told that one of the benefitting schools have won consecutive state-wide academic competitions over the past 2 years in Anambra State. Even though these observations suggest that our goals are being met, we are on organization that deal with facts, and are proud to announce that, with the help of the PPSSC, a scientific research is already underway for an empirical evaluation of these impacts.
In addition to these heart-warming pieces of information, the impact of our actions are even more exciting when we consider the fact that at least 2 past winners of the IFOMSSA Senior Awards gained admissions into tertiary institutions in 2019, and that at least 5 other beneficiaries have so far been offered admissions this year (2020). With our newly-created JAMB Scholarship Awards, which is reserved for IFOMSSA Senior Scholars that wish to proceed to tertiary studies, more of our beneficiaries have already enrolled for the 2020 JAMB exam. As such, we are sure to have more of our scholars gain admission into Nigerian tertiary institutions by 2021 and beyond.
Like a proud father, the OCI Foundation is pleased to state that we have successfully inspired and nurtured a number of Omambala youths, from what was supposed to be disadvantaged secondary schools in a disadvantaged Educational Zone, to compete successfully with students from supposedly better schools across Anambra State and the Nigerian Nation. For those who might not know, some of our past beneficiaries are now bonafide students of reputable institutions like the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (which have admitted three of them for the 2019/2020 academic session), the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (which admitted two in 2019/2020 and at least one in the 2018/2019 session), and the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli (which admitted one in 2018/2019). We also have other scholars in polytechnics, colleges of education, technical schools, and so on. Even more importantly, most of these youngsters currently receive the Cyfed Undergraduate Awards, which is another scholarship program of the OCI Foundation available to those in tertiary institutions. Most of the award recipients we are celebrating today, will surely become undergraduates tomorrow, and will be eligible for the Cyfed Scholarships.
The IFOMSSA Scholarship, which comprises of the IFOMSSA Senior and IFOMSSA Junior Awards, grant financial incentives to students enrolled in state government-owned secondary schools across all the 3 Local Government Areas of the Otuocha Educational Zone of Anambra State. These LGAs include Anambra East, Anambra West, and Ayamelum. The scope of our recipients this year is a major improvement from where we started in 2017, when it was only limited to those in Anambra East LGA. As everyone would have observed, the IFOMSSA program also rewards high performing non-indigenes of Otuocha Zone, who are enrolled in eligible schools within the Zone. In fact, this year, at least 2 of these winners were not even from Anambra State, and about 5 of the 15 recipients here today, have their home towns outside the Otuocha Educational Zone. This practice of rewarding non-indigenes has been the case since the first awards were handed out in 2017. We allow this because the OCI Foundation believes in equity and fairness. We also allow this because we believe that if these individuals and their parents live in our midst, work in our midst, attend our schools, and contribute in their own little ways to the growth of our communities, then, they should partake in the benefits that come the ways of our people.
For clarity, the Senior IFOMSSA Award is for SSS-3 students preparing for the Senior School Certificate Examinations. It covers the entire registration fees of the winners for both the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the National Examination Commission (NECO). The Junior IFOMSSA Award, on the other hand, benefits those in JSS-3, and covers the winners’ entire registration fees for the Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE).
Annually, the winners of both awards are selected on merit through competitive processes. This year, the 15 Senior Award winners were the best performing students among a group of 41 candidates, drawn from all the eligible schools in the Otuocha Zone. They all had to undergo a one-off examination called the IFOMSSA Challenge, which was held on January the 27th, 2020. The 37 Junior Award winners are all Nsugbe indigenes enrolled at the Community High School, Nsugbe. They are not here in person today, but will receive their awards within the week through their school principal. Nsugbe happens to be the home town of the OCI Foundation’s President, Dr Chris Ifediora.
Distinguished guests, this year, as already stated, we have 15 winners in the senior category, and 37 in the junior category, making a total of 52 winners. Over the 4 years of the award’s existence, there has been steady increases in these numbers. The total was 15 in 2017 (made up of 10 senior and 5 junior winners), 22 in 2018 (12 senior and 10 junior winners), and 35 in 2019 (12 senior and 23 junior winners). This means that we now have a total of 124 winners of this award since it was started in 2017, and the number, by God’s grace, will continue to rise annually.
For the records, we wish to state that our scholarship schemes are not designed to make the recipients rich, neither are they designed to solve all their financial problems. Far from these. Our aim of implementing these awards, ladies and gentlemen, is to motivate our young ones and spur students from the Omambala Area of Anambra State towards the attainment of greater academic successes. The real winners of these awards are not just the winning scholars present at this event today. The winners also include the hundreds, if not thousands, who, by the mere existence of these awards, are now inspired to study harder and believe in themselves. These individuals are also being motivated yearly to develop their minds, and dream positively beyond the economic and academic limitations they face.
To ensure that our guests fully understand our educational program, the OCI Foundation offers 5 sets of scholarship awards. These include the IFOMSSA Junior and Senior Awards (which we are celebrating today), the JAMB Awards, the Cyfed Undergraduate Scholarships, and the newly-introduced Cyfed-Bradley Hope Scholarships. Details of all these scholarships, and their eligibility criteria, are available on our website (see the web address below). Our scholarship schemes are unique, well designed, and are all inter-linked. As such, a winner of the Junior IFOMSSA Award can potentially remain on the scheme all the way to his graduation from a tertiary institution in Nigeria, provided academic and character criteria are maintained.
We at the OCI Foundation believe in the powers of an educated and a motivated mind. Such a mind, ladies and gentlemen, can dream unimaginable dreams, surmount impossible obstacles, achieve the unachievable, and explore limitless opportunities. This statement encapsulates our passion. It reflects our beliefs and goals. It represents the very essence of why we do what we do, and why we spend so much to lift and inspire so many.
As my late father, Pa Ifedioramma would always say, “with the stroke of a pen, an educated individual can unlock the door to riches”. Just like with most things, dad was right. Education, ladies and gentlemen, is “a great leveller”, and through it, the OCI Foundation wishes to give our younger ones the opportunity to bridge the gap between riches and poverty, and to arm them with the tools with which they will overcome failures and attain successes.
We are proud to say that the OCI Foundation does not just offer financial help. We also support the winners of all 5 scholarship schemes through well-designed packages aimed at developing and moulding their characters and attitudes. We train them to contribute holistically to positive nation building. We inspire them to be future leaders. We groom them to be fine individuals with admirable characters. We expect them to uphold the good values of the OCI Foundation. Our dream is for our scholars to be future engineers, doctors, bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, priests, and scientists. They will not only be found worthy in learning, they will also be found ready to lead. Our societies should expect them! Nigerians should embrace them!! The world should be ready for them!!!
In ending this Speech, our special appreciation goes to all those who have been instrumental to the success stories behind these awards to date. Mrs Imelda Emeka and Barr Onyechi Ononye stand tall in this regard, and we are extremely grateful to them. We are also appreciative of the efforts of the Zonal Director and all the officers of the Otuocha Zone of the PPSSC, the school principals and the traditional rulers in the Zone, as well as the State leadership of the PPSSC. We also thank the gentlemen of the press and the entire OCI Foundation Family.
Thank you all once again for attending this event. I enjoin us all to celebrate with our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as well as the past and present winners of the OCI Foundation’s scholarship awards. All guests from Anambra East LGA will find someone from their respective hometowns on our winner’s list. We did our best to ensure that this is the case by creating a Catchment List. We wish you all safe trips back home, and enjoin you all to support the OCI Foundation, as WE RISE, BY LIFTING OTHERS.
Thank you, and God bless you all.