By Tope Templer Olaiya
A Katy resident and Houston Texans football player is returning to Nigeria for his third annual trip to promote education, American football and health awareness in Africa. Amobi Okoye, who left Nigeria for the United States at the age of 12, will be joined by teammate Frank Okam, Kasia Muoto and Africa Cancer Center doctors and nurses for the trip to Lagos, Delta and Abuja from March 12 to 20.
“I know that in order to get things accomplished in Nigeria, one will experience frustration,” Okoye said. “After the first year, there was a lot of frustration, and second year had its own problems, but every year has become better, and I am looking forward to this time every year.”
Part of this year’s mission includes delivering approximately 30,000 new and gently used books and school supplies to two local communities in two Nigerian states. The Books Abroad collection drive was a four-month community effort sponsored by the Katy Rotary Club and the Katy Independent School District.
“Books Abroad has been a rich and fulfilling service learning project for students in every part of Katy. Together they have discovered the joy of sharing, and the satisfaction of creating opportunities for others who have so much less than they.”
In addition, the foundation is hosting Kickoff 4 Kids for the second consecutive year to teach the children the game of American football and promote better athletes through physical activity.
“I hope to see a smile on a kid’s face through football camp, knowing he has another side of hope,” Okoye said. “My goal is to bring back a higher level of athletics in the school system, because that seems to be a little forgotten. I think athletics is a real good way for kids to learn discipline and be involved in a team sport.”
The Foundation is hoping to build a prep school through the Athletes in the Diaspora Community Intervention programme to introduce the concept of American football to the continent of Africa. “We have partnered with the federal government, local and state governments of at least five states and the interest levels of everybody is very high,” Okoye said.
Funding for the goal will be through the Foundation’s scholarship programme, Changing Africa Through Education (CATE). Last year, the foundation awarded 28 scholarships to the gold medal finalists of the Nigeria Universities Games Association. This year, the foundation is hoping to award five $15,000 scholarships.
And with the help of the Medical Bridges Organization, a team doctors and nurses from the Africa Cancer Center will be delivering a 40-foot container of medical equipment and supplieas to treat cancer and other illnesses. They will also host workshops for Nigerian medical professionals through the “train the trainer” programme.
“We want to provide healthy kids in the community of Africa, starting with Nigeria,” Okoye said. “In the community, we’re going to be having free medical clinics and to create more cancer awareness.”
Ononogbu, Mr. Lipids, signs off at UNN
By Tope Templer Olaiya
University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN)’s Mr. Lipids, Prof. Ikpendu Christopher Ononogbu, took the first step to retirement from the University after 39 years service with a valedictory lecture organised by the Faculty of Biological Sciences.
Students and staff rose in accord to honour the distinguished retiring don at the revamped Princess Alexandria Auditorium. The air was festive as tradition mingled with academic formalities. The Asagba of Asaba, Prof. Chike Edozien was in attendance alongside the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Bartho Okolo.
Many prominent Nigerians notably Ononogbu’s peers in the academia attended the event, including the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, Prof. Ikenna Oyudo, and his counterpart from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Prof. Cyril Onwuliri, who was represented by his wife, Prof. Viola Onwuliri.
The professor of lipid biochemistry spoke on “The Cycles of Lipids and Morality: Four Decades of Lipid Studies in Nigeria”. He recalled his experiences working on lipids and promoting specialisation by African scientists through various international and local seminars. Lipids are a group of fats and fat-like substances that constitute a major class of tissue components and a major foodstuff.
Ononogbu’s research efforts have included work on the differences in lipid and lipoprotein levels between black and white populations and their contributions towards Ischemic heart disease; initiating the Nigerian Lipid and Lipoprotein standardization programme aimed at harmonizing lipid studies and methodology in Nigeria and gathering together a body of African scientists to specialise in the study of lipids through the establishment of the African Conference on the Biochemistry of Lipids of which he was the first President.
He continuously propagated what he calls the gospel of lipidology, leading to the establishment of 18 centres of lipid research in Nigeria, supported by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
Scientist, poet and writer, Ononogbu has written several books, including an anthropological analysis of his native Nkpa community in Abia State, a book of poetry from his travels around the world and his sojourn in Malawi as visiting professor. There are several books on his area of specialisation including the acclaimed Lipids in Human Existence.
Prof Ononogbu’s long association with the University of Nigeria commenced with his enrolment as an undergraduate. He holds the B.Sc of the university and a PhD from the University of London.
Vice Chancellor, Prof Bartho Okolo, testified of his former colleague in the Faculty of Biological Sciences: “In addition to giving honour to a deserving researcher, teacher and administrator, an event of this nature serves to remind us of our main mission as academics – teaching and research. It is on record that Ononogbu went after his duties as an academic with both passion and dedication.
He promoted the knowledge about lipids, trained many young academics and attracted many grants to the university. He contributed in no little measure to the profile of our university. In return, he achieved self-fulfilment as a mentor and received both national and international acclaim as a biochemist. I am truly happy to be part of today’s event in his honour.”
Rewarded for passion to humanity
By Daniel Anazia
She stood straight in line, head and shoulders above the more than 5,000 fellow corps members that were passing out with her, after a year of civic duty to the fatherland. Beaming with smiles, 28-year-old Olusola Abodunrin, a medical doctor by training has touched many lives through her initiative during her service year in Lagos.
Sola, with the support of the Medical Mission Initiative (MMI), organised, a one-day health-screening programme at the Isokan Public Health Centre, Ojokoro Local Development Council as part of her community development project, while serving with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
The programme had in attendance 500 respondents from the community, with the Chairman, House Committee on Health, Lagos State House of Assembly, Samuel Adejare, also gracing the occasion.
Highpoint of the programme include health education and counseling, de-worming of children, screening for diabetes and hypertension, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, oral health hygiene education and examination, basic eye examination, treatment of minor ailments and referral of major/chronic conditions.
The project was adjudged one of the best of all those carried out by corps members serving in the state. Hence, a certificate of honour was issued to Abodunrin.
Speaking at the occasion, Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties, Tola Kasali, who represented the governor, thanked the corps members for their service and wished them well in their future endeavour. He encouraged them to take advantage of the entrepreneurial skills they acquired and help themselves with the loan facility the Central Bank was extending to outgoing corps members.
Members of Abodunrin’s family, whose presence added glamour to the event, said the Abeokuta, Ogun State indigene, had always have it in her heart to help people.
Elated with so much joy for the honour done to his name and family by his daughter, Balogun, told Life Campus “I am proud of her and we are very happy to be associated with her.”
“She cares for people,” Adeoye Abodunrin, her husband said. “She gives people 80 per cent of her NYSC salary. I always ask, ‘what is wrong with you?’ But this is how God rewards people who actually care for other people,” he added.
For the lady of the moment, she desires to do more and hope the report on the screening will help the council spend the money meant for healthcare for the right purposes.
Ilube’s Foundation supports gifted African students
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Tom Ilube’s African Gifted Foundation (AGF) is working with Professor Deborah Eyre, Vice President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, to select gifted African students for its first ever Academy session in January 2011.
The Academy will be based in a leading university in Uganda, and in its first year will bring together 40 to 50 exceptionally talented students aged from 14 to 19 years old from Nigeria, Botswana and Uganda, growing rapidly in future years to 1,000 students a year from across the continent.
The Academy will focus on mathematics and I.T and students will be immersed in a variety of stretching subjects ranging from space exploration, cyber-security and global commodities trading. Specialist experts from industry and leading universities from the UK and various African countries will engage these brilliant young minds in stimulating debate on how these areas can enhance the continent’s future.
Once the students have completed the Academy session and returned home, they will continue to receive support from AGF through an online virtual academy, where students will be able to access a number of online resources, take part in online discussions that spread across the continent, and engage in pan-African project work.
Across Africa’s 53 countries and a billion strong population, there are a staggering estimated 20 million gifted young people. AGF intends to create a network of these top 5 per cent talented students, guiding Africa and the world’s most eminent universities towards them. AGF also hope to inspire and motivate schools and governments to provide specially tailored and enhanced education to all their gifted students.
Tom Ilube, AGF Chairman said: “In cities, towns and villages across Africa, there are young people who have been blessed with the intelligence of an Einstein. Our mission is to find them, invest in them and unleash their talents to the benefit of the whole continent.” More information on African Gifted Foundation can be found at www.africangifted.org