Charles Ajunwa writes that the partnership between the SDGs Office in the Presidency and Senator Theodore Orji, representing Abia Central Senatorial District, has helped to boost education in the state.
For an enduring and sustainable educational system, both teachers and students require a conducive learning environment for knowledge to be imparted. Dictionary.com defines education as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
To this end, Senator Theodore Orji, representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, as part of his constituency project, recently partnered the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the construction of ultra-modern 12-classrooms block each in Umuahia North Local Government Area and Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area.
The SDGs established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly were intended to be achieved by 2030. Nigeria in 2017, was among 44 member countries of the United Nations that presented its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on implementation of the SDGs at High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
In 2020, Nigeria was ranked 160 on the 2020 world's SDGs Index. The government affirmed that Nigeria's current development priorities and objectives are focused on achieving the SDGs.
Nigeria's 2020 VNR on SDGs focuses on the key issues of poverty (SDG-1) and an inclusive economy (SDG-8), health and well-being (SDG-3), education (SDG-4), gender equality (SDG-5), and the enabling environment of peace and security (SDG-16), and partnerships (SDG-17). This focus is based on Nigeria's current development priorities and the development objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration.
Nigeria's 2017 VNR outlined the institutional dimensions for creating an enabling policy environment for the implementation of the SDGs through its Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP's focus on economic, social and environmental dimensions of development makes it consistent with the aspirations of the SDGs.
A key challenge confronting the country has to do with out-of-school children, a demographic challenge that relates to interplay between employment (SDG-8), education (SDG4), poverty (SDG-1) and the digital economy (SDG-17). With a population of approximately 200 million people, regional disparities are significant, with 78 per cent of south-western children able to read full or part sentences, while only 17 per cent of north-eastern children can. With only 1.6 per cent of DGP devoted to education, the country needs to increase the resources to provide quality education.
It is estimated that 25.3 million students at all levels of education are out-of-school in the country, and with 11.4 million out-of-school children, Nigeria has the highest out-of-school children in the world.
Senator Orji, who has a clear vision of how to tackle the out-of-school problem is leading from the front not from the back.
On January 2, 2021, he inaugurated the two completed constituency projects: 12-classrooms block at Community Primary School, Okwuta in Umuahia North Local Government Area and 12-classrooms block at Ikem Nvosi Primary School in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area.
The federal lawmaker and former Governor of Abia State, who said he was touched to complete the projects because he wanted the children to study under a comfortable environment, also commended the contractor of the projects for completing the projects within record time and prayed that the projects will be for the good of the students, teachers and state.
Orji, who is making the interventions for his love of his people which flowed from when he was governor, promised to replicate the same in other schools pressed for classrooms within his senatorial zone.
A representative of the SDGs Office in Abuja, Patrick Iroegbu, who expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done, assured Abia Central Zone of more projects through their representative, Orji.
The SDGs office, according to Iroegbu, is happy that the senator Orji is doing a lot to transform the state through the execution of constituency projects that impact the lives of his constituents.
The Special Adviser on Special Projects to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Mr. Chimdi Nwokeukwu, said Abia Central District is lucky to have a representative that brings home SDGs projects from Abuja, adding that the state has benefited a lot from the former governor.
The President General of Okwuta Community, Chief Chima Onukwubiri, who was supported at the event by various women groups, youths and chiefs, thanked Orji for attracting the school projects to his community. He said the community will jealously guide and protect the educational facilities from being tampered with, adding that their children would be enrolled in the school to enable them get quality education.
The Head Teacher, Mrs. Nnennaya Okereke, who could not hide her joy, thanked the senator for giving a facelift to the school. She promised to reciprocate the gesture by ensuring that the children get sound education from the ultra- modern classrooms.
The Chairman of Umuahia North, Ugochukwu Njikonye, expressed joy on the completion of the modern classroom blocks built with conveniences in his local council, describing it as a big New Year gift, which the council would protect jealously.
The quality of work done in Umuahia North was the same at Ikem Nvosi Primary School in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area, where Senator Orji partnered the SDGs office in Abuja to complete another ultra modern 12-classroom block.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Sir Gabriel Onyendilefu, in his welcome speech, assured Orji of their support, while commending him for his fatherly love and care for the people of Isiala Ngwa South. He said he was one of the beneficiaries of Orji's heart of gold.
In their separate speeches, the Chairman of Isiala Ngwa South, Chief Ike Anyatonwu and member representing Isiala Ngwa North/South Federal Constituency, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha, thanked and commended Orji for completing and inaugurating the ultra- modern classroom blocks within record time.
Through his annual scholarship scheme, over 450 undergraduates from Abia Central Senatorial District have in the past five years benefited from the education scheme. He is renovating Osokwa Primary School in Osisioma Ngwa LGA, carrying out fencing and renovation works at Michael Primary School, Umuahia and Methodist Primary School, Ossah in Umuahia North LGA, including other completed projects across the six local government areas in Abia Central Senatorial District waiting for inauguration.