It was a unique celebration of excellence and a display of camaraderie at the annual Andrew and Christiana Excellence Awards, hosted by the old students association of Christ The Redeemer College, Amesi, Anambra State on Sunday, August 2, 2020.
The awards were instituted in 2016 by an alumnus of the school, Valentine Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, in honour of his parents, Chief Andrew Ozigbo, a retired headmaster and celebrated educator and Mrs Christiana Ozigbo, a retired businesswoman.
According to Mr Ozigbo, the annual programme aims to reward excellence in students and teachers and to uphold the quality of his alma mater.
“Four years ago, when we celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary in this school’s field, I decided to institute an endowment in their honour,” the respected business leader informed at the event.
“My father was an educationist for several decades, and this is a way to appreciate him. I was not going to wait for him to die before I celebrate his legacy, the legacy of education.
“The importance of education cannot be overstated. I honestly want you all to think about your future and don’t let your immediate impact negatively on your future.
“Imbibe the culture of continuous improvement and don’t stop striving to be better. That culture is called Kaizen in Japanese, and that’s the kind of culture that I’m going to institutionalize if I am given the opportunity of serving Anambra State as the next governor,” Mr Ozigbo said while addressing students and guests at the occasion.
Various cash prizes were given to teachers, a youth corps member who excelled at their work and to students who excelled academically. In support of Valentine Ozigbo, other members of the alumni association also raised over N1 million for several projects within the school, including infrastructural refurbishment and provision of school outing uniforms.
Akalugo Chinwe, Eze Adaeze and Ezeagu Faith were named the Best Teachers and won the cash sums of N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.
National Youth Service Corps member, Abdul Kareem from Osun State was named the Best Youth Corps Member and won a N75,000 cash prize.
The Best-Performing Students in the Senior Secondary classes – Nlebedum Amala (SS3), Nwakego Ekeika (SS2), and Ezenwa Chinaza (SS1) – won cash prizes of N50,000, N30,000 and N20,000 respectively.
During his address, Valentine Ozigbo reminisced on the years spent at Christ the Redeemer College. He gave credit to the school for instilling the ethos of discipline, diligence, and hard work in him and for moulding him into the man he is today.
“It’s in this school that my character formation began. I’m grateful for the confidence that I developed here,” business mogul and philanthropist told the students.
“Having faith and confidence in yourself will take you far in life, especially when you match it with hard work. Staying focused and understanding what your priorities are in life is crucial.”
Lady Bibian Onwuka, the school’s principal, spoke glowingly of the contributions of the Old Students Association. She mentioned the great strides made by students of the school and commended them for keeping up with the tradition of the excellence which the school is known for.
She particularly commended Mr Ozigbo for his enormous contribution to the development of the school and interventions to create “a conducive learning environment for students”.
Several other members of the Old Students Association took turns to speak, bringing back fond memories of their time as students of the institution.
Several distinguished personalities attended the event, including the former speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Honourable Eucharia Azodo and Chief Sunday Ezeobiora.
Also in attendance were members of the Old Boys Association of the school namely Ambrose Umenze, Emeka Ezeiruoma, Joachin Odumegwu, Dr. Bens Ezenwaka, Edwin Ononuju, Egbuna Odiegwu, Basil Ezeukoma, Reverend Father Gabriel Okpalike, Reverend Father Jude Nwankwo, Ugonna Okpalajiaku, Okechukwu Nweke, Chibuike Ezeabasili, Arinze Anyaorah, and Chuks Ozigbo.
The Old Boys Association made a stopover at the Regina Caeli Hospital, Awka where they visited the pioneer principal of the school, Reverend Father Elias Anyaorah. He is on admission at the medical institution. In the spirit of appreciation for his contribution to their lives, they raised N500,000 to assist with his medical bills.
All roads then led to the residence of Mr Ozigbo, where they all gathered to watch the finals of the 3rd African Freestyle Football Championship, an international sports event hosted by Feet ‘N’ Tricks International. He is the chairman of the company.
Ozigbo is a leading contender in the gubernatorial election slated for 2021 in the state. He is contesting on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party.