By Patrick Asonye
The Aggrey Memorial College Arochukwu Alumni Association has expressed dismay over a recent online publication by a certain Uchechukwu Nwosu, in which the author, either out of ignorance or sheer mischief, painted a loathsome picture of the institution and its founder, Dr Alvan Azinna Ikoku of blessed memory.
Uchechukwu Nwosu, in the online publication under reference, wrote in part: “At an obscure, neglected and isolated axis of the Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu lies the waning effigy of a statesman, revolutionist, educationist, politician, activist, nationalist and Igbo leader, Dr Alvan Azinna Ikoku. Time was when this legendary iconic leader shocked the fabrics of this land in all spheres, especially in education, politics and nationalism.
“Today, the remains of this once legendary leader lie desolate in a relic grave, with the statue defaced and worn out as weeds compete for space in the arcade where the effigy stands at Amanagwu, Arochukwu. The pavilion also hosts a number of wild animals; rodents and reptiles, as the educationist continues to mourn in his grave as a result of prolonged neglect,”
He presented a lot more jaundiced perspective in the said publication.
But the association, led by its President, Mazi Emma Okoro Egbukwu, drawing from the knowledge base of his more elderly Alumnus, Professor Okoro Ijoma, dismissed the online publication as devoid of facts and contemporariness.
Point by point, Mazi Egbukwu, himself a 1974 graduate of Aggrey Memorial College Arochukwu, punctured the publication, setting the records straight for better public understanding.
Egbukwu quoted the professor of History as saying: “While we appreciate the observations of the author about the apparent neglect of the grave site of the national hero, Dr Alvan Ikoku, the site is in the area currently occupied by Aggrey Memorial College. Let me quickly point out that at no time did the government ever say that it would relocate Aggrey College to another part of Arochukwu. As a family and ex-students, we would have stoutly resisted such an idea.
I have a copy of the original letter signed by Mazi S G Ikoku and Prof Chimere Ikoku in 1997 and sent to the State Government reminding it that ASCETA was there on a temporary basis. This was the agreement we reached with the then Governor and Commissioner for Education, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and Mrs. Eunice Nwankwo, respectively.
“Two years ago, I transmitted a photocopy of the letter to Barr. Chukwuma Okoro ( Oscar), the present Secretary of Aggrey Old Students Association. The land itself is a family (Akanu) one. This is for the records. However, with the state of the grave area in the public space, I know that Aggrey ex-students and the Ikoku family will do the needful.”
Indeed the USA chapter of the Alumni association has associated itself with the explanation given by the emeritus professor, describing it as “heart-warming.”
Besides Prof Ijoma’s perspective, perhaps all the ex-students of the prestigious college are aware of plans by the Alumni association to rebuild the Independence Park, and beautify the resting place of the legendary educator.
It needs be stressed that the old students, in forming the Alumni Association, have the aim of transforming the institution back to its glory days, thereby preserving the legacies of the national hero, Dr. Alvan Ikoku.
So far, the Egbukwu-led Alumni Association has embarked on massive infrastructural transformation of the college, starting with the reconstruction and renovation of Assembly Hall called Abna Hall.
Indeed the Assembly Hall has been completed and ready for unveiling on December 31, 2021 during the Alumni Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Needless to say, therefore, that the report by Uchechukwu Nwosu smacks of a sinister motive. Otherwise, why did he not notice the literally sparkling Abna Hall, which stands next to the Independence Park?
Such a newly reconstructed, massive structure cannot be missed by a man on a genuine fact finding mission, rather he chose to follow his pre-conceived notion that “nothing is happening in the college”, to vilify whoever is on his mind, and apparently satisfy his pay master(s).
For a man who claims to have won several awards, Uchechukwu Nwosu ought to be well aware of the credo of investigative journalism, among which are in-depth research and due diligence, rather than skewed sensationalism, half-truths and outright falsehood.
Let it be known that in the Alumni Association’s strategic development plan, the Independence Park – the burial ground of the college founder – is the next project in line to receive attention.
Were Uchechukwu Nwosu objective and observant, he would have noticed that already, ground breaking and site preparation have commenced at the Independence Park.
Old trees have been uprooted and the Park cleared in preparation for the work that would soon commence.
Editor’s Note: We stand by our story.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.