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SPECIAL REPORT

Governor Otti’s Nine-Month Scorecard. (1)

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Gov Otti has done well on security, collaborating with the necessary agencies

BY GODWIN ADINDU
The midterm test is conducted by almost every school. After a few weeks of resumption, schools review their students’ progress through the midterm test. The report is often a signal to the student’s final performance. After nine months on the saddle, Abians are reviewing Governor Otti’s strides, evaluating his stewardship and passing judgment. The feedback is heartwarming, coming with a tinge of satisfaction and acceptance.
From the ordinary man on the street, the locals in the communities, traders, and workers to the elite, the consensus is that it is sunset at dawn. Igbos say that you discern the day by the early signs of the morning. Abians could see a clear determination to conquer; a drive to succeed; and a meditated intention to change the course and navigate with a new compass. The statement, “Otti is doing well”, has become a popular cliche in town.
The latest in the wave of endorsement and validation for good performance came from unusual quarters. The conference of former speakers of the Abia State House of Assembly, mostly from the opposition PDP, marched with the Governor on-road inspection and expressed their satisfaction and also vouched for their support.
After commissioning the historic Geometric Integrated Power Project, the first autonomous power plant in Nigeria which promises uninterrupted power supply to Aba and its environs, President Ahmed Tinubu, speaking through his Vice, Kashim Shettima, lent his voice to the chorus of commendation for excellent performance. “Today in Aba, we saw testimony to good leadership. I saw the outpouring of emotions and love and support for Dr. Otti. Your Excellency, posterity will be very kind to you. Keep the flag flying. Keep up the good work. Abia is working. We are proud of what you have achieved within nine mouths,” declared President Tinubu.
From the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Abia, it has also been a vote of confidence and an endorsement of good performance. From the organized private sector across Nigeria, the diplomatic community and institutional investors, it has been an excellent grade in their evaluation of Governor Otti’s stewardship in the short period on the throne. The Igbo apex socio-political organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has also registered their commendation over the early achievements of the Governor. To the pride of Abia, the world has converged on the popular consensus that Governor Otti has taken the bull by the horns. “Otti is doing well” is the new song in town.
There are today street lights on the streets of Aba and Umuahia. A deeper, spiritual interpretation is being accorded to the lights shining every night. Abians interpret it as being symbolic of the new “light” that has come to Abia, the new movement of change and rebirth, like the age of renaissance in the history of world civilization. They see Governor Otti as symbolizing light and renaissance.
When they see Julius Berger’s caterpillars and workers tackling the long abandoned Port Harcourt Road in Aba, they praise God for the light that has come to Abia State. When the inner-city dwellers of Omuma and Ndoki Roads of Aba hear the deafening noise of the bulldozers excavating and upturning their roads, the noise turns to a sound of joy and a reflection of light for the light that has come after many years of living in squalor on an impassable road. It is the same sound of joy and light in Umuahia as Abians experience the expansion into six lanes of Ossai Road, the major entrance into Umuahia. As Abians drive on the reconstructed old Court Road, Umuimo Road, Udeagbala, Jubilee, MCC/Express, Omoba Road, et al, and feel the new breath of life, they remember it is a new light, a new life and they thank Governor Otti for ensuring that light comes to Abia.
When they hear the tale from Abia civil servants, that all civil servants, both local government workers, staff of the Agencies and parastatal and the MDAs, are receiving their salaries as at when due, they jubilate over the new light that has come to Abia. The civil servants are those fellows whose lamentations went far and near and who were promised to weep no more. Their tale of light is the joy that comes after many long nights of sorrow
It is certainly a new awakening. There is a silver lining on the skyline of Abia and the song in town is both a witness and an open vindication for the Labour Party. It is the people’s little way of appreciating and encouraging progress. It is their open validation for Governor Otti’s initiatives in creating a new Nazareth where good things can sprout. The people, by their open song of joy, are looking back in happiness of having been justified in their decision at the polls; of having been justified in giving their votes and mandate to the right man.
Indeed, The LIGHT is a step ahead in our journey and movement as a people. If you are thinking Abia First, if you are a true statesman dedicated to Duty and Country, you would appreciate the tale of the LIGHT as a giant leap for our dear state. You will affirm the people’s song as a great milestone in our journey of statehood. If you accept that life is in a constant and ever-rolling flux and that the change that occurred in Abia is a historical necessity and a human expediency, then you will inevitably join in the song of joy: “Otti is doing well”. This is a truism translated into slang.
But, if you are still held back in the past, you would probably snigger at the good news as was the case with Plato’s cave dwellers, in the Allegory of the Cave. But, the light has come at the nick of time and we all shall be happy as it lightens all our paths.
Just after nine months, Governor Otti is flaunting an excellent scorecard. The song, Otti is doing well, is on everybody’s lips. This, I pray, should be an impetus to the king for greater heights. The world is at his feet and history beckons for the hall of fame.
*Adindu, a Media/PR Consultant writes from Umuahia

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SPECIAL REPORT

The Making Of Ogbuebulle Health Centre

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*OJIAKU KALU unveils the untold story of Nnanna’s efforts toward universal health coverage*

The Journey To Ogbuebulle:

I spent the first weekend of this April at a community with a somewhat intriguing name: Ogbuebulle. It was one of those journalistic expeditions from which I derive an indescribable kick; and this particular one wasn’t a disappointment – even though some challenges threatened its embarkation. As a media scholar and teacher, my Department of Mass Communication, in adherence to the country’s regulating agency for universities – the National Universities Commission [NUC]’ quest for sustainable modification of the programme, had added Health Communication as a course for my students at the Evangel University Akaeze. So, we needed to do some research to enable us to deepen the course content. Particularly, there was a need for us to have an empirical study of a functional primary healthcare centre – especially one established by its host community; that is if ever we could find one of such! It was hereupon that Miss Chioma Uruakpa, one of the students and native of Oboro, pointed the Department to Ogbuebulle and its primary healthcare centre. As the Head of the Department, I volunteered for the trip – after several declines by my colleagues.

Ogbuebulle turned out as a sprawling community along the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Highway in the Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State. Despite the encroachment of Western civilization and resultant tampering of its aboriginal look and feel, Ogbuebulle still bears visible traces of peace in its surroundings – indeed, a major attraction for anyone seeking escape from the noise of city centres.

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Although I had been told the prospective health facility promised interesting content –going by the history of its establishment and operation, I was nevertheless awed at what I met upon my arrival. The physical facility is as impressive as its evolution – so much so that my journey of upward of 155 kilometres was worth it.

The OGBUEBULLE HEALTH CENTRE, it seems, was destined to never come about – but for the arduous push by some members of that community who were determined that some of the developmental indices attainable in their various places of residence were replicated in their native land. And that had proven a tall order at the beginning. Indeed, their quest to link their kith and kin to modern healthcare was a tortuous one. Without the benefit of retrospection, most of the present beneficiaries of the health centre; and indeed contemporary crop of politicians now superintending over it [directly and indirectly] may imagine that its establishment was a mere walk in the park. But that would be far from the truth!

 

The present Ogbuebulle Community Health Centre was attracted and constructed in the year 2020 by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA] under the facilitation of an illustrious daughter of the land – Dr. [Mrs.] Ngozi Florence Mbibi – a professional nurse of global repute and founding member of thatcontinental medical-intervention organization – with additional contribution from [the] Ogbuebulle Community Development Union [OCDU]. Indeed, for future researchers on rural development through concerted communal efforts – devoid of input from the government, this health centre would be an empirical example.

The idea of a primary health centre for the people of Ogbuebulle came out of dire necessity – given the relative perennial maternal mortality in the area before its establishment – as is still significantly typical of many rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Before the coming of that primary health centre, the entire stretch ofAla-AlaOboro area– comprising of the 9 villages ofAbala, Umuchukwu, Obokporo, Obodo, Umukpabi, NdiNkporo, Umuebulle ukwu, NdiEkpinma, and Umuoyiwas completely bereft of even the least semblance of a community health outpost. That was unacceptable and posed a serious health crisis for the population of well over 71,000 as of 2012 – according to a study. Hitherto, for every health emergency, the people had to travel to Umuahia – the capital city of Abia State – a distance of some 20 Kilometres, to be attended to at its Federal Medical Centre, or made do with the services of the then dispensary at Ariam – run by one Mazi Uma.

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As crucial as a health centre is to rural development, successive authorities – council and state, never saw the need to site one to cater for the teeming populace of AlaAla Oboro and its immediate environs – which was a clear contravention of the WHO stipulation for community health care regime – especially for rural Africa, which recommends at least a primary health care centre for an average population of 10, 000 people. And Ogbuebuelle as an integral community of AlaAla Oboro since the 2020s, has had a good population to merit the siting of a primary health outpost by the government.

So, regardless of how loud the peasants of that significant territory of the Ikwuano Local Government Area cried out to successive administrations in the state, it was never loud enough to attract sympathy from the authorities on their health security – at least for their teeming childbearing, infant, and aged demography. Looking back, it is now not clear whether the failure to site a healthcare centre in the community was an outright neglect on the part of the state; or lack of political clout on the part of the community’s leadership. What has however gone into records is that the entire AlaAla Oboro was denied a primary health facility up until just the past 15 years – despite the [evident] collateral effects of such inaction on the poor masses!

The Birthing Of A Health Centre:

However, once the community identified the undeniable relevance of a primary health centre and its urgency in their territory, the quest for it assumed a life of its own – especially among its native elites. While some well-meaning stakeholders crusaded among their kinfolk for its establishment; another deeply concerned individual – Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Florence Mbibi – a professional nurse in diaspora, had to kick-start [in real term] and finally drive the process to reality.

According to Mr Okaraonwolu Michael Ifeanyichukwu – the immediate past youth president of the community, the idea of a health centre for the area was mooted some 15 years ago – with some of the pioneer crusaders being the late AnyalewechiJibueze – a retired banker, Elder E. N. Nwagbo – a retired teacher and one-time councillor representing Oboro Ward 4 in theIkwuano L.G.A.; and another son of the community, Onyenaturuchi Okeugo, still serving at the Department of State Services [DSS]. These three men took steps toward the realization of the then vision of a health centre at Ogbuebulle. However, the dream could not materialize – even with the efforts at the time, due to lack of [a]communal land on which to site it.

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The idea would remain a mere dream until February of 2018 when one Onyeze Nwandu, a local immunization officer then with the Local Government, was approached by Michael Okaraonwolu – a close friend of his, for advice on how to go about realizing the lingering dream. It was through the guidance of that immunization officer that a 2-room shop was located and eventually paid for by the Ogbuebulle Youth Association – under the leadership of its then president, Mike Okaraonwolu, for its take off.

Before the ultimate take-off of the health centre, the then Health Authority Secretary of the Ikwuano L.G A., Mrs Catherine Nwosu, visited the proposed site and approved what had been put on the ground by the promoters. Coincidentally, on that very day of her visit and approval in February of 2018, the women of Ogbuebulle were having their general meeting. One of the community leaders, High Chief EronduEze, accompanied by the youth president, took the L.G.A. Health Secretary to the venue of the meeting and broke the good news to the joy of the womenfolk. So one would not be wrong to say the Ogbuebulle Health Centre was established [in principle] on that day in February 2018.

With that statutory approval, everybody rallied behind everybody in communal cooperation, toward the actual birthing of a functional health centre for the community. And so it was that the Ogbuebulle Health Centre was eventually inaugurated on the 5th of April 2018 and operated from that rented location until the 8th day of April, 2021 – a total period of 3 calendar years.

Movement to the New Site:

Recalling the evolvement of the Health Centre, the Vice President General of the Ogbuebulle Community Development Union [OCDU], Elder Chief Ejindu Ndubuisi Osuh said,‘’ It was during the second year of the Centre’s operation at the old site that one of our beloved daughters, Dr Mrs Florence Ngozi Mbibi, informed the community through its leadership, that her professional association – the NationalAssociation of Nigerian Nurses in North America [otherwise known as NANNNA, and of which she was then the President] had decided to adopt community health centre around the environ and had availed her some money to renovate such a centre to service the primary health needs of the beneficiary community. However, there was a caveat attached to the offer by NANNNA, the donor organization. The condition was that such a health centre must be in a facility owned by the community; and NOT in a rented accommodation.

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Upon receiving such a cheering hint, the Ogbuebulle community mobilized and started scouting for a piece of land on which the health centre may be relocated. They were determined not to miss such a rare opportunity to finally actualise their longstanding dream of attaining universal health coverage. Recalling the length of time and resources the people had expended on their quest for a standard health centre without government support, this offer by Dr. Florence Ngozi Mbibi and her professional association, was Heaven sent.

The people were determined to make further sacrifices to achieve such an amenity in their domain. And so the search for a permanent location began in earnest. It was in the course of their search for some land that someone remembered the empty portion of the expanse of land on which both the Ogbuebulle Central Primary School and the  Ogbuebulle Community Secondary School are built.

Just then, a consensus was reached that that empty portion of the school land was perfect for the proposed infrastructure– especially because it was a communal property, and had long been designed by their forebears for such a project, whenever there was a need for it in the future.

Being that the two schools are run by the government and the said land within their compound, the community directed the 3-man team of Mike Okaranwolu, Super High Chief Erondu Eze, and Elder Chief Ejindu Osuh to meet with the then principal of the secondary school, one Mrs Ogbonna, and inform her of the community’s desire to site the health centre thereon to serve the primary health needs of the schools and the locales. Following her advice, they wrote and jointly signed a letter to the state Ministry of Education [under the commissionership of Dr. K.C.K. Nwangwa] requesting its permission to allow the community’s use of the school land for the proposed health centre, and got approval thereto.

Upon that approval from the Ministry, the leadership of Ogbuebulle got back to NANA – the donor organization, through its then president, Dr Ngozi Florence Mbibi, for the financial pledge. The donor fund from the National Association of Nigeria Nurses in North America [NANNNA]was released to the community and with it, the community started construction of the permanent site of the health centre. Dr. Ngozi Mbibi soon brought another tranche of money after that first one as the building progressed. Buoyed by the speedy progress of the project, the Building Committee created a WhatsApp platform: the Ogbuebulle Progressives, to acquaint their sons and daughters in the diaspora with the new development and they started their voluntary donations. Whatever donations that came through that source were remitted to the Ogbuebuelle Community Federated Development Union [OCDU – of which Engr. Okechukwu Agbaja is the President General, and Elder Chief Ejindu Osuh is the VP] for the project.

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‘’In fact, such was the cooperation of members of the community in the diaspora that this building you now see was realized within 4 months – from September to December of 2020’’, said Elder Chief Ejindu Osuh, the Vice President General of the OCDU. ‘’…and in the first week of January 2021, Dr Florence Ngozi Mbibi brought her team of medics from NANNNA – comprising of nurses and doctors and ran a full-day awareness clinic to announce the readiness of the permanent site of the health centre for public use. The present Ogbuebulle Health Centre was officially inaugurated on the 3rd of January 2021 by His Royal Highness, Eze Kalu Omeleobum Uja, the traditional ruler of Ala-Ala Oboro Autonomous Community.’’

Government SupportFor The Project:

Asked to speak about the government’s financial support in the course of the project, Super High Chief Erondu stated, ‘’It is noteworthy that the cost of this project – from foundation to inauguration was borne by theNational Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA] – through our daughter, Dr. Mrs Ngozi Florence Mbibi; plus additional donation from the people of Ogbuebuelle under the auspices of the Ogbuebuelle Community Development Federated [OCDU]. Since its inception till date, the community has never gotten any financial support from the government. It was entirely the making of NANNNA and support from OCDU’’.

Continuing with his recollections, Chief Erondu said, ‘’Remember that this Health Centre has been in continuous operation since 2018 from its temporary location. When the community established the Centre – of course, being a community health centre, it has to be under the government – regardless of how it came to be established. So upon its establishment, the government provided the nurses for its day-to-day operation. In essence, the government only provided the personnel to run its daily activities. Upon completion of this permanent site, all the staff of the Centre from the old site moved to the new site and continued their work. Besides the staffing, the government however donated the following items: 3 beds, 1 stand fan, 1 table [for front desk purposes] and 2 plastic chairs to the Centre, and nothing more.’’

Corroborating Chief Erondu’s submission, Elder Osuh said: ‘’After the first tranche of money from NANNNA, Dr Mrs. Mbibi brought in another tranche of money from her purse and with that, the project was able to take off properly. After these lump sums from NANNNA and Dr. Mbibi, members of the community in the diaspora – under the OCDU, contributed through crowdfunding to ensure that the project continued without a hitch. Apart from these three sources of NANNNA, Dr Ngozi Mbibi, and the OCDU, there was no financial assistance from any other source. The Ogbuebulle Health Centre project was started and realized through nongovernmental efforts. We can only thank God for giving us such a wonderful daughter in the person of Dr. Florence Ngozi Mbibi, who used her rich connection to attract her professional association to come to the aid of our community. If we had continued to rely on government, our people would have remained without a standard primary health centre; and the consequence could only be better imagined.’’

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And when eventually the permanent site was erected, the government continued its oversight of it – with the staff migrating from the temporary location. The rest of the items and equipment used at the Centre were provided by the community – that is besides the few aforementioned items from the government.

It is instructive at this point to note that Dr. Ngozi Mbibi, apart from being instrumental in the establishment of the centre, has continued to help in its operational maintenance. This she does by bringing her team from NANNNA every January to conduct a daylong clinic under the NANNNA’sannual medical mission – in keeping with the association’s strategic mandate of ensuring universal health coverage for Nigerian communities – especially those in rural settings.

During the said clinic day, members of the community are examined and diagnosed by the doctors in attendance, and then the pharmacists among them dispense free of charge, the medications prescribed by the doctors in attendance. Whatever medicines are left from the day’s exercise are kept back in the custody of the Health Centre – in case of any medical eventuality in the year. However, patients buy their drugs – that is if such prescriptions are not readily available among the NANNNA’s leftover. This has been the modus at the Health Centre since its establishment in 2018, from the take-off to this permanent site.

Goodwill From Other NGOs:

Upon finishing and inaugurating the building in 2021, the facility was left open without perimeter fences. It was on second thought that the community decided to have it fenced to enact visual appeal, privacy, and security in the facility as is required by the regulatory authorities – especially because most of the staff of the Centre, and a greater percentage of the patients, are women who visit there for maternal issues sometimes at the dead night and so needed to be protected from danger while accessing its services.

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It was upon the decision to have the Health Centre fenced that another Diaspora NGO, the Ikwuano Sons &Daughters In Canada, volunteered to undertake the fencing, as its contribution to the project. The said perimeter fence donated by the Canada-based organization, was inaugurated on Thursday, March 21, 2024, by the Mayor of Ikwuano Local Government Area, Hon. Osinachi Nwaka. Again, it is instructive for the public to note that the government’s participation in the establishment of the Ogbuebulle Health Centre was only to the extent of inaugurating the perimeter fence – as financed by the Ikwuano Sons & Daughters In Canada. The construction of the building itself and the equipment thereof had been financed by NANNNA, Dr Florence Ngozi Mbibi, with the cooperation of OCDU]long before Mr Osinachi Nwaka became the Mayor of the Ikwuano L.G.A.

While being conducted around the primary health facility, I ran into Evangelist [Mrs.] Vivian Omeruo, the focal person for the Ikwuano Sons & Daughters In Canada on the perimeter fence project. When asked for her comment on the coming of the Ogbuebulle Health Centre, Mrs Omeruo who was had made a stop at the Centre route the airport for a flight back to her base in Canada, enthused at her organization’s pride in being part of the good history at Ogbuebulle; and thanked both NANNNA and Dr Ngozi Mbibi for their initiative in ensuring the establishment of the primary healthcare centre for the people of the area. Mrs. Omeruo, however, frowned at the growing practice by the country’s politicians of appropriating amenities provided through communal efforts as testimonials for their tenure in the office!

It is gratifying that the Ogbuebulle Health Centre as a project has continued to enjoy lots of goodwill from outside government since its advent in 2018. In fact, in the course of my visit, the leadership of the community hinted at its plan to further upgrade the Centre by constructing doctor-nurse quarters in the space behind the clinic. ‘’We believe this would provide some comfort to the personnel running the Centreso that instead of having to return to their various places of residence, they would have a place here to retire to any time they happen to work late. We believe this would enable them to be more dedicated to their work here. Even, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Mbibi is aware of this proposition and is in full agreement with it. When eventually we have the said quarters constructed, members of the community can easily run to the Centre even at the dead of night for medical attention – knowing that the place is open 24 hours with medics always present.’’, revealed Mike Okaranwaolu. ‘’Presently, the Ogbuebulle Health Centre boasts of a maternity ward, a men’s ward, a women’s ward, and another ward dedicated to immunization; and attends to an average of 26 persons a day. The current traffic is expected to improve as soon as the planned staff quarters are eventually put in place.’’ Okaranwolu concludes.

The trio of Ejindu, Osuh and Okaranwolu also spoke of a plan to even upgrade the Centre for better service delivery – part of which is to establish a medical laboratory wherein patients would be tested to properly determine their ailments toward enhancing treatments by the medics. Plus, the community is also looking at the possibility of engaging a resident doctor – instead of one that comes in at intervals – as is presently the case.

Need For Community Integration:

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As upbeat as the people are over their achievement with the Health Centre, there is however one sore point for them in the whole development. There was an easy hint of discontent among my respondents over what they term as the government’s unfairness over the people’s effort at providing alternate governance – upon the failure of the government. They decry in unison, decry the exclusion of the community’s sons and daughters in the staffing of the health facility they strove to build. According to them, not even one person from the community is on the personnel of the centre. ‘’We are not asking for much. At least, our people should be drafted into the junior cadre of personnel – like gatemen, cleaners, gardeners, and messengers. But everyone who works here – from top to bottom, is from outside the Ogbuebulle community. We hope the government will carry us along in its employment scheme at the health centre. With that, we would feel a bit appreciated for all our efforts at establishing this clinic when the government couldn’t. The reality is that we built this place from conception to construction and are religiously maintaining it. The authorities at the state and local council should extend to us some inclusion in return.’’, they chorused to my prodding.

Besides their complaints of being left out of employment, the good people of Ogbuebulle brim with pride at their attracting a modern primary healthcare centre in their community – thereby helping their people to attain better health and longer life span. They remain eternally grateful to their daughter, Dr Ngozi Mbibi and her NANNNA – for pushing their long-held dream to reality – to the benefit of all and sundry.

 

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SPECIAL REPORT

Bola Aganaba @60: A Legacy of Impact, Faith, and Generosity

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Bola Aganaba at 60

Bola Aganaba, a man of exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence, celebrates his 60th birthday. With a decade-long career as a civil engineer and pastor, he has not only left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s infrastructure development but also touched countless lives through his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith. As we honour his milestone birthday, Senator Iroegbu weaves the threads of his remarkable life, which has built bridges, left footprints of love, and strengthened faith.

 

A Tapestry of Integrity, Kindness, and Unwavering Faith

In a world where perfection is elusive, Pastor Bola Aganaba stands out as a rare gem who excels in multiple realms of life. As we celebrate Aganaba’s milestone 60th birthday, we honour a man who has not only excelled in his family and profession but also his spirituality and societal duties. This rare feat is a testament to his exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence.

 

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With a career spanning a decade as a civil engineer at the Federal Ministry of Works, Aganaba has not just left an indelible mark, but a legacy on Nigeria’s infrastructure development. His contributions to road maintenance and safety are not just well-documented, but a source of immense pride. As a devoted husband, father, and pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), he has touched countless lives with his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith.  Having recently retired from the Federal Civil Service at age 60, his contributions to national development and life of impact and service are rightfully honoured.

From the first encounter, it is evident that Aganaba wears no masks. His honesty is refreshing—a beacon in a world often clouded by pretence. He speaks his mind, stands by his convictions, and means every word. His transparent heart shines like a polished gem in a world of guile. Aganaba’s family tree sprawls like an ancient oak, its branches reaching far and wide. But he doesn’t merely embrace blood relations; he extends his arms to friends, acquaintances, and anyone who crosses his path, especially members of his congregation. His home is not just a sanctuary, but a haven where warmth and laughter flow freely. Once you are part of his orbit, you are forever welcomed.

James Bond may have shaken martinis, but the engineer-turned-clergyman stirs life with unyielding calmness. Challenges come and go, and storms rage, yet he remains anchored. Living a Christlike life is embedded in his ethos. As Jesus assured his worried disciples during a stormy boat ride, Aganaba’s faith always whispers, “God is in control,” and he lives it. The wrinkles of worry never etch his brow; instead, he wears a perpetual smile—the kind that defies life’s storms.

Behold Bola Aganaba—the man who defies time. His style transcends mere fashion; it’s an attitude of perpetual youth. With each passing year, he insists he’s a year younger, and the mirror obliges. As a man thinketh in his heart, he remains—a testament to the power of positive self-perception.

Bola Olotu Aganaba is a name that resonates with dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment. Born on May 18, 1964, in the vibrant city of Kaduna, Nigeria, his life journey has been remarkable. He hails from Odi in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government area of Bayelsa State and is the youngest of seven siblings, with four sisters and two brothers. On September 16, 2000, he married Anita Aganaba, and their union produced one child, Charmaine Aganaba.

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A Journey of Excellence and Service

Aganaba resonates with honesty, generosity, and an unshakable spirit. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, let us weave together the threads of his remarkable life—a life that has touched hearts, built bridges and left footprints of love.

A firm foundation on education and sportsmanship

Bola Aganaba stood out from his early years. His academic brilliance was matched only by his unwavering character and sporting prowess. Aganaba’s educational voyage began at the Elizabeth Fowler Memorial Primary School in Surulere, Lagos, where he imbibed the values of discipline and curiosity. His secondary education at Baptist Academy Lagos further shaped his character, laying the groundwork for an excellent future.

Pursuing knowledge, he embarked on a path that led him to the Rivers State University of Science & Technology (RSUST). He honed his intellect here, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1987. But Bola was not merely a scholar; he was also a sportsman. His excellence extended to the hockey field, football pitch, and track and field events, where he proudly represented RSUST. Representing his school and Lagos State in hockey, he left an indelible mark. His talent extended to the athletic field, where he excelled in the long jump—a skill that could have taken him to international heights had he pursued it further. His love for football remains undiminished. Whether playing or watching, the beautiful game stirs his soul. But beyond sports, his compassion knows no bounds. He despises injustice and champions the cause of those who suffer.

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A career forged across Nigeria

Aganaba is a road warrior, and his professional journey mirrors the diverse landscapes of Nigeria itself. As a civil engineer, he crisscrossed the nation, ensuring that Nigerian roads were motorable and leaving his mark in states such as Lagos, Sokoto, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Kano, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). His work ethic and expertise caught decision-makers attention, leading to his appointment as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under the then-newly established Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in June 2003.

Aganaba’s trajectory didn’t stop there. In July 2009, he ascended to Executive Director (East Operations), a testament to his leadership and vision. His contributions to infrastructure development reverberated far beyond the highways he meticulously maintained. His goal was clear: to make a difference wherever he found himself.

Remarkably, his tenure in the Federal Ministry of Works was more than a job; it was a calling. His exemplary service to the nation reverberated through the highways he meticulously maintained. However, his role as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under FERMA showcased his commitment. Notably, he ensured that the road leading to the Federal Government College Odi remained impeccable—a gesture that endeared him to the people of Odi.

His integrity was unshakable. Contractors marvelled at his refusal to accept bribes, preserving the family’s reputation. Aganaba’s benevolence extended beyond bloodlines; he touched lives within and outside the family. His heart radiated love, compassion, and generosity, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate to cross his path.

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A beacon of faith, family, and community

Beyond engineering, Aganaba’s heart beats for service. He served for years in the Follow-up and Evangelism Department of RCCG Kings Palace, Port Harcourt. His diligence and commitment earned him the endearing moniker of the “Kingfisher”—a symbol of tireless effort in church planting committees. Rural parishes in Rivers State owe their existence to his unwavering dedication.

Since December 2014, Pastor Aganaba has been the guiding force behind RCCG Holy Ghost Arena in Utako, Abuja. His pastoral role extends beyond the pulpit; it permeates the lives of those who seek solace and inspiration within those hallowed walls.

Aganaba’s ministry transcends pulpits. He’s a soul winner in the marketplace—a living epistle read by all. His faith isn’t a Sunday garment; it’s woven into every step he takes. As a pastor, he doesn’t merely preach; he lives the message. His heart beats for lost souls, and his hands reach out to lift the fallen. His life is a living sermon—a testament to God’s grace.

More importantly, Aganaba’s personal life is a canvas painted with love and family bonds. He shares his days with Mrs. Anita Aganaba, his partner in life’s journey. Together, they are blessed with a daughter named Charmaine Aganaba.

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As a husband to Anita, a senior executive at the giant oil firm ENI Nigeria, and a father to Charmaine, Aganaba exemplifies love in action. His unwavering commitment to God and family sets a high standard. Anita’s words echo the sentiment shared by all who know him: “He is an extraordinary, loving, selfless, kind, humble, unassuming, generous soul, totally sold out to God.” Bola’s love transcends mere words; it is a symphony of deeds that resonate through the lives he touches.

As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we honour a man whose life is a testament to excellence, service, and unyielding faith. His journey continues to inspire and uplift all fortunate to know him.

 

Testimonials: Celebrating a Life of Love, Service, and Faith

Aganaba’s life is a testament to the power of love, service, and unwavering faith. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, we are reminded of his profound impact on countless lives.

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Anita, his wife, beautifully captured the essence of his character: “He is love in action… sold out to God.” She praised his selflessness, kindness, and humility, which made their marriage a joyous journey. Aganaba’s commitment to his faith is unwavering, and his love for God is evident in every aspect of his life. His sisters, Powei Horsfall and Ebi Obaro, echoed similar sentiments, describing him as gentle, caring, and kind-hearted. They praised his generosity and willingness to assist others, always ready to lend a helping hand. His youthful energy and handsome appearance belie his 60 years, a testament to his vibrant spirit.

As an engineer, Bola has built bridges of connection, leaving a lasting legacy in his field. As clergy, he has nurtured souls, guiding countless individuals on their spiritual journeys. As a father and husband, he has woven a tapestry of love and compassion, a true patriarch of his family. His embodiment of love, kindness, and generosity has inspired many, and his dedication to integrity, humility, and purpose has made him a true leader.

His brother, Justice Nayai Aganaba, praised him, saying, “Bola is an embodiment of love to those who have come close to him. Sometimes, I wonder how he does it. I pray that God will continue giving him the strength, resources, and longevity to remain relevant to his people, society, and humanity.”

In the same vein, Steve and Panebi Oboh admired his dedication to integrity, humility, purpose, contribution, and impact. Synthea Cameron-Odu, his sister-in-law, commended him for being a fantastic person who deserves God’s blessing, describing him as kind, caring, and warm-hearted.

Furthermore, Stephanie Daukoru, another sister-in-law, appreciates his welcoming nature, saying, “You have been an amazing brother-in-law, welcoming everyone with kindness and warmth. May we continue to enjoy your grace for many more years.” Calvin Odu, his nephew, fondly calls him “Uncle B” and lauded his calm and supportive nature, saying, “Uncle B is very calm, accommodating, very supportive. He loves God a lot and always makes Sunday service fun.” Weri Jaja, family, and friends wish him a life of hope and love.”

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Also testifying to his impact, Tokoni Aganaba, his niece, lauded him for inspiring and encouraging many to achieve greater heights, saying, “Dear Uncle B, thank you for inspiring and encouraging so many people around you to achieve greater heights. Your gentleness and empathy have changed several lives for good.” Jubilee Ephraim, a friend, described him as a peacemaker, saying, “Bola is the definition of ‘peacemaker.’ Through the grace of God upon his life, Bola lifts the downtrodden.” Ebiti Udo, his sister-in-law, appreciates his kindness and empathy, saying, “Uncle B, you have been a great in-law, big brother, and confidant.” Another sister-in-law, CY Uba, thanked him for his support and kindness, saying, “Your life story would never be complete without mentioning how God used you to sustain me for years.” Florence Edward, his niece, thanks him for being a pillar of support and strength.

From the clergy community, Pastor Dennis and Pastor Mrs. Grace Epelle wish him God’s blessings beyond measure. Pastor Edmund and Pastor Joy Oseahon from Port Harcourt wish him the best of years, while Pastor Tony Amos, a friend, described him as a “good man and Christian”.  Elder Japan and Deaconess Christy Omu prayed for God’s infinite mercy and blessings, saying, “We continue to pray that God in His infinite mercy that has seen you through service to your country will cause your latter years to be greater and sweeter than the former.”

In the same vein, the family of Renmi and Sunbo Sola-Philips, co-pastors and friends, congratulate him on his milestones, saying, “Heaven’s best is all we pray for you in Jesus’ name.” Nnamdi and Tukeni, his sister and brother-in-law, fondly describe him as a shining example of kindness, a perfect gentleman, and a devoted family man. They express their immense pride in him, wishing him a joyous birthday surrounded by loved ones.

Members of the RCCG Holy Ghost Arena, where Aganaba shepherds also testified to how great, dedicated, reliable, and compassionate their pastor is. Mr Debo Ikuesan, a church member, shares a heartwarming testimony of his kindness. After a terrible car accident in 2015, Aganaba selflessly offered help and support, standing by him throughout the ordeal. Debo prays that the Clergy’s large heart will continue to be a source of blessings, opening doors of favour for him. Deacon Victor Mayomi, a church elder, offered a heartfelt prayer for the celebrant, asking God to continue blessing him, lifting him, and enabling him to bless generations. He prayed for a long life, prosperity, good health, and a sound mind for him and his family. Etumudon Mike Osaro and Mrs Christy Adeniyi, ministers in his Parish, wished their pastor and his family abundant blessings and an increase.

A Prayer for the Journey Ahead

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As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we join the chorus of gratitude, praising God for his life and legacy. May God grant him strength, wisdom, and boundless compassion, empowering him to continue inspiring future generations.

 

His legacy will ripple through generations, a testament to a well-lived life. With honesty and integrity, he has worn no masks, shining like a beacon in a world of uncertainty. His heart, an open book, is filled with kindness, generosity, and unwavering love.

 

As a footballer, he danced on the field, leaving footprints of grace. But beyond the game, he played life with the same elegance, building bridges of connection, nurturing souls, and weaving a tapestry of love and compassion.

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May his journey continue to inspire us all. Indeed, Bola Olotu Aganaba, born May 18, 1964, is a man whose legacy transcends concrete and asphalt. He stands tall as an embodiment of excellence, service, and unwavering faith, inspiring us to leave our footprints on the sands of time.

 

We celebrate his life at 60, unravelling the threads that compose this remarkable man—a blend of engineer, clergyman, father, and husband. May his journey continue to inspire us all, and may he be blessed with many more years of good health, happiness, and fulfilment. Cheers to a remarkable life!

 

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SPECIAL REPORT

Renewable Energy Options For Nigerians Following Tariff Hike

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By Victor I. Fagorite, PhD and Ifeoma Malo*

The electricity deficit in Nigeria devastatingly affects the country’s economy and the well-being of its people. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has the most significant electricity access deficit globally, with 45% of the population, or about 90 million people, cut off from the national electricity grid. World Bank data further shows that there are also significant gaps in electricity access between urban centres (84 per cent) and rural areas (26 per cent).

The recent Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission tariff increments affecting households and businesses aggravated the energy access deficit. NERC introduced electricity bands on April 3 and raised the tariff for those in Band A from N68/KWh to N225/kWh until May 6, when it was reduced by 8.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Band A customers should optimally receive 20-24 hours of electricity daily. Subscribers under Band B should enjoy 16 to 20 hours of power supply, while those in Band C should receive 12 to 16 hours daily.

These tariff hikes have convinced many Nigerians that now is the time to shift to alternative energy. Renewable energy from solar and hydropower is a beacon of hope, offering a concrete solution to the high energy cost and environmental pollution caused by fossil fuels.

Solar Energy: A Bright Solution

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Harnessing the abundant sunlight to potentially revolutionise energy accessibility, with an average of 6.25 hours of sunshine daily across the country, solar panels can help homes and businesses break free from the constraints of the national grid by adopting Solar Home Systems (SHS), reducing electricity expenses, and insulating against price fluctuations.

An estimated 6.2 million people (6% of the non-electrified population) in Nigeria are best served by SHS solutions due to their distance from grid infrastructure and low housing density, according to the SEforALL and AfDB market assessment published in 2018. SHS can be considered across two categories based on the different customer groups addressed. These are trim/entry-level, which provides basic power requirements to households (e.g., lighting) and Large SHS – Providing more significant power outputs for domestic use (e.g., TVs, fans, and kitchen appliances for an increasing middle-class market).

Looking at the whole SHS landscape, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has spearheaded various funded projects in line with this. Some key players in Nigeria’s solar market involved in the SHS business include Lumos Nigeria, Arnergy Solar Limited, Greenlight Planet, Solar Energy Nigeria, Rubitec Solar, Blue Camel Energy, Solynta Energy, Havenhill Energy, Auxano Solar, and Solar Force Nigeria Limited.

Hydroelectricity: Tapping into Rivers and Streams

Hydropower has substantially contributed to Nigeria’s grid for several decades, accounting for 20% of the total grid supply today. While large-scale hydropower is well established, there is significant untapped potential in small hydropower across Nigeria. Many river systems, providing 70 micro dams, 126 mini dams and 86 small sites, supply a technically exploitable capacity of 3.5GW, but only 1.7% (0.06GW) of these resources are currently being tapped. For instance, a small hydro-power system with an operating capacity of 400kW, owned by Taraba State and managed by the Mambilla Beverages Company, factory, and local communities around the Mambilla Plateau. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) supported the project to supply clean electricity and renewable energy to the vicinal communities, including Kakara, Kusuku, Galadima, Nguroje, and Furmi.

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Such efforts could be replicated with flowing water and the required machinery in other areas. They will be well-suited for providing neighbourhoods not served by earlier grid infrastructure with the desired energy solutions. The main categories of hydropower plants include Small Hydro, Mini Hydro, Micro Hydro, and Pico Hydro.

Incorporation of solar energy and hydroelectricity to real estate development

Clean Technology Hub surveyed to review the perception of real estate developers and residents on the feasibility of incorporating renewables (solar and hydro) into residential infrastructures. All survey respondents acknowledged the importance of integrating renewable energy into real estate projects, although most currently do not utilise any renewable energy sources in their homes. The popularity of solar energy is highlighted by the unanimous agreement among respondents that solar energy is the most cost-effective option for real estate development. One compelling reason for this is the decreasing cost of solar technology and its long-term cost savings compared to traditional renewable energy sources such as hydropower.

Regarding incorporation into real estate development, 71.4% of estate developers consider solar energy the most suitable for real estate development. In comparison, 28.6% expressed a mixed consideration, suggesting a preference for a combination of renewable energy sources.

The survey further provides insights into various aspects of implementing renewable energy schemes, focusing on timelines, costs, comparisons with current options, and suggestions for improvement. Respondents’ estimates for setting up renewable energy schemes varied from less than a month to up to two years, a variation which may be due to differences in knowledge of the technology and perceptions of administrative processes or technical complicatedness. Implementation cost estimates ranged from 200,000 NGN to 10 million NGN, likely affected by the project’s scale, technology, and infrastructure requirements.

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For household scenarios:

Powering a 3-bedroom home with multiple appliances (two air conditioners, a freezer, two television sets, two decoder sets, a standing fridge, and eight lighting points) will cost between N8 to N10 million, ensuring stable five hours at noon and five hours at night with the battery powering the system when the sunlight is no longer available.

A 2-bedroom setup could range from N6 to N8 million with appliances (an air conditioner, a fridge, a TV, and decoder set, a microwave, and six lighting points) ensuring stable five hours at noon and five hours at night with the battery powering the system when the sunlight is no longer available.

A one-bedroom option costs around N5 to N6 million and includes appliances (one television set, one decoder set, and two standing fans). It guarantees 10 hours of power, just like the two- and three-bedroom homes.

It is worth noting that many Nigerians may not be able to afford N5 to N10 million to install solar power systems. There are cheaper options. A solar power system with a one-year warranty costs N2 to N3 million and can power the same load for 10 hours. Also, a solar power system that costs N200,000 to N1 million with a warranty for less than a year can power the same load for five hours or less. Likewise, there are subscription options.

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Call to Action

Solar energy has become the most valued resource as it has proven cost-effective and continuously supplies power. People can minimise conventional grid electricity, which is costly due to high tariffs. Similarly, the survey shows solid agreement that renewable energy needs to be part of real estate development, emphasising its effectiveness in dealing with electricity challenges in Nigeria.

The transition to renewable energy in the country will surely be possible when the government and businesses work together. To spur renewable energy development, policymakers and stakeholders must address the upfront costs of solar installations and promote the benefits of renewable energy to the public. The government can also address the issue using incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies for renewable energy to make them available to the public.

Despite the unresolved challenges, the survey results reveal a keen desire for green technologies in Nigeria. Adopting renewable energy will enable Nigeria to start from the basics, i.e., addressing electricity tariffs and inconsistent power supply, to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

* Malo is the founder and CEO, and Fagorite, PhD, Lead Researcher at Clean Technology Hub, Abuja 

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