Through funding scholarships, and providing educational aids to his community primary school, Ini Ememobong Essien is helping to shape the future of children in Ibiono Ibom and beyond as reported by Etoro-obong Inyang for The Edge News.
The future of school children in Primary School, Use Ndon in Ibiono Ibom local government area looks brighter with the assistance being provided by a son of the soil in the area of computer education, literary skills, motivational coaching and spiritual guidance. He has also sponsored Mathematics quiz competitions for school children in the area as a way of stimulating their mental ability and numerical skills in a society where science and technology education have become a major curriculum focus.
Through the Ini Ememobong foundation, and in line with his philosophy that the best way one could impact his society positively was to leave it better than he met it, he has built and donated a multipurpose civic centre for his Use Ndon community not just to serve as rallying point for the social engagements of the people, but to also serve as a computer education centre for school children in his immediate community-Use Ndon, and Ibiono Ibom.
The project which was conceived about three years as mark of gratitude and in appreciation of the benevolence of Governor Emmanuel who appointed him as his political adviser. He also served the governor in similar capacity when the governor was the SSG. His reason to invest in children education was not only a means of providing social security against criminal activities, but also as a means of inculcating into school children the idea and skills of computer education, knowing that, “computer education is something every child needs”, a section of the civic centre has been equipped with computers for the children to learn with.
The centre which will also serve as a computer based test centre for candidates preparing for the JAMB examinations. The essence of the initiative was to allow SSS3 students preparing for WAEC and JAMB examinations to be exposed to the techniques and skills of answering questions correctly. His thinking is that with the exposure, the students would have both the skills of what and how to answer public examinations questions.
“I think away from knowing what to answer, they should know how to answer”. He has followed his passion for children’s education with energy and well-rounded philanthropy. He has hired a well-known public examinations’ preparatory coaching agency- Pathfinders to coach Ibiono Ibom candidates that are preparing for WAEC and JAMB examinations.
The students are attending classes free. In addition, jobs have been created for some persons who have teaching skills, as most of the tutors screened and selected for the propgramme are graduates from within and without Ibiono Ibom, and they are paid by the foundation. As a way of motivating the candidates, Essein has promised to sponsor candidates who will score up to 350 in the JAMB examinations and gain admission into any public university in the country.
“I have challenged them, look if you produce for me one of the best results in JAMB, UTME, that they used to put candidates pictures on the form, I will give you one million naira. I will be happy to find an Akwa Ibom child’s face there, and I tell the children, look, if you have above 350 and you have admission to the university, I will sacrifice myself and send you to school for all the four years or five years you are going to spend in the university”.
To ensure the sustainability of the programme, Essien has partnered the South-south zone president of the Computer society of Nigeria, COSON, Bassey Essang as a resource person. Essan who also doubles as the Akwa Ibom state coordinator of COSON would design the platform for teachers in the school to be trained in computer skills. The computers in the centre are embedded with teaching aids and applications that are self-teaching.
The teachers would be trained to use the computer in teaching their subjects during classes. Teaching aids and sample WAEC and JAMB past question papers from 2010 have been installed on all the computers in the centre. Also, computer based test, CBT answer modules have been added as a way of enhancing candidates’ preparation for the exams. The centre has internet facilities for users, and to make them focused and purposeful during classes, all the social media apps have been disabled.
The centre has been provided with a dedicated generating set, with plans to install solar power in order to make power supply available always. The foundation has also provided resources for the fueling of the generating set. In doing this, Essien believes that the society would be safer when children in the communities are exposed to basic educational facilities and conducive learning environment hitherto believed to be the preserve of children in cities, and those of the elite.
In recognition of the fact that Jesus Christ is the foundation of sustainable wealth, and that, “every sincere , purposeful and developmental knowledge comes from God, the computers in the centre have in built Biblical teachings and renowned motivational classics as a way of preparing users to imbibe spiritual knowledge and wealth creation skills in their daily life encounters.
He’s argued that his gesture wasn’t politically motivated, even though he’s actively involved with politics.
“Agreed that man is a political animal, but, I’m not doing it for political reasons, I’m not seeking election, I come from a family that gives, and giving is a way of life, but, those that say, it’s for political reason, why not out of political reasons join in making the society better”.
He has appealed to other public-spirited individuals and organisations to partner him in the task, and his appeal has yielded positive results with the donation of two computer sets to the centre, courtesy of FEREP-the pet project of the wife of the state governor.
His act of philanthropy wasn’t out of abundant resources, but, out of the desire to reach out to people that were in need, “you don’t give because you have more than enough, you give because there’s need to give, you will never have more than enough, we give don’t even have enough for our needs”, he submitted, “but, you have to add value to life by depriving yourself of those things people consider luxury and send them to school”.
In doing this, he believes that he would justify himself that when he had the opportunity to contribute to the good of mankind, he didn’t hesitate.
“That I have this opportunity, I’ll do the best I can, and when the opportunities no longer come, I’ll reflect on what I did when the opportunities”.
Ini Essien’s political story is impressive, but it is his commitment to helping others that set him apart. He is a crusader who has transformed lives while also seeking to build human capital resources that will shape the future through investment in education, social security, and communal tranquility.
As WAEC and JAMB examinations approach, it’s expected that beneficiaries of this gesture would make the most and the best out of the opportunity offered them to further their education. When he’s not soliciting support for the development agenda of his party as the publicity secretary of the Akwa Ibom state chapter of the People Democratic Party, PDP, Essien dwells on rendering legal services to corporate and individual clients.