Published On: Wed, Dec 27th, 2023

Ibori Hails James Ume For Rebuilding 27-Year-Old Moribound Abia School With N250m


James Ibori Commissions Onyerubu Comprehensive Secondary School, Ndi Oji Abam

LAGOS DECEMBER 27TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, has commended Chief James Ume, Founder of Unubiko Foundation, for rebuilding the Onyerubi Comprehensive Secondary School in Ndi Oji Abam, Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State.

The school, originally built in 1996 but left in a state of complete disrepair, was rebuilt with a N250 million intervention by the Unubiko Foundation.

Ibori, who visited Abam on December 26 to commission the project alongside other dignitaries, expressed his appreciation for Ume’s selflessness and commitment to community development

“Today is the 26th of December, 2023. Ordinarily people will be at home having their family time,” Ibori remarked

“So, let me first thank all of you for coming to join my younger brother to do what people should be doing for humanity. That is what he has done.”


Chief James Ibori and Chief James Ume on white attire

Ibori emphasised the importance of rural development, stating that “Nigeria’s development should be a village at a time; we all don’t live in the cities. Many of us weren’t born in the cities and didn’t grow up in the cities. It is these villages that have raised the greater population of our generations.”

Ibori expressed hope that the rebuilt school would bring positive change to the community. “The children that you have done this for will always remember you.

“Think for once that the kids here, the way this place was described before you did this…even as I was asking you some questions over there, think for one moment that these children will grow up, school here and go to the cities and compete with some of the brightest students. You can see the ratio of the students from this school that will emerge, attending some of the big universities.”


Immediate Past Minister of Trade and Investment Otunba Adebayo Adeniyi and the Founder of Unubiko Foundation, Chief James Ume

The former Delta State governor urged the community to make the most of the new facility.

“Please continue to pray for him (James Ume) and pray for your children too so that God will give them the zeal to come to this school,” Ibori advised.

“So, James, please provide them with teachers as well. The Commissioner for Education, please tell my brother (Governor Alex Otti) to let us help these small communities with teachers.”

Otunba Adebayo Adeniyi, the immediate past Minister of Trade and Investment, who arrived Ndi Oji with Ibori for the commissioning, also commended Ume’s initiative.

Adeniyi, a former Governor of Ekiti State, acknowledged that while his own upbringing in Lagos differed from that of many who grew up in vallages, he understood the importance of education and rural development.

“Myself and my brother, Chief James Ibori, were discussing on the way here and he was telling me that I cannot relate to what they can relate to because my upbringing is different from theirs,” Adeniyi stated.

“However, my late father, General Adebayo, used to do one thing. Because he grew up in the village, he wanted his children to experience village life. So, every holiday we had, he used to make sure we went to the village.”

The former minister stressed the need for the community to utilize the school effectively, saying “I think the most important thing to say here today is to join my brother James Ibori to ask the parents of all the young people in this community to make use of this facility.

“It is very important (because) a lot of money has gone into putting this together for the training and education of the children.”

Also speaking at the school commissioning, Professor Bartholomew Nnaji, former Minister of Power, further lauded Ume’s efforts.

“What Chief James Ume has through the Unubiko Foundation is what development is all about,” Nnaji declared.

“It is not everybody who God has blessed that remembers where he’s coming from. That’s what he has done. He’s remembering his roots, he’s remembering his people and remembering that the children that grow out of this community are the future leaders of tomorrow and that any of them can become anything. We thank you James Ume for what you have done and we also appreciate the gentleman that brought the project to your attention.”

Earlier in his remarks, Chief Ume said didn’t plan for the school commissioning to be a big event hence thanked the people of the community for trooping out in show gratitude.

When my friend called out to me that the school was in bad shape, I took a tour of the school and found out that it is not a place anybody should stay in, not talk of our kids.

We had that experience growing up so we understand what it is. So if God has given us the grace to see better we should be able to ensure that our kids enjoy thereof.

“So, we will keep doing more for our people because if we’ve become anything, it’s through this place. So we’ve just started.”

Chief Ume also announced a donation of N10 million to the community to any project of their choice.

Before rebuilding the Onyerubi Comprehensive Secondary School, Ume similarly refurbished the Ovukwu-Abam Secondary School in his hometown.

He was recently conferred with Gani Fawehinmi Award for his philanthropic works, which include providing scholarships and covering students’ WAEC fees, revitalizing a customary court in a community in Abia State.

Ume’s contribution to education, community development, and humanitarian causes have also earned him other recognitions.

In 2022, he was awarded the Independent Newspaper’s Philanthropist of the Year Award and the Sun Newspapers Humanitarian Service Icon Award.

Ume, in his response to these accolades, emphasized the importance of serving humanity and downplayed any desire for attention, stating, “I believe we are serving humanity, we are serving God, so, we don’t need any self-seeking attention. When you give to people, you are giving back to God.”

Through the Unubiko Foundation, Ume has consistently reached out to the less privileged in his home state, Abia, and other parts of Nigeria. His initiatives include empowering widows, awarding scholarships, donating laptops, providing transformers for rural electrification, financing boreholes, and supporting healthcare.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ume distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to communities in Abam, Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, among other humanitarian projects.

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