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Published On: Tue, Jul 1st, 2014

Uncommon ‘giving back’ at a Nasarawa college

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tanko_nasarawaBy Tosia O’Akum

The body of every organization is structure from four kinds of bones. There are the wish-bones, who spend all their time wishing that someone else would do the work. Then there are the jaw-bones, who do all the talking, but title else. The knuckle-bones criticize everything anybody else tries to do. Fortunately, in every organization there are back-bones who get under the load and do most of the work-Leo Aikman.

 There was no pomp or pageantry or panache or publicity blitz. In fact, but for the palpable excitement among a multitude of students of Government Secondary School Aloce, Nasarawa State and the legion of invited guests, few would have guessed that a remarkable programme was being held here at the school’s auditorium. A programme that is not only unprecedented in this part of the land, but is embedded with sundry significance for our beloved country and compatriots alike.

 Which particular programme are we talking about, and what makes it so remarkable and worthy of emulation? Before we dwell on that it is pertinent to reflect briefly on the aforementioned statement by the notable philosopher, Leo Aikman: some of us are experts only in criticizing others. Some of us specialize the PhD (pull himDown) syndrome. Some compatriots wallow perpetually in wishing-wishing that someone else would do the job, that is- and nothing else.

    Fortunately, somewhere in the multitude of jaw-bones, wish-bones and PhDers and their ilk, one or more back-bones could be found; fellow country men and women who are willing to get under the load and give their all for the common cause. The irony of our life as a nation, however, is that more often than not it is the noise-makers, wish-bones,                 PhDers  and the like that usually grab our attention. Conversely, our true heroes, selfless servants and uncommon patriots are rarely highlighted, let alone celebrated.

That brings us back to the ceremony at Government Secondary School (G.S.S.) Alocein Akun Local Development Area of Nasarawa State, last weekend. For perhaps the first time in the history of this school located along the Akwanga-Keffi-Abuja highway, a former student of the school has “returned home” to give back to his alma mater in his own humble way. Take a bow, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Soja Anyembugu, the Parish Priest  of St. Sylvester Catholic Church, New Nyanya, Nasarawa state.

Anyembugu, who is also a prolific author (including a seminal book entitled SHADOWS OF EXISTENCE) graduated from G.S.S. Aloce 20 years ago. Despite his modest means, he decided give his widow’s mite to his old school. Specifically, the priest instituted awards for academic and extra-curriculum excellence to recognize and celebrate the brilliant students. In this way, these future leaders are motivated and inspired to not only redouble their efforts but aim higher in various areas of human endeavour.

One needs to be present at the school boundless to witness the joy and excitement that pervades the whole  place as the lucky winners were honoured, to appreciate the essence of this modest but significant gesture. Come and see hundreds of students, parents, guest, and staff alike beaming with smiles and dancing with abandon, celebrating the young scholars’ feat as if they had won the Nobel Prize.

Of particular interest to yours sincerely is the fact the brain behind this commendable gesture is not a “moneybag” nor politician. As he declared at the colourful ceremony, “Even though I have neither silver nor gold, I feel obliged to do the little I can with the minor resource at my disposal. You see, in my view, it’s not how big one’s contribution is that matters, but how passionate and cheerful the giver is, more so as God loves a cheerful giver.”

Think for a moment, dear compatriot, what a difference we would make if you and I decide to give our own widow’s mite to our old school or community or church or mosque. Imagine what a difference we would make if each and all of us resolve to touch a few lives with the little we can spare, rather than wishing or hoping that someone else would do it. The point to note here is that one needs not be a multi-millionaire to do such a thing; as Rev. Fr. Anyembugu poignantly noted, it’s not the size or quantity of what we give that matters but our willingness, passion and commitment to the common cause.

No less significant is the fact that the gentleman is gesture wasn’t motivated by any ulterior motive. This salient point is pertinent given that the average guy rarely contemplates charity except if/when he expects to get something in return. Our politicians, for instance, only hand out gift items purposely to curry the electorate’s vote. Their own brand of “charity” never materializes until when elections are close.

Conversely, at G.S.S Aloce last weekend we witnessed selfless, patriotic service to humanity, with absolutely no strings attached. Lives – even if only a few – were touched in truly refreshing, inspiring ways. Indeed, Rev. Fr. Anyembubgu demonstrated before our very eyes what day that irrespective of how little the resources at one’s disposal may be, we could make some difference in our own little corner of the world if we really want to.

    This reminds us of that evergreen statement by the then United States president, John Kennedy: ask not of what your country can do for you; ask of what you can do for your country. For so long, the progress and development of this country has been retarded because too many of us have been asking of  what Nigeria can do for us, rather than vice versa. For so long too many of us have been  like wish-bones, knuckle-bones and jaw-bones. It’s about time we got under the load and did recently in G.S.S. Aloce!

Tonia O’Akum is a journalist and educationalist based in Abuja, F C T

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