Gift-Giving: The Udom Inoyo Example
UNO AWO NKPO (GIFT-GIVING): THE UDOM INOYO EXAMPLE
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
As another election circle draws near, it seems that a lot of folks are giving much weight to the attitude of gift-giving (uno awo nkpo) as a basis of assessing political aspirants. This has resulted in a frenzy by people who now jostle for popularity on the streets by trying to outdo one another so as to win acclaim as the “Ano Awo Nkpo 1” of Akwa Ibom. In fact, folks no longer bother to ask from where the emergency gift – givers earned their money or why they are on the streets doling out “gifts”. The only concern is ” Mr. A is a giver while Mr. Z does not give “
However, a silent revolution has been going on in the education sector of Akwa Ibom state since 2007, which in my estimation is one of the most prized and greatest gifts anyone can give to society. No one seems to notice or appreciate the monumental impact this revolution is creating. The revolution was initiated and championed noiselessly by one man who saw tomorrow, one man who desired to shut the doors of our prisons by opening the doors of education; one man who desired to be part of the development process of every Akwa Ibom school child, one man who dared to be different and helped to push the human race forward.
The impact Udom Inoyo is creating in the education sector of Akwa Ibom State, reminds me of a story told of a young Ghanaian by name Tetteh Quarshie who sojourned in the Island of Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea) in 1876. Upon return to his native Ghana, he was asked to show proof of his sojourn abroad. He dipped hands into his pocket and brought out 6 seeds of cocoa. The people were utterly disappointed that all he could bring back home were cocoa seedlings. Young Tetteh went behind his father’s hut and planted those seedlings. From those seeds, came out one of the world’s largest cocoa industries, a major platform for creation of job, wealth and a major revenue earner for Ghana. When Tetteh brought home, planted and cultivated cocoa seedlings, he probably did not know that the crop will eventually become an important part of the country’s export today. He did not also know that his name will be immortalized long after he is gone.
Like Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Udom Inoyo is making life out of the teachers, students and all those impacted by his munificence with strong reference to the education sector. He is going about silently planting shades not knowing who will sit on them. He has planted an indelible seed in the education sector of the state. That seed is gradually growing and yielding fruits like the cocoa seed young Tetteh brought home to his native Ghana. That investment is gradually empowering and motivating Akwa Ibom teachers, mentoring students to be knowledge economy savvy and boosting the study of science and technology. This is indeed the gift giving strategy of Mr. Udom Inoyo and it takes only those with the eyes of tomorrow to understand and appreciate such gifts.
Harbison Barber once said that human resources are about the greatest assets a nation can have and that any nation that cannot develop its manpower cannot and will not be able to develop anything else. Have you wondered why countries like Japan without a single mineral resources save her citizens is able to transform into a world class economy? Have you also wondered why India, the world’s second most populous nations of the world is making huge inroads in science and technology? The answer is found in knowledge economy, an economy where the production of goods and services is based principally on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to a rapid pace of advancement in technical and scientific innovation. Inoyo understands that the key element of value is the greater dependence on human capital and intellectual property for the source of the innovative ideas, information and practices. He knew that in a knowledge economy, human intellectual is the key engine of economic enhancement. It is an economy where members acquire, create, disseminate and apply knowledge for facilitating economic and social development. Udom Inoyo, given his wide contacts and expertise knew beforehand that the 21st century Akwa Ibom State is one that requires an economy that is knowledge driven.
Having spent a greater part of his life developing human resources for Mobil producing Nigeria, Inoyo sought for ways of being part of the development process of the state. He knew beforehand that education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the state. He did not go about giving the youths handouts or initiating them in cultism. He sought for a platform upon which he could reproduce himself in the youths of Akwa Ibom, teach them how to be self-reliant; how to find their feet in life and be nation builders.
In 2007, Mr. Udom established Inoyo Toro Foundation – a platform to advance the recognition of public secondary school teachers and students’ mentorship in Akwa Ibom State. The vision is to improve the standard of education in Akwa Ibom State, using teachers as the focal point and to complement Government’s efforts in enhancing the quality of education. The mission is to contribute to the eradication of poverty through education by investing resources to encourage the learning of science subjects in schools, encourage teachers to be more focused, and supplement government’s efforts in improving education standards.
For 14 years and still counting, Inoyo painstakingly and progressively began changing the narratives and creating a platform for Akwa Ibom state to launch itself into the knowledge economy era with all the resultant benefits. He knew his target audience and that if the teachers are well motivated, then the students will be adequately taught and moulded into transformational and transcendental leaders. He began by motivating teachers through a competitive reward system in a bid to restore the integrity and glory of the teaching profession; provide training and skills enhancement to augment their career. He also conducts periodic survey and gathering of educational data for planning purposes as well as promote innovation and inventive initiatives. In 2014, he opened a library in his village, Ikot Okoro Ubium, to provide learning aids and create access to research and development of reading and writing skills in secondary school students. In 2015, he facilitated the start-up of the International Centre for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Research (ICEESR) in University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Findings show that through the Inoyo Toro foundation, more than 5040 students have been mentored, 3500 teachers trained, 235 teachers rewarded, 3 principals rewarded, more than 90 schools reached in the 30 local government areas of the state and a whopping 400 million naira spent.
In all, cognizance must be taken of the fact that the effort by Udom Inoyo has encouraged the development of science subjects, created awareness for the study of science or applied sciences, social sciences, and arts at the tertiary level, fostered positive and healthy competition for excellence among teachers, created initiatives and causes to contribute to community development and complemented government’s efforts in enhancing the quality of education in Akwa Ibom State. Need I mention that Udom Inoyo’s strides through the foundation has attracted several local, national and international honours and awards. The most recent honour came from University of Uyo Students Union during her annual Tuskers Award Banquet where Mr. Udom was keynote speaker.
What more can a people require of a worthy son than what Udom Inoyo has been single handedly doing since 2007 without fanfare? I dare say that at a time such as this when the state is in dire need of a leader to take over from Governor Udom Emmanuel, one man who stands tall, befitting, and has the requisite requirements, candour, finesse, experience, guts, clout, and the contacts, is Mr. Udom Inoyo. Akwa Ibom needs a leader who understands the language of the 21st century; knowledge economy, a leader who is selfless ab initio, a leader who will promote education, human capital development and the one who will show our youths the way to the future and not to prison confinements. Akwa Ibom deserves a leader who would give back to the state and not take from it; a leader who has lived his life showing others the way to the top and not the way to personal assistants, house boys and girls. Udom Inoyo is that leader. If he could do these without any prompting, there is no gainsaying that he will make the state proud.
Deacon Vincent Aluu (Ubokutomabasi Kiet), Publisher of Naija Eye Witness News, writes this piece from Uyo Akwa Ibom State – 08089753734
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