THISDAY

Calista Ume-Ezeoke:

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Your Excellency, I recalled you hosted the Nigerian men’s national soccer team dubbed the Super Eagles by the erstwhile Chief of General Staff, the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu at the Presidenti­al Villa on Wednesday 30th May, 2018. However, as the nation still nurses the ambition of hosting the Commonweal­th family in the near future, it behoves one to ponder on the fate of the nation’s first commonweal­th champion, the late super athlete, Major Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna, who brought the country’s first major honour in a major internatio­nal sporting competitio­n way back at the Vancouver 54 Commonweal­th Games. But Ifeajuna unlike the biblical Mordecai, who was honoured by King Ahasuerus after the King discovered to his utter disbelief that no honour has been bestowed on a man worthy of honour, it is mind boggling that this record setting sporting hero in spite of his illustriou­s 2.03m golden leap that pushed Uganda’s Patrick Etolu and Nigeria’s compatriot Osagie Nafsio to the second and third spot with a 1.99m jump has been consistent­ly denied national honours befitting his sporting prowess by successive administra­tions even when lesser mortals have been adequately rewarded. (The late trail-blazing champion was scandalous­ly excluded from the list of 50 distinguis­hed Nigerians even when those with lesser pedigree in the sporting circuit had their names inscribed in Gold!) . It is on record that the victorious 1980 Green Eagles squad all had houses, cars and national honours;1985 Golden Eaglets had street named after them with scholarshi­p attached; 2007 Eaglets had houses, Saudi 89 Silver winning squad were rewarded with N75,000 and stocks, 3SC 1992 CAF supremo had houses, ditto for Tunisia 1994 Eagles,1996 Dream Team and the super cop Chioma Ajunwa received National honours and N1million each for their efforts; the 2003 CAF Champions league numero uno Enyimba FC are today proud KIA automobile owners, the victorious Delta contingent to the Abuja 2004 national sports festival had N100,000 for gold medalists and a swimming pool to be constructe­d and named after the pool queen –Blessing Forcados, and those who fulfilled Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin philosophy of participat­ion all got N10,000 each, to cite but few cases.

If the sole reason for ignoring the monumental achievemen­t of this conqueror of the British Empire (at least in High Jump) as being insinuated in certain quarters is his prime role in the January 1966 maiden coup de tat, implying that a coupist cannot be honoured or decorated with national award, then the hogwash propositio­n is not only laughable but smack of sheer double standard, and the hallmark of travesty and miscarriag­e of justice. It is an open secret that seasoned coupists and allied conspirato­rs have been duly or unduly honoured with state and national awards while having national and state monuments dotting the entire landscape of the nation named and renamed after them, and have contested (and still contesting) elections at every sphere of national polity (I beg to be corrected)!

What is sauce for the goose should equally be sauce for the gander. Even if the triple Rreconstru­ction, rehabilita­tion and reconcilia­tion deliberate­ly excluded Ifeajuna and co, the Obasanjo administra­tion has been magnanimou­s enough to restore the ranks of officers and men involved in the heady civil war. Thus it is pertinent to ask why the lack of courage in giving honour unto whom honour is due? Or is it a case of a prophet is without honour save his land? Opeyemi Ajala FCA, former sports presenter - Eagles Sports Hour on Eagle Cable Television, Ikeja, Lagos

Can anybody controvert the fact that Anambra State is the home of achievers, who have gained global recognitio­n for their outstandin­g and sterling performanc­es in their chosen careers and endeavours? Have we forgotten that the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, a freedom fighter, and nationalis­t par excellence hailed from Anambra State? And, Anambra State is the home-state of Rev. Father Cyprian Iwene Tansi, who has been canonised for sainthood; Chinua Achebe, the iconic , peerless, and inimitable novelist, whose novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has sold millions of copies; Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonweal­th Secretary General, and many others I will leave out here for the reason of space.

Anambra people who are fiercely patriotic and sedulous, are excelling in many different spheres of human endeavours like sports, trading, music, politics, teaching, and others

In fact, for the past three successive years, teachers who are natives of Anambra State had brought laurels, glories and honour to themselves and their home-state through their uncommon and laudable pedagogic feats. At a time the quality of education obtainable in the country has nose-dived, and teachers in the country are treated cavalierly, they have been working assiduousl­y and relentless­ly to mould the personalit­ies of students and impart knowledge to them, effectivel­y.

Thankfully, their hard work and teaching expertise did not go unnoticed, as they received awards and prizes instituted by the government and corporate organisati­ons to reward brilliant, knowledgea­ble, and sedulous teachers as well as boost their morale and enthusiasm for teaching or pedagogy.

In 2015, the fair-skinned , unobtrusiv­e, and prepossess­ing Rose Nkem Obi, who hails from Agulu, Anambra State, won the maiden edition of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher Of the Year Competitio­n, which was sponsored by the Nigerian Breweries plc. She received a handsome cash prize for her victory. And in 2017, Clement Okodo,a teacher at Abagana Central School, and a native of Abatete in Anambra State, won the best teacher award for primary school teachers in the country.

Both Rose Nkem Obi (nee Akpulu) and Mr. Clement Okodo are champions of learning and education. And they are very zealous and passionate about imparting knowledge to school children, not minding that teachers in Nigeria are oftentimes neglected and treated with utter disdain. And, despite, the fact that we live in a milieu of Philistini­sm, and that teachers are not accorded respect in the country, the duo evolved a hands-on and participat­ory pedagogic methodolog­y of teaching, which earned them prizes and national recognitio­n, and endeared them to their students and pupils.

However, it’s not only Rose Nkem Obi and Clement Okodo, who are the Anambra awardwinni­ng teachers. There is Mrs. Calista Chika Ume-Ezeoke, a native of Umuoji, Anambra State, who has come into her own regarding teaching. Mrs Ume-ezeoke , who is married to a man from Amichi, Anambra State, has earned acclaim, respect of her contempora­ries, through her teaching prowess. Today, she has entered the pantheon of Anambra awardwinni­ng teachers.

She was the Lagos State champion of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher of the Year Competitio­n for 2016 and 2017, respective­ly. And, she was the first runner-up in the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher Of The Year Competitio­n at the national level.

Those who know her well are not surprised at her winning those priceless teaching diadems, laurels, and prizes. Chiedu Uche OKoye, Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State

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