By Chudi Okoye
Awka Times Magazine (ATM) is establishing a tradition of choosing and announcing, annually, the person who has the most dramatic positive impact in Awka. They could be private individuals or those in public offices. It could also be a group, an idea or a thing that has had or is starting to drive positive change in some sector of Awka society.
Our Person of the Year philosophy differs fundamentally from the standard elsewhere which is value-neutral: some global media houses choose their persons or things of the year merely on the measure of their moment or their impact regardless of whether the effect is good or bad.
Not us. Our selection of the ATM Person of the Year is anchored primarily on their role as authors or vectors of positive change.
We are of course focused on impacts in Awka and environ, but extraterritorial impacts with local significance are within the ambit of consideration. Equally, the choice need not be sui generis Awka persons or things. They could be non-indigenes or extrinsic phenomena with local impact.
With such a wide aperture, it becomes clear the significance of our choice this year. After a rigorous and meticulous assessment, we are announcing Dr. Okey Anueyiagu as the Awka Times Person of the Year 2019!
Dr. Anueyiagu was selected for the unique and highly impactful philanthropic work he is doing, through his organization, Dr. Okey Anueyiagu Foundation (www.okeyanueyiagufoundation.org), to transform the ecosystem of elementary schools in Awka and environ.
Dr. Anueyiagu’s philanthropic contributions are significant and growing. He has contributed to various projects in support of the disadvantaged in our society. Through his organization he has built a modern accommodation and clinic for orphans in Awka, among other things. These are recognized, but it is most especially for his ambitious agenda of educational transformation that Dr. Anueyiagu has been selected as the Awka Times Person of the Year 2019.
His Foundation’s educational programme is extensive, involving the rehabilitation and revitalization of targeted elementary schools in Awka and environ. This project involves tearing down dilapidated old school structures; designing and constructing brand new school buildings to replace them; furnishing and equipping the schools; providing teacher training facilitation; and even helping with curriculum modernization.
It is an ambitious programme, unique in the Awka metropolis, which could impact as many as 100 schools and over 50,000 pupils, according to the Foundation’s projections.
As might be expected, there were many other worthy candidates for the Awka Times Person of the Year recognition. But Dr Anueyiagu stood out at this time for the size, scope and significance of his philanthropy. His foundation’s work is a radical and imaginative transformation of the physical and pedagogic infrastructure for primary school education in our community. It is a much needed intervention in an area and an era of unmitigated government failure.
Dr. Okey Anueyiagu was born in Kano, Nigeria. He graduated with honours from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and later obtained postgraduate degrees in political science and economics from the University of Rochester and Fordham University, both in New York, United States. He was a pioneer staff member of the old Anambra State University of Technology (ASUTECH).
Dr. Anueyiagu – teacher, author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and avid art collector – has distinguished himself in various fields.
As an author, has published a collection of research materials, journals and books, some peer-reviewed and well-received.
Dr. Okey Anueyiagu’s entrepreneurial activities started in the mid-1980s when he established advisory and trading firms specializing in corporate and public sector consultancy, among other services. He has served on the board of the Nigerian Coal Corporation, a perch from which he participated in processes geared toward the liberalization and commercialization of the Nigerian coal industry.
For over three decades Dr. Anueyiagu has promoted ventures in oil and gas, power and energy systems, agriculture, telecommunications, aviation equipment supplies, mining, engineering, construction and manufacturing. He currently serves on the boards of Pointec Group and Brown Brommel, companies that are pursuing and executing interests in construction, oil and gas trading, and refinery projects.
Dr. Anueyiagu is known as an avid art collector, with a track record of promoting art and culture across continents. For over 30 years, he has collected painting and sculptures from around the world. In 2012 he published an anthology, Contemporary African Art: My Private Collection of Onyema Offoedu-Okeke, reflecting on the sweeping social and governmental changes occurring in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Dr. Okey Anueyiagu has received recognition and tributes for his accomplishments and philanthropy. Prof. George Obiozor, erstwhile Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, describes Okey Anueyiagu as a “prominent, responsible and highly respectable Nigerian…, an outstanding businessman…, a man of impeccable integrity… respected and admired… for his interest in the general welfare of humanity.”
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, former Nigerian Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, and former Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, considers Dr. Anueyiagu as “a person of topmost ethical and professional pedigree and… a well-respected Nigerian of means and stature…”
These accolades validate our choice of Dr. Okey Anueyiagu as the Awka Times Person of the Year 2019.
On receiving news of our selection, Prof. Chike Aniakor of Cross River University of Technology wrote to congratulate Dr Anueyiagu, saying that he was “not surprised” because over the years Dr Anueyiagu has made “useful contributions to humanity”. Prof. Aniakor wrote that Anueyiagu is “like an eagle on the iroko, like that elegant gazelle as it smooth-runs across the plains of the savanna, and like the peacock when it spreads out its wings in its feathery beauty.” He further told Dr Anueyiagu: “Like a dancer in the public arena, the audience continues to invoke your spirit of dance with choric energy.” Our Person of the Year clearly moves in artistic circles!
Dr. Anueyiagu is married to Hadiza, a lawyer and partner of 30 years. They have three daughters, Tochi, Ebele and Dera; and twin boys Aka and Arize.
Join us in saluting the Awka Times Person of the Year 2019, Dr. Okey Anueyiagu.