Christmas came early for 54 lecturers of the University of Abuja after they received the sum of N50, 000 ($112) each as support grant from the Love and Light UniAbuja Association USA on Tuesday.
The Love and Light Association, an alumna of individuals who attended the University of Abuja and currently reside in the United States and Canada. While it was established in 2021, it is a registered organisation in the state of Texas to achieve a two-fold aim of connecting all former students of the University resident in the US and to positively affect the society through charity work.
It was the connection of the two aims that resulted in the Lecturers Support Project which according to the association’s representative, Barrister Tracy Kanu-Ejim would now become a yearly tradition.
The reward for the lecturers was in twofold: One was to support the teachers who had just come out of a grueling eight month industrial strike, the other is to help some families of lecturers kidnapped one year ago, in a commando style and held by the bandits-as Nigerian government often refer to bands of murderers who have invaded the country for most part of the Buhari administration- for six days.
Kanu-Ejim said: “First, is to carry out an act of goodwill towards the academics of this university who endured a protracted strike without pay in this period of harsh economic realities. We want to appreciate your great spirit of sacrifice and encourage you to continually invest in the intellectual development of your students who will lead the future.
“Second, we want to appreciate some lecturers, staff, and their family members who endured anguish during the kidnapping incident at the university staff quarters.”
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah remembered the second reason painfully. “I was sleeping when I got the call at 12:30 am. Till today, our school has not been the same again.
“What happened that day was intentional, but we fought back, all the people taken away were returned and we didn’t pay anything because we worked hard,” he said.
Among the beneficiaries were some of those taken that night. Prof. Joseph Obansa of the department of Economics was one. He recalled how the bandits captured him, his wife and son, dispossessed him of the sum of N50,000, destroyed his vehicle and marched him and his family into the forest.
“They threatened to kill us. We were marched into the mountains, I was weak and my son had to carry me,” he said before breaking into tears.
While the university was grateful for the miraculous deliverance, the vice chancellor said the institution is the better for it. “We were never the same, our security is number one now, I am determined by the grace of God that this will never happen again. We must now focus on doing everything in the arena of peace, passion, making great discoveries and superior academic contribution.
Showing Love and Shining the Light
Kanu-Ejim said the association is merely showing love and shining the light. The beneficiaries agreed. According to her, the association has decided on a yearly event and to expand the support to other areas of the school.
She said: “We have prioritized several projects that will meet the IT, healthcare, and security needs of the university, and we plan to come up with the funding to implement one or two in the nearest future.
Meanwhile, our group on its own initiated this gesture as a token to help cushion the effects of living without pay and as our special way of answering the VC’s clarion call.
“We are glad for the opportunity to do something directly before the year runs out, but we are planning for something bigger in 2023. In fact, Love&Light has decided to make it an annual event, which will include many more lecturers.”
The lucky beneficiaries were picked transparently from a “lucky hand of poker.” According to the representative, the association requested for a list of beneficiaries and got over 600 names.
“The process that produced the current beneficiaries was a very transparent one. When we requested and got the list of about 600 names of lecturers, we conducted a zoom meeting where the spinning wheel was utilized to randomly select a winner on faculty by faculty basis. The winners were collated and certified and their names were promptly transmitted to the office of Alumni Relations,”Kanu –Ejim said.
The institution’s chancellor said he was proud of the Love and Light Association and other alumni groups should follow in their stead. “One group has come to stand tall, ” he began in an impassioned speech. “They are coming to give back to this university. What you have done today is what is expected of the alumni, you have carried the banner of the university and I commend you,” he said.
Other beneficiaries said the assistance could not have come at a better time. One said it was Christmas come early for his family.
But Kanu-Ejim, who was the eyes and ears of the association in the hall said all they have done, is to show love and shine the line along the way.
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