Speech by the Founder and President of the OCI Foundation, Dr. Chris Ifediora, at the 2018 IFOMSSA Awards Presentation Ceremony (March 20th, 2018)

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SPEECH BY THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF THE OCI FOUNDATION, DR. CHRIS IFEDIORA,
AT THE 2018 IFOMSSA AWARDS PRESENTATION CEREMONY

Read by: Barr. Onyechi S. Ononye, the OCI Foundation's Legal Adviser
On: Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
;
At: Father Joseph Memorial Secondary School, Aguleri, Anambra State, Nigeria.


[Protocol]

Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,

On behalf of the OCI Foundation, I welcome you all to this occasion of the “2018 IFOMSSA Awards” presentation ceremony. The fact that we are able to hold this event for the second time in just the second year of our existence, speaks volumes of our successes at the OCI Foundation.

IFOMSSA” stands for the “Ifedioramma Okafor Memorial Secondary School Academic” Awards, and was established in memory of the late Obi Ifedioramma Isaac Okafor (1939 – 2016), who was the father of the OCI Foundation’s Founder, Dr. Chris Ifediora.

The late Pa Ifedioramma was a firm believer that Education holds the key to limitless successes, not just for individuals, but for the society at large. His influences on his son, and the desire to perpetuate his legacy, led to the establishment of this scholarship scheme.

The IFOMSSA Awards, which comprises of the IFOMSSA Senior and Junior Awards, grant financial incentives to students enrolled in state government-owned secondary schools located in Anambra East Local Government Area (L.G.A.) of Anambra State, Nigeria. This scheme currently benefits mainly the Omambala people, and this is so because, the Omambala area, where Dr. Chris Ifediora, the founder of the OCI Foundation hails from, is one area of Anambra State whose people are not as academically privileged as those in the rest of our dear state. However, the program also rewards high performing non-indigenes of Anambra East L.G.A attending these same schools. We do this, not just because our Foundation believes in equity and fairness, but also because we believe that if these individuals and their parents live in our midst, work in our midst, attend our schools, and contribute in their own little ways to the growth of our communities, then, they should partake in the benefits that come the ways of our people.
 
The Senior Award is for SSS-3 students preparing for the Senior School Certificate Examinations, and covers the entire registration fees of the winners for both the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the National Examination Commission (NECO). The Junior Award benefits those in JSS-3, and covers the winners’ entire registration fees for the Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE). 
The winners of both awards are selected on merit through competitive annual processes. The Senior Award winners are the best performing students among a group of 35 drawn from the ten eligible schools in the area. They all had to undergo a one-off examination, called the IFOMSSA Challenge, which is held in January of every year, and organized by the Otuocha Zone of the PPSSC. The Junior Award winners are exclusive to Nsugbe indigenes, the hometown of the Foundation’s President.

Presently, privately-owned secondary schools in the L.G.A. are excluded. This is so because we believe that those who can afford the fees for private schools, do not really need our scholarships. Ours is a scheme targeted at the financially less privileged.

Distinguished guests, this year, we have 12 winners in the senior category, and 10 in the junior category, making a total of 22 winners. This is an increase from the 15 we had in 2017, of which 10 were of the senior category, and 5 in the junior cadre. We also have a “Catchment List” for the senior award, which alongside the “Merit list”, ensures that no town in Anambra East L.G.A. is left without a winner of our awards.

In the coming years, we intend to widen the scope of our scholarship schemes to benefit all three local governments in the Otuocha Educational Zone (Anambra East, Anambra West, and Ayamelum), and, hopefully, the rest of Anambra State.

For the records, we wish to state that our scholarship schemes are not designed to make the recipients rich, neither are they designed to solve all their financial problems. Far from these. Our aim of implementing these awards, ladies and gentlemen, is to motivate our young ones and spur students from the Omambala area towards the attainment of greater academic successes. The real winners of these awards are not just the scholars present at this event today. The winners also include the hundreds, if not thousands, who, by the mere existence of these awards, are now inspired to work harder, to believe in themselves, and who are ultimately motivated to develop their minds and dream positively beyond the immediate economic and academic limitations they face.

We at the OCI Foundation believe in the powers of an educated and a motivated mind. Such a mind, ladies and gentlemen, can dream unimaginable dreams, surmount impossible obstacles, achieve potentially unachievable feats, and explore limitless opportunities. This statement encapsulates our passion. It reflects our beliefs and our goals, and represents the very essence of why we do what we do.

As my late father, Pa Ifedioramma would always say, with the stroke of a pen, an educated individual can unlock the door to riches”. As in most things, I have since found out that dad was correct with this statement! Education, ladies and gentlemen, is “a great leveller", and the OCI Foundation wishes to give our younger ones the opportunity to breach the gaps between riches and poverty, and the gaps between successes and failures, through education.

In addition to the IFOMSSA Awards, the OCI Foundation also offers an undergraduate scholarship, called the Cyfed Scholarships. Winners of this scholarship, referred to as Cyfed Scholars, receive annual financial awards that are available to them throughout the approved duration of their chosen courses in any tertiary institution of their choice in Nigeria. Four individuals won this award in 2017, and they are expected to be present at this ceremony today. Applications for this annual scholarship scheme runs from February the 22nd to April the 26th, every year. As such, the 2018 round of applications is currently ongoing. I enjoin us all to encourage our eligible wards to avail themselves of this scholarship opportunity by visiting our application portal and submitting an online application. Here is the link: http://www.ocifoundationng.org/apply-for-a-cyfed-scholarship/.

We are proud to say that the OCI Foundation supports the winners of all 3 of our scholarship schemes (Junior IFOMSSA, Senior IFOMSSA, and the Cyfed Scholarships), not just financially, but through well-designed packages aimed at developing and moulding their characters and attitudes into  ways that will make them contribute holistically to positive nation building. For this reason, scholarship renewals for the Cyfed Scholars are tied to both academic and character performances. As such, proven cases of involvements in cultism, examination malpractices, or any other social vices, automatically disqualifies the recipient from further renewals.

In addition, the OCI Foundation plans to hold occasional Cyfed Dinners, which will feature talks and lectures from esteemed Anambrarians. These dinners, the first of which will hold within the next 18 months, will assist us in imparting the mindset, skills, thought processes, and attitudes that will help groom our recipients into becoming, not just seasoned academics, but also technocrats and global leaders that will contribute to the development of our dear state, the Nigerian Nation, and Africa at large. We also hope to help "mould" them into future philanthropists and public-spirited individuals, such that they will form a “help chain”, which will benefit many others in various capacities.

I thank you all again for attending this event. I enjoin us all to celebrate with our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as well as the past and present winners of the OCI Foundation’s scholarship awards. All guests from Anambra East will find someone from their respective hometowns on our winner’s list over the past 2 years. And most of these winners are here today, so I enjoin us all to make out time and interact with these beneficiaries and hear their stories first-hand.

The OCI Foundation has come to stay. Besides educational scholarships, we also sponsor annual health promotion events, the first of which involved 432 female SSS-3 female students across the 26 schools in the entire Otuocha Educational Zone in September 2017. We are also developing an Empowerment Scheme, aimed at supporting talented but uneducated youths in our societies. This group of people, who are not in formal educational programs, still have something to contribute to our societies. We, the OCI Foundation, promise to find them. We promise to empower them. And we promise to lift them, just as we are lifting their educated peers.

We hope to invite you all as guests again, in the not-too-distant future, to our educational, health, or empowerment activities. We are grateful to all who have made this event successful, particularly the leadership of the PPSSC, Otuocha Zone, as well as the teachers and principals of the schools in the areas we currently operate in.

 We wish you all safe trips back home, and enjoin you all to become our partners, as WE RISE, BY LIFTING OTHERS.

Thank you, and God bless you all.


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