On the 26thÂ of January 2013, barely a week from the Town Hall Meeting held at the instance of the National Committee on Good Governance led by the Honourable Minister Mr. Labaran Maku, the Alumni Association of University of Ibadan, rated to be the first and the best university in Nigeria, gathered in the Michael Okpara Auditorium to honour their kind.
When Theodore Ahamefula Orji left Ibadan in 1977 with a degree in English Language folded in his armpit, little did he know that one day the Alumni Association will trace him back to Umuahia, to bestow a well deserved honour on him.
Sir T.A. Orji whose Academic quest started at St. Michaels Primary School Ugwunchara, Umuahia with the likes of Most Rev. Dr. Lucius Ugorji, Bishop of the Catholic faithful in Umuahia diocese, he continued to Santa Crux Secondary School in Olokoro. Not one to relent or accept half measures as a school certificate then was all some people wanted as it could give a ready job, he soldiered on to Holy Ghost College Owerri for his high school. With his eyes for the best, he was admitted to the foremost University in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, popularly adjudged as the best and greatest.
For T.A, life has not been so easy, emerging from a university that has in history provided vice Chancellors for other universities was challenging, demanding much in performance.
Â He was born with a silver spoon to a warrant Chief of a father Chief Tom Ikoro Orji and Ma Ifeoma Tom Ikoro Orji on November 9th 1950. His ebullient, towering and foresighted father having admired the impeccable lifestyles and exquisite manner of the then District officers (D.Os) of colonial times, wished his son to be one and so laid a solid foundation but this was not to be as he lost the silver spoon when his father died. The perseverance of a hard striving mother, the ever-doting aunts coupled with a personal strong will to push ahead in spite of all odds, he emerged from the prestigious University eager to live a life of service to God and man. The fact that he was a single child, and later orphaned did not frighten him into seeking choice postings in the compulsory NYSC.
Â He was posted to the edge of Nigeria in Sokoto State where he handled the chalk for one whole year. Desiring a quiet and respectable life, he headed back home to the then Imo State and got employed in the Imo State Civil service as an Administrative Officer. This took him across many establishments ranging from Cabinet office, Government House, Ministry of Agriculture, Budget and Planning and others. He never lobbied for any favour or preferential posting as he was intent on mastering his career. He was diligent, loyal and honest, never receiving any query or reprimand all through his career.
When the National Electoral Commission, NECON, needed experienced hands as Administrative Secretaries, his application sailed through being a thorough bred. As fate would have It, he came back to Government House Abia in 1999Â Â as The Principal Secretary and later the Chief of Staff. This marked his climax in his career and he used the appointment to touch on the lives of Abia people who did not hesitate to pressure for his services in the complex political firmament in 2006.
According to Charles Caleb Cotton, English writer (1780-1832) if you want enemies excel others, if you want friends let others excel you. His quest added to his personal blacklist as he was held back in captivity for an offence he knew nothing about. Adapting the ideology of his alma mater that always went for firsts, this time ironically, he was yet to face another trial as the first in the country in recent times to win election in captivity. Though he was declared free through a court injunction and sworn in as third democratically elected Governor in 2007, he was yet to go back to court in a sinuous procedure to redeem his peopleâ€™s mandate. To cut a long story short, for a man who has skillfully meandered through not less than 21 court cases all of them political, T.A Orji, on a gracious march to 70 years, has matured like a good wine, little wonder his path-finding alma mater came calling in their 155thÂ annual gathering and crowned him the Most Accomplished Alumnus. It could be recalled that in 2009, the University of Ibadan gathered at the Trenchant Hall in their annual lecture where he was the key speaker and was later decorated as the Most Distinguished Alumnus.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â According to Sir T.A Orji, an honour from your home and Alma mater is the highest anybody can wish for, since more often than not, a prophet is without honour in his home.
In fairness to the University of Ibadan, they have not done badly in Abia. From facts on the ground, Dr Chris Adighije- geologist, former senator, and commissioner RAMFAC, Prof J C Ogbonnaya, eminent surgeon and medical consultant, Dr Okey Ogah, commissioner for Health, Chief Micah Onyebuchi-foremost educationist, Hon Obinna Ekekwe-Pioneer member of Abia House of Assembly and T C Chairman, Isikwuato LGA, Sir U C C Elekwa and Chijioke Onwtuebe to mention a few, are UITEs who despite the odds of life, have wonderfully offered their services to the good of Abia.
T.A has been honoured at home and abroad as his deeds have shone powerful light for others to follow. In Abia, his policy decisions and legacy projects, many of them first of its kind like the helipad at Isiukwuato, the first elevator at the new secretariat and the 5000 capacity International Conference Center will continue to attract laurels.
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