Ogoni martyrs may spring help from the great beyond to aid their kinsmen and women seeking admission into universities and other tertiary institutions through the next Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Examination.
This is because the $5m Kiisi Trust Foundation (KTF) set up some years ago to support Ogoni people has resolved to execute a computer training scheme (ICT) aimed at helping YOUNG Ogoni scholars write computer-based tests (CBTs) and other external examinations, starting from the current academic year.
BusinessDay gathered that the KTF has crossed the most critical stage of the project conceptualization which is said to involve such challenges as how the number of persons that may be targeted in the first phase, the selection method, the scope, etc. This is expected to lead to the budget of the ICT scheme per year.
At different times, the board had hinted on the need to help Ogoni young scholars overcome the threat of CBTs at external examinations. The Executive Director of KTF, Lebatam Ndegwe (medical doctor), had once told BusinessDay that most Ogoni students may be intelligent but the method to express the intelligence (CBT) had posed a huge problem. Thus, the foundation resolved to intervene.
The intervention comes from a shift in approach of the Trust foundation which had used third party community based organizations (CBOs) to execute development projects in Ogoni, but had to change focus by doing it directly.
Kiisi Trust Foundation was established from the fund that had accrued from a case settled out of court in the US involving killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and the other Ogoni martyrs in the famous Ogoni-9 (hanging of the activists in 1994 by the Sani Abacha regime).
The families donated $5m out of the $15.5m they won in the case to reach the soul of Ogoniland through a well-applied method devoid of waste, fraud or acrimony, inside sources said.
The KTF thus resolved to support public institutions to execute their mandates instead of starting fresh structures that may gulp huge overheads. Ndegwe said the focus now is about trying to reach as many Ogoni people as possible.
“In that general drive to empower the people, the thematic areas as usual include education, health, female empowerment, infrastructure, and many more that were thought of when the Trust was founded.”
He said the strategy is to support public institutions based in Ogoni. “They have statutory mandate to provide services. Most of them have the personnel and manpower to deliver the services. They are already in Ogoni.
We know that their weaknesses could sometimes be the nature of support they can use to reach many more of our people. So, we have an Ogoni institutional support scheme as another phase of serving the Ogoni.”
The strategy has already paid off in the Zonal Hospital Bori power project. In the scheme, the KTF found that power disruption made it difficult for the hospital to deliver its mandate. The Foundation intervened with a solar powered scheme.
He said: “The hospital needed to maintain the confidence of the people that at any time they are ill, they could get treatment. So, they agreed that provision of solar power be provided particularly to places that are sensitive such as emergency ward, casualty ward, maternity, operating theatre, combined ward, etc.
You also have to consider doctors comfort. If there is no light in doctors’ quarters or they can’t go through the back of their quarters because there is no light, it would affect services.”
This was executed and has been commissioned. Before the solar power scheme, the Ogoni scholarship project has been taking place every year reaching over 600 scholars by 2022.
Investigations revealed that the major breakthrough of the KTF methodology is the absence of rancor, petitions, fraud, or accusations of favouritism. On this, the Executive Director clarified: “Everybody in Ogoni stands a chance of accessing whatever is available to be accessed. That is where we are at the moment.
“The demand for services in Ogoni and other parts of the Niger Delta is heavy. So, what you must do to retain your credibility is that your activities are fair, transparent, and in no way should anybody allude to the fact that somebody else was favoured ahead of them.”
The major task before the KTF seems to be how to grow the fund, attract more and to have the foundation in perpetuity. This could be the reason the board headed by a lawyer and renowned environment activist, Uche Onyeagucha, with the professor, BB Fakae (chairman, governance/programme subcommittee) and tested academics such as Friday Sigalo.
There is also the highly respected Hannah Karikpo Deezia and the oversight influence of the likes of Chet Tchozewski, president of the RTC Impact Fund. This seems to boost efficiency, transparency, and integrity for the stakeholders and the entire world to see at any time needed.
For the ICT scheme, it was gathered that some critical decisions have been reached and the delivery vehicle decided. The local council ICT centres may come in handy. The scoping may be going on to lead to a budget. If implemented, Ogoni zone may begin to record high university admission syndrome, and this would be because martyrs in the grave refused to die.
Credit: Business Day