Owerri, capital of Imo state, is one of Nigeria’s southeastern cities native to the Igbo ethnic group. Bordered by the Otamiri River to the east and the Nworie River to the south, Owerri can be aptly described as Nigeria’s entertainment capital. The city’s amazing nightlife testifies to this fact. Every weekend, patrons flock Owerri from neighbouring states to dance, drink, party and have fun at the popular hangouts, joints, restaurants and bars that dot the city.
Igbo is the main language in the city, but you can hardly meet any Igbo man or woman who can’t communicate in English. Education is not taken for granted as notable schools such as the Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the Federal Government Girls College, Owerri, and many other institutions of learning are domiciled in this city. Tricycles, buses and taxis are the main modes of transportation while government is the largest employer of labour. If you are looking for exotic and luxury hotels in eastern Nigeria, Owerri is the way to go. Hotel business there is serious business and the hospitality industry is indeed booming by the day.
Good morning from the main auditorium of the National University Commission headquarters in Abuja, venue of this year’s Unity Schools Old Students Association 30th plenary session. It’s from here that PREMIUM TIMES will be bringing you live updates of the exercise which is expected to last for the better part of this Saturday.
The 600-seat auditorium is almost filled to capacity.
What you need to know:
Although the major highlight of today’s event is the election of of new executive members of the organisation, especially the election of a new president-general, several other activities are billed to take place.
Some of these activities include the inauguration of new alumni associations and the presentation of the organisation’s financial report.
Candidates for several other offices are also expected to be elected today.
The Unity Schools Old Students’ Association (USOSA) is the incorporated trustee of the alumni associations of all the 104 Federal Government Colleges, Federal Government Girls’ Colleges, Kings College, Queens College, Federal Government Boys College, Apo, Federal Science Colleges, Suleja Academy and Federal Science and Technical Colleges in Nigeria.
It is an association with over 500,000 members resident in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
As noted earlier, the election of a new president-general of USOSA is expected to be the major highlight of today’s event.
The two contending candidates for the position are: Chidi Odinkalu and Lawrence Wilbert.
According to his website, www.chidiodinkalu.com, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu heads the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative and chaired the Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission.
Described by a leading African newsweekly as “a leading member of the new generation of African legal minds” by Oxford University’s Ike Okonta as “one of Africa’s leading human rights lawyers.
Admitted to the Nigerian Bar in November 1988, Odinkalu received his Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); his Masters Degree in law from the University of Lagos and his first degree also in Law from the then Imo State University, percusssor of today’s Abia State University.
Following the annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential elections in Nigeria, Mr. Odinkalu, a principal mover in the civil society response to the annulment as the then legal Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) was exiled to the United Kingdom where he pioneered the Africa and Middle East Programme of the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS).
The author of more than four books and over 60 other scholarly articles, Mr. Odinkalu is widely known as an authority on international law, including human rights, international institutional law and international economic laws affecting African countries.
He is a visiting Professor of law at the International Criminal Law Centre at the Open University of Tanzania, and was formerly Jeremiah Smith Jr. visiting Professor of Laws at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge Massachusetts and Brandeis International Fellow at the International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at the Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Among his other affiliations, Mr. Odinkalu founded the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples Rights based in Arusha, Tanzania.
He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Fund for Global Human Rights in Washington D.C.; the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva; and the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) in New York and a Trustee of the International African Institute (IAI) of the University of London. He is also a member of the Human Rights Advisory Council of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York.
Mr. Odinkalu is also Co-Chairperson of the Darfur Consortium, a campaign coalition comprising over 400 African and international civil society organisations in support of the people of Darfur in Western Sudan and co-Chaiperson of the Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative, CRAI based in Kampala, Uganda.
Between 2004-2006, Odinkalu led the Campaign against Impunity (CAI), to press for accountability by former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. The campaign was ultimately vindicated with the transfer of Mr. Taylor to the custody of the UN-supported Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone in April 2006. He is also a leader of the FoI Coalition whose efforts were recently crowned with the enactment of Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act in May 2011.
A member of the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Odinkalu was also the Co-ordinator of its Practice Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) from 2006-2010.
Mr. Odinkalu is also currently a member of USOSA Board of Trustees.
According to his campaign website, http://wilbert4usosa.com/, Lawrence leads the team that drives the mobile value-added services business in GenieNG and its sister company Agilent Wireless Ltd. He has successfully grown the revenue from zero from inception in October 2010 to multi-million dollar monthly revenue in the leading mobile operators in Nigeria. GenieNG is also a leading network system integration company in Africa. Clients include MTN, Airtel, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE etc.
Managing Director/Chief Executive – Agilent Wireless Ltd
Executive Director – GenieNG Communications Ltd
A mobile value-added services business. GenieNG’s other business focus include: Mobile network coverage solutions, Information System Design and Implementation, Project management, Procurement Services
Lawrence’s Success Track record in various business sectors:
- Oil & Gas services (Nigeria)
- Information & Computer System Project management & Consultancy (UK & Nigeria)
- Technology Sales & Marketing (UK & Nigeria)
His previous experience in UK and Nigeria: Thomson Financial (Datastream) – UK; Reuters Inter-Trade Direct – UK, Data Broadcasting Corporation – UK, Polmaz Ltd – Nigeria.
Lawrence’s Academic Qualifications
MSc – Electromechanical Engineering from the Odessa Polytechnic University, Odessa, Ukraine
Post-Graduate diploma – Telecommunications & Computer Networks from the South Bank University, UK.
- Executive Chairman – Ikara Community Trust, Ikara. Ikpobha-Okha LGA. Edo State: Grass roots community leadership
- National President – Fed. Govt College Ugwolawo Old Students Association:Leader in the Unity Schools Old Students Association
- Loves Swimming, Table and Hard court Tennis, Long Walks and Jogging. Interested in golf and out-door photography
Marital Status: Happily married to Tesh Wilbert. They have 3 sons
Lawrence Wilbert was pioneer president of the Lagos Chapter of Federal Government College Ugwolawo Old Students Association (FGCUOSA), his leadership qualities saw him occupy the position for two tenures, after which he was elected as National President of the association, he served in this capacity for two tenures. Below are highlights of his achievements as Lagos Chapter president and National President of FGCUOSA.
- Pioneer President of the FGCUOSA Lagos Chapter (2009 to 2011)
- Masterminded the first ever Global Reunion of FGCUOSA in 2010.
- Provided leadership for three more Global Reunions including the first ever Offshore Reunion held in London in August , 2015.
- Provided Leadership that influenced the approval of a N70Million intervention fund for FGCUOSA by the Federal Ministry of Education.
- Provided Leadership for the creation and effective management of an online Alumni community of over 3,600 members.
- Providing Leadership for the implementation of give back projects valued at about N10Million.
- Facilitating transparent financial reporting across FGCUOSA, leading to improved funding for FGCUOSA activities.
- Facilitating a strong welfare and member support culture within FGCUOSA.
- Provided Leadership that saw FGCUOSA growing from two functional Chapters to Ten Functional Chapters in less than four years.
- Providing coaching and mentorship for effective leadership training across all functional levels of FGCUOSA.
- About Six years progressive and unbroken experience in Alumni development and management.
- Providing Leadership for improved participation of FGCUOSA leading to recognition of FGCUOSA as the association with highest attendance at the last USOSA Congress in Kings College, Lagos.
- Leading FGCUOSA to financial compliance at USOSA.
- Facilitating the recognition of FGCUOSA within USOSA as one of USOSA’s fastest growing member associations.
- Included into the USOSA Exco by USOSA Exco consensus, in recognition of his exemplary performance as President of FGCUOSA and his unflinching passion for USOSA activities.
11.44: Chairman of the interim executive committee of USOSA, Ayo Joseph, has just given his welcome address.
Mr. Joseph said USOSA remained one family and appreciated the efforts of those who made today’s event possible, adding that that exemplified what USOSA represents — service, sacrifice and fellowship.
Mr. Joseph, who has led the organisation for the past six months, gave updates on the activities of USOSA since his stewardship began.
He decried the failure of some USOSA schools to score five credits in the last WAEC, saying the situation is dire for the schools that fall under the organisation.
11.46: On that note, Mr. Joseph rounded off his welcome address.
Up next is the updates on the organisation’s financial report to be coordinated by the financial secretary and a member of the interim executive committee.
He will give updates from the past six months of the IES leadership.
11.47: On the elections, Mr. Joseph said USOSA has the best resources in terms of human capital in the country. He urged all candidates to display sportsmanship in the course of the polls.
11.49: Mr. Joseph coordinated a one-minute silence in honour of a man who volunteered to work at the headquarters of USOSA, Mohammed Garba, who died in the course of serving the organisation free of charge. He died in an accident, officials said.
11.50: Financial report from November 1st 2015 to today, April 23, 2016.
Total income: 6, 512, 125.00
Total expenditure: 3, 571, 110.77
Bank Balances: 2, 941, 014.23
NEXIM Bank July 1, 2014- July 30, 2015: 6, 394, 700.00
NEXIM Bank July 1, 2015- June 30, 2016: 6, 394,700.00
Staff salaries: 4, 870, 812.50
FGC Kano: 944, 678.78
Aso Savings and Loans: 9, 893, 580.05
Nanet Suites: 562, 015.00
Ahmed Zakari and Co.: 787, 500.00
Coolink Internet Services: 89, 802.21
Total debt: 29, 937, 788.54.
The financial secretary urges all members to save USOSA from the liabilities because everyone of USOSA members is responsible for the debts.
Whoever emerges president-general at the end of today’s election will inherit this debt.
12.01: Members asked why the organisation has such a huge debt, especially FGC Kano.
They also asked why Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, had not been at the forefront of investigation into what happened.
Mr. Joseph said the debts were incurred as part of the organisation’s activities, saying it cost a lot to run their offices. He also said a lot of alumni associations owe huge contributory debts.
Mr. Joseph said the Board of Trustees of USOSA was currently interfacing with old girls of Queens College to carry out a thorough investigation into what happened concerning the alleged sexual molestation of a student in the school. He urged all members to be patient that justice would be done.
12.17: New alumni associations are now being inaugurated into USOSA.
The schools are:
12.20: Segun Adeniyi, a former presidential spokesman and chairman of THISDAY editorial board, is here as an observer.
Also here is Ibim Semenitari, the acting-managing director of Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and an alumni of FGGC Abuloma.
Motion is now being moved for the dissolution of interim executive council of USOSA and new electoral officers are being selected to coordinate today’s election.
Also standing for election today are Katherine Pam and Ibim Semenitari for the position of USOSA publicity secretary.
Election for the position of the publicity secretary will no longer hold as Ms. Semenitari announces her intention to step down for her contender, Ms. Pam.
A massive applause from the audience followed this announcement.
12.32: This should give all of us a bit of a sense of the lay of the land for USOSA elections. The presidency is the post really up for contest.
Currently, there are 39 registered schools. Of that, though, we have 25 schools currently eligible to vote. The schools without number suffixes are the newly-inaugurated schools. They’re qualified to vote but their vote allotment is not immediately known.
Port Harcourt (11)
Each school has a baseline of 10 delegates. In addition, members of the immediate past exco have a vote as do members of BOT. Factoring these in, the figures in brackets represent the number of delegates each school has. The schools with 11 have at least 1 member on either the BOT or exco. The schools with 12 have members on both exco and BOT.
A few members of the BOT or Exco whose schools are not yet fully paid do nevertheless have a vote as members of exco or BOT.
That is the electorate for now. But it could change or grow. Any school that registered or paid off its dues on or before 21 April is able to field delegates for the ballot.
12.34: One of the presidential candidates, Mr. Wilbert, is now making his stump speech for the election.
He promises to take USOSA to a new level by furnishing the organisation’s offices and improving the activities of the organisation in terms of outreach and support to existing schools if elected.
12.38: Mr. Odinkalu just took the stage to give his own campaign speech.
Mr. Odinkalu decries the state of Nigeria education, says over 10 million children are out of schools, the largest of such figure in the world.
He says fundamentalism, extremism and nihilism have taken over the minds of Nigerian young children.
– Says Nigerians are suffering enthusiasm deficit and several other deficits
– Says Nigeria must embrace digital education in this digital age
– Says he invites everyone to support him in driving his vision for Nigeria.
Making young Nigerians have interest in education and the need for economic awareness and a befitting new face for USOSA are amongst his rallying cry.
The applause that followed Mr. Odinkalu’s call to stage suggests he might leave this venue victorious. It was thunderous and enduring.
But Mr. Wilbert is not a pushover either.
And applause don’t make a winner. Votes do. So we keep our fingers crossed.
Mr. Odinkalu had told PREMIUM TIMES earlier that he was elated to participate in the election and confident of victory.
12.42: The election for the post of president-general is now underway
Several other positions that are up for contest today are no longer being contested as candidates have decided to step down for their opponents.
Some of the position so far announced as returning unopposed are: vice-president-general, secretary-general, financial secretary, and the publicity secretary that has already gone to Ms. Katherine Pam.
12.58: Voting is still in progress. FGC Enugu, FGGC Gboko, FGC Jos, FGGC Langtan, FGGC Kazaure and FGC Mauduguri have all voted. In that order.
13.52: Voting is still in progress under a very peaceful atmosphere in the main auditorium of National University Commission headquarters, Maitama, Abuja.
Delegates from the following schools have successfully vote for their favourite candidates:
FGC Okigwe (Odinkalu’s alma mater)
FGC Ugbolawo (Wilbert’s alma mater)
FGC Port Harcourt
14.10: With FGC Ijanikin, FGC Kano, FGGC, Owerri, FGC Ogbomoso, FGGC Lejja, FGC Keffi, FGGC Oyo and FGC Ijanikin all having voted, the election has now been successfully concluded and counting gets underway.
The two candidates, Mr. Odinkalu and Mr. Wilbert, are now called to the stage to observe the sorting and counting process.
The process remains peaceful and transparent.
BREAKING: Chidi Odinkalu emerges USOSA president-general
Chidi Odinkalu, foremost human rights activist and former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has been elected the new president-general of the Unity Schools Old Students Association (USOSA).
At an election held in Abuja Saturday, Mr. Odinkalu won 269 votes, triumphing over his only challenger, Mr. Lawrence Wilbert, who garnered 24 votes.
Mr. Odinkalu is an alumni of Federal Government College, Okigwe.
The chairman of the electoral committee, Ngozi Oyewole, from Federal Government Girls College, Owerri, announced the results of the election.
“For the post of President-General, Lawrence Wilbert from FGC Ugbolawo scored 24 votes. Chidi Odinkalu from FGC Okigwe scored 269 votes,” Ms. Oyewole said.
Other candidates who were elected unopposed in Saturday’s poll are:
Mohammed Wasagu, FGC Kano- Vice President-General
Salim Ibrahim, FGC Ilorin- Secretary-General
Ibrahim Audu, FGC Enugu- Vice Secretary-General
Patricia Ofili, FGGC Gboko- Treasurer
Katherine Pam, FGGC Langtang- Publicity Secretary
Adama Bature, FGGC Kazaure- Assistant Publicity Secretary
Zainab Hassan, FGC Sokoto- Welfare Secretary
Ogunranti Akindele, FGC Ogbomoso- Financial Secretary
Omowunmi Odii, FGGC Benin- Assistant Financial Secretary.
All the candidates have subsequently taken their oaths of office.
Mr. Odinkalu, in his acceptance speech, thanked all those present at the event and promised to uphold the ideals of USOSA and make improvements in areas that are necessary.