•Nwodo recalls hallowing post-civil war experiences in Igboland at Fr. Stan Anih’s 10th memorial


From Magnus Eze, Enugu


•Unveiling of books at Prof Anih memorial


After the Nigerian Civil War, it took most Igbo a lot of harrowing experiences to get good education. The war had turned many schools, which were not bombed into extinction, into barracks or refugee accommodation, destroying their laboratories and educational facilities in the process.


•Late Rev. Fr. Anih


Then Ukpabi Asika took over as administrator of East Central State and enunciated a policy of government takeover of schools.  That policy dispossessed religious organizations of their schools. Even though later governments subsequently reversed the policy selectively, it completely obliterated the religious flavour and discipline that characterized most of the early secondary schools in Igboland.

Faced with this situation, a catholic priest, Very Rev. Fr. Stan Chinedu Anih, took it upon himself to help in retrieving what was left in the area of education for his people.

Professor Anih, as he later was, came back from the United States with a determination to return his people to their pre-war educational standards.  The church was supportive but not at his pace.  So, he risked occasional confrontations with the church and persisted in his unrelenting efforts to establish schools and educationally related enterprises.

Son of a missionary carpenter, Prof Anih after primary education in his native Ukana village in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, obtained admission to All Hallows Seminary Onitsha in 1965 and subsequently Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu in 1973.  After four years at Bigard, he was able to gain admission into Urban University Rome where he bagged bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as a PhD Degree in cannon law ending up as an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Advancement of Philosophy for children in Montclair State University, New Jersy USA.

Born on April 10, 1944, Fr. Prof. Anih died in April 2014. During his lifetime, he founded the African Thinkers Community of Inquiry (ATCOI) College of Education, Enugu; Institute of Ecumenical Education, (IECE), Thinkers Corner, Enugu and was the vision bearer of Coal City University.

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Coal City University who worked closely with Anih for over 15 years before his demise described him as an institution who showed that “life without education is meaningless.”

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By the last count, Daily Sun gathered that Anih established over 16 educational institutions, foundations, programmes and scholarships. He was also said to have published about 150 books and articles of record.

His no nonsense approach to educational investment at the end of civil war was in the light of the desperation, hopelessness and marginalization of Igbo at the period.

Former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who delivered the 10th memorial lecture of the cleric in Enugu on April 25, said: “We had classrooms without chairs, laboratories without equipment and students without any practical exposure to demonstrative learning.”   

He praised Anih for mobilising resources and knowledge to improve the wellbeing of the society especially the downtrodden.

Even though there were misrepresentations of the actual situation of his investments, Nwodo argued that where a priest invests in the social sector like education with a view to improving skills and standards and charges reasonable fees which are largely directed to maintaining facilities and standards rather than making profits, he has not in any way violated the precepts of the Catholic Church.

For him, the event was an opportunity to review the state of education in Nigeria, noting that the generation following Prof. Anih’s generation had not lived up to his expectations.

Speaking on the topic, ‘Planting the seed of a better Nigeria through ecumenical, critical and creative thinking education,’ Nwodo identified the four aspects of decline in education to include insufficiency of equipment and teaching aids, exams malpractices, wanton lack of professionalism and fidelity among teachers in matters relating to grading of examinations and failure of examination authorities like WAEC and JAMB in maintaining probity in their examinations management.

He lamented that “State schools now are deficient in standards while schools owned by the Churches try desperately to maintain the standards of old.  The Government schools are now for the poor in society and the not so good teachers.  Equipment is scanty, discipline is compromised and poor parents languish in despair regretting that they can’t give their children or grandchildren, the kind of quality education they had in their time. Teacher apathy and disinterest prevail because of lower salary scales and benefits in government owned schools.  In our time, the Government schools like Government College Umuahia, Government College Afikpo and Kings College Lagos tried very hard to compete with Catholic Secondary Schools.”

The Igbo leader called Prof. Anih the hallmark of catholic transparency, declaring that he left significant and inerasable impressions in the sands of time by his contributions to knowledge, his industry, his care for the poor and the downtrodden, his commitment to building great educational institutions that have widened the source of knowledge in this part of the country and made education affordable to the poor.

Concluding, he saluted the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for dedicating that day to celebrate a pathfinder, an indefatigable soldier of Christ, a dynamic prelate and promoter of growth of society in all its ramifications.

“This University where we are having today’s ceremony of his remembrance is one of his outstanding visions.

“We salute the Chancellor of this university, Chief Chinedu Anih, the organizers of today’s celebration and the students and staff of all the institutions pioneered by the late Prof Stan Anih for being great ambassadors of his vision, for expanding the frontiers of leaning and for keeping these institutions viable, productive and outstanding in learning notwithstanding our dire economic circumstances,” Nwodo stated.

In his opening remarks, chairman of the foundation and Chancellor of Coal City University, Chief Chinedu Anih, said: “Today is special because apart from being one of the days we relive the life and times of a colossus of our time, The Very Rev Fr Prof Stan Chinedu Ani, Eze Udo, it is also a day in which we celebrate his greatness; a greatness that has refused to die; a greatness that will never die; one that perpetually lives in our hearts and in our own world and will, most certainly, outlive us all.”

Director General of the foundation, Comrade Zulu Ofoelue, said they had been consistent in holding memorials annually in honour of Prof. Anih since he transited a decade ago.

Aside offering scholarships to different categories of students, Ofoelue said the foundation had also engaged in other numerous charity interventions.

The event attracted vice-chancellors of universities, captains of industry, the clergy, staff and students of Coal City University, ATCOI College of Education, and several others.

It also featured the unveiling and presentation of dozens of different books authored by the late sage.