By Chimaobi Afiauwa.
“It would interest my government that education drives every sector of our lives, for it is through learning that we can mold the character of our children.”
When Hon. Mascot Uzor Kalu made the above statement while commissioning a hostel block at the Holy Rosary Secondary School, Umuahia in June 2022, what resonated in me was the biblical injunction of the book of Proverbs 22:6; “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The statement, in no measure, encapsulates the unflinching passion the Governorship candidate of the Action Peoples Party (APP) for the 2023 Gruber election in Abia state has for education.
Beyond just verbal statements, the “human life investor,” as he is fondly called by the beneficiaries of his philanthropy, has demonstrated beyond any doubt that, in Malcolm X’s words, “education is the passport to the future…” Consequently, when it comes to youth empowerment, he prioritizes empowering them through education, be it formal or informal.
In a country where giving cash handouts to youths as a means of empowerment by politicians percolates the political system, as a trained economist, he has always insisted on not following such a bandwagon effect if elected as Governor. To him, as he has always opined on various media chats, Abia youths must be empowered through education with corresponding job opportunities that would absorb the acquired educational skills.
Undoubtedly, his philanthropic gestures, from the onset, have always gravitated more in the direction of education.
Through his foundation, the Mascot Uzor Kalu Foundation, a plethora of Abia youths have graduated from various tertiary institutions on scholarship, while others have been sponsored to acquire soft skills.
He has also shown an interest in harnessing and nurturing raw talents within the Aba metropolis and beyond. Because of this, he has sponsored a handful of talent shows, and the top among such shows that come to mind was the Aba Got Talent Show of 2017. Sport is not left out of his interest in harnessing talents. He was the sole sponsor of the recently held Flow FM Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Competition (FISCOM 2022), Umuahia.
Recently, when the organizers of the Mr. & Miss Abia Colleges Pageant were almost stranded in their quest to host the second edition (2022), Hon. Mascot stepped in at the eleventh hour and became the chief sponsor of the event. He became fascinated with the program because of how it would contribute to sharpening the vocational skills of Abia students at the secondary school level. Similarly, before now, when the Student Union Government of the Abia State University, Uturu, came to him about the lack of a secretariat, he ensured that a befitting edifice was built for the SUG as a secretariat.
The dispositions of Hon. Mascot on education have, inadvertently, made a lot of political observers not surprised that he has narrowed his manifesto towards reforming the educational sector in Abia state. As a task that must be accomplished, he has promised to restore free education at the primary and secondary school levels in the state if elected as Governor, while also subsidizing the tuition fees of all Abians at the state-owned tertiary institutions.
His inestimable support for the education of Abia youths is probably borne out of the fact that he is a product of quality education. Having gotten his education in the United States, he understands that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.