I greet you all. I will like to start by thanking everyone that has worked to make this year’s event another success, particularly the President and the Executive.
You all have always projected the right spirit of Umuahia and your hard work over the years has contributed greatly to making Umuahia and Umuahians a global brand of reckoning.
Your contributions and undying passion for Umuahia is so inspiring and evident. That is why since the setting up of Fisher Trust in 2015, we have never failed to come here to bring you up to speed with the work of the Trust. Considering the fact that Fisher Trust also has a short video presentation, please permit me to focus my presentation on the current stage of activities. All the next steps have timelines attached to them. Please take note of the timelines.
COMMENCEMENT OF FACILITY RECONSTRUCTION PHASE IN GCU
The Facility Rehabilitation Phase starts last week of September 2019. That is when the first builders are expected to mobilize to site. Fisher Trust has spent the last few weeks working with the consultants, Project Management Team and the committees to prepare the grounds for this to happen. However, a few things also need to happen first.
- ADVANCING THE DRAWINGS
The Project Management Team have received the inputs of the Consultants and have advanced the designs from concept drawings to architectural and construction drawings. This process is still on but will be concluded by the 29th of August 2019.
- COST OF INDIVIDUAL PROJECTS.
The cost of each classroom block, dormitory and indeed every other facility will be published in batches on all Umuahian channels from September 7th, 2019 for interested classes and Old Boys to pick from.
- DRAWINGS – the drawings will also be published along with the cost.
- AVAILABLE PROJECTS – The full list of available projects will be published on September 4th, 2019.
- The same September 4th, Fisher Trust will publish the protocols for adoption of projects. It is designed to be a transparent and clearly defined policy.
- Recruitment of Principal – The Consultants have met with the recruitment agency that will work with the Trust and People Committee to recruit the Principal, the Vice Principal and key departmental heads.
The Recruitment Agency should be in place by the 2nd of September 2019. Dedicated channels for receiving applications and processing interviews will be well publicized. In the interim, interested applicants for the position of Head of School can send their application to Fisher Trust Secretariat for onward delivery to the recruitment team. The Principal of the new GCU is expected to have been hired by December 2019. He is proposed to resume in January 2020.
Expressions of Interest – The Trust has received several expressions of interest by individual Old Boys and class groups intent on adopting projects in GCU. We shall publish a full list of the classes and Old Boys who have shown strong interest along with available adoptable facilities and their costs at the attached dates.
Apart from Barr.LuciusNwosu (SAN) who has donated $50,000 towards adopting a project, no other class or Old Boy has backed his interest in concrete terms. However, Fisher Trust encourages the class groups to continue to contribute towards projects of their interest ahead of the publications in September. You can never contribute too much.
- Bidding for the contracts shall be a very transparent process whose procedure shall be published on September 16th ahead of the bidding for Batch 1 projects, the classrooms which commences on 21st September. The Board will maintain strict oversight to ensure that recommended quality, competence and timelines are maintained. There will be a round of bidding for each batch of facilities that the costing is ready.
- Fisher Trust will ensure that mobilization to site by contractors will be strictly adhered to by every successful bidder.
- Timelines have been attached to each project in line with professional standards and contracts will be awarded to only those who show capability and capacity to meet the deadlines.
- Opening of school – This will be done in September 2020, a full year ahead of the originally agreed timetable with government. All the ingredients to make this possible is now present; the consultants are in place, a project team is in place, the academic curriculum is ready and a bridge facility to fund the project is being accessed from the banks. A Principal is expected to be in place by December 2019.
- Security – has been a nightmare for a long time in GCU. A situation where a 90-hectare campus operates with two or three security men is a joke and has led to all kinds of unsavoury situations. This will be addressed during construction. It is already in the plans to build the walls at the same time as the classrooms. There is an integrated security architecture which among other things will include security fence, perimeter road round the college, motorized patrol, a police station, observation towers, CCTV, street lighting and electronic devices. There will be seen and unseen eyes. Every child and teacher in Government College will be provided a secure teaching and learning environment.
- STATE OF THE SCHOOL – The state of the school at the present is a reflection of the deep malaise that convinced the Old Boys to intervene. One of the biggest problems right there is failure of leadership. Recently, Old Boys were shocked at images of the unkempt and bushy surroundings in the college. You may be surprised to discover that up till the end of July 2019, there were 506 students of the senior classes in GCU, a Principal and about 65 teachers. It means therefore that our culture of cleaning our surroundings from the first day of term and indeed every week has long been abandoned. Never in your experiences in Government College were your Old Boys or parents required to come and cut grass for you. In any case, Fisher Trust already has lawn mowing equipment moved down to Umuahia in readiness for deployment. What the situation requires is an organized, disciplined and sustainable approach.
Once the Trust declares the campus a ‘Construction Zone’ from September 2019, a new system of disciplined maintenance of the grounds will be installed and sustained all the way. The Trust has tried as much as possible not to interfere in the running of the present school until formal takeover. Moreover, the Board needs to husband its lean resources for the greater task ahead. It is keeping a keen eye on all developments.
- ENCROACHMENT – Encroachment into college land has been on for years, long before the Old Boys asked for the school. It was on such a scale that GCU lost altogether about 25 hectares of land. All buildings on the right side of the main gate up to the back of the Principal’s house and the northern border are sitting illegally on GCU land. The Trust is investigating several new encroachments within the space covered by the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the government. In a little while, these incidents will cease as the Board’s steps in this regard shall be decisive and will be evident.
- TEACHERS’ QUARTERS – Teachers’ Quarters redevelopment is adequately captured in the Phase 1 of the GCU Restoration Project. The Principal and Teachers that will lead GCU from September 2020 will have decent and secure accommodation to live in. The reconstruction of their quarters will proceed simultaneously with that of the classrooms.
- FINANCE – As announced in our last update in May 2019, Fisher Trust has approved the obtaining of a bridge facility from the banks in the region of N5 billion. The process has reached an advanced stage. Fisher Trust has successfully gone through all the levels of screening and provided every documentation required. The guaranteeing bank has since approved our submission and indicated their willingness to back the loan.
The Trust is now waiting for the bank to come back to us with its definite offer. The Bank’s internal committee responsible for this type of loan application meets once a month and we pray even as we look forward to a favourable response this month of August 2019.
The balance in the Trust’s accounts as at July 31st 2019 is as follows
- Union Bank – N31,274,432.39
- Fidelity Bank – N 12, 186,670.11
- Access Bank – $ 50,000
Total Naira balance – N 43,461,102.50
An audited account will be available at the end of this financial year.
11.COMMUNICATION – This is a very important plank of the Restoration Project which Fisher Trust takes very seriously. We have just concluded an internal review that took care of perceived shortcomings. In the coming days, you will witness much more improved communication within the Umuahian Family and beyond.
We have also just carried out another round of Website upgrade and from Wednesday, 21st August, 2019 you will enjoy better Website experience. It has also been made more mobile friendly.
I am delighted also to announce that the bi-monthly conference call the US Branch used to have with Fisher Trust Secretariat will resume in September. We will also extend that to the UK Branch.
Let me assure that this present Board has nothing to hide and run an open door policy. For it, progress is not made at meetings but in between meetings. Every process we engage in is reported and once the process is completed, the details are given to the Old Boys.
However, there is some bit of worry with worth some of our Alumni do with the information released. Please do your bit by circulating within all your platforms; the Branches, classes etc. We have an each – one – tell – one policy. Every Umuahian has something to contribute. We encourage each and every one of us to be an ambassador of this Restoration project.
12.CLASS WHATSAPP GROUPS – This was a deliberate creation of Fisher Trust after due research an reflection. It was designed as a tool for unity, progress and mobilization of all Umuahians. It was never envisaged as a substitute to GCUOBA Branches. Infact, Fisher Trust in conjunction with GCUOBA advised that every member of a class platform must be an active member of a branch. The class platform is a veritable tool for progress if used the right way. So it is important that discipline, decency and respect for other Umuahians is maintained always.
13.NAMING RIGHTS – Beyond the traditional class, house or individual contributions, there are also a range of facilities that can be named after donors willing to go the extra mile to ensure Umuahian legacy is restored and sustained. Fisher Trust will also publish the list and rights in due course.
14. LEADERS WITHOUT TITLE – This is exactly what Umuahians need now; men who can plant trees along the roadside despite the fact they know they may not have the opportunity to shelter in its shed. But do things just to benefit humanity. That is what Umuahia is, that is the legacy of Rev. Robert Fisher.
Finally Dear Umuahians, members of the Board of Fisher Trust consider it a sacred duty to be called upon to serve Umuahia in any capacity. We have all come a long road to this point and cannot let ourselves down. We must continue to pull in one direction in the spirit as when we set out. History, providence or both have chosen all of us as the generation to actualize the rebirth of GCU, to walk the Fisher walk of January 2019. What shall we spend this time doing? Arguing or facing the task before us?
Fisher calls you today, history beckons. May we continue to shine as one.
For & on behalf of Fisher Trust,
Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo