February 12, 2020
Providing historical context for the GCU Restoration
I have followed with great interest the swirling storm of new Umuahians to the WhatsApp platforms. I have been equally intrigued at the comments being generated as a large number stem from a lack of awareness and understanding of the journey that brought us here. For these reasons, I believe it will be helpful to provide a historical review of our restoration efforts to date in broad strokes and underlying reasons for the decision to undertake this significant restoration. I have no stake in authorship, therefore I urge those who wish to plug any gaps or edit errors that may contribute to greater clarity, to do so.
Government College Restoration Path
The deterioration of Government College Umuahia (GCU), was highlighted at the 2003 GCUOBA USA convention in Long Beach, California by many old boys at that convention, including Dr Rex Otuka, GCUOBA Nigeria president, who attended that convention. The facilities devastation at GCU resulted in a clarion call to the old boys to do something- and we did. From 2003, several facility restoration initiatives were embraced, but none was more organized and comprehensive in my opinion, than the Projects restoration effort undertaken by our own Dr. Ike Mbanugo (Class of 1964), under the direction of Dr. Emma Okafor, GCUOBA USA President and his executive team. In addition, GCU Old boys Uzodinma Okpara and Enyi Ogbulafor provided logistics support to Dr. Ike Mbanugo to ensure that deliverables and timelines were met.
With the financial support of GCUOBA USA and collaboration from the old boys from GCUOBA Nigeria and UK, we painstakingly renovated one building at a time. Between 2009 and 2011, GCUOBA USA renovated the Chemistry lab, Biology lab, classroom bldgs. #1 and 2 and higher school buildings adjacent to the Biology lab. Other old boys like Luscious Nwosu, renovated the Assembly Hall, and many others including Dr. Ibe were involved in the renovation of other facilities. Click links (GCUOBAUSA.ORG account required) to view reports, bill of quantities and before and after pictures from 2009- 2011:
PROGRESS REPORT UPDATE_PHASE II Project Nos.1 Higher School Bldg. Rehabilitation_05-21-2010 to 06-12-2010
PROJECT REPORT_PHASE II Project Nos.2_Chemistry Laboratory Bldg. Rehabilitation
In 2013, we realized that the school buildings that had just been renovated a year or two ago had indeed deteriorated to the same condition we found them several years earlier, and in some cases in much worse shape. Efforts to communicate with the Principal even through letter couriers such as Old boy Bonny Olumba were fruitless. Our Old boys were so frustrated at the 2013 GCUOBA USA convention that a motion was passed to immediately suspend any new projects at GCU and empanel a Restoration Committee to investigate and recommend how best to move forward to take over the school. In 2014, under the direction of our past President, Dr. Godswill Okoji and Board Chair, Dr. Bato Amu, the Restoration Committee in collaboration with GCUOBA Nigeria and UK, issued a report recommending amongst other things, that a public TRUST be formed, to immediately approach the Abia State Government to take over the school. A phased restoration plan with an estimated investment of N3.2 billion, inclusive of Facilities Capital Expenditure and Operating Expenses was also recommended. GCUOBA USA, Nigeria and UK agreed and adopted the Restoration Committee recommendations. Click link (GCUOBAUSA.ORG account required) to view a summary of the Restoration panel report from 2014:
THE GCUOBA RESTORATION COMMITTEE REPORT v2 2014
So where are we today? The Fisher Educational Development Trust (FEDT) was formed in December of 2014 and an MOU was signed with the Abia State Government shortly after that. Things appeared to move quickly after an Educational Consultants (GEMs) was about to execute a contract with the FEDT. However, things stalled when the GEMs team withdrew, citing the uncertainty of the 2017 Nigerian elections. Eventually the FEDT executed a contract with the BEL team, which consisted of key members of the original GEMs team in May of 2019. Valuable time was lost due to this change in consultants. Since May 2019 several committees were formed to support the restoration effort, with participation from several Old boys. I was drafted to the Infrastructure committee and have participated in weekly calls to Nigeria with several consultants including BEL, Architects, Quantity Surveyors and technical consultants. I have reviewed and discussed several building design/construction documents including a preliminary bill of quantities. Click link (GCUOBAUSA.ORG account required) to view FEDT newsletter that highlights the progress status accomplished in 2019:
Newsletter January 2020
As we figured out from our earlier restoration efforts in 2009-2011, funding is always the “Achilles heel” of every capital improvement program. That realization is no different here. The Restoration committee report pegged our potential investment requirement at N3.2 billion and current estimates point to a need for a loan of close to N5 billion.
It is important and I hope helpful to provide this historical context, especially since many old boys have recently climbed on board this train. This way, we are all on the same page as we prepare for our next steps.
Finally, in response to Old boys’ suggestions, we are hosting a Town Hall meeting on February 16, 2020 at 1 pm EST, 7 pm Nigerian Time and 6 pm UK time, with the members of the FEDT. A list of questions culled from our old boys has been given to the FEDT, click link (GCUOBAUSA.ORG account required) to view questions: FEDT Town Hall Questions Feb 16, 2020. Call in details are being finalized and will be shared shortly.
IN UNUM LUCEANT
Website Support: MemberServices@GCUOBAUSA.ORG | +1 301-717-0625