Gov. Alex Otti of Abia on Thursday inaugurated an Endowment Fund established in honour of the late Priemier of the defunct Eastern Ŕegion, Dr Michael Okpara.
The event was organised by Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) to mark the institution’s 30th anniversary.
In a speech at the event, the governor paid glowing tribute to Okpara and his leadership style.
He described the late elder statesman as an iconic leader that evolved economic programmes and policies, which helped to accelerate socio-economic growth in the region.
He described himself as a student of Okpara’s brand of economics, adding that he had showed it by appointing seasoned experts into his cabinet.
He assured the management of MOUAU of Abia Government’s continued support in various ways, including giving a Certificate of Occupancy to the institution as requested.
The Guest Lecturer and Anambra Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, said that under Okpara’s leadership, the old eastern region recorded tremendous economic advancement.
Soludo, who delivered a lecture entitled, “Our future in our past: Reinventing Dr M.I Okpara’s policy for national growth”, said that the nation had failed to faithfully adhere to the development roadmap created by the past leaders.
He regretted that the failure had made things like having clean cities, social amenities, quality education, good roads, access to quality healthcare, to seem unachievable.
He described Okpara as a policy entrepreneur, nationalist and humanist with character and selflessness.
Soludo called on stakeholders to reinvent the ideology of the late premier and use it as a guide to build a better economy for the betterment of Nigerians
He said that the emergence of Otti as governor of Abia was a blessing to the state and the entire South-East, adding that he was confident that Abia would record unprecedented development under hia watch.
The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, described the late Igbo legend as “an incomparable role model in his accomplishments in agriculture, health and politics”.
Okonjo-Iweala, who delivered her speech virtually, said that Okpara left legacies in all sectors of the economy, which should be standard for all to follow.
She called on the present day political leaders to serve the people, following Okpara’s example.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, said that Okpara’s iconic leadership style, which transformed the region, was worthy of emulation.
He said that MOUAU was built to provide an avenue for people to have access to premium education on agriculture and commended the institution for living up to expectation.
Kyari, represented by Mrs Aisha Lawal, said that the Federal Government was committed to growing the economy through agricultural productivity.
He, therefore, charged stakeholders to explore the country’s areas of comparative and competitive advantage to meet the demands of the people.
Also, the Vice Chancellor of MOUAU, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, said that the institution was celebrating its 30th anniversary as well as Okpara’s ideologies and model of entrepreneurship
Iwe said that the university was commited to contributing to Nigeria’s greatness through self-sufficiency in food and fibre production, teaching, research, training and extension
He expressed gratitude to the State Government for its support and appealed to the government to issue land titles to the university.
The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, described the event as very important, saying that “a look at the achievements of late Okpara would show if we are doing well or not”.
Iwuanyanwu called on the people to apply Okpara’s ideology and expressed the hope that Otti would address the issue of poor road infrastructure in Abia.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Chinedu Nwajiuba, commended the university mangement for introducing the lecture series, saying that Okpara deserved to be honoured.
Nwajiuba commended the choice of Soludo as the guest lecturer and appealed that the lecture be sustained.