By Jude Atupulazi
The Rector, St Pius X Spiritual Year Seminary, Akwu-Ukwu, Rev Fr Celestine Umeh, has narrated how the Institution moved from being economically dependent to being self-reliant after Mr Peter Obi, the Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in 2019 elections, came to their aid and donated generously towards their agricultural business.
Umeh, who spoke at the Investiture of 24 Seminarians with Clerical Soutanes at the seminary, described Obi as one who not only preached but supported job creation for a better and prosperous society.
The Rector recalled that before Obi came to their aid, the Seminary had an agricultural investment that was, at most, unproductive. He noted that, however, with Obi’s firm support, the seminary began to prosper in their agricultural ventures which had enabled them to create jobs for many.
‘Our brother, Mr Peter Obi, visited us as the then Governor of Anambra State, and saw the challenges we faced with our farms. He gave us massive support that marked the turning point for us. Today, our poultry produces, on the average, 150 crates of eggs daily. Our pig farm, which had only 50 piglets, now has about 700 healthy pigs, after we sold 300 last month. Our quail farms too are doing well.
‘In fulfilling Mr Peter Obi’s dreams, we have created jobs for many people who even live within the seminary premises with their families. The proceeds from our piggery and poultry have helped us to build an academic block for our students which we could not do earlier due to paucity of funds. We are indeed grateful to Peter Obi for his support that has helped us thus far. I am certain that Obi will do more at the national level when given the opportunity,’ Umeh predicted.
For his part, the Catholic Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Proprietor of the Seminary, Most Rev’d Valerian Okeke, who presided over the concelebrated Holy Mass, wherein the 24 Seminarians were invested with Clerical Soutanes, also lauded Obi for his constant and ‘inestimable support to the Church.’
Bishop Okeke said Obi was a truly successful man who looked out for the success of others. He described Obi’s investment in education as historical, noting that Obi’s hand over of mission schools back to the Church marked a turning point in education in Anambra State.
His words, ‘Obi, by his constant desire for societal progress, has proven that one is truly successful when he invests in the success of others. His investments in education, climaxed by his handing back of mission schools to the Church in 2010, has brought tremendous success to Anambra’s education sector.
‘Just recently, students of St John’s School, Alor, won an international prize. Last month, students of Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha, beat over 500 contestants to win the gold medal at an international competition ahead of China and USA. Anambra has consistently taken the lead in WAEC, NECO and JAMB exams. It took Peter Obi’s investment in education to witness these positive results in the sector.’
Appreciating the Bishop and the Rector, Obi said the Church deserved the praises for the roles they played in nation building. He said that St Pius X Spiritual Year Seminary was not the only institution he financially supported their agricultural business, but they were among the few successful ones.
‘Aside visiting this Seminary for about 6 times as the Governor of Anambra State, I tried to support their projects, which included their agricultural business. I am happy with their success stories today. Most institutions I gave the same support that succeeded were mission schools. That, again, underscores the Church’s contribution to nation building,’ Obi stated.
He congratulated the newly invested seminarians and wished them well in their journey to priesthood and encouraged them to take their academic, moral and spiritual formation seriously, while pursuing excellence in their endeavours.
Obi was accompanied by the former Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Anambra State, Prof Stella Chinyere Okunna, and the former Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Anambra State, Dr Patrick Nky Obi.