Former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has blamed illiteracy and ignorance for the backwardness of the African continent. Okorocha, who is senator representing Imo West Senatorial District on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), urged concerted efforts to tackle the menace.
He said that the Rochas Foundation College of Africa had to enrol over 25,000 under-privileged students from across Nigeria and African countries within the last 23 years as part of ongoing effort to bridge the gap.
The Imo-born politician spoke when the Congo Brazzaville and South Sudan Ambassadors to Nigeria, Jacques Obindza and Paul Molong Akaro, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
He said it was unfortunate that Nigeria now boasts of 14 million out-of-school children mainly due to nefarious activities of the Boko Haram Islamists insurgency group in North-East geo-political zone.
Okorocha, who expressed optimism that over 6,000 students of the institution who had so far graduated in various discipline, including medicine, law and engineering, would contribute in repositioning their countries, said he would not rest on his oars to offer scholarship to indigent students not only in Nigeria but from across the entire African continent.
Okorocha offered five scholarship slots apiece to duly qualified students from Congo Brazzaville and South Sudan in the Eastern Palm University, Owerri, established by his Foundation three years ago.
He said: “There is need to change the narrative in Africa. We wanted to strengthen relationship not only with South Sudan but the entire continent. The objective is to educate children in Africa, particularly those who cannot afford it.
“The Rochas Foundation is giving them the opportunity to understand Africa, bond and unite with their fellow African students in the spirit of African brotherliness. We want the African Union (AU) to come into this and see what we are doing to support the venture.
“Let us team up to see what we can do for them. Some of them want to be governors, and even presidents. The truth now is that education is life itself and no longer means to life. We have enrolled over 25,000 students, graduated over 5,000, which is still a drop in an ocean of illiteracy and poverty.”
The envoys, who acknowledged the role of education in the socio-economic development of African region, expressed gratitude to Okorocha for his humanitarian gesture over the years.