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Ime Anwana: The Portrait of a Young Leader

On Sunday, the 25th of March 2012, NTA’s Newsline featured the story of Ime Anwana, a youth corps member who made a visible difference in her NYSC area of primary assignment. The village of Kaffin Koro paid homage to this young lady for the remarkable work she did for them. The District Head of the village, Alhaji Abubakar Mamman, honoured her with the chieftaincy title Jekadiyan Kaffin Koro (Ambassador of Kaffin Koro) and also a piece of land in the village.

What did she do to deserve all these accolades? Ime Anwana, from Akwa Ibom state, was posted to Niger state for the compulsory one year national service. Whist there, she decided not to lament the deplorable state of infrastructure she witnessed in a nearby secondary school in the village of Kaffin Koro, but to actually do something about it.

Miss Anwana’s act is even more praiseworthy because she originally was not posted to the secondary school. She had gone there to visit a friend who taught in the school and discovered there was no Chemistry teacher. She decided to use her leisure time on Friday evenings to teach the students free of charge — though obtainable, this is very uncommon.

As a teacher there, she observed the dreadful state of the students’ hostels and made up her mind to change that. She raised the sum of 3.8 million naira for reconstructing the building. But she didn’t stop there. She personally supervised the building of the hostel, and equipped it with 40 double bunk beds fitted with mattresses.

The tragedy of the whole story is that one day, as she rode a motorbike (okada) to supervise the on-going work on the project site, she had an accident that killed the motorbike rider and seriously injured her. She spent three weeks in a coma and was bed-ridden for three months.

This has lady displayed the qualities of a true leader: character, sacrifice, and integrity. She didn’t have to help the school, it was not her responsibility, but she did. She didn’t have to teach them, free of charge, she didn’t really have to care about the sorry state of their accommodation. Many had come and gone before her, most of us would only lament the ineptitude of the government, but she chose to do more. It seems fate chose to be unkind to the wrong person.

This shows that it doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of Nigerians. The village of Kaffin Koro is under the jurisdiction of Paiko Local Government, which has a serving chairman, a representative in the State Assembly, and is under a senatorial district. All our leaders have to do is open their eyes to plight of their people, of which there are so many, and do something about it. If the resources allocated go to the right places, problems will be solved and people will be the better for it.

The truth is that there are thousands of secondary schools in this condition scattered around the country. One girl’s selfless action has made it clear that our leaders can, and should, do more, that being a true leader transcends being from a different ethnicity, and that we can be agents of change in our own small ways.

This is an excerpt from a tribute to Miss Anwana, Celebrating Ime Anwana, by her friend Michael Matthew.

I present to you, the young lady of distinction, a pride to her people, a paradox of beauty, amiable young lady, dedicated to her cause to serving her Nation.

Miss Ime Anwana, my friend and sister, my newest idol, especially in a country where the youth have lost vision and have no hope in their tomorrow. 

Many of us would have diverted the money for our personal use, imagine what this beautiful Lady accomplished, I just couldn’t stop thinking of what this young woman has accomplished in just over 25 years on earth. How won’t God receive her into his Kingdom even if she’d died in that fatal accident — but he saved her.

God has blessed me with a very beautiful friend, I won’t stop at celebrating this shining light.

Ime Anwana deserves a National honour.

She sure does deserve one. May she get well soon and recover fully. She should be remembered and acknowledged by the authorities, especially those in the government of Niger state. Most importantly, may she remain true to who she is for she is the kind of leader that we need, that we will need.