GCU Restoration Project Updates

GCU Restoration Project Updates

Dear Umuahian,

You may recall that the concerted effort by the Old Boys of Government College, Umuahia to secure the release of the College and restore it as a citadel of excellence finally bore fruit on December 22, 2014.  It was the day that the Trust Deed was executed between the Fisher Trust and Abia State Government for which the entire Old Boys, home and abroad, are deeply grateful. So at the turn of the year 2015 (Fisher Trust’s first year of existence), the immediate priorities of the Trust were the setting up and formalization of administrative and other structures that would drive the GCU Restoration Project. These plans and programs were:

  • Setting up of a Trust Secretariat
  • Registration of Board of Trustees at CAC, Abuja
  • Opening of Trust account(s)
  • Initiating fundraising/Seed fund of N100m
  • Setting up a website for the Trust
  • Setting up a database
  • Transitioning of students and faculty of GCU
  • Obtaining the C of O of GCU from Abia State Government
  • Hiring a CEO for the Project
  • Hiring a Principal
  • Assembling a Project Team
  • Designing of a master plan of the new GCU
The objectives formed the work plan for 2015 and were pursued in parallel. Several milestones were achieved.

The Fisher Trust successfully set up a Secretariat in Victoria Island, Lagos.  The address is 8th Floor, Plot 1684 Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.  The Secretariat coordinates the activities of the Board of Trustees and its organs.  It is open every working day of the week and has been the hub of all Restoration Project activities.

The process of registering the Trustees in line with Nigerian laws was initiated and successfully concluded by the second quarter of 2015.  The Board is composed of ten members, eight Old Boys and two representatives of the Abia State Government. They hit the ground running and meet regularly to steer the ship of the Trust.

To hold expected funds from donations towards the Restoration Project, Fisher Trust opened two accounts; with Union Bank and Fidelity Bank. 

The fundraising campaign was kick started formally at the 2014 Homecoming of GCUOBA at the College premises on January 24th, 2015.  It is one task that has been given close attention and was pursued with zest in the course of the year. Fundraising events have held in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Nsukka and Abuja.  There was also a fundraising event that held in Lagos in mid – 2015 sponsored and hosted by Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi, OFR. On the 23rd June, 2016, a major and well attended fundraising event was successfully held in the nation’s capital, Abuja at the instance of the Honorable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah.

Despite the economic headwinds that hit the country since 2015, the Trust has forged ahead with the fund raising plan.  In this regard Fisher Trust has continued to work in close co-ordination with GCUOBA Branches in the diaspora.

Abuja fund raising event raised in excess of N32 Million Naira.  In addition there were pledges of Seven Million, One Hundred Thousand Naira (N7.1M) of which appreciable progress has been achieved through follow-up. So in actual fact, we have collectively met the initial target of N100 Million Naira seed funding for the project.

However, we are still very far from our target of N1 Billion for the first phase of the project.  We therefore wish to appeal to all Old Boys to re-double their efforts to enable us achieve the desired targets.  Shortly, the project will commence. The Fisher Trust has expanded its fund raising focus to include foundations, donor agencies, and the goodwill community worldwide. 

Considering the importance of fundraising to the entire project and the need for professional and institutional support and approach, the Board of Trustees appointed an institutional fundraiser, Meristem to lead the Fundraising campaign beginning from 2016. This was after reviewing the Fundraising performance for 2015 which was majorly through internal efforts. They started work officially in May 2016. It is expected that results for 2016 will be an improvement on that of 2015. 

The Fisher Trust website went live in the second half of 2015.  The address is www.thefishertrust.org. It is presently being upgraded to make it more mobile friendly. However, you can continue to access the site. The website is a critical tool for dissemination of information, networking and mobilization of Umuahians. To achieve optimum benefit, the Board engaged the services of experienced professionals.

SOCIAL MEDIA – In addition to the website, Fisher Trust is active on Social Media; Facebook, Twitter, instagram, mailchimp etc. You can follow Fisher Trust Restoration activities on the above platforms and be part of the Umuahian conversation. The links are @gcufishertrust and GCUFISHER TRUST.

As part of its plan for success, the Fisher Trust worked with some of the best hands in Brand Communications and advertising in Nigeria to fashion out an effective Communication Strategy for fundraising and GCU Restoration. It will also bridge the communication gap within the Old Boy network and add professional touch to the overall messaging. The Board engaged the services of a professional Brand communication company, TBWA to manage the communication strategy. Like Meristem, they have started work and have since begun to engage our target public. 

Before now, no conscientious effort was made to compile a comprehensive database of GCU alumni.  Some previous branch and individual efforts were not sustained or far reaching enough. The Fisher Trust has taken up the task as it is critical to all planning. Presently, the Trust Secretariat has gathered nearly seven thousand names of Old Boys.  Many of the names do not have current phone numbers, e-mails or addresses. To facilitate collation of data, the following steps have been taken.
  1. A type form has been created and is available on the website and Social Media platforms so that Old Boys can visit and update/submit their personal information as necessary.
  2. Also Whatsapp Chat platforms have been created for fifty classes, 1955–2005. It is engendering great re-unions and exciting discussions on Umuahia among class mates. Your classmates are waiting for you on Whatsapp. Endeavour to join up. Or you can contact the Secretariat on how to link up with your classmates.
  3. Signing up via any of the platforms will ensure that you get regular Umuahian Newsletters and be up to speed with whatever is afoot.

On the best way to phase out the old GCU with minimal hiccups, the BOT decided on a gradual transition which will entail the passing out of each class normally beginning from this year 2016. The following decisions were taken and ABSG/Ministry of Education has been duly informed and is working closely with the Trust on its implementation.
  1. No more admissions into JSS 1 from May 2016. (Done).
  2. No more admissions into any class whatsoever.
  3. No repeating of classes. If you fail, you go elsewhere.
  4. Teachers of a transitioned class will be handed back to Ministry of Education for reposting, except those who will be selected for retraining to join the new GCU.
  5. Abia State continues to pay its teachers until the transition is complete. Here, we thank the Abia State Government once again for their encouragement and commitment to the success of GCU restoration.
  6. These decisions were to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along. It would also enable us to raise the necessary funds and begin phased rehabilitation in preparation to receive our first students on a new strictly merit – based admission policy within three years.

The effort to obtain the C of O for GCU has been a long and complicated one.  Thankfully, the Board has successfully completed the process. 

First, the almost four square miles of forest was cut through to re-establish GCU’s boundaries, thirty six (36) new survey beacons marking the borders were planted and the survey map of a total of 89.2 hectares of the new GCU was  made.  It has been signed by the Governor of Abia State and duly handed over to Fisher Trust. The land charges for GCU land was fourteen million naira (N14M). The Board made strong representations to the Governor and he graciously waved the charges.

The CEO is the person that will manage the different work streams of the project. The search for a suitable candidate was given priority attention by the Board and the Job Description was posted on our website since last year. It was also run through professional channels across the world. Our Partners, African leadership Academy (ALA) were actively involved in the search with the Trust’s Consultant coordinating the efforts.  A Search Committee meeting was set up after the Abuja event with the view to broaden and deepen the search. In the meantime, the Board appointed Dr. Eugene Ibe in an interim capacity to hold forth in that position pending the hiring of a substantive CEO. We are happy to inform you that the process was successful and in a little while the CEO of the GCU Restoration Project will assume duties.

The Board has widely disseminated the Job Description for Principal as well through various networks across the world.  It is a position the Board is desirous of filling within the course of this year, 2016.  There has been a lot of progress in this regard. We believe that the search will soon also be concluded. 

The Project Team is in the process of being assembled. Already, the Board has a team of distinguished Architects, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and others who have been in place working on the Master plan. With the imminent coming on board of the CEO, the full complement of experts will be constituted. 

The team of Architects working on the Master plan for the new GCU has concluded its initial work and made a comprehensive presentation to the Board. The team which consists of four architects made the presentation on July 22nd, 2016. The Master plan report covered the following;
  1. General concept of College is Campus in a Park.
  2. Comprehensive rehabilitation but retention of the historical essence of the Quadrangle.
  3. Location of utilities.
  4. Designing and incorporation of ideal student space.
  5. Renovations, modifications and demolitions.
  6. Specifications and standards.
  7. Project Phasing.
  8. Prioritization from the academic point of view
  9. Campus occupancy.
  10. Maintenance.
  11. Landscaping.
  12. Inbuilt Land campus security strategy.
  13. Encroachment blocking.
  14. Land use and facility use.
  15. Capacity of College.
  16. Drainage and sewage.
  17. Relocation of some dormitories.
  18. Playgrounds (modern sports).
  19. Relocation of 1st & 2nd gates.
  20. New Auditorium, Student’s Centre and shops.
  21. Internal roads and walk ways

Gymnasium, Cross Country Trail, Cadet Corps places, Health Centre (21st Century), Works and Storage places, street lights, street furniture, power supply, Solar, water supply, Boreholes, Swimming Pool, Car Parks, Farms, Orchard among others were captured. The Board has requested for the priced Master plan and priced project necessary for the next steps.

The second phase of the Master plan is also ready and has been presented to the Board.  It is detailed and finally paves the way for the reconstruction phase to start.  It contains among other things the following:
  1. The cost of various areas of the project.
  2. A detailed map of the Phase 1.
  3. Scope of the Master plan.
  4. Building planning/design
  5. Infrastructure Development
  6. Services, i.e. power, Solar, Hydro, Generating sets etc.
  7. Landscape Development
  8. Demolitions
  9. Construction – renovations, modifications plus their costs.
  10. Implementation estimates and Project Phasing.
  11. Campus land security strategy.
  12. Furniture
  13. Inventory and assessment of structures.

The Board has initiated concrete plans to protect the College from further encroachment particularly the Northern border, behind the Principal’s house.

The Board has also given instructions for the setting up a project office in the College from where the project team will operate. Shortly, you will see the project office at the beginning of the rehabilitation phase. 

  • Physical reconstruction and landscaping.
  • Hiring of a Principal.
  • Financing

Finally, i want to thank Umuahians for their continued commitment to the cause of Umuahia and to commend their excellent spirit of shared responsibility. Thank you all.

Long live GCU. Up Umuahia! May we shine as one.
Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo
Chairman, Fisher Trust.

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