Education & Health

Where education and building the future overlap – The Francis Ibhawoh Foundation

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The situation, the need, the challenge, the marauding cat….

The world today would be a better place if we all gave back in our own “little” ways to our communities. Countries have been empowered and developed by the collective effect of the “little” the citizens give back. Yes, it is the responsibility of governments to cater for the needs of citizens. However, we as citizens, have the moral obligation to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

The great legend Michael Jackson sang, “heal the world make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race…” One way of healing the world is by giving back to the society especially to those who are unable to meet their basic needs, and those who cannot repay these deeds.

Many of us know we each need to give back to our societies in any way we can. We also understand that positive interventions are needed for the hydra-headed challenges of poverty, hunger, wars, climate change, natural disasters, just to mention a few.  There is evidence that  health, educational and resource inequalities fuel our many world challenges. It is therefore clear we know the problems: but it is not enough to know. We need to act, and the time to act is now!

An analogy which can be likened to the fable of  ” who will bell the marauding cat.”

Who is belling the cat…

This week, our motivational ship docks on the shore of someone who is passionate about giving back to society. He and his team are giving back to humanity via educational development. He has chosen this line because he was raised by educationists and has also become an educationist himself.

He had his secondary education at Immaculate Conception College (ICC) Benin City and got a BA Hons from the then Bendel State University Ekpoma.  He went further to acquire an MA from the University of Ibadan and a PhD from Dalhousie University.

He has been recognised for his academic excellence as well; including CHIOCE Outstanding Academic Title Award for his book, Imperialism and Human Rights (2007); inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2 (2006), to mention a few. He has also written Articles in Human Rights QuarterlyNetherlands Quarterly of Human RightsHuman Rights DialogueCanadian Journal of African StudiesAfrican World Review.

This man, is a member of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada and a recipient of the McMaster Student Union Teaching Award

Wondering who he is? Wonder no more….. for the next few paragraphs throws light on one of those who is silently making a difference and striving to make the world a better place.


The Francis Ibhawoh Foundation (FIF) – Bonny Ibhawoh and the team

More individuals and charity organisations in Nigeria are stepping up to provide education and community development in Nigeria. One of these organizations is the Francis Ibhawoh Foundation (FIF). Realizing the potential that educational development holds for the overall development of Nigeria, Francis Ibhawoh Foundation(FIF) was established in 2014 to support undergraduate students in Nigeria’s higher institutions, with the overall vision of contributing to community and national development.





Why are they belling the cat…


The desire to empower Nigerian students and contribute to community development has prompted Ibhawoh family to join other well-meaning Nigerians and foreign philanthropic organizations to support government’s effort in revamping Nigeria’s education system.  The establishment of the Francis Ibhawoh Foundation was borne out of the necessity to give back to the society that produced them. The children of the late Francis Ehidiamen Ibhawoh and their friends collectively agreed to demonstrate good citizenship, social responsibility and leadership in Nigeria.



The objectives for establishing the Foundation are to financially support educational advancement, youth empowerment and community development across the country. These objectives align with the philosophies of late Francis Ehidiamen Ibhawoh who till his death remained a devoted educationist. He did not only give credence to education, but also strived to ensure that everyone around him was educated. Before his death, he retired as Director from the then Bendel State Civil Service Commission in Nigeria. Members of the Governing Board of the Foundation drawn from the corporate and academic sector, include Professor Bonny Ibhawoh, a son of the late Francis Ibhawoh and a professor at McMaster University, Canada.




So, how are they belling the cat…


The Ibhawoh Foundation currently targets exceptional students who could differentiate themselves from their colleagues in higher institutions across Edo state. There are plans to expand this program throughout the country. In its annual Francis Ehidiamen Ibhawoh Essay Competition for Undergraduate students, the Foundation selects outstanding contestants who have the skill and knowledge to link research to life. These selected undergraduate students – from any discipline – must have first demonstrated their competence by submitting excellent entries in the Foundation’s undergraduate essay competition.

The Foundation’s undergraduate essay competitions are based on relevant contemporary issues which provide a forum for the debate and discussion of topical national challenges with a view to providing sustainable solutions to them. Since 2014, essay competitions have focused on strategies for addressing the challenges of funding higher education in Nigeria; roadmap for economic diversification for sustainable development in Nigeria; and presently, social welfare policy and the protection of the rights of the African child.



With two undergraduate winners in 2015, three in 2016 and four to emerge in the 2017 essay competition respectively, the FIF currently gives out fifty-thousand naira (N50,000.00) monetary prize to each winner. This monetary award is aimed at assisting undergraduate students in their studies. It also serves as reward for academic excellence among undergraduate students in Edo state, promoting self-actualization and most importantly, engaging undergraduate students in national development debates. This has not only increased transferable skills such as problem solving among undergraduate students of Edo state higher institutions, but has also made higher education more accessible to hardworking students in the state by augmenting the cost of tertiary education. Past winners of the Francis Ibhawoh essay competition have expressed gratitude for the financial support they received, and the opportunity that the competition provides for students to contribute to policy discussions on national development.


As a non-profit entity dedicated to promoting education and research for national and sub-national development in Nigeria, Francis Ibhawoh Foundation publishes exceptional articles of its essay competition winners on its website: enabling easy access for all who wish to read them.

While efforts to extend the scholarship and essay prize award to other states in Nigeria are underway, the Foundation is also planning a youth empowerment and community development project that will improve the living condition of the masses. According to Prof. Ibhawoh, the ultimate goal of FIF is to transform lives and make a positive impact in the society. This then becomes a model for others to follow.  Professor Ibhawoh and his team at FIF hopes that instead of spending lavishly on funeral ceremonies, Nigerians will consider charitable giving as a way of keeping the memory of their loved ones alive for posterity. By contributing to education and youth empowerment, the FIF is serving to sustain the legacy of Late Francis Ibhawoh.


And can they continue to bell the cat alone…


Mice in council, top on the agenda is “belling the cat”. Image is courtesy

Team LR members were this week palpably impressed, during the editing session for this article. The work of the Ibhawoh Foundation attests to the fact that some of us are beginning to act strategically; “we are belling the proverbial cat”. A Foundation first recommended to us early last year by two different people who believe that their work for humanity is deserving of this motivational space.

“I hope other people will read this write up and be inspired to give up some luxuries to fund positive things like this. Things that are far reaching and will have a cumulative societal development effect” a member of the LR Team said yesterday. A member of the team who for the purpose of this write up we will call A.

Another member B then asked “ I make my money, having worked hard and toiled for it. Why then do you want to deprive me of my luxuries or tell me how to spend it? After all, I pay my tax and of course my tithes”.

To which A responded, “Making sacrifices for humanity is a calling! A calling and a passion everyone does not have, some may never have it while others may gradually develop it. I agree you own your money and you worked for it. However, when all the luxuries that are tangible and temporal fade away, the positive deeds a man has done for humanity remains in the hearts of many, transcending generations and remembered even when he is long gone from this world.”

B kept quite for a while thinking about A‘s response and then said slowly “Okay, I think I can compromise half way or one-third of the way actually. I will think about giving up a few luxuries and decide how I can channel some resources to humanity.” It was at this point, B then turned to the rest of us and asked us in a puzzled tone, “What are my luxuries?”

We all looked at B, then at each other…

It is truly motivational featuring this man and his team who are doing great things in Nigeria. Their work is kick starting thought processes that will lead to more people beginning to question their purpose in our shared humanity. This is evident from our own experience here at team LR you just read about. The fact is that with people like this in our society, little drops can only make a mighty ocean.

Let us not forget this saying that goes; “Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts”. Author Unknown



*Relevant images used with explicit permission of the FIF and two of the banner collage  images courtesy of TM Forum Inform and*


**A special thank you to LR editor Omo Agbonwanegbe who led the team to roll out this article for your motivational pleasure this week.**




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