Professor David Iornem: A Legacy Of Quality Education From Cradle To The Grave
One of the most profound memories of my English Language class in secondary school may be found in the session during which we were introduced to figure of speech generally and, in particular, “red letter day”.
Being the young and idealistic minds that we were then, a little less than forty years ago, we were intrigued by the notion of a day being a “red letter” one, and we were understandably curious what exactly this meant, but that’s a story for another day.
Monday, January 4, 2021, turned out to be a red-letter day for me! I spent a better part of the day drinking from the depth of the fountain spring of wisdom and experience of an elder statesman and a quintessential gentleman Prof. David Iornem.
I refer to Prof. Iornem as a gentleman, not just because of our client-lawyer relationship but also because, since knowing the erudite Professor I have never heard him raise his voice either in his direct or telephone conversation with others. Iornem, a second republic consultant to the late Governor Aper Aku, a third republic Senator and former national publicity secretary of the defunct Social Democratic Party SDP, is probably the most conscientious human being I have come in contact with.
He is always concerned about the interests of those around him and, in my view, he is one person whose life is greatly influenced by the golden rule: “do onto others as you’d like them to do to you” As lawyers, we love to lay claim to “learnedness”, but there are moments when, even as a lawyer, one has to put aside justifiable claims to being learned, and rather find time to benefit immensely from the experience of others, and this is precisely what I experienced on Monday January 4.
A little bit of a background will help…
Sometime in 2019, my good friend Felix Tyokase and I, together with another gentleman for whom I reserve the greatest respect, Dr. Steve Nder Adzenge MON, became members of a consortium of lawyers that observed, for and on behalf of Prof. Iornem, a discussion that will ultimately lead to him becoming the Manager of the Gboko based integrated educational services enterprise that includes the famous Robert F Kennedy Nursery and Primary School, Malami College, Malami-Commonwealth College of Education, and Commonwealth Polytechnic.
It is, therefore, with a lot of excitement, and satisfaction too, that I received the invitation from Prof. Iornem to visit him in Gboko, and receive a report card of some sort. So, what is my assessment after the visit?
Well, as it is to be expected, the erudite Prof. has not only done very well but has once again proven that square pegs are best left in square holes… I will explain.
Those who know Iornem fairly well will easily attest to the fact that educational services provisioning and capacity development in the area of leadership and management have formed the bedrock of his interests for the better part of the last fifty years. At the moment he manages New Idea Management Consultants (NIMC) one of the foremost and probably the most reputable educational services consultancy outfit in Nigeria with an impeccable reputation and track record of excellence and consistency in service delivery.
Beyond the shores of Nigeria too, Iornem has to his credit the London based London Graduate School and, much closer home, Ecole Superieur Universitaire, Cotonou is also known as St Clement and Commonwealth University, Cotonou. This most recent acquisition has, therefore, providentially completed the missing link in his desire to provide quality education from the cradle to the grave.
Consistent with this background of providing quality education, Iornem has already set out plans to unveil one of the most dynamic and integrated educational services institutions in the whole of Benue state.
In addition to the nursery and primary school and the College of Education, there will also be a Polytechnic.
Both the Primary and Secondary Schools have boarding facilities for students making it very convenient for parents and guardians to more efficiently manage the education of their children or wards.
But what I find particularly intriguing is what Prof. Iornem refers to as a “binary system of education” wherein indigent students are made to provide services of a diverse kind in lieu of their school fees. To make this possible the school has embarked upon an ambitious programme of agricultural business that includes a yam farm, livestock of diverse kind including chickens, turkeys, goats and sheep, pigs and a fish farm.
Understandably, there is a farm manager responsible for this component of the enterprise.
Religion and spirituality are also not left out and there are designated places of worship both for the various denominational and interdenominational services.
The school also boasts of an Olympic size basketball court one out of the five that are available in the whole of Nigeria, while the football field has been regressed and is currently being tended for use in no distant future.
In terms of structures, there is ongoing a massive programme of structural reforms and the erection of new buildings including classroom blocks, dormitories, halls and offices.
He intimated me that the newly constructed chemistry laboratory will be named after his uncle and mentor Chief Patrick Ahenjir, the first graduate of Pharmacy in the whole of northern Nigeria, as a mark of recognition.
Course content and curriculum is probably the area that offers the icing on the cake of this emerging institution.
Online learning will be an integral component of this integrated institute which will house the operational base of an ambitious open learning network programme. Long before the emergence of a new normal under which we have become largely digitalised in the conduct of human affairs Prof. Iornem had visualised a digital economy and was already putting in place the necessary building blocks and infrastructure for the provision of relevant services.
This recent acquisition has, therefore, simply added impetus to the realisation of this ideal.
There is a state of the art computer centre equipped with over 50 computers and other gadgets to enhance learning. Additionally, the Polytechnic has as a core component of its curriculum an intensive programme of digital marketing for graduates of higher institutions. A state of the art digital studio is underway for this programme for which a property in a different part of Gbooko has already been acquired.
Quality assurance is evidently at the heart of this enterprise, and the clearest manifestation is the level of commitment to the recruitment and retention of quality human resource combined with an excellent, cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the community within which the school is located.
The school’s clinic, for instance, is open to members of the community which also constitutes a bulk of the unskilled work force.
For Iornem education is a service, but at the same time it is a business enterprise that has to be managed effectively and efficiently and also marketed as best as possible.
This, then, is a modest attempt at inviting you all, from far and near, to take advantage of this excellent opportunity for the delivery of quality educational services in various fields of human endeavour and at various levels of the growth and development of targeted individuals.