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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2023 VOBA ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION

Held at Fr M.A. Glynn Memorial Hall, CSJ Vom on 2nd December 2023

ATTENDANCE

The Convention was attended by 91 Members, notably: 9 National ExCo Members, 2 Diamond Jubilarians of the ’63 Set, 8 Golden Jubilarians of the ’73 Set and 3 Silver Jubilarians of the ’98 Set.

EXCO ANNUAL REPORT

The 5-page report presented by the National Secretariat summarized the activities of the Eric Ganan Pam Led Administration (December 2022 to Date). It enumerated how the action plan of the Administration which has a two prung approach: Rebuilding CSJ and Reprojecting VOBA was brought to life. 

In Rebuilding CSJ, ExCo has been able to do the following:  Courtesy Call on the Proprietor of CSJ & Catholic Archbishop of Jos on 6th February, Courtesy Call on the newly appointed Principal of CSJ in February, Visit to CSJ PTA Congress on 10th February, Facilitation of the Donation of about 2, 000 Books by Books2Africa on the Recommendation of Dr. Tonson Sango (03 Set) in May, Refurbishing of the 3 CSJ Science Laboratories by VOBA 1998 Set in June, Establishment of CSJ Wireless e-Library Facility by VOBA 1998 Set, and Induction of VOBA 2023 Set & Prize Sponsorship at the 2023 CSJ Speech & Prize Giving Day on 29th July. 

In Reprojecting VOBA, the Eric Ganan Pam Led Administration has done the following: Inauguration of the Eric Ganan Pam Led Administration – the 11th Administration of VOBA on 26th January, Stakeholders Engagement with Elders’ Advisory Council on 23rd May, Set Coordinators & Set Secretaries on 24th June and National Executive Council (NEC) on 1st July. In the area of Communications, the Administration has created a WhatsApp Page that carries Members of all the 61 Sets in VOBA, that is, from 1963 Set to 2023 Set, it has also created a WhatsApp Page for all 61 Set Coordinators & Set Secretaries in VOBA, and has also successfully transferred the VOBA Website Administration from a 3rd party to the Office of the VOBA National PRO, renewed subscription for the website and has maintained the domain name: www.VOBA.org.ng. In the area of Welfare & Solidarity, the Administration has introduced the celebration of the 70th and 80th Birthday of Elders on social media, it visited the Kwardem Family when we lost Elder Michael Kwardem (’63 Set). This ExCo has felicitated directly with 18 VOBA Members who were elevated during the year in their career and political lives. 

They either received Congratulatory Letters or special message on the VOBA Website and social media handles. In the area of networking, VOBA under the Eric Ganan Pam Led Administration saw means to tap from the 551 Nigerian Air Force Base Station Jos through the then Commandant, Air Cdre Edward Gabkwet (’88 Set) and also tap from the Plateau ICT Development Agency (PICTDA) through the Director General, Dr. (Engr.) Dominic Gwaman Datong (91 Set). For the ongoing VOBA National Secretariat Project, this administration has been able to rename the project to ‘VOBA Investments & National Secretariat’ so as to reflect its true purpose, complete the parameter fencing, inaugurate the ExCo as Building Committee, recover pledges and new contributions from 10 Sets and 2 Chapters and is on the process of acquiring adjoining lands to the project site with the down payment of N500, 000 to grab 4 1/4 plots from a willing land owner. The next big move is to do a big ceremony out of the Foundation Laying in 2024. Finally, the ExCo has recorded 50% success in the compilations for VOBA Directory which will capture Name, Location, Phone Number and Birthday of Members. A constitutional responsibility of the National Secretariat aimed at keeping an up-to-date list of Members of the association so as to provide a strong database for VOBA, ascertain   our exact population and guarantee ease of communication within VOBA. The VOBA Director is a highly confidential document that will not be published so as not to compromise the security of members whether online or physically. 

The report from ExCo was observed as follows:

That as VOBA is concerned, our number one priority should remain CSJ, while the development of VOBA takes the number two position. That the standard of CSJ should remain important to the new VOBA ExCo. Financial Report of VOBA should be henceforth comprehensive in the true sense, capturing the status and value of our landed assets and not just the usual statement of income and expenditure. That the opening statement for Rebuilding CSJ which reads: ‘This Administration is not in denial that there is a fall in the academic and moral standards of our alma mater in a way that it has led to a disappointingly low enrollment of Student’, was an unfair description of CSJ, that the description of CSJ in the ExCo report was a wrong impression about the present state of CSJ, that the phase that the ExCo report described CSJ was in the past and not a true reflection of the present state of CSJ, adding that CSJ had gone past her darkest period, that CSJ has since overcome her days of moral decadence which he said was a discourse on social media about 4 years ago, 2019 to be precise, 4 years after the ugly incidence, CSJ is currently among the few Schools in the State with an excellent SSCE result. Observing from the CSJ Board of Governors, CSJ has witnessed great improvements in recent times and an interaction with a cross-section of students has proven that, hence the statement that CSJ has a fall in moral and academic standards was a self-destructive statement.

On the move to acquire adjoining lands to the project site which is an emergency matter, It was agreed that the total cost of 4 1/4 plots be split and made a levy on Sets not up to 50 years, in other words, Sets that are yet to celebrate Golden Jubilee. A minimum contribution per Set should be fixed and a time frame established. Effort is also to be made to reach out to buoyant individuals. The 18 VOBA Members that have been elevated within the year should also be reached immediately to send their financial support. The new land is to be re-evaluated immediately before balance payment.

The infrastructural decay in CSJ is helpless at the moment because Government had stopped giving grants to our Schools since 2013.

CSJ during the tenure of Mr. Benedict Mailafiya of ’74 Set was faced with multi-dimensional problems such as dwindling financial resources, insecurity in Vom, COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s socioeconomic implications and drug use among Students, in other words, CSJ was already sitting on a keg of gunpowder when Mr Mailafiya resumed work, he became the unfortunate captain who the problem manifested during his tenure. He has asked for forgiveness for the little mistakes he may have committed while steering the ship of CSJ as Principal between 2016 and 2022.

Convention established that CSJ was a victim of bad publicity on the social media in June 2019, but has been able to bounce back, especially with the ongoing reforms by the new Principal, Rev Fr James Useni Aboreng (PhD).

SCHOOL REPORT

The 16th & incumbent CSJ Principal, Rev Fr. Dr. James Useni Aboreng in a special address to VOBA Members, stated that 2024 has been established as the final year for collection of original certificate of SSCE Results. After next year, a VOBA Member will have to pay N5, 000 for every year that his result has stayed in the School Office. Assuming someone graduated 30 years ago and had not collected his certificate, he will have to pay N5, 000 multiplied by 30 years amounting to N150, 000.

CSJ at the moment is basking in the euphoria of producing an excellent SSCE result. Of its 41 Students that wrote WASSCE, 40 Students produced 5 credits and above including English and Mathematics.

With a Student population of 252 and Staff population of 78, CSJ is at her most critical moment of financial need. School fees is no longer enough to run the School. Parents owe millions of Naira as School Fees and there is constant food shortage. The monthly wage bill of the School is above the School’s internally generated revenue (IGR), forcing the resolve to farming the land within the School compound but that too is not sufficient to augment food shortage.

CSJ this year produced 970 measures of maize, 2 bags of soya beans and has in her piggery, 12 pigs. It is also able to feed students with 9 crates of egg it produces weekly in its poultry. CSJ has about 500 fish in her farm at the moment. It collects royalties in the form of food products from Staff that farm in parts of the school land just to meet up to its weekly grain consumption of the school which is put at: 3 bags of rice, 3 bags of beans and 4 bags of maize. The school has delved into cassava cultivation and vegetable gardening with guaranteed supply of spinach, spring onions, cabbage and okro. As good as it appears, it is not as it was in the 80’s when the school used to receive huge amount of money from the treasury of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos as loan to buy tons of grains to store ahead of scarcity or price rise. 

The financial situation of the School is thus given: It has an outstanding wage bill of N2.6M, the school cannot save up to N500, 000 from proceeds from school fees. As it is, November salary, leave grant, annual staff welfare and pension cannot be paid.

CSJ is evolving long-term and short-term solutions to its problems. 

Short-term solutions to CSJ’s problems include simple and regular donation of food items. Sets are to henceforth consider food donations as a Set project in CSJ in lieu of infrastructural developments. Collecting food donations will not put the school in any bad light and food is not something to be shy about, it depends on how VOBA presents it to the public or paints it on social media.

Increasing student population is considered a long term solution. Every VOBA Member should give himself the target of enrolling at least a Student in CSJ. The proliferation of Schools in Northern Nigeria Dioceses, has created a scramble for pupils whereby every Diocese would want its school to be patronized hence promoting CSJ in a diocese where they are struggling to reposition their own schools could be greeted with hostility.

Peer reviews have been done whereby CSJ has visited perceived excellent Schools for the purpose of picking things that they are doing well that CSJ is not doing.

It is understood that we already have the capacity to turn around the fortune of CSJ, the success story of St John Vianney Minor Seminary Barkin Ladi where an Old Boy, Rev Fr Dr Gideon Pwakim (’95 Set) is the Rector is a testament of the power of what one person can do to change the story of an institution, that it was a single individual who made the donation that become the springboard for Fr Pwakim to launch his reforms in Barkin Ladi. VOBA being blessed by many rich men is not yet good news, but what matters is having those men with means and at the same time with the mind to give.

Since it has become established that School fees alone cannot sustain the School, a smaller number of Students with quality education is better than a large number of Students with a struggling standard. After all, 78 Staff to 252 Students is an index of high Staff to Student ratio and a guarantee of adequate attention for maximum performance per student. 

The CSJ School Farm can be farmed all year round regardless of dry seasons and with mixed crops. If CSJ establishes itself as an institution that feeds itself, that is, produces what it eats, it will attract goodwill, the media and especially agricultural grants from across the world.

The present state of CSJ questions the effectiveness of the interventions by VOBA to CSJ since 1969. VOBA has to have a more coordinated approach to its support to CSJ.  

VOBA will consider the introduction of a scholarship scheme that will attract student’s enrollment. The target will be the Common Entrance Examinations into CSJ. The Best Student in the Common Entrance Examination can have his education in CSJ sponsored by VOBA.

VOBA will consider parting with one third of the funds generated in the VOBA Trustfund to support CSJ annually.

There is need for VOBA to meet again immediately so as to articulate the problems of CSJ, especially the short-term solutions and long-term solutions generated at the Convention.

 VOBA CHAPTER REPORTS

Reports were presented for 6 Chapters namely: Abuja, Jos, Lafia, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Vom. Abuja report was presented by its new Chairman Elder Gabriel Gobel, Jos Chapter report was presented by its new Chairman, Mr Peter Asmour Arin, while Vom Chapter report was presented by Mr Julius Lenge, the Financial Secretary. Lafia Chapter, Lagos Chapter and Port Harcourt Chapter Reports were mailed to the Secretariat via WhatsApp and the National Secretary presented each on their behalf via Power Point with the aid of a projector screen. All 6 organs had one thing in common: the usual end of year celebrations: Abuja marked her Thanksgiving Mass in September, Jos organized a Dinner on the eve of the Convention, Lafia had a Dinner immediately after the 2022 Convention, while Lagos was having a Family Hangout next day after the Convention where elections will take place. 

Abuja Chapter which has a membership strength of 40 members, contributed a whopping N1M for the VOBA Investments & National Secretariat Project, paid it’s 30% monthly remittance for 2023, produced the incumbent Vice President I, Mr. Victor Odumodu, runs a successful life assurance welfare package for her members, and made 5 members physicalyl present for the Convention. 

Jos Chapter has a blueprint where 6 standing committees are working round the clock to actualise the mandate of the administration. Within weeks, it has accomplished the following: a strong resolve to address mental health challenges of identified members, the first ever VOBA Hike, introduction of CSJ Experience talk at meetings, Personality of the Week exposé on social media and the ‘Call the Elders’ initiative where Elders receive phone calls from the Chapter to find about their well-being and reactivate their membership of the Chapter. What is in the pipeline for the Chapter is the Inter-Dorm Competition 2024 and Magazine Launch 2024. On the gruesome murder of her Member, Mr. Fwinbe Thomas Gofwan (07 Set) on 25th September 2023, the Chapter was in the forefront of the social actions that were taken as a reaction to this ugly incidence even though the Police is yet to live up to their promise of bringing the perpetrators to book, as no substantial report on the investigations has been released after 2 months. Jos Chapter records a monthly average attendance of 60 to 100 members to her dinner congress. However, the Treasurer was unable to settle their outstanding commitment to the national treasury for 2023. 

In Lafia Chapter, meetings are hosted by stakeholders such as the ExCo, Catholic Priests, The Ashenanye Family and the Ezekiel Jatau Family. The Chapter is up-to-date in its financial commitment to VOBA. In Lafia, they visit sick members and solidarize with Old Boys who are elevated, especially Engr. Edward Daudu (81 Set) who made history as the 1st engineer to emerge as a Permanent Secretary in Nasarawa State and Mr. Francis Mark-Elayo (010 Set) who was appointed Personal Assistant to the Nasarawa State Governor. Lafia Chapter has a blueprint for 2024 titled ‘Elevating VOBA’ where they listed activities such as education seminars, traditional events celebration, engagement in community service and storytelling sessions. The Chairman of the Chapter is Mr. Anthony Alaku. 

For VOBA Lagos, they were finally able to hold a meeting this year. With a membership of just 11 in 2023, they welcomed Barr Godwill Longs (90 Set) and Barr Evaristus Bapman (93 Set) as new Members. In Lagos, they do a one-off registration payment of N10, 000 and pay N1, 000 monthly dues. Their congress alternates between physical meetings and virtual meetings. The Protem Chairman is Arc Matthew Ajodo. 

In Port Harcourt, meetings are held every first Sunday. The membership is challenged by its large number of offshore workers and diaspora. The Chapter has been able to donate a whopping N158, 000 for the VOBA Investments & National Secretariat Project. A noble and exemplary project of VOBA Port Harcourt is the payment of examination fees for selected outstanding Students of CSJ Vom. They are represented in the National body of VOBA Wives’ Association and the main body, VOBA – they produced the immediate past Vice President II, Elder Isaac Dunka Gideon. 2024 is their election year. Their Chairman is Mr. Daniel Dengwat. 

The Vom Chapter report that was presented, stated that their geographical cover is Zawan, Vwang and Kuru communities of Jos South LGA. They boast of a membership of 100 and contribute N6, 000 individually per annum to sustain themselves. A unique feature of the Chapter is the VOBA Wives Association. The organ is very strong and they hold their meetings simultaneously with the main VOBA – same time, same venue. Their recent challenge is the drop in attendance to meetings, Naira redesign issues and poor economic downturn which has affected the financial status of the Chapter.

Bauchi Branch will have to be brought up to expectation. They have not been meeting for years. Benue Chapter was surprisingly absent, Kaduna Chapter announced that their Chapter had decided to withdraw from participating in VOBA National Body. That their Members can only interact with VOBA as Members of their Sets and not as a Chapter. It was a shocking revelation. However, it has been observed that some positive change of attitude has been noticed recently. There was neither a presence nor report from Pankshin, Shendam and Qua’an Pan Branches.

VOBA NATIONAL INVESTMENTS & NATIONAL SECRETARIAT PROJECT

ExCo has been able to advance the project in the area of renaming it, setting up of Building Committee, recovery of pledges made to the project, getting new donations for the project from 10 Sets & 2 Chapters. The trending move is to acquire about 4 plots of adjoining land to project site at the cost of N1.7M each.

Convention has agreed that the required amount be split among all Sets less than 50 years, that is, a Set that is yet to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, by implication, 1974 Set to 2023 Set numbering 48 Sets will contribute to realize N6.8M. When N6.8 is split among 48 Sets, each Set is expected to contribute approximately N150, 000 each. With high hopes that many Sets will give more than this target.

DIAMOND JUBILEE OF ’63 SET, GOLDEN JUBILEE OF ’73 SET, SILVER JUBILEE OF ’98 SET, 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF ’03 SET & 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF ‘013 SET

It was marked by the cutting of the Jubilee Cake presented by President of VOBA Wives’ Association, Mrs. Simi Goshwe. Diamond Jubilarians present were: Elder Mr. John Maigari (Fmr CSJ Vom Principal) and Mr. Joseph Okafor. The Golden Jubilarians were Elder (Alh) Muhammad Buba (Abuja), Elder (Chief) Enoch Jackden (Jos), Elder William Umaru Ebuga (Akwanga), Elder (Dr.) Philip Ademola Okewole (Vom), Elder Davou Vincent Dung (Jos), Elder Peter Dasoem, Fmr National PRO (Jos), Hon Daniel Sunday Dung (Jos) and Elder Samuel Akut Gatah aka Bellman (Kaduna). Only 3 Silver Jubilarians were present. They were Dr. Weng JahKim (Abuja), Mr Naanman Bagudu (Jos) and Mr Mudima Danjuma (Jos). There was a 20th Anniversarian, Mr. Chuka Eze, the VOBA National Treasurer. No 10th Anniversarian was present for the cutting of the Cake.

FINANCIAL REPORT

The National Financial Secretary, Mr. Evaristus Tsemwan presented the financial report of VOBA for the period 2nd December 2022 to 1st December 2023. In our Operations Account we met a balance of N43, 669.48. The Association generated an income of N240, 989. 48, and expended N28, 427.68, leaving a bank balance of N212, 561.60. In VOBA Trustfund Account, only 13 members paid, bringing the total income to N208, 700. As for the Projects Account also known as the Diamond Jubilee Account, the amount brought forward was N609, 428. 91. Total income within the year was N2, 818, 137. 23, total expenditure was N2, 534, 166. 66, leaving a bank balance of N283, 971.07

The Convention ended with an inspection of VOBA 1998 Set Silver Jubilee Projects and Jubilee Lunch at Vera’s Garden Vom. The Lunch was sponsored by 1973 Set, 1998 Set and 2003 Set.

2024 IN FOCUS

Next year is another election convention when the tenure of this VOBA regime will end. Alot needs to be done by the grace of God, such as completion of the purchase of additional lands for the VOBA Investments & National Secretariat Project, Foundation Laying for VOBA Events Centre stronger commitment to VOBA Trustfund, production of VOBA Insignias, completion of VOBA Directory, production of VOBA National Magazine and Jubilee for ’64 A & B Sets, ’74 Set, ’99 Set, ’04 Set and ‘014 Set. And many more initiatives already in the pipeline. All hands should be on deck to rebuild CSJ and reproject VOBA.

Mr. Luca Atukpa-Elayo

National Secretary

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