TIMOTHY Uchenna Ifedioranma scored the winning goal that gave Trinity College, Olodi, Apapa, Lagos, her first soccer victory in the secondary school football championship. Young Ifedioranma’s lone strike broke the dominance of St. Gregory College, Obalende, at the 1989 Principal Cup. Trinity College was the only school to have ever beaten St. Gregory College, which had a reputation of not losing to any school in the finals.
Ifedioranma was a skillful player that mercurial Jay Jay Okocha once picked balls for while he played and practiced with Emma Okocha, (Jay Jay’s elder brother) back in the day. Winning the Principal’s Cup earned young Ifedioranma flood of gifts from his school and attracted interest from Stationery Stores FC and Wema Bank FC. He opted for Wema Bank because they offered something better, though Stationery Stores has a big name. He was a skillful footballer, good in midfield and attack, hardly did he play a match without scoring a goal.
“I started playing for my school when I was in class 3, that was when they discovered us for the National Youth Sport Federation team that became the nucleus of the male national under-16 team and later the Golden Eaglets. We were the first set of players before the Nduka Ugbade’s set was assembled.”
Today, Ifedioranma, Member, representing Njikoka 1 Constituency at the Anambra State House of Assembly and House Committee Chairman on Works is legislating for the good people of Anambra State and contributing to the advancement of Nigeria’s democratic process.
At a point, he would have become a Rev. Father, but for his father that wanted young Ifedioranma to pursue a different course in life. Though as it stands today, he is a clergyman propagating the gospel but on a different platform, beside his legislative duties. Young Ifedioranma was somewhat pampered by his father, which his mother, a school headmistress saw could affect the future of her son. The reason she desired that he left home to live with someone else who could counter her husband’s much fondness of their son.
It happened at the time that Rev Father Moore, an Irish priest, took an interest in Ifedioranma, and he invited young Ifedioranma to come and live with him. That encounter with Father Moore thrust young Ifedioranma to a new world, where his life was transformed morally and spiritually. The influence rubbed off on him until date. He regards Father Moore, besides his parents as one of those that influenced his life.
Growing up Ifedioranma was a left-handed person; so left-handed that whenever he threw something at someone, it must hit the person even when the person or object is far from him. This made people called him ‘evil left hand.’ His parents saw everything wrong in their son being left-handed so they enforced a change to the right side.
“Very bad left-handed that I used it to eat and do everything then. Due to how bad it was, my parents had to tie my left hand to my body. I go to school with one hand to recondition my mind to using my right hand. That was how I started using my right hand. I didn’t find it easy then but getting to a year, I adjusted. Today, I can write with my right hand more effectively than the left. The only thing is that when I need to apply my hand to something heavy, you will still notice that my left-hand carry more of the weight. Until date, if there is something heavy, my power comes from my left hand.”
Young Ifedioranma had his father as his favourite, but later realised that his mother was the heroine. “She brought the discipline that remoulded and helped to reshape me.
My father wasn’t an educator but literate. He stopped at Standard Six, but my mother went further. She loved education. I got hooked on loving education from my mother. She would always talk about books. Often make my siblings and I read books even if we don’t want to read. She took the time to look at our books and make corrections. ”
“I remember in my primary school, I do come first or second. When I got to class one in secondary school, I took the eight position. My mother gave me the beating of my life. I was crying; my friends came around and asked why I was crying and I told them that my mother wasn’t pleased with my grades.
My friends sometimes came 21 or 30 something in the class. As kids that we were, they tried to make me see that my mother hates me. At a point, want to believe them. My father never bullied my mother for anything, but any time my mother touched me, my father never felt comfortable with it.
My affair sometimes wanted to bring quarrel between them. The reason my mother insisted that I must leave the house and stay with someone close was to reduce my father’s soft touch for me. And Rev Fr Moore stepped in at the right time.”
The Nawfia, Njikoka Local Government Area born legislator had his primary school education at Elizabeth Fowler Memorial School, Surulere, Lagos. He pursued his secondary education at Trinity College, Olodi Apapa, Lagos and proceeded to the University of Lagos, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, though he wanted to study Law but wasn’t offered a place. “The next course I like was Public Administration. I was looking for skill in administration; which is the reason I chose Public Administration.”
He did his youth service in Jos, Plateau State. Shortly after that, he left for Europe for greener pasture and relocated to the United States where he studied to become a realtor. Ifedioranma is a lover of education.
He has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. As a parliamentarian in 2015, he obtained a degree in Political Science at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka. He went back to school to study law Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University.
Supposing Ifedioranma isn’t legislating today, what will he be doing? He answered thus: “When I lived in the United States, I was a realtor – what you call the estate developer and manager in Nigeria.
Unlike in Nigeria, in the United States, you take exams to be certified a realtor. That was what I was doing at the time, and I was in money. If I weren’t in the legislature, that’s what I would be doing. It gives me latitude of time. I work with my time.”
“You can’t come to Nigeria to contest elections without money. That became my financial base.”
His interest in politics wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment. It was a long, deliberate, and divinely inspired reason to better lives and change the polity for good. He backed it up with Proverbs 29 verse 2 – “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.”
He was encouraged with Proverbs 14: 35. “The reason we are suffering in Nigeria is bad leadership,” he said. He later met a renowned philanthropist, a close friend to Bill Gates, who along with Bill Gates, go to Uganda to run different philanthropic projects.
“When we started talking, he learnt that I’m from Nigeria. This was the time the image of Nigeria was badly damaged because of the 419ners and all that. I asked if he would come to Nigeria to do the same things, he laughed.
He pointed out that they have no business with Nigeria because of fraud; they don’t know who to trust. But I said you know that we have been friends. He said no, that I was different. But the challenge is that his organisation works with governments and not with individuals.”
So, the only way they could bring their support to Nigeria is through somebody in government who they can trust. And the lowest cadre to initiate that was to become a mayor of a city. Ifedioranma came down to Nigeria and wanted to become the mayor of Lagos because he spent most of his teenage years in Lagos. He was told the closest elective post to that in Nigeria was the local government chairman.
And if he wants to contest, he should go to his home state. He shuttled between the United States and Nigeria for over eight years. The election for local government chairman was never conducted; he won the primaries the number of times it was held. Since the local government election wasn’t forthcoming, he decided to run for his constituency seat at the State House of Assembly.
On what he thinks Anambra State needs now, he said: “In addition to what Gov. Obiano is doing – Gov Obiano has laudable programmes for ndi Anambra, I would think that much should be done in revenue generation. Anambra State has a lot of wealth but needs harnessing. We are not tapping into the opportunity of revenue generation that abounds in this state. To be honest, this state can run without any federal allocation comfortably with great developmental strides with what can be generated within. I would want some slight shift of change in policy in revenue generation.
“We need to grow our internally generated revenue and the moment we do that. If there is enough money in the hands of a trusted leader, it will be ploughed back into development, and the transformation we desired will be in place. Ndi Anambra are industrious people. We are wealthy individually, but the infrastructure is what we need to put in place. I have discussed severally with Dr David Nzekwu, Chairman of the Anambra Internal Revenue Service. He is doing very well. He is a good man, very pragmatic; he has so much knowledge of what he is doing. I would ask and pray that he will be given the latitude to operate. He has so much in him that he hasn’t brought out.”
Hon. Ifedioranma is not a perfectionist but believes in giving his best. He detests lies and dishonesty. His philosophy about life is to look forward and not otherwise. He tells you that he has no regret in life.”No matter what I do that I don’t succeed now, I won’t go back to regret it. I’m a positive person, no matter what.” If Hon. Ifedioranma had the power to change one thing in Nigeria, it would be to change people’s perception toward being patriotic to Nigeria, “Most Nigerians are not patriotic because the leadership is not supportive of who you are. For me, until that mindset is changed, things will remain the same.”
On why he doesn’t give publicity to his constituency projects, he said, “most of my impacts on people’s lives is on individuals and I don’t put them on the pages of newspapers. For instance, I have 179 pupils, students, and undergraduates in my scholarship scheme. I’m a lover of education and makes sure I invest in it. I spend much on scholarships; it runs into millions, and I don’t publish it. But that will not take away notable signature projects in the communities that comprise my constituency – renovation of schools, equipping of science laboratories, digging of boreholes, building new classrooms, among others.”
He is married to Mercy Amaka Ifedioranma and blessed with two adorable children – David Chidera Clinton and Esther Angelia Chimamanda Ifedioranma. He admits that his initial attraction to his wife was her beauty, but later discovered her endearing humility. Besides, she complements him in areas that he falls short.
Hon. Ifedioranma said, he would liked to be remembered for helping the downtrodden, “I want posterity to say that I contributed to who they are. I don’t like leaving people and the system the way I met them but better leaving them better than their best.”