The people of Mmaku, in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State last weekend rolled out the drum in their numbers to remember and honor one of their great sons, Anthony Andeh, a foremost Nigerian boxer. Anthony Andeh who was born 16 August 1945, to the family of Mr, and Mrs, Andeh of Otokwu Mmaku, was the first Nigerian Olympic gold medalist in boxing. He competed in the men’s featherweight event at the 1964 Summer Olympics, and then won the gold medal in the lightweight event at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica and his younger brother Davidson Andeh was the world amateur champion. Anthony Andeh, ruled Nigeria and African Lightweight Championship for many years before he was dethroned by Obisia Nwakpa.
The remembrance was triggered at a ceremony of the commissioning of an Olympic standard tennis court and boxing kits that run into millions of Naira constructed by Bob Andeh, Anthony’s son as a gift to the people of Mmaku and Enugu State located at Mmaku High School Mmaku, where Bob attended secondary school, to encourage youths in sports and education development.
Despite the court, Bob and Toby Okechukwu member representing Awgu, Aniniri and Oji-River federal constituency renovated two school buildings each, with solar energy to encourage the students and reduce the rate of school drop outs.
Commissioning the three projects, Toby Okechukwu, expressed joy over what Bob did and described him as a lover of his people. “I am happy about what our brother has done; this is how to be a philanthropist, this is how to have community spirit. It is evidence that he is taking after his father, we are encouraging him to continue in the way he is going, history and God will always remember him,” Okechukwu said. Speaking on why he renovated a building block at the school, Okechukwu said it was part of his programmes as a member representing the zone, that his focus essentially is education knowing that once a child is educated such a child has been given his future. He said it was a pathway to success and that “based on that, we renovated a school block and hope to do more because we talked with the school management.”
On why he decided to construct such a big project in the rural area and what actually inspired him, Andeh said it was not only to attract sports men and women to the rural areas for training where they will have less distractions but also to give back to the people that nurtured and brought him up. “It is necessary for one to look back and think about the development of where he or she comes from, my father was a boxer and his younger brother also was; my father gave out some sports equipment to many schools in Mmaku and Awgu; he tried to bring younger ones up in sports activities but unfortunately our people at that time didn’t understand what he was driving at, but today with the grace of God and the help of my Mmaku brothers as far as we have life we must continue until we succeed in developing sport talents in Mmaku and all parts of greater Awgu and Enugu State in general.”
“The only regret I have today is that my father is not around; today would have been the greatest day in his life,” he said.
“We know we have talented players in all the fields of sports outside the tennis court, we also have a standard football field on going to meet up with every sports activities. Remember, Mmaku once had a formidable football team Mmaku Tempest in the 70s, that team is not dead, it is sleeping and we are going to wake it up soon,” he said enthusiastically.
He further said: “I decided to go for Olympic standard because aside the fact that it is my taste, I believe that Enugu State government and the sports council can equally make use of the facility in case of any tournament since the distance from Enugu capital is not far. It will increase the interest of youths in school.”
On the renovation of school building with solar energy, the young Andeh lrecalled that those school blocks were built by their fathers with hard-earned money gotten from palm wine and it will not be good to allow the school dilapidate “while God has blessed some of us with little money to assist.”
“My advice to other young men is that we should use whatever we have to assist our various communities in one little way or the other not necessarily money,” noting that ideas most times, “work wonders than money”.
To make sure the standard Olympic Tennis court lacks nothing as per facilities, it was contracted out to a well-establishing tennis court construction company, Cuti Tennis, a Lagos-based company which has been constructing all over Nigeria. The philanthropist appealed to government at all levels to post qualified teachers to the school, pointing out that the equipment will amount to waste if they are not put to proper use by the teachers to direct and teach the students on the best way to manage the equipment.