| By Emeka Okuta-oloibe |
THE art of giving and sharing of goodwill, captured in the Igbo saying that “nma nma n’ezu ora”- which literally means goodwill traverses the community — may have found good expression in the way Ebelechukwu Obiano, wife of the governor of Anambra State, has carried on with sharing of the gift of love during the Christmas festivities and the 2015 New Year celebrations.
The art of giving have been second nature of Obiano long before she came into public office, and during the last Christmas through the New Year Ndi Anambra became fully aware of her undiluted passion for charity and large heartedness.
Before her husband, Willie Obiano was sworn in as the governor of Anambra State on March 17, 2014, records show that the couple had spared nothing on charity, uplifting the status of the common man in Lagos through the United States of America to Aguleri, their home town. The duo were known for their contributions to scholarships through assisting indigent students to schools, support for youth skills acquisition and the aged, and the emancipation of women, especially widows and also in the building of church projects and classroom blocks etc. Interestingly, the title of Osodieme is in recognition of Obiano’s joint effort in pursuing the philanthropic ideals with her husband, Willie.
Following some personal tragedies she made a pact with God in 1991 to plough a portion of her earnings to charity in churches for the upkeep of the aged and the indigent, the public were unaware of her charitable dispositions. However, a peep into her entire life would reveal an abiding love for humanity influenced by late Mother Teresa’s selfless philosophy of continuous “giving especially when it hurts”. She once said: “I do not believe that you should give what you don’t need; we should learn to give the things we value, particularly what we will miss as long as it makes others who need it happier. That is the way to reach out”. Perhaps this explains Mrs. Obiano’s dedication to charity and the birth of Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, CAFÉ, a pet project she initiated for her continuous corporal works of mercy.
Again, she was quoted as saying that charity is her passion and now that she has the rare privilege of being the mother of the state she will do what she can to bring succor wherever and whenever she feels it is needed. In fact, Obiano’s commitment to the well-being of others, especially the less privileged made someone blurt out during the yuletide outings – idimma gazulu ora – loosely interpreted as “an embodiment of beauty and love of giving in one person.”
Already, Ndi Anambra are coming to terms with the fact that Obiano, Osodieme, like the lady eagle is fast spreading her wings of love to every nook and cranny of Anambra state. It is therefore in keeping with the Christmas season of love and affection, especially for the indigent and less privileged members of the society that she embarked on a round of visitation to Prison facilities at Onitsha, Aguata, and Amawbia to celebrate the Christmas with inmates and encourage them to change and be reformed. She also visited the Daughter of Charity Orphanage Home, Fegge, Onitsha where she treated the children to a feast.
At each stop, she told the inmates that as a mother she came with message of love because Christmas is a period meant to be shared with loved ones, especially those of them who are currently restricted by their circumstance. In her words “I came to celebrate with you because as the wife of the governor I am privileged to be the mother of all in the state; I see you as an important segment of the one big family. The fact that you are in here does not mean that you cannot come out reformed and better than others, and able to contribute to the service and progress of our state… Always remember that you are in Prison to be reformed and rehabilitated into the society”. Above all, she exhorted them to hold fast to their dream as that would help them succeed eventually by the grace of God.
The news of her visit to Amawbia prison in particular was received with cheers and great expectation by the inmates. Prisoners could not contain their joy according to Chris Akubueze, the assistant controller of the Prisons. They even refused to eat as they awaited the food from the wife of the Governor.
Earlier at Onitsha Prisons, Felix Ezeugwu, assistant controller of Prisons, expressed gratitude to Obiano for the love showered on the inmates and urged her not to relent as God would continue to bless her for her good works. Her visit to each facility enlivened the mood in the prison as inmates were provided with various food items, including one cow to each facility, bags of rice, noodles, tubers of yam, beverages, soap and detergents for washing and laundry, and a token for soup condiment etc.
The wife of the governor was to also visit persons with disabilities and lighten their mood during the yuletide. In collaboration with some organizations she donated initial 270 prosthetic limbs to the group. Celestine Ubby, president, Njikoka Branch of the Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, echoed the feelings and joy of their members, “The governor and his wife have given us the best Christmas, many of us were surprised that something which we were making contributions to buy for some members were handed to us free without any bribe or struggle. May God bless the Obianos.” He prayed.
Governor Obiano who was present at the hand-over of the prosthetic limbs stated that his wife’s programmes under CAFÉ, “underscores her passion, commitment and bold effort at giving meaning to the lives of the dispossessed and disadvantaged.” He confirmed that a tripartite collaboration ensured that through the sponsorship of Rotary International Foundation; Tolaram Foundation of India manufactured the limbs which were attracted to Anambra state by the wife of the State Governor through CAFÉ.
The Christmas celebration was also extended to children. At the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia it was a fun-filled event for over 4,000 children who were entertained by Santa Claus with gifts items. They were encouraged to socialize as there was security adequately put in place by the state government. They were encouraged by the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oby Okeke who represented the First Lady to work hard and imbibe the spirit of team work while also calling on parents to pay more attention to the children and take good care of them.
Other beneficiaries of Ebelechukwu Obiano’s gift items include students of special schools, indigent widows and women groups like the Christian Mothers Organization, Salvation Army, Market women and others from Local Government Areas across the state etc. They were encouraged to made good use of their gifts with the assurances that “CAFÉ is committed to supporting the welfare programmes of Willie Obiano administration which promotes strong and healthy families through assisting and supporting vulnerable groups amongst Ndi Anambra to feel the impact of government and eventually contribute to the socio-economic development of the state.” The first baby of the year born at 12.30 to Uzoma Nwachukwu on January 1, 2015, at the Basic Health Centre, Court Road Onitsha, Anambra State, was also showered with assorted gift items, including a cow, five bags of rice, clothing materials and a token sum for the mother and officials at the Health Centre.
There is no doubt that the touch of love and spread of goodwill through CAFÉ by the wife of the governor to a cross section of the society, especially the indigent persons and the less privileged during the Christmas and New Year festivities will continue to reverberate positively for a long time to come.
Emeka Okuta-oloibe writes from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State
— Jan. 26, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT