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Osodieme ups ante in grassroots empowerment

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ONCE again, the wife of Anambra State Governor, Chief Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), has successfully toured the entire 21 local government areas in the state to empower the womenfolk and vulnerable children who converged on their various communities for the popular and now famous August Empowerment/Enlightenment Programme,

under the auspices of  Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit making humanitarian organisation (NGO), which has become the platform and veritable channel she physically interacts and distributes lifeline support packages to the people in the hinterlands.

The 2019 version of the August grassroots’ empowerment exercise kicked off with a rousing Mothers’ Summit on the theme: “Promoting Gender Balance and Social Values,” held at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, on August 2, 2019, amid pomp and pageantries.

The colourful event featured trado-cultural displays by women contingents from the 179 communities across the three senatorial zones of the state and also marked the maiden conferment of special honourary awards to selected unique Anambra women in acknowledgment and appreciation of their outstanding contributions to the development of the society.

Among the meritorious award recipients were Professor Uche Azikiwe, the wife of Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor–General and First Republic President, Late Rt Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (Owelle of Onitsha);

Dame Virgy Etiaba, Nigeria’s first female state governor and former deputy governor of Anambra State; Chief (Mrs) Stella Okoli, the MD/CEO of Emzor Pharmaceuticals Limited, as well as Rt Hon Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu, incumbent first female Chief Justice of Anambra State; Iyom Josephine Anineh, former Federal Minister of Women’s Affairs; Ambassador (Mrs) Mary Onyali-Omagbemi (Nigeria’s first Olympic Gold Medalist), and Chief (Mrs) Ebele Okeke, former Head of Service of the Federation, among others.

Osodieme’s sustained intensive and extensive yearly tour  through the 21 LGAs in the state has turned into a huge blessing and bastion of hope for the ruralites, as she utilises the opportunity, not only to interact with the womenfolk and understand their problems,

but also to economically empower the poor and downtrodden, the destitute, widows, orphans, physically challenged and less privileged members of the society, which she has continued to do over the years since she mounted the saddle as the First Lady of the ‘Light of The Nation’.

Apart from the distribution of material and financial goodies and support packages to lucky beneficiaries during the grassroots’ empowerment tour, Mrs Obiano has literally turned to an indefatigable mobiliser, public awareness campaigner and economic redeemer par excellence,

in view of her relentless efforts in enlightening the people wherever she visited, on the policies, programmes and activities of the incumbent state government, under the dynamic leadership of her amiable and people-loving husband, Governor Willie Maduabuchi Obiano (Akpokuedike Global), whose stewardship has portended an unprecedented advancement of the state in all ramifications.

Chief (Mrs) Obiano continuously harped on the necessity of maximum public cooperation and participation in the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme, designed to offer the populace easy access to quality healthcare services throughout the year on payment of a paltry sum of N12,000 per annum for each participant.

She appealed to affluent people to be empathetic and subscribe for their extended families and less privileged ones around them to benefit from the scheme. Still on health, Osodieme admonished all intending couples and suitors to always undergo medical laboratory tests to ascertain their genotypes and blood groups,

in order to avert breeding children with sickle cell anaemia, which has constituted an intractable health problem decimating human population.

To the jobless people and womenfolk in particular, Osodieme tasked them to embrace the skills acquisition programmes of CAFÉ by registering with the state’s Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to be trained and empowered with necessary equipment and funds to establish their own businesses to enable them not only become self-reliant,

but also play vital roles in helping their families and developing the state’s economy as employers of labour, realising that government alone cannot provide employment for everybody; promising that free accommodation will be provided for the trainees too.

Chief (Mrs) Obiano also advised women peasant farmers and traders to form cooperative societies in order to benefit from a fresh N3.5 billion loan package to be obtained soon by the state government from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), out of which 60 per cent would be disbursed to women cooperative groups, as corroborated by Governor Obiano,

in his keynote goodwill message during the 2019 Mothers’ Summit; all aimed at encouraging the womenfolk in the state. Most importantly, Osodieme admonished the communities to take ownership of government projects in their localities for proper security, maintenance and judicious utilisation of these amenities intended for improved living standards of the masses.

Through the instrumentality of CAFÉ, Mama Anambra (as Mrs Obiano is fondly nicknamed) has restored hope to hitherto hopeless and hapless less privileged people, including innumerable old women, widows, mentally and physically challenged people.

She has continued to build modern houses with water boreholes for wretched widows and old women across the state; constructed public convenience facilities (toilets) in many markets; provided prosthetic arms and legs fittings for several persons living with disabilities, as well as crutches and armchairs to many others.

Children born with congenital deformities like cleft lips and cleft palates, now get free plastic surgeries to rectify such anomalies, in addition to numerous other enviable humanitarian intervention activities of her NGO.

With hearts full of joy, the visibly generally excited host communities through their welcome addresses presented by wives of the LG chairmen, enthusiastically expressed appreciation to Mrs Obiano for the August empowerment tour designed to put smiles on the faces of the ruralites; thanking her mostly for compassionately distributing dividends of democracy to the womenfolk and vulnerable children across the state.

Encomiums were also showered on her husband and indefatigable Governor Willie Maduabuchi Obiano (Akpokuedike Global), for his administration’s emulable achievements in all sectors of the economy through his numerous people-oriented policies and programmes,

backed with dogged implementation of this “Five Pillars of Development” with “Enablers” which have tremendously impacted positively on the lives and living standards of the masses.

Idemili North women however, like other LGA spokespersons, requested in an address presented to Chief Mrs Obiano by Mrs Ifeoma Asha Nnabulife, at Ogidi, the provision of necessary equipment to over 50 women already trained at the Skills Acquisition Centre, Umuoji, in the next empowerment exercise,

while appreciating Osodieme’s intervention in assisting several women in the LGA to establish their own private businesses for self-reliance, just as the CAFÉ helped over 15 vulnerable orphans, five physically challenged persons,

20 poor widows and 15 aged women selected from all the 10 communities in the area, on the latest visit. They also appealed for the engagement of five instructors at the SAC Umuoji with payment of monthly stipends.

Mrs Promise Onyinye Asoanya, also in a welcome address presented when Osodieme and her entourage visited Onitsha South LGA, showered encomiums on Chief (Mrs) Obiano for another economic empowerment tour to the area for distribution of more dividends of democracy to the grassroots.

She noted that the 2019 theme of the exercise would “go a long way in reducing inequality, and improved public confidence in government institutions, as well as increasing competition in labour market, thereby expanding more talents,” just as she noted that Osodieme has been actually “realizing, encouraging and boosting the values of Nigerian women in the areas of education, economics, politics, health, sports, religion and even in media sectors, indicating that gone are the days when women are relegated to the kitchen”.

For these noble humanitarian activities by her NGO (CAFÉ), Chief (Mrs) Obiano has proudly and meritoriously received various awards, chieftaincy titles and academical laurels, including the 2017 Zik Prize for Leadership in Humanitarian Services; Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree (DDL), conferred on her by the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU),

among others, for the outstanding performance of CAFÉ in humanitarian activities that have trained and equipped over 4,000 Ndi Anambra after undergoing skills acquisition sponsorship by the NGO, both women, youths and unemployed men across the state, most of whom are now giants of industry and business entrepreneurs.

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