Obinna Odogwu, Awka and Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Oraifite, a boisterous community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, was in an upbeat mood recently.
From all works of life, eminent personalities stormed the community for the 2020 National Books/Educational Materials and Medical Equipment Distribution Programme of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF).
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented at the event which had Governor Inua Yahaya of Gombe in attendance. Also there were representatives of Governors Okezie Ikpeazu and Godwin Obaseki of Abia and Edo States respectively.
The founder of the foundation, Sir Emeka Offor, told the large audience that over 1,460,000 volumes of books would be distributed to 80 universities, 22 polytechnics, 37 Colleges of Education, seven public libraries selected from each of the six geopolitical zones and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, 180 primary and secondary schools across the country.
He said the foundation has introduced medical equipment and supplies as part of the items to be distributed this year to selected hospitals and health institutions nationwide.
Offor said: “We intend to import for distribution to designated hospitals and health institutions this year, 140-footer containers of medical equipment and supplies. Already, 14 containers have arrived and the clearing processes concluded.”
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, commended the philanthropist for coming to the aid of the needy and for supporting education, health and other sectors of the country’s economy.
He lamented that the nation was challenged on all fronts and appealed that all hands should be on desk to help the country surmount its challenges.
Buhari said: “The biggest problem in Nigeria will be how to educate nearly 200 million people and make them a useful workforce for the service of our country.
“Anytime you see something that is bad, it is the failure of our education. Anytime you see people ill-mannered, ill-tempered, ill-willed, it is failure of what they should have learnt and how they should behave.
“So, it is in reference and deference to that that we always want to encourage those who help us, those who provide the work materials with which we do this work. So, the federal government of Nigeria promises that we will in every way encourage your work. In any way we can. we will work with you.”
Governor of Gombe State, Yahaya, commended Emeka Offor for his contributions towards the growth of education and health sector of the country. He said Offor’s contributions have made significant impact in the lives of the beneficiaries of his interventions across the country.
“When you find a man or an organization that is out to fight poverty, disease, ignorance and hunger, you cannot get a better ally than such a person”, the governor remarked.
Minister of Health, Ehanire was represented by the Chief Medical Director of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe. He commended Offor for the medical equipment which would be distributed to selected hospitals and health institutions across the country.
Also speaking, the former Senate President, Nnamani, said the philanthropist had duplicated a warehouse of books which he saw in Atlanta, United States and made same available in Oraifite community for onward distribution to the benefiting institutions.
He said that if every wealthy individual in the country was doing as much as Emeka Offor, the burden of having to provide all the needed facilities in hospitals and schools would have been less on the government.
Governors Ikpeazu and Obaseki who were represented by their aides, equally commended Offor, for his selfless service to the country. They encouraged him to continue doing the good works as he has, by so doing, touched many lives positively.
Speaking on behalf of the benefiting universities, the Vice-Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu in Abia State, Prof. Augustine Uwakwe; said they were impressed and thankful to the foundation and its founder.
“It takes a wise man to recognise the place of education in his nation. And we want to thank you for identifying with us on the quest to get our people very thoroughly educated and to compete with their peers worldwide.
“We want you to know that most of us in the universities recognise your efforts and the efforts of your foundation in impacting on the lives of your fellow citizens,” Uwakwe noted.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai who was also represented, commended the foundation for including military schools in the list of beneficiaries. He said that their schools would find the educational materials very useful and would make judicious use of them.
Also at the event were the Senator representing Anambra South in the National Assembly, Ifeanyi Ubah; Senator Magnus Abe; the Bishops of Anglican and Catholic Dioceses in Nnewi, the Rector of Anambra State Polytechnic, Mgbakwu, Dr Nneka Mefor; and former Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe Unversity, Awka, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku among others.
There were also goodwill messages from the Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, and the Executive Director of Books for Africa, Dr Patrick Plonski.