Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
The 40th birthday of Dr. Gideon Osi Chidiebere, fondly called GOC, may have come and gone, but its thrills, frills, impact and lessons will continue to be discussed for a long time.
Osi, coordinator of the defunct Federal Government social intervention scheme, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) for Ebonyi State, was born in Amaeze Ishiagu, in Ivo Local Governemnt Area of Ebonyi State, to humble parents. He was welcomed into the world by excruciating poverty and lack.
The death of his father a few months after his birth worsened his predicament, leaving him under the sole care of his poor mother, Oyiridiya Osi. There was nothing to point that he would succeed in life.
The situation made his journey to acquire western education very turbulent. Several times, he dropped out of school due to his inability to pay school fees. However, through a combination of hard work and divine grace, Osi eventually escaped the claws of poverty to become a certified medical doctor, and the rest is now history.
At an elaborate event to mark his birthday at his country home, he told his guests that he was still amazed how God picked him from the lowest rungs of Ishiagu and blessed him.
He said he put up the event solely to appreciate God for His love and kindness towards him and his family, and to use part of what He has entrusted unto him to help those who are need.
He said: “I just want to use today to thank God for my life, my mother and my entire family. I want to thank God because those who know the story of my life will agree with me that all I have become would not have been possible if not God. It is God’s grace. I was born into one of the poorest families in Ishiagu. I was unable to pay school fees as a student. It was much later that I got scholarship from secondary school to university level. This is why I said I must give scholarship. If you look at it very well, you will understand that God is God. It is not that I have got too much but I have decided to help and empower those who are poor and who are facing the challenges I had faced while growing up.
“My father died when I was a child, my mother struggled as a widow to help our family. There were times she had only one wrapper. I understand the pains of widows through my mother. Today, I have come to clothe the widows in our community, provide free medical care to the sick, offer scholarship to the poor and empower our young ones to be useful. These and many more we will continue to do in our society as far as the Lord continues to be with us.”
In addition to free medical care for the people of Ishiagu and scholarship for 36 indigent students from different parts of Igboland, Osi distributed more than 1,000 empowerment items, ranging from sewing machines, dryers, clippers, generators, grinding machines, wrappers, bags of rice and cash to youths, widows, orphans, and the less privileged from communities within the Old Ohaozara comprising Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo LGAs.
The senator representing Ebonyi Central Senatorial District, Chief Obinna Ogba, praised Osi for using what God blessed him with to touch the lives of the less privileged, adding that his likes were what Ebonyi people needed in the corridors of power.
He urged the celebrant to continue in his generosity, assuring him of God’s continued blessing and provision.
Earlier, chairman of the planning committee, Charles Ajah, said the beneficiaries were selected on the basis of merit and needs and not other considerations.
Chairman on the occasion, Chief Ifeanyi Okorie, noted that the celebrant was a renowned philanthropist who has achieved a lot at his age. He prayed that God would continue to empower him to help the needy.
One of the beneficiaries, Blessing Mgbeafuruike, who got a brand new sewing machine, thanked Osi on behalf of other beneficiaries for his magnanimity towards them and promised to make very good use of the items to better their lives.