Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
There was excitement and jubilation recently when the lawmaker representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State at the National Assembly, Dr Francis Ottah Agbo donated N10 million to widows, orphans and other vulnerable people.
The distribution ceremony took place at the premises of LGEA Primary School, Okpoga in Okpokwu Local Government area of Benue State where about 700 widows, orphans and the less privileged were hosted by their representative at the Green Chamber.
At the end of the event, the selected beneficiaries went home with the sum of N10, 000 each even as Agbo promised to channel the remaining balance to the payment of fees of indigent students attending school within the constituency.
Agbo noted at the event that the gesture was in fulfilment of the campaign promise he made during the electioneering campaign, prior to the 2019 elections, to channel all his salaries to the welfare of the downtrodden in his constituency if elected.
He thanked God for making it possible for him to fulfil the promise. He said though he had spent just about six months in office, he had decided to make it up in order to keep to his words of spending the said amount of money at the end of every year beginning from 2019.
Agbo assured that the poverty alleviation programme would be a yearly event and would accommodate fresh beneficiaries in the subsequent years so that no deserving person would be left out.
He explained why he decided to give the beneficiaries money instead of channelling the funds into ventures like skills acquisition and vocational training. In his words, the funds would be more useful to the beneficiaries, many of whom are aged already.
He commended members of the selection committee for their dexterity and fairness in ensuring that those who truly need the assistance benefit from the donation.
“The selection committee members were drawn from all the nook and crannies of the three local government areas and they did a very thorough and holistic job resulting in the comprehensive list of the right beneficiaries. They did a good job and I must commend them for that,” Agbo said.
Governor Samuel Ortom, former Senate President, David Mark, Senator Abba Moro who were represented at the event, as well as Sir John Ngbede and Hon. Richard Gbande commended Agbo for contributing his quota towards alleviating the suffering of the people. They also promised to always support the laudable project.
A beneficiary of the gesture and a widow, Mrs Orefi Otokpa thanked Dr Agbo for remembering her. She said this was the first time she would receive this kind of assistance after she lost her husband 10 years ago.
“I thought that it was a joke when my neighbour came to inform me that I was selected by a committee as among those that would be given assistance by a member of House of Representatives for Ado/Okpokwu/ Ogbadibo.
“In fact, due to the excitement, my younger sister’s son wedded on that day but I abandoned the wedding and came to Okpoga to receive this money.
“I can only thank God and also pray God to protect Dr. Agbo and his family,” Mrs Otokpa said.
Another beneficiary, Ede Orinya, who is visually challenged, said he had heard so much about Agbo, especially as it relates to his humanitarian services to the people. He called on other well-meaning sons and daughters of the area to emulate Agbo.
“I have been sick for so long and nobody cares about me. I was very surprised this morning when Chief Douglas Ocheme came to carry me from my hut that he is taking me to Okpoga to receive financial assistance from Agbo. Here l am and I received the cash. I can’t thank him enough. It is only God that can reward him.
“I started playing politics since 1988 till I got blind after I felt sick but I have never seen a politician like Agbo. My prayers is that God should always grant him his heart desires,” he said.
An orphan, Oche Udenyi, said he could not afford to pay his last term school fees due to non-availability of fund. He said he would use the money from the lawmaker to complete his school fees.
“I am overwhelmed by this noble gesture. I am an SS1 student but could not write my last term exam because of my failure to pay my fees. May God bless Agbo and keep him alive till 2023 so that he can be re-elected to enable him continue with the good work that he is doing.
“I know that within the short period that he assumed office at the National Assembly, he had done so much for us at home. He has empowered so many less privileged ones like me across the three local government areas that he represents,” Oche noted.