From Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
help came the way of hundreds of the inmates at the Ilesa Prison, Osun State, recently, when Spring Time Development Foundation (STDF), provided them with mattresses and pillows. Life in prison is not always a pleasant one.
But on this day when STDF came to their domain to share the milk of kindness with them, joy was visibly written on their faces. They were in high spirits, in anticipation to have a good rest on mattresses after several years of lack of such comfort. Many of them beamed with smiles as they waited to be called upon by the warders to pick the items.
Two trucks conveyed the items in batches to the gate of the prison yard. At the end of the count, there were 700 mattresses and the same number of pillows. The items gulped N6.7 million. Every inmate got a mattress and a pillow each.
For them, the gifts were like a dream and biblical manna as they did not expect the blessing. Many of them had not lay on a mattress nor laid their heads on a pillow for several years since they came to the prison.
They (both male and female) filed out from the yard to pick the items in turns and returned to their rooms gladly and boisterously with a mindset that they would have good sleep from that day. STDF also paid all the fines and debts that some of the inmates were unable to pay and were being held for several years.
The vice chairman, Mr. Banji Adesuyi, said it is a part of the NGO’s social responsibility and humanitarian programmes that it has been doing since 15 years ago in the South West. He disclosed that the foundation would extend the gesture to Ile-Ife in a couple of months.
The decision by the organisation to beam its light of kindness and generosity on the Ilesa inmates came when its founder and chairman, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, in company of other executive officers and stakeholders, paid a courtesy visit to an Osun State prominent personality at the prison and noticed the dehumanising conditions of the inmates. He said Adeleke was shocked to discover that the personality barely had a good mattress and pillow to sleep.
Adesuyi enthused: “It was that plight that moved our chairman to provide the mattresses and pillows to all the inmates. We also paid all the fines and debts that the inmates were unable to pay and were being held for several years.
“There is no prisoner at Ilesa Prison that is still being held for not paying his or her fine. But we do not pay for those involved in criminal cases, except civil cases. We only want to make life meaningful for the inmates because they are human beings like us.
“We do this to instill the fear of God in them because they won’t remain in prison forever. They will come home one day and have to bounce back to life.
“We want them to be relevant to themselves, families and the society again when they come back. What we are doing today is an example of giving back to the society and we urge other privileged Nigerians to toe the same path.”
Adesuyi also disclosed intention to introduce a skill acquisition programme for the inmates to train them for woodwork, hat-making, tailoring, barbing, hair dressing, dry cleaning among others “so that they could return home as responsible citizens that would be able to fend for themselves.”
A female inmate who had her two-year-old baby tucked to her back but did not want her name in print, after joyfully collecting her own mattress and pillow, told Daily Sun: “Today is a happy day for me and my baby.
“We have not been sleeping well because we didn’t have mattress to sleep on. We used to sleep on rags and cartons. But with this new mattress and pillow, we can enjoy our sleep. I really thank the people that gave them to us. I also thank God.”
Ekene Madunagu who is being held over a kidnap case said: “I have been here since 2011, but I have not slept on mattress nor put my head on a pillow since then. I used to sleep on sacks and mat. But I thank God that this nice man gave us new mattresses and pillows. He also paid our fines. This has never happened before. Everything is like a dream to me. May God continue to bless him.”
Deputy Comptroller of Prisons, Osun State, Pius Aramude, lauded the NGO’s efforts and assured of the prison’s commitment to proper use of the items. He advocated continuity of the legacy by other kind-hearted individuals and organisations, which he described as very crucial to humanitarian services.