By Henry Umahi, Head, Insight & Investigations
THE saying that behind any successful man is a supportive woman certainly rings true for Mrs. Ebelechukwu Veronica Obiano, wife of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. Over the years, she has remained a formidable pillar to her husband in every situation. As her husband’s supporter and confidant, she is affectionately called Osodieme.
You cannot do a complete assessment of the performance of the Obiano administration without making reference to Ebelechukwu’s contribution. Many call her Mama Anambra, not because of old age or simply because of the office of the First Lady she occupies, but because of her motherly disposition towards all.
Take this from Mrs. Obiano: “Whenever and wherever life is touched, government has succeeded.”
Indeed, she has reinvented the office of the First Lady in Anambra State, giving it a human face. While she is an advocate of the wellbeing of the whole family, she pays special attention to women, knowing that a boost in an average woman’s economic status will ultimately lead to a better life for society.
On August 1, 2014, she set up a non-governmental organisation, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE). About 5,000 women and youths have benefitted from the initiative through skills acquisition programmes and free start-up capital for the beneficiaries to prove their mettle in entrepreneurship.
As at October 2019, CAFE had built 28 bungalows for some indigent widows in Anambra State. While handing over the keys of one of the buildings to a widow, Mrs. Regina Maduka, at Umuru village, Nnobi, Idemili South Local Government Area, Mrs. Obiano said: “It gives me joy to see poor widows smile because they now own decent bungalows.” She promised to build more houses before her husband’s tenure ends.
To address the problem of open defecation, she constructed 15 modern toilets with boreholes in some markets in the state. For this, the European Union and UNICEF made her Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) ambassador.
Mentally challenged persons have also benefitted from CAFE even as it sponsored surgeries for 100 persons with cleft lip and palate issues.
Mrs. Obiano has a degree in History and International Studies from Lagos State University (LASU), among other academic accomplishments.
For putting smiles on the faces of women, children, youths and vulnerable members of society, Mrs. Obiano clinches the diadem as The Sun Most Supportive First Lady in Nigeria, 2019.