From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
When the wife of Anambra State governor, Chief (Mrs) Ebelechukwu Obiano introduced her Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), shortly after the inauguration of her husband, Chief Willie Obiano as the governor of the state two years ago, many regarded it as the usual conduit pipe through which state fund would be siphoned.
But two years after, the First Lady whose traditional title is Osodieme (One that works with her husband) has clearly shown that she truly has the welfare of the people at heart, especially when it comes to women.
Though CAFÉ had done a lot in alleviating the sufferings of indigent persons in the society and in pursuing issues that affect women in the state, the latest project of the NGO, “Housing for Indigent Widows,” is to say the least heart-warming and commendable.
Just few days ago, Mrs Obiano fulfilled her promise of building houses for some indigent widows when she commissioned and handed over a two-bedroom bungalow each to five widows across the state, bring to 10 the number of houses so far built for the needy by CAFÉ.
In one of the cases, the widow whom Mrs Obiano promised to build a house for, Mrs Chidili Igboamalu of Isioye Village Umunya in Oyi Local Government, died before the house could be erected, but the First Lady went ahead to build it and handed it over to the widow’s daughter.
Other beneficiaries of her gesture included: Mrs Nneuwa Nwajideofor from Enugwu Otu, Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government; Mrs Maureen Ekesiobi from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government; Mrs Chinyeaka Okeke from Amichi in Nnewi South local government and Mrs Margaret Anoyou of Amorka in Ihiala Local Government.
The late Mrs Igboamalu was reportedly excited and full of praises to God when Mrs Obiano came to her rescue in October 2015, but she suddenly passed on in December last year shortly before she was billed to receive the keys and move into her new home.
However, the governor’s wife still kept her word by handing over the keys of the completed house to the deceased daughter, Miss Blessing Igboamalu.
Blessing who could not hold her joy though with mixed feelings lifted her voice in songs of praises unto the Lord with overflowing tears of joy for the fulfillment of the promise made to her late mum by the governor’s wife to the admiration of all present.
She also paid glowing tributes and commendations to Mrs Obiano for the laudable gesture, which neighbours joined her in doing so.
Speaking, Mrs Obiano lamented the death of the beneficiary whom she regretted she never met, but was shocked to hear that she passed on.
She recalled her resolve to complete the project and hand it over to one of the daughters, stressing that she felt a sense of accomplishment with the handover taking place.
She told the Umunya people that CAFÉ was determined to support the efforts of the governor by empowering women and youths with a view to reducing unemployment.
Explaining the unique idea of building a house and a borehole, Mrs Obiano said that whereas the benefitting widow takes possession of the house, she is able to access water from the borehole but the water source was extended to several other members of the community.
According to her, a woman leader was charged with the task of managing and maintaining each borehole for a period of two years after which the management would be transferred to another woman thus serving as a source of empowerment.
Noting that about 10 boreholes have been built and commissioned alongside the houses while more are still under construction across the state, the governor’s wife outlined some of the things CAFÉ has done in the past two years to provide succour to various women and needy groups.
These included: “Housing for indigent widows in each senatorial zone, new skills and empowerment training for over 2000 women, prosthetic limbs and wheel chairs for 800 persons; free cleft lip/cleft palate surgeries, the rescue and care for mentally challenged and the building of toilets in the rural markets amongst other programmes.” She disclosed that all the charity projects by CAFÉ, were made possible with donations and the support of philanthropists.
Commending Mrs Obiano for the wonderful gesture, the member representing Oyi in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Mrs. Vivian Okadigbo, called on the people of the community to support the working governor of Anambra State for his development programmes, and the wife, for touching lives of Anambra people at all levels through laudable charitable programmes like the free house for indigent widows.
At Enugwu Otu, Aguleri border community, it was a carnival of sorts when Mrs Obiano and her entourage arrived to commission the house built for the widow, Mrs Nneuwa Nwajideofor and a water borehole for the community.
As expected the excited residents trooped out in large numbers to welcome her with joy, drums and dances, calling her by her traditional title “Osodieme.”
The people expressed appreciation that she remembered a member of the community by building a house free for her and also took the pains to visit them in the remotest part of the state.
Addressing them, Mrs Obiano told them that she was aware that the new road and bridge connecting the community and the rest of the state would soon be commissioned since work on it had reached advanced stage.
Her words: “When I came here the first time over two years ago during the election campaign, I crossed-over with canoe and rode on bike, but today I am glad that we came by road because our governor has fulfilled his election promise to the people. I also made observations then about your condition of living that is why we are assisting with a house for the widow and borehole for the community.”
She urged the people not to relent in their support for the governor since more development would be channeled to their community in the future.
She also called on the women to show interest in what was happening especially in her office where they can register to be trained in various skills after which they would be empowered with materials to practice the trade.
The traditional ruler of Mkpunando Otu Aguleri, Igwe Alex Edoziuno, speaking on behalf of the community, thanked Governor Obiano for constructing a bridge and the road that would link the community with the rest of the state.
He equally commended the governor’s wife for supporting the husband by taking care of women and the less privileged, and assured that they would be firm in their support of the governor and his government.
Commissioning the two-bedroom bungalow built for Mr and Mrs Nwoye Ekesiobi at Ifite Village, Ogbunike, Mrs Obiano who was grateful to God for the completion of the house promised that CAFÉ would take care of funding the education of the children of the couple. Before the intervention of the governor’s wife through CAFE, the couple lived under a dilapidated mud house with thatched roof with six young children none of whom could attend school because their father had grown frail and unable to fend for them.
Handing over the keys to the Amichi house to a very emotional Mrs Chinyeaka Okeke who shed tears of joy, Mrs Obiano told the crowd that CAFÉ Housing for Indigent widows’ project was not influenced or done on the basis of political party affiliation or close associates.
“I am meeting the beneficiary for the first time today just to hand over the keys to her house so that she can live better with her children. The house is free and there are no strings attached,” she said.
The Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Rita Maduagwu, who was present in her reaction said: “I am so thrilled that this is happening in my constituency, Nnewi South. I haven’t seen a governor’s wife who seeks out indigent widows to build house for them without even knowing who they are. Mrs Obiano is a blessing to her husband and Anambra State. She is Osodieme in action and deeds, and I pray for God to continue to protect and guide them.”
At Umuokpara village, Amorka, Mrs Obiano told the community that she came to ensure that the widow, Mrs Margaret Anoyou and her children finally had a befitting house to live in saying, “We came to Amorka to display the love we have for our state and people. It is a thing of joy that our governor who recently marked two years in office is being compared with others who have spent longer time in office. It is a confirmation that he is doing a good job. I believe that when God elevates you, He expects you to touch lives whether you are in government or not,” she said.
Responding, the beneficiary, Mrs Anoyou, who was full of thanks and praises as she received the keys to her new home, prayed God to bless the governor’s wife.
An equally astonished neighbour, Mr Edmund Okeke could not hold back his surprise as he said, “I came here to observe and confirm that this is indeed true. I am transfixed in awe at such a stroke of good fortune for a woman who had lost all hope only to be approached with such a gift with no strings attached. This governor’s wife is God-sent.”
CAFÉ Housing for Indigent Widows is a programme conceived by the wife of the governor to assist indigent widows who do not have a decent roof over their heads in Anambra State.
The projects are strategically spread across the three senatorial zones of the state with beneficiaries selected on the basis of those adjudged to be most in need in their communities.
So far, 10 houses have been built by Mrs Obiano for widows across the state and many more are under construction.