From Magnus Eze, Enugu
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has taken succour to the nooks and crannies of the 260 wards in the 17 local government areas of Enugu State without much ado.
A charity organisation, Kwusike Foundation, derived from the minister’s name, Geoffrey Kwusike Jideofor Onyeama, last week, rolled out palliatives to the government and people of Enugu State to help in ameliorating the pains of the coronavirus pandemic.
The foundation donated COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), infrared non-contact thermometers, safety goggles, surgical masks, and cartons of hand sanitizers to the state government.
It also distributed relief materials, mainly bags of rice, beans, noodles and other provisions, to vulnerable groups, including some indigent members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
On Tuesday, May 5, the foundation stepped down the distribution of the items to the community level, beginning with Eke, the minister’s place of birth. Daily Sun gathered that the distribution continued even as at last weekend at the 17 LGAs of the state.
In a highly restricted ceremony, in line with the COVID-19 safety protocols, on Sunday, May 3, at the Okpara Square, Independence Layout, Enugu, the minister was emphatic that the palliatives were without political consideration.
He warned those in charge of the distribution to ensure that the items got to the designated targets, the needy and vulnerable.
In his remarks, Onyeama said almost everybody in Nigeria has become vulnerable on account of the ravaging COVID-19, stating that, from the political, business, religious and other working class persons, the virus had touched one way or the other.
Aware of how the pandemic has affected everybody in terms of income, investment and several other things, he stressed that overcoming it required the support of every Nigerian.
Represented by an APC chieftain in the state, Chief Okey Ogbodo, the minister stated that the federal government has continued to do all in its ability to combat the pandemic, noting that the gradual easing of the lockdown was a clear indication that the efforts were yielding positive fruits.
He urged Nigerians to continue to show love and accommodate one another in these trying times, adding that the foundation would continue to “create smiles on the faces of vulnerable people.” He stated that there was no better way of combating the virus than observing social distancing and abiding by highest hygiene protocols.
Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi, represented the state government at the event. Agujiobi, who received the items on behalf of government, said the medical items would go a long way in assisting the state overcome the ravaging virus, pointing out that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has demonstrated capacity to overcome the virus.
“Onyeama has shown that he cares for Enugu people. Enugu State government is proud of the minister. We can’t thank the minister enough; Enugu State government is solidly behind the minister and would always support him,” he said.
Elder statesman, Chief Richard Ozobu, commended the minister for the lifeline to Enugu people, especially for ensuring that the distribution was devoid of religious and political colorations.
Executive director of Kwusike Foundation, Chief Flavour Eze, told Daily Sun that the organisation was founded to address socio-economic issues affecting Enugu State in particular, and beyond.
He emphasised that the foundation “will still continue with or without Onyeama in office” as minister.
According to him, the Kwusike Foundation has been involved in boosting capacity in basic education in Enugu State: “We’ve done a lot of projects and we still want to do more. We kicked off our programme with training of teachers in Enugu town. We’ve done training for teachers in Udi and Ezeagu. We need to impact on education; that is the primary thing we are doing. We’ve actually given out materials in primary schools in Enugu. We’ve given out writing materials to them and we are hoping to provide desks and chairs very soon for some primary schools that are lacking those items. We are hoping to provide writing boards for some schools in Enugu too.”
Eze said that the body has also provided succour to large number of widows in the state and would soon roll out empowerment packages for women and youths including the girl child.
In addition, he said that the foundation would distribute sanitary pads to girls that could not afford sanitary pads in rural communities of the state; adding that this would come along with sexual reproductive education and hygiene.
He explained: “We have this programme that is called ‘Pad a girl’. We are trying to reach young girls that are in the rural areas that cannot afford sanitary pads. We are going to distribute pads to them for free. Then another programme we actually have is what we call ‘lighting up the rural areas’ with solar street lights to curb crime. We have done this in some parts and we are continuing. By this week, we are going to light up another location in Eke. We have done in Udi town, when we complete Eke, then we go to do Nsukka. We’ve picked our location. Once we finish, we are also going over to Enugu East senatorial zone.”
The Executive Director disclosed that the organisation’s flagship empowerment programme in partnership with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) will give skills to no fewer than 800 persons in the state while 1000 people will benefit from the micro credit scheme.
He indicated that the selection process was almost concluded, but would continue immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic because according to him, “This loan can go a long way to help our people to start up something.”