By Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Residents of Abuja metropolis were elated on Wednesday as they benefited from the COVID-19 outreach programme of the Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation (OUKF), a non-profit and non-governmental/business organisation.
The foundation, which holds a special sonsultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, distributed COVID-19 prevention items to residents of Abuja communities.
According to the foundation, the gesture was in line with its health objectives to complement the efforts of the Federal Government in containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Items distributed included hand sanitizers, soaps, facemasks, toilet roll and other goods to residents of areas, such Kubwa, Utako and Nyanya.
The foundation’s team, comprising staff and volunteers, led by its executive secretary, Rev. Mrs. Jemaimah Ola Kalu, a retired permanent secretary, initially arrived at the Kuje Correctional Centre where they met the centre’s officials, who received the items from them on behalf of the inmates.
Speaking during the exercise, Mrs. Jemaimah warned that COVID restrictions, facemasks and sanitizers would still be needed to combat the pandemic despite the availability of vaccines. She noted that the deadly virus was still very much around and would not disappear so fast.
She also said, due to the harsh economic situation of the country most people cannot afford to sustain buying COVID prevention items, hence, the need for the foundation’s philanthropic initiative.
She said, ” We are in Kuje to touch the lives of the inmates in this correctional centre, as a foundation. We believe that basic health is the right of everyone. We are also optimistic that the items will be distributed and utilised judiciously. The items have been given to them and the staff have also assured us that the items will get to them.
“We are also distributing the items to people in Nyanya, Utako and Kubwa Markets. The foundation is focused on helping the needy and vulnerable in society.”
Receiving the items on behalf of the inmates, officer in charge of the custodial centre, DCC Agada Gabriel, appreciated the foundation for its philanthropy. He assured the team that the items would be shared among the inmates. Gabriel maintained that the management of the facility would not relent it’s COVID-19 protocols, as part of supporting government in containing the scourge.
He also commended the chairman of the foundation, Chief Whip of the 9th Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, for the initiative, stating that the former governor was renown for his philanthropy around the country.
Explaining the reason behind selecting the nation’s capital to commence the scheme, project manager, OUKF, Mr. Iheaka Iheaka, said the exercise would be executed in other states, but Abuja, being the capital and host of the foundation’s headquarters, was chosen as the pilot state to begin the programme. Iheaka listed Utako Market, Nyanya Park and Kubwa Market as areas to be covered during the two-day exercise.
In recent years, the OUKF has been involved in numerous empowerment programmes, giving free palm seedlings to farmers, free medical outreach, peace initiatives, youth empowerment summits, scholarship awards, cultural/tourism promotion activities, and other social investment programmes, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.
The Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation also introduced a petty trading loan and empowerment scheme in Abia State. The scheme comprises loans and vehicle advance to beneficiaries.