Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has described his wife, Ebele-chukwu, as the strong pillar behind his successes as a private citizen and as a governor, saying The Sun Most Supportive First Lady award conferred on her was apt.
He said from what her wife has done with her pet project – Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE), she could win Most Supportive First Lady award more than once.
Mrs Obiano is among the 29 recipients of the 2019 The Sun Awards whose Lockdown Edition celebration is billed to hold before the end of the year.
Speaking shortly after the presentation of the letter notifying Mrs Obiano of the award at a colorful ceremony at Anambra Lodge, Awka, the governor said his wife has always lived for the people.
He said he was elated that The Sun, with a rich history of objectivity and integrity, has chosen his wife for the top honour.
The governor said: “Let me thank, once more, The Sun newspapers. I don’t need to tell you in greater detail what my wife has been doing but I must say that she is really an Amazon. She is a great support to me. To be a good governor, you need a reliable partner that will support you to get those things done. And my wife has been a great support to me.”
Obiano said the charity works of his wife did not start when he became governor about seven years ago but had been on long before he took over the reins of power in the state.
He said: “If you put your crystalball on her, she will wear the crown one more time before we leave office. What we are here for is to honour my wife because of her charity work. Her charity work started many years. As a banker, I had great suits, great shoes and what have you.
“Most Monday, I would discover that some suit had gone. My wife will pack two or three boxes of suits and shoes with my daughter, go to the less privileged people and share those items to them. She will tell me that I didn’t need those items and ask when last I wore them. It may probably be nine months earlier.
“She would say if I really needed them, it shouldn’t have been nine months ago I wore them. She will give them out.
“So, it started long ago. And each time she does it, she takes my little daughter who is now a medical doctor along. And even as a medical doctor, she is still doing it. She has inculcated good culture in them.”
In her acceptance speech, Mrs Obiano thanked The Sun management for the honour and said it would spur her to do more.
She also thanked everybody who had helped her to actualise her target with CAFE. She particularly hailed her husband, Gov Obiano, for his support.
“I am highly delighted to be honoured by The Sun newspapers. They did honour my husband some years back as the Best Governor of the Year. I am really elated because I don’t advertise what I do. We have been doing these things. I didn’t just start it today. I started it way back.”
Earlier, the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, while presenting the letter of nomination to the First Lady, explained that her selection was based on merit.
He said: “Your selection for this award was based on merit because of your immense support to your husband, His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano and your achievements in women and youths empowerment.
“Right from 2014, when His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, assumed office as governor of Anambra State, you have remained a formidable pillar to him.
“Through your support and empowerment programme, you have added verve to your husband’s government, explaining why you are affectionately called ‘Osodieme.”
He continued “You have shown milk of human kindness in your conduct and action, which underlined what you once said: ‘Whenever and wherever life is touched, government has succeeded.’
“As an advocate of the wellbeing of the family, you have paid special attention to women, knowing that a boost in an average woman’s economic status will ultimately lead to better life for society.
“Six month after your husband came to power, you set up a non-governmental organisation – the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE)- on August 1, 2014. So far, no fewer than 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.
“By October 2019, CAFE had built not less than 28 bungalows for some indigent widows in Anambra State.
“To address the problem of open defecation, you have constructed scores of modern toilets with borehole in markets in the state. For this, the European Union and UNICEF made you the Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) Ambassador.
“Also, mentally challenged persons have benefitted from CAFE, as you have sponsored surgeries for 100 persons with cleft lip and palate issues.
“It is for these reasons and many others that the Board of Editors of The Sun Publishing Limited has chosen Her Excellency as the Most Supportive First Lady for 2019.”
The MD said the Most Supportive First Lady award is given to that governor’s wife who has supported her husband’s government by evolving a programme that has added verve and thereby giving hope for a greater Nigeria.