WRITTEN BY EMEKA ARINZE
Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, Osodieme, is by all standards, the icon of our time.
The assumption of office by her husband, Governor Willie Obiano, on March 17, 2014, unwittingly thrust her forward for the role of first lady. She assumed the responsibility and within a very short-while, she acquitted herself creditably as an icon and beacon of hope, to the admiration of many.
Convinced that “whenever, wherever life is touched, government has succeeded,” Mrs. Obiano strove to support her husband, the governor, in the delivery of good governance to Ndi Anambra with the programmes of her NGO, Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ). To date, CAFÉ, which prides itself as a beacon of hope and empowerment for the less privileged, the physically challenged and indigent widows, has provided training on various skills with start-up capital to over two thousand, two hundred and fifty women and youths.
Other achievements of CAFE include; presentation of food items, clothing and other materials to women; building of many houses for indigent widows; construction and handover of boreholes in communities across the state; sponsorship of free surgery for 50 children with cleft lip and cleft palate congenital mouth disorders, free prosthetic limbs to over two thousand physically challenged, wheel chairs for over one thousand persons, and CAFÉ Market toilets in rural markets and public places to promote hygiene and dignity of market women as well as eradicate open defecation.
All these and more prompted UNICEF and the European Union to crown Chief Mrs obiano as Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Ambassador in 2016. And yesterday, Her Excellency equally bagged the 2017 Zik Prize for Humanitarian Services. Other achievements that prompted the awards are Osodieme’s skill acquisition programme for women and youths in which she donated items such as sewing machines, clippers, power generating sets, hair dressers etcetera to them. Last week, she made good her nickname-OSODIEME when she donated executive chairs and sofas plus other items to the Anambra Broadcasting Service to facilitate its operations. This is in support of her husband’s transformational provision of democracy dividends in ABS, a station, hitherto, forgotten by previous administrations in the state, despite its mouthy services to them.
It would be recalled that Governor Obiano, having succeeded in building the most technologically-advanced radio and television stations in Africa, had assured that the channel must go digital in less than three months and that it must do 24-hour broadcasting, which has to be available on DSTV. Obiano equally said that work would soon begin on the construction of tall and elegant buildings in ABS.
Whereas Governor Obiano has performed exceedingly well in the past four years, his wife, Osodieme, who has no constitutional mandate and no funding for her programmes, has equally brought to bear her abilities as an Amazon, a beacon of hope and great mobilizer. Worthy of note is her attraction of support from non-indigenes and prominent sons and daughters of the state from different political persuasions, who freely donate in support of CAFE’s charitable projects.
Quite recently, in spite of her tight schedule, she authored an interesting biography of her husband, Governor Willie Obiano. No doubt, Akpokuodike encourages his wife to excel. First, he gave her an office space where she holds regular interactions with groups who visit to share concerns on issues of interest to them and the state. The direct interface has allowed Osodieme to engage soft issues, concerns and multifarious challenges thrown at the door-step of government by concerned citizens.
Thankfully, the office of the wife of the governor, through regular interface with the women-folk, has become a vehicle and feedback mechanism to the governor. Apart from regular consultations, Mrs. Obiano works steadfastly to ensure that Anambra women and various groups feel the impact of government so as to eventually contribute their quota to the socio-economic development of the state.
This is the thinking behind her resolve to regularly tour the 179 communities in Anambra where she interact, listen to challenges and shower indigent widows, physically challenged, less privileged persons and children with gifts. It is also heartening that Mrs. Obiano is helping Anambra women surmount the prevailing economic quagmire by regularly hosting each group to a parley to lift their mood. Seizing the moments, she highlighted numerous achievements of the governor and shared morale boosting banters, laced with exhortations to be strong in both individual and collective quest for a better Anambra. Such is the impact of Mrs. Obiano as a beacon of hope, easily the acknowledged voice, not just for women, but for the voiceless, indigent widows, the physically challenged, less privileged children, youth and the rest of Ndi Anambra.
Chief Mrs Obiano, indeed, the cap roundly fits you. Congratulations, Osidieme!