Ebelechukwu Obiano: A needless shot at a good heart

By Sunny Igboanugo on 22/01/2020

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For all her glamour, influence and personality Maryam Babangida brought to the office of the First Lady of Nigeria, the Better Life for Nigerian Women (BLFW), more popularly known as Better Life, was her forte in the eight years she spent with her husband in Nigeria’s seat of power.

Before her, the culture the likes of Flora Azikiwe and Victoria Gowon, promoted by their public presence and contribution to the activities of governance, was almost dying. I’m not sure how many Nigerians actually heard of the wives of Olusegun Obasanjo, as Head of State, Shehu Shagari or Muhammadu Buhari, Babangida’s immediate predecessors.

Since the late gorgeous and vivacious wife of IBB reestablished that tradition by etching it in the minds of the public as a legacy, those coming after her including wives of state governors, have not left it out of their government house menu, though the offerings have come in different packages, some hot, others cold.

So, it is not out of place for Ebelechukwu Obiano, on assumption of duty with her husband at the Government House, Agu Awka, the seat of power in Anambra State, in 2014, to establish her own pet project. So, came, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE). However, those who know say the CAFE was simply an adumbration of what the governor’s wife had been doing over the years even as a single laday, which never stopped when she eventually got married. In other words, being in government merely offered her the opportunity to formalise her philanthropic side. CAFE, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), was simply for influence, boost and more impetus.

So, from merely sharing her personal possessions and that of her family with the less-privileged as occasions demanded and as much as she could muster, the CAFE, was the bigger picture, with the poor and the needy the major target.

Through it she intervenes in some critical areas of family life. A compendium, showing the profile, indicated that as at December 2018, it had delivered 20 two-bedroom bungalows for 20 extremely poor women in the three Senatorial Zones of Anambra State, 15 CAFE model toilets in various markets to promote hygiene in the markets in particular and rural communities in general, funded skills acquisition training for over 4,000 women and youths provided free prosthetic limbs over to 1,600 physically challenged, and funded surgeries for 50 cleft-lipped children. She also funded the care treatment and discharge of 62 mentally challenged inmates at the 77-bed home built for them at Nteje, and run by CAFE in collaboration with Ministry of Women Affairs in the state.

But strangely, this is the same woman that has come under a bombardment of intense criticisms of recent. What was her sin? The immediate spark was a picture, which appeared in the social media, showing her distributing some gift items to some “less privileged” people in the US during the last Christmas. Why must she take Anambra State money abroad, when there are millions of her people dying in abject poverty? the mantra rang.

But from what I picked up, the First Lady, was actually indisposed during the period and took time out to see her doctors in the US, where she resided with her husband before the Anambra job. Because it coincided with the Yuletide, and in keeping with her tradition and the injunction to Christians to share with the poor at Christmas, she simply moved into the streets where she could find the poor and perform this religious duty. That was all.

And what did she share? – old family clothing, food items, kitchen utensils and other personal effects. That was what threatened to bring the roof down. That translated to sharing the money of Anambra State in the US. There was no record of building any structure or paying medical fees. Just old clothes and food to the poor! Phew!

Now, the pertinent questions to ask her virulent traducers: Is there any difference between twitching stomachs in streets of London, Brooklyn, Ilesha, Jalingo, Kano or Awka? Even with the perception that the streets in Europe and America are painted with gold and the land filled with milk and honey, do they believe that there is no hungry stomach in those countries? Was Mother Theresa of Calcutta originally from India where she did her great philanthropic work? What if the Good Samaritan, had considered the nationality of that wounded victim before deciding that act, which has become the locus classicus for showing kindness?

To me, amongst the many successes of the CAFE project, two cases stand out, as classic. The building of those houses for widows is one of them. You need to see the before and after pictures of those abodes to picture the transformation in the lives of these women. Imagine moving from a pigsty to modern buildings complete with electricity and running water.

Image result for ebelechukwu obiano reunites mentally deranged woman with her children

You thought that was quite phenomenal, until 72-year-old woman, Mrs. Rose Anene comes into the picture. This woman was said to have become mentally-challenged way back in 1983, following an alleged spell cast on her by her assailants. So, for 35 years, she remained in that condition until she was finally cured at the Nteje mental facility after she was brought in from Lagos.

The catch! Believed to be a Yoruba woman, because that was the only language she spoke, her identity as Igbo, was revealed when she eventually regained her traction. She was later to give a lead to her family that ultimately brought her together with her five, now grown up children, who never set eyes on her after her disappearance.

Now, this event, which ended with total rehabilitation package of the woman at her Umudioka Village in Awka, the state capital by the First Lady, complete with a sewing machine, clothing materials and cash to start a tailoring business, is one that could easily have catapulted Mrs. Obiano unto the world stage, were it in other climes.

But did it? Instead, her traducers, were more interested that she offered food to sedate the itching of hungry bellies and gave disused clothing to people facing freezing cold, all because they belong to another clime. Still wondering why we are here in Nigeria?

Of course that is what happens when mundane issues are elevated high and above worthy and compelling human endeavours, which ought to be the essence of the existence of man in the first place, moreso when it is driven by very sinister and mischievous intents.

I gathered that much of the money the First Lady uses for the project is from appeals to the surfeit of billionaires in Anambra State and beyond and that the only financial input from the government is her husband’s monthly salary, which he decided to donate to the project, of course using the major capital of First Lady influence. 

Yes, there must be politics. Yet, I don’t believe that everything must follow that route. Even in politics, part of the human heart must be weaned and reserved for the purpose of man as God’s creation - love.

Even if Mrs. Obiano were a modern-day Jezebel, a heart that harbours the ideals of such open acts of charity and pursues it with such demonstrable evidence of success, is good enough for humanity, regardless. Demanding more is seeking perfection, which no mortal has.

Besides, if the saying there is no art to find the mind's construction in the face, according to William Shakespeare, remains a truism, it would be foolhardy to place rumours about the Anambra First Lady above what is tangible and verifiable, such as these great achievements and the intents behind them.

Yes, for the less informed, misled and those acting on pure misinformation, they may be forgiven. But what about those who would rather shoot down this aspect of her work, because she is the wife of Governor Willy Obiano, a mortal political enemy? There is only one word for it – Tragedy.            



Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on January, 22 2020

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