*Time for a new dawn in Ondo State
From Ayokunle Ikusemiju
The unprecedented humanitarian support and concern to societal and family development exhibited by the wife of the Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has been widely heard and discussed at different forum beyond the shores of Ondo State.
These unparalleled achievements by the First Lady of Ondo State within a short period of time has kept many questions coming to the minds of the people within and outside the state, like – do we still have kind-hearted personality of this type that are ready to assist anyone without any gratification or condition, without traces of favouritism or nepotism, and such coming to coast at this time of economic recession to put smiles on the faces of the people, particularly women and the underprivileged is a sign that it is time for a new dawn in Ondo State.
Franklin Roosevelt said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”, this aligns with the joy that always pervade the face of the wife of the Governor when it comes to assisting those that are vulnerable to societal challenges; who within few days in office has achieved unmatched and monumental achievements in the state, particularly among the women folks.
Rome they say was not built in a day, just as insatiable needs of mankind will continue to emanate in everyday of human life, so is the life and experience of the wife of Ondo State Governor, the pillar behind the gem that is giving Ondo State a new phase of living and dotting the landscape of the state with poaching events. Reports hence reveal that this service to humanity by Her Excellency does not just start when she became the First Lady of Ondo state, as she had and is still dotting the landscape of Oyo State, Imo State and several parts of Nigeria with monumental achievements, part of which culminated to the founding of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) in 1997, after she survived the scourge.
Many survivors of breast cancer are fond of hiding their identities and thus, the disease is identified as a killer disease, particularly in developing countries but Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu never hid her face but took the bull by the horn to fight the scourge in Nigeria. This led to international recognitions, care and support to those living with the disease and several frantic efforts to rid the scourge off Nigeria.
No doubt and without mincing words, Arabirin’s impact is being felt by the people of Ondo State, her support and interest for women and children in Ondo State is unprecedented. On assumption of office, the wife of the Governor began with the celebration of International Women’s Day in Ondo State. It utilised the down to top information flow approach in determining the concept to be utilised for the celebration of the day, as such accomplished women were randomly selected by Her Excellency and this group of women came up with a strategic plan that made a memorable celebration of International Women’s Day in Ondo State.
The event which kick started with a health walk from the Governor’s office saw the presentation of a letter requesting for gender sensitivity in the social and political realms of the country, particularly in Ondo State, thus a letter was presented to Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, requesting for 35% women inclusive governance in Ondo State.
The First Lady also used the occasion to call for change and celebration of acts of courage and determination by women who had played outstanding and exemplary roles in our society. All these, the wife of the Governor believe will assist in achieving sustainable development.
She calls for more women participation in politics to build up a formidable team of women at the decision making level, which will in turn lead to women empowerment, women climbing top of the social ladder, among others. She also used the occasion to demand for change in work place and deviation from harmful cultural norms against the girl child.
In reaction to these agitations, Mr. Governor assured that the rights of women will not be neglected and as well noted that the power to improve the society lies with the women, thus, charged them to rededicate themselves for better society.
Followed by this was the support the wife of the Governor gave sports development in the state, particularly among the young ones. A rider to this is that Ondo State is to be made the hub of Tennis game in Nigeria, through the support of the First Lady. Nduka Duke Odizor led the troika of Chief Mary Onyali and former Zamalek SC of Egypt player, Olajide Fashikun to establish a relationship to that effect.
Talent discovery among youths in six centres will start soon, so as to identify young tennis players and train them for international standing. Her Excellency has therefore implored parents, schools, stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental organisations to support sports development at all levels, because it is an enabler to gets away the family from poverty.
The Pisciculturist who is passionate about sports with particular interest in tennis, said parents must encourage children in their early stage to go into sports, as it serves as another source of income that helps the underprivileged to climb the social ladder. This laudable activities and sports loving spirit, among others led to the decoration of Her Excellency as the Grand Matron of Sunshine Queens Football Club of Ondo State.
Desperate about care for the underprivileged, the wife of the Governor donated food items and materials to orphans and vulnerable children at the Ondo State Children’s Home, where she was conducted round the facility and was able to have on the spot assessment of events. At the facility, Arabirin called for the promotion of community and humanitarian service among the people in order to propel the Home to a befitting status.
In furtherance to this, the wife of the Governor also donated items to Inmates at the Nigeria Prison, Owo, where she called for quick justice so as to vindicate the innocence of some of the suspects and guide against false accusation. This same gesture was also extended to the inmates at the Ondo State Correctional Home in Akure, where the First Lady affirmed that no child is a lost entity and expressed certainty that they can still embrace correctional measures, reformation, repositioning and fit accurately into the society.
Items donated to them include mattresses, pillows, foodstuff, first aid box, food ingredients, mosquito nets, toiletries, gas cookers, burners among others that worth millions of Naira and all these items were donated through the support of the Ondo State International Women’s Day Committee.
This land slide service to humanity was not limited to institutional homes as the Digital Mama further extended the gesture to the father of a triplet, Mr. Chukwuma Eze, who lost his job few weeks to the delivery of a triplet by his wife. The First Lady in her kind gesture decided to put smiles on the faces of the family by giving a new motorcycle to the father, cash gift and baby foods as well as pampers to ameliorate their sufferings and assist them in the upbringing of the children.
The Founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, also donated cash gifts, toiletries and food items to another set of quadruplet and triplet, who were born in the state.
The parents of the quadruplet and triplet, Mr. and Mrs. Okechukwu Paul and Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Onyeama were full of joy and appreciation to the wife of the Governor for her gesture, as they believed that the donation will in a great way change the standard of living in the family and further create a reliable source of income.
These acts of benevolence by the Grand Mother of Quadruplet and triplets in Ondo State have been studied by recognised bodies and personalities, amongst which some have deemed it fit to honour the Arabirin of Ondo State. One of them is the Akure Diocesan Mothers’ Union who honoured her as a Matron.
In her determination to increase the standard of Ondo State Women and make them accomplished personalities who are at the helms of decision making, the wife of the Governor introduced a network called “Be More” with the aim of getting the database of all women and girl-child in the state, empower them, increase their interest in agriculture and sharpen the skills and potentials of the women, so as to make them more valuable to the society and increase their numbers, ability in whatever position they are occupying.
It can therefore be agreed upon that all these conduct of the Wife of the Governor is a true reflection of her personality, interest in women and children development as well as motherly care for the people of the state and this is further entrenched when Steve Maraboli once said, “Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be you, be free”.
She believes the “Be More” will provide a systemic database to assist in the development plan of women and children in Ondo State, noting that previous ones have been done haphazardly and without proper structure, thus depriving the women of the benefits from the government.
Betty Akeredolu Aketi, The First Lady who is determined to take her kind gesture to every part of the state also promised to support the activities of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) at making the people in the riverine area feel a better lease of life. She said she would ensure the people receive the dividends of democracy, while appealing to OSOPADEC to improve primary health care in the area and ensure the people are more educated.
Despite all these activities, the wife of the Governor is determined to continually put smiles on the faces of Ondo State Women and has therefore called for equity, accessibility and affordability of health infrastructures and facilities for underprivileged women in rural communities in Nigeria.
She has also began mobilisation of the people of the State against breast cancer, ravaging the lives of women in the society and thus resulting in the birth of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, Ondo State chapter. The event which was an eye opener to women and men on how to prevent breast cancer, witnessed the call for a cancer treatment centre in Ondo State and Mr. Governor promised that this would be achieved in no distance time.
Some stakeholders have equally commented on the activities of the wife of the Governor; the former Director General of the National Sports Commission, Otunba Gbenga Elegbeleye, described her as a woman who has strong love, care and passion for the underprivileged, not only in Ondo State, but as many who come across her way in Nigeria and around the globe.
Elegbeleye explained, she is very visible and accessible in areas she’s needed, irrespective of party affiliation, maintaining that she is a humanitarian par excellence and will support her husband to ensure the people feels the good impact of the government.
Similarly, an entrepreneur, Dr. Eze–Orji Titus Chukwuma observed that her activities and achievements are unprecedented in the state, while opining the efforts of Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu for her motherly support to the orphans and vulnerable children in the State is highly appreciated by the people.
In conclusion, the impact since she came on board cannot be over emphasised, as the workaholic Pisculturist has been standing by her words to bring progress to Ondo State and give the needed support to the Governor in a way that will facilitate a new Ondo State, where people will begin to think anew and act anew.
Ikusemiju is the Press Officer to the Wife of the Governor