•Ebonyi’s gov’s wife spreads joy, succour to the needy, vulnerable women, children, others

 

From Magnus Eze, Enugu

 

•Outreach programme for women, children

 

The humanitarian activities of the wife of Ebonyi State governor, Mrs. Mary-Maudline Nwifuru, are not such that could go unnoticed. She has since the flag-off of her special purpose vehicle outfit, christened, Better Health for Rural Women, Children and Internally Displaced Persons Foundation (BERWO), continued to transform the lives of the downtrodden like Mother Teresa.

 

•Family of blind people with community leaders

In barely one year as First Lady, Mrs. Nwifuru has taken the gospel of better life for rural women, children and men, too, to all the nooks and crannies of the state.

The compassionate mother has demonstrated a deep passion for the well-being of women, children, girls, the oppressed and the needy.

Her initiatives are clearly in line with the People’s Charter of Needs of the present administration in the state, led by her spouse, Governor Francis Nwifuru.

 

•Mrs. Nwifuru

Her undying passion to alleviate the plight of the downtrodden, creating awareness to end gender-based violence, advocating for victims, and supporting second-chance education for citizens of the state, especially those in the rural areas, gave rise to her pet project, BERWO.

It would be practically impossible to capture in this single writeup the modest and life-changing achievements of Mrs. Nwifuru, using BERWO, in less than one year.

 

•Beneficiaries of BERWO healthcare programme

For instance, she brought succour to a blind widow, Nkechi Clement, and her five children who are equally blind in Oshiegbe Community, Etegudigwe village, Ezza North LGA. Aside from caring for them, a two-bedroom bungalow she is building for the displaced woman and her children is almost complete.

“I had the pleasure to work with the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Felicia Nwankpuma, as well as BERWO team, led by Dr. Nkechi Emma Echiegu, through whom I announced the award of scholarship to all the children as they would be immediately enrolled in the school for the blind.

“It was quite an emotional experience to watch the family show their joy and express their gratitude to my husband and I for our philanthropic gesture,” Mrs. Nwifuru said.

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She had also facilitated the release of 53 male and female inmates of Abakaliki Correction Centre. The inmates would have celebrated last Christmas in prison but for the wife of the governor’s intervention. She gave the freed inmates N20,000 cash each as fare to their various homes afterwards.

She disclosed that she discovered that some of the inmates who were convicted and given the option of fine before they would be released could not afford the fines.

Explaining further on her visit to the correctional centre on October 13, 2023, she said her attention was also drawn to another category of inmates: those who were granted bail with conditions but were unable to perfect their bail conditions.

“Moved by the condition of these inmates and the sense of duty as the mother of this state and worsened by overcrowding of this centre, I brought it to the knowledge of my husband, the father of the state, for his esteemed intervention. He didn’t hesitate one date in giving his fatherly support by undertaking to pay the court fines and requirement of the perfection of the bail and condition so as to secure the release of the inmates from the custodial centre,” she said.

One of the hallmarks of Mrs. Nwifuru is her commitment to improving healthcare accessibility and quality.  She was actively involved in the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week in the state, creating awareness on the need for mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding. She has also championed numerous healthcare programmes that benefited vulnerable citizens, one of which was the de-worming programme at Oferekpe Izzi LGA where children were given medicines and palliatives. She officially opened the Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Centre at the National Obstetric Fistula Centre (NOFIC) in Abakaliki.

In collaboration with the Ebonyi State Ministry of Health, she organized the 2023 Cancer Awareness Week; the programme enhanced consciousness about breast and cervical cancer among women and girls in the state. She had equally flagged off the 2023 measles vaccine campaign.

Still on healthcare, she enrolled 100 sickle cell warriors in the scheme of the Ebonyi State Health Insurance Agency (EBSHIA). From creating awareness in the state to advocating for better healthcare infrastructure, her efforts have already led to improved health outcomes for many.

Recently, she sponsored free medical surgery for 130 scrotal hernia patients in the state. Daily Sun gathered that her pet project paid N25m surgical bills for the scrotal hernia patients across the entire 13 local government areas of the state.

Relatedly, Mrs. Nwifuru, in conjunction with the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, also provided free camping and vaccination for human papilloma virus (HPV) sufferers. Young girls between nine and 15 years benefited from the gesture.

She described HPV as a deadly disease that causes cervical cancer in women and cancer in men.

“It is a deadly disease that affects the neck or the womb of the female but it is highly preventable through vaccination,” she enthused. 

Her interventions in the area of education are quite laudable. In advocating for quality education for all, she partnered the Office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on Mass Literacy and launched the 2023 mass literacy programme in the state. At the event, she admonished local government chairpersons to supervise mass literacy programme in their various councils, emphasizing the importance of education which will enable the students to pursue their dreams and contribute to the development of the state.

Ebonyi State governor’s wife is also working to see that students gain admission into the university without having to waste years at home because of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). So, she is currently in partnership with the Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB), which is running in Ebonyi State University.

In community development, Mrs. Nwifuru has not been found wanting. She has actively engaged communities and worked side by side with them on projects that address their specific needs. She partnered with Eudora Ibiam Gender Centre to educate rural dwellers on how to market and distribute their agricultural produce in order to avoid waste and increase their income. Various seminars have been held in the LGAs to promote environmental sustainability.

Interestingly, Mrs. Nwifuru has also shown remarkable leadership skills in crisis management and response. Working closely with the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, she has consistently provided immediate response and succour to women and children who were affected by all forms of abuse. She ensured the completion of a remand home in Abakaliki to ensure that minors who committed offences were kept in a good environment.

One other area where she has excelled is in being a vocal voice for critical issues such as speaking against gender-based violence and human trafficking, gender equality, healthcare access, and child welfare. She is working with development partners to ensure that better environment is provided for Ebonyi women and children.

Shortly after coming into office last year, she organized a sensitization programme to educate people on the dangers of gender-based violence and child trafficking. She celebrated the 2023 World Day Against Human Trafficking with a road walk around Abakaliki metropolis to enlighten the people on the need to stop giving out their children to people outside the state to train to avoid maltreatment and trafficking.

For her, protecting children from any form of abuse and exploitation is a top priority.

She had declared at the event: “We believe that children should have a voice in matters that affect them. To promote this, we have established children’s parliament in the state where young people can express their views and participate in decision-making processes. We also organize regular forums and workshops to educate children about their rights and encourage them to be active citizens. By empowering children to speak up, we ensure that their perspectives are considered in our policies and programs.

“Looking ahead, we plan to expand our educational programmes to reach even more children, particularly in rural areas. We are also working on increasing access to healthcare by building more health centres and providing health services.”

It is not surprising, therefore, that Mrs. Nwifuru will be honoured with the African Iconic Women Recognition Award as the ‘Best Performing First Lady’ in Nigeria in Abuja, this week.

A business mogul in the state, Christian Asaga Nwali, described the accolades as a testament to her unwavering commitment, exceptional leadership, and tireless dedication to the welfare and empowerment of the people.

He said the Ebonyi governor’s wife has through her pet project significantly contributed to the betterment of the state and society, noting that her vision and compassionate approach have inspired many and have brought about positive and lasting change.

“Her exemplary performance sets a high standard and serves as a beacon of hope and progress for all,” he said.


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