Senator Osita Izunaso
THE ART OF HUMAN KINDNESS WAS BROUGHT TO THE FRONT BURNER RECENTLY WHEN SENATOR OSITA IZUNASO WHO REPRESENTED IMO WEST SENATORIAL ZONE IN THE SENATE FROM 2007 TO 2011CELEBRATED HIS BIRTHDAY WITH DISABLED PERSONS BY LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR A DISABLED CENTRE IN IMO STATE, PRESENTATION OF SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS AND MOBILE AIDS TO THE SPECIAL CITIZENS. AMBY UNEZE WRITES
For the past few years now, every October 30 has become an important date for Senator Osita Izunaso, a former Senator his family, friends and well-wishers. At this particular date, he marks his birthday, but had not failed to use the occasion to throw lavish party for the disabled persons in the society. The party is usually accompanied with several mobile aids such as wheel chairs, clutches, brail machines, hearing aid, tricycles and above all scholarship awards and sponsorship to Jerusalem for pilgrimage.
The Senator over the past seven years has not hidden his passion for the disabled persons as he has regularly gathered them most times they number over 2000 at public place usually the Sam Mbakwe Conference Hall of the Imo Concorde Hotel where they would be treated like kings. His organisation, the Kpakpando Foundation for the Physically Challenged Persons (KFPCP) has been established to formulate policies for the annual event, so that at every event, the foundation would dispatch buses to all the 27 local government areas to convey these special citizens to Owerri and back. As an annual ritual, every physically challenged person in the state looks forward to October 30 for another opportunity to be ferried to Owerri to have a ‘handshake’ with Izunaso and his special invitees who would always want to identify with his noble cause.
Izunaso will not easily forget the former Director General of the Foundation, who was a former Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Njoku, who worked hard to nurture and realize the objectives of the foundation. Njoku who is currently the Director General of the Imo Foundation, an arm of the Imo State Government that oversees the welfare of the less-privileged, especially indigent people in the state no doubt gave the foundation a human face for her love for the physically challenged as well.
It is gratifying to note that since two years after his exit as an elected office holder, he had remained resolute in the promotion of the well-being of the physically challenged persons. Just as the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko who was the Special Guest of Honour at this year’s ceremony aptly put “it is difficult to see anybody who is out of position to do what Izunaso has done today, by remembering and using his personal resources to cater for the well-being of the disabled persons in the state”. He however promised to take home the message to his state.
Under such circumstance, how would anybody describe Izunaso: as one who is trying to convince the electorate for vote? Or someone looking for political appointment and wants to sell himself? But all the above questions are far from the issue. The issue is that Izunaso and family members are so convinced that the welfare of the disabled persons would add joy to their lives and therefore bring them upliftment in the sight of the Creator.
This year’s event looked special in the sense that a new dimension was added to it. This time, the ground breaking ceremony for a building of a special school for the physically-challenged at New Owerri, just opposite the Imo Specialist Hospital took place. At the brief ceremony which was performed by the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, in company of his Sokoto State counterpart, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, the former senate president, Ken Nnamani, former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and some members of the National Assembly, Izunaso promised to complete the first phase of the building project within one year.
Chairman of the occasion, Nnamani said that Izunaso would continue to receive accolades for choosing to rehabilitate and empower the physically challenged persons for the past seven years, adding that this great passion of his would not only earn him world acclamation, but a place in God’s heart. He deserves a great mention in the country. It was not political. It is a record setting because Izunaso started this programme seven years ago while he was in the National Assembly and today his is no longer there but he still keeps fate with it. With the feat, Izunaso has carved a niche for himself. It is therefore a big challenge to all of us and the government of Imo State to see that the light does not go off”, Nnamani stated.
Okorocha who was the chief host of the seventh annual celebration of the Foundation commended Izunaso for remembering to use his resources to uplift the living standards of the disabled persons, saying his effort shall not go unnoticed. The Imo governor use the occasion to warn politicians from the state to emulate Izunaso’s gesture, as it would be the criteria henceforth for intending politicians to show what they have done for the state before seeking any political office.
“I congratulate the initiators of Kpakpando Foundation for this contribution towards humanity. I believe that any effort at helping the physically challenged is an effort in the rightly direction. To us in Imo state, we consider our physically challenged brothers and sisters as special citizens whose potentials must be harnessed for the betterment of the society”, the governor observed.
Sokoto State Governor, Wamakko stated that he was shocked to see one man throughout his political life, who is out of office and still remembers the poor and the needy, especially the physically challenged persons in the society.
Appreciating the good work of mercy, the Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha said, “I congratulate you and the Board of Kpakpando Foundation for the Physically Challenged Persons on this year’s Kpakpando Foundation charity event and first humanity awards”. The Foundation which was inaugurated in 2009, according to Ihedioha have grown to become a reputable and recognised charity organisation, which the physically challenged persons look forward to every year.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim congratulated Izunaso on the “bold initiative of a good foundation for the greater benefit of mankind,” expressing pleasure that the foundation has grown from strength to strength since its inception.
Izunaso had promised that the Foundation School for the Physically challenged Persons would take off by next year, while announcing donation of sewing machines, computer sets, gas cookers, water purifiers, mobile aids as well as scholarship to 12 persons who passed their Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and two persons to be sponsored by the foundation to pilgrimage in Jerusalem this year.
In her reaction while donating 10,000 US Dollars to the Foundation on behalf of the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Allison Wiley said, “it is a pleasure to participate in this year’s Kpakpando Foundation event. The advancement of individuals who may not be in the position to help themselves is a much sought out goal for the United Nations. I applaud the foundations founder, Senator Osita Izunaso, its Board of Directors, and its volunteers for its assistance in making Nigeria a better place for the disabled. Your labour of love will never be in vain”.
In a message of commendation, the Catholic Bishop of Orlu Diocese, Dr. Augustine Ukwuoma observed that the gesture of humanitarian activities go a long way to demonstrate the founder’s faith and his ardent love of God and man, and prayed that “the good Lord grants him the necessary graces and strong will to uphold the work of mercy which he had started.”
According to the event Coordinator, Chief Ezennia Denton Ogbuehi, said the foundation with its concept of “being a brother’s keeper” through caring for the physically challenged persons in the society, helping them discover potentials for their advancement has not relented in that effort in achieving the set goals as advanced by the initiator.
Ogbuehi maintained that it was the vision that with the establishment of the special school for physically challenged persons, 10,000 of them would have received above standard education with requisite skills acquisition by the year 2022, that is, ten years from the school’s foundation.
KFPCP Founded by Izunaso seven years ago has maintained sophistication and excellence since its existence and the Foundation has in very many ways alleviated the suffering of the disabled persons by award of scholarship both in Nigeria and overseas as well as empowerment. Recently, the Foundation was honoured with a prestigious award in far away United States for lifting the hopes of the disabled persons in Imo State.
National President of Joint national Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Daniel Basharu described Izunaso as father of the physically challenged in Imo State, considering his love, care, and passion for the disabled persons in the society. “He has on several occasions demonstrated kindness not only the less privileged in the society, but to the physically challenged”.
According to him, we shall endeavour to work in full partnership with Izunaso so that we can wipe away the tears from the faces of people with disabilities and we commend him for giving us an opportunity to express our abilities. In appreciation of Izunaso’s effort, the national president courtesy of the Anglo-Nigerian Welfare Association for the Blind (ANWAB) made a donation of three Pekins Braille machines that would be needed by the blind students to be admitted into the school.
Highlight of the occasion was the distribution of wheel chairs, clutches, branded gas cookers, computers, sewing machines and brail machines amongst others.