Wife of Oyo State governor, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi’s pet project, Ajumose Food Bank, is set to hit the town again to deliver free food to the indigent. Ademola Babalola writes on the project now in its fifth year
Even with no special roles constitutionally assigned to wives of the President and governors across the 36 states of the federation, the First Ladies continue to launch pet projects to complement their husbands in the task of governance and delivering public good to the people. The providential need to etch out their names in gold and indelible in the minds of common man, may have informed the concern of these mothers, as they rush to float one organisation or another spread across the land since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
From South to North, East to West and across the length and breadth of the federation, successive leaders grant their wives opportunity to reach out to the vulnerable and young people especially the hapless women and children for them to have a dose of good governance, democratic dividends and empowerment facilities delivered to their door steps in order to cushion effects of excruciating economic woes in the land.
It was therefore no surprise when in 2012, Florence, the wife of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, took the battle to combat poverty and tackle it head-on with dispatch as she launched ‘Ajumose Food Bank’ with the sole aim of reaching out to the downtrodden masses.
The initiative was welcomed with open hands by all stakeholders and within the shortest time, has become a haven of succour to many and hub of economic regeneration for Oyo women especially the widows from across the 351 wards of all the 33 local government areas of the Pace Setters state.
Ajumose Food Bank, was conceptualised to be in tandem with the spirit and letters of Goal Number Two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations which is to achieve zero hunger across the land and more importantly in the developing nations of the world, of which Nigeria is no exception. The SDGs officially known as Transforming Our World was also christened Global Goals. It is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
With her knack for excellence, ears to the ground and the urge to catch up with the enduring global best practices of imparting on people’s lives, Mrs. Ajimobi through this initiative, began to distribute food across the land nay local governments to ensure that Oyo people do not live in hunger. It has catered for tens of thousands of women who in turn feed their families from the withdrawals from the Ajumose Food Bank.
The Yoruba proverbial saying that “Ti ebi ba kuro ninu ise, ise buse” meaning “If we remove hunger from poverty, poverty vanishes”, may have further informed the SDGs Goal Number Two which Oyo First Lady anchored her pet project on.
This inspiring initiative and unrivalled ingenuity by Ajimobi thus becomes a means of reaching vast majority in a way that was unprecedented in the state and by extension, Nigeria at large.
The kernel of it all is that a token of raw packaged food is given to women because they cater for the family and provide nourishment for the home, and are therefore the focus of Ajimobi’s initiative.
With retinue of aides and other recruited hands to make distribution to the mass of the people hitch-free, Ajimobi goes out on a regular basis, to reach out to the vulnerable and have-nots. And since the local government is closer to the people, the programme was designed in a local government per local government basis especially that people can be identified through their locality and geographical location they belong.
To underscore far reaching effects and positive feedbacks the project is having on its beneficiaries and more importantly, the accolades to the first family since Ajumose Food Bank was introduced, the once in a year event distribution of foods in each local government, is now a quarterly programme backed by Governor Ajimobi through his unwavering support for the sustainability of the project.
The programme, from available statistics, has till date catered for about 20,000 women across Ibadan, Ibarapa, Oyo, Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun geopolitical areas of the state. The beauty of the programme is that it does not discriminate but equitably distributes the available food materials to the needy among the mass of the people. Regardless of party and political affiliation and social leanings, it caters for all those that need it most. Everybody is considered equal and the food items are humanely distributed by the wife of the governor.
The female folk were chosen because mothers are believed to bear the burden of providing for the family and providing ample nourishment for both the children and the husband. Ajimobi, with her humane mind set, has followed the vision to make malnutrition and extreme hunger a thing of the past in Oyo State.
A 73-year-old widow, Hassanah Ajibike in Ibarapa Central Local Government described the food items as “timely and handy,” while thanking Mrs. Ajimobi for the gesture.
Another beneficiary of Ajumose Food Bank in Onireke, Ibadan North West area of the state, Madam Janet Omoridion was full of prayers to the First Family in the state, asserting that “even when Mrs. Ajimobi and her husband are in their second term, they still continue the gestures they started over four years ago. I can only pray that God continues to bless them and provide for their future needs too.”
From the foregoing and beyond providing immediate succour as is currently being done, Ajimobi can do a lot more in terms of poverty alleviation. The number one goal of the SDGs of “No Poverty” readily comes to mind here. And with the present administration still having two years to wind down, Oyo First Lady should make provision of vocational tools a top priority for this year. Whatever success recorded so far in wiping out extreme hunger can be topped up with empowerment facilities that would have far reaching and ripple effects on the beneficiaries and by extension, the society at large.
Who says Oyo First Lady cannot achieve more in her drive to put more smiles on all irrespective of where such people in need come from? It is just a matter of time and with the zeal, drive and enthusiasm with which she has carried out activities embedded in her pet project, Oyo State can lead the way as a Pace Setter for other states of the federation, when issues as poverty eradication is on a front burner of public discourse. If and when that is done, Ajimobi will long be remembered as a mother whose love for eradication of extreme hunger and poverty among the mass of the people is second to none. And this will further lay credence and adds glamour to Governor Ajimobi’s stint in Agodi Government House as a man who succeeded in many remarkable firsts that outlived the life of his administration and many generations yet unborn.