Amby Uneze in Owerri
The seat of government at Aso Rock, Abuja was virtually deserted on Saturday as President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha, vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and wife, Dolapo, governors of Abia and Bayelsa states, Ministers, wives of state governors, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and other dignitaries converged in Owerri, Imo State capital to extol the wife of Imo State governor, Mrs. Nneoma Nkechi Okorochaâ€™s 50th birthday celebration.
Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha met on the ground the Vice-President who came into the state as early as 8am while the wife, Dolapo arrived the previous day commended Mrs. Okorocha for her love and concern for the less-privileged ones in the society.
They gave the commendations respectively at a colloquium and book presentation to mark the 50th birthday of Mrs. Okorocha at the Nick Banquet Hall, Government House Owerri. The Vice-President had earlier unveiled an ultra-modern Wellness & Diagnosis Centre for children and women built by the Women of the Divine Destiny Initiative (WODDI), a Pet Project of Mrs. Okorocha.
In his speech, President Buhariâ€™s representative said â€œI was specifically called by President Buhari on two occasions to be in Owerri to honour you today. This shows that you occupy a very special place in the heart of the President. At 50, you have achieved much more than can be imagined especially through your SNARP projects and just like the Levites in the bible; you can now rest and enjoy Godâ€™s favours in your lifeâ€.
The Vice-President in his remarks said â€œI have always been fascinated by the quality of Nkechi Okorochaâ€™s philanthropy. There is a certain quality that is out of the ordinary just like her SNARP project which has changed the lives of many widows for better by providing quality homes to them. Just today we opened the WODDI Wellness, and Diagnosis Centre which focuses on preventive approach, to sickness or illness especially in women and children.
He noted â€œThe facility is incredibly well equipped with highly qualified staff including her daughter. Her motivation is not just her kind heart but her understanding heart. You need a great heart to understand degradation and devastating effects of poverty. Poverty is not all about having money but it consists of other human deprivations.
â€œGreatness does not come by positions or circumstances of birth. All the evidences we see in history is that greatness is bequeathed to only those who serve others selflessly. Just like Mother Theresa who held no position but became great by feeding the lepers just like you are feeding the indigent and poor women and children of our nationâ€, he stated.
Wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbiya Yakubu Dogara who represented wife of the President Hajia Aisha Buhari described Mrs. Okorocha as a woman with a large heart, and dependable, who delivers assignment of national interest with utmost patriotism, adding that the woman has done a lot for the less-privileged.
Chairman of the occasion, Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Seriake Henry Dickson said â€œThis is the kind of thing we should emulate across the country, to celebrate ourselves irrespective of political differences. This is the first step towards achieving the unity we all desire. I urge well-meaning Nigerians to support the Imo First Ladyâ€.
Governor Okorocha in his speech said the wives of governors in attendance â€œhave demonstrated unity more than us men, I recommend that we give more positions to women in government, only then we can achieve our desired goal of building a great and united nation. Even when I quarrel with Gov. Fayose or when Gov. El Rufai abuses me, we still see their wives here bounded in love irrespective of political and cultural differences. This is our hope for a better Nigeria and this love of our wives is the pillar of our nation buildingâ€.
Mrs. Okorocha, in an emotion-laden speech, told her audience that her joy was that God has given her the opportunity to touch lives and to put smiles on the face of somebody who has forgotten how to smile.
Other dignitaries in attendance were Governor Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Minister of Communication, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, National Secretary of APC, Alhaji Mai Mala Buru, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Deputy National Chairman of APC South-East, Chief Emma Eneh, that of South-West, Chief Segun Oni.
Wives of governors who were also present include Mrs. Bethy Obaseki (Edo), Dame Edith Okowa (Delta), Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu (Abia), Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Mrs. Feyi Fayose (Ekiti), Mrs. Olufunso Amosun (Ogun), Mrs. Mario Almakura (Nasarawa), Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed (Kwara), Mrs. Bolanle Ambode (Lagos), Mrs. Magajiya Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Mrs. Betty Akeredolu (Ondo), Mrs. Racheal Umahi (Ebonyi).