Chiamaka Ozulumba writes that the Ugwu Uvuoma Association, comprising a group of Olokoro indigenes in Umuahia South LGA, Abia State, was formed with the sole aim of giving back to society
Realising the dwindling spirit of self help towards community development, a group of Olokoro indigenes, in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia came together to form an association known as Ugwu Uvuoma , with the sole aim of giving back to society.
Also drawing from the indomitable spirit of Ogburuke, an enigmatic association of Olokoro young men of yore who pioneered numerous developmental strides in Olokoro in the years gone by, as well as leveraging on the abilities and competencies of her dynamic youths and young men, the group has over the years carried out medical outreaches and providing other community needs.
Speaking with THISDAY, Sir Ken Nwosu, KSC said the annual medical mission otherwise known as Free Healthcare Project started in November 2013 and has been the flagship of Ugwu Uvuoma for six years running.
He said: “This event entails the treatment of illnesses after diagnosis by a team of medical and health experts led by a team of professional doctors drawn from both Ugwu Uvuoma and outside. Tests for common ailments like diabetes, hypertension, eye screening, malaria, typhoid and the likes are undertaken and drugs as appropriate dispensed.
“Yearly, about one thousand participants are treated bringing the total number to a little above six thousand beneficiaries so far. The budget annually has been well over N5million bringing the total so far spent to well over 60million Naira.
“It has been our intention to escalate this initiative and even increase the frequency to at least twice a year to make it more sustainable and impactful. We are however constrained by funds.”
“While we find fulfillment doing all of these in appreciation of God’s munificence on us, we find it worrisome that the bulk of the beneficiaries of our Healthcare Project are mainly our retired parents, our former teachers, civil servants and those who served the state government in one capacity or the other who ordinarily would not be beneficiaries of such free program.
“During interactions with them, they told us very painful and pathetic stories of how they have been reduced to beggars who live in penury and squalor on account of non payment of their gratuities, pensions and other entitlements by the Abia State government spanning over 20 years. They asked to us to help appeal to the Abia State government to come to their aid and ensure that in line with the words of our national anthem that *the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain*, their entitlements are paid!
“It is in this wise that we add our voice to the few voices that have spoken in this regard to appeal to the Abia State Government to prioritise payment of pensions and gratuities to give life to our suffering parents. We also appeal to our various leaders in Abia to lend their voices to this clarion call. It is said that *an elder does not stay in the compound while a goat delivers while in tethers*. The silence of our political, religious and traditional leaders is deafening enough and should not be.
“Let all critical stakeholders wake up from their slumber and hold the government accountable for the benefit of the generality of our people. Silence in this regard will only mean acquiescence to the malady of bad governance in Abia and confirm the rumour that these group of leaders are in the payroll of the state government.
“We also use this medium to call on all associations of our nature in the various communities in Abia to see how best to add value to our people. We agree that government cannot do everything but we wish to see them do some, a situation we cannot beat our chest to say we have seen in Abia.
“For the records, let it be said very boldly that we are non partisan and do not as a group engage in politics of any kind. Our forte is development and holding our leaders accountable for the progress of our community and humanity in general.
“We will keep doing our best to complement genuine efforts from the government if and when they are ready to partner us. It is our belief that Abia needs a more proactive government given to selfless service and not to the aggrandisement of a few fat cats! Abia belongs to all of us and we invite everybody to come on board to salvage it from the rot we have experienced for 20 years and counting.”
Not restricted to just medical outreaches, the association has also been known to carter to the immediate needs of the community. One of such ways is the grading of the roads in the community.
On this Nwosu said: “Having identified the very deplorable state of our inner community roads and realising the long suffering of our people especially the aged, lame and feeble in moving from one point to the other, this year, we also added roads rehabilitation of key roads to complement the annual medical mission. The road project has a huge budget of about N50million but we had to prioritise in line with our economic reality to about N10million. “