By Emmanuel Ugwu
The Minister of State for Steel and Solid Minerals, Uchechukwu Ogah, has said that the economic hardships that ordinary Nigerians are passing through due to the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming more worrisome and cannot be overlooked.
He expressed his feelings for the suffering masses of Abia and Nigerians in general at the weekend, when he commenced the distribution of food items and other palliatives to cushion the effects of Covid-19 lockdown in the state.
The palliatives included 20,000 bags of rice ranging from 5kg to 50kg, 1,000 bags of 100kg beans,10,000 cartons of Indomie noodles and spaghetti as well as hand sanitizers.
Ogah, who distributed the items at his Onuaku Uturu country home, noted that the economic impact of the pandemic was not peculiar to Nigeria as the whole world is presently reeling under the devastating impact of Covid-19.
Speaking through the director general of his campaign organisation, Mr. Kingsley Ugbaja, the minister urged Abia people and residents of the state not to despair but to stoically weather the storm by putting their confidence in God.
Ogah, who was the Abia State governorship standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019, noted that though Abia has so far recorded very few cases of coronavirus infection, it should not in any way make people to drop their guard.
He appealed to the people of Abia to remain vigilant and strictly adhere to all the necessary protocols and personal hygiene prescribed to avert the global pandemic, adding that the scourge is not a death sentence hence it should not evoke panic and despair.
The minister explained that the palliatives were his personal contribution in the fight against the pandemic, and also his own way of identifying with the people at this period of hardship and uncertainty.
He assured the people that he would do his best to get the palliatives to every family in the state, adding that the relief materials would be distributed in batches until it gets to every household, especially the vulnerable groups.
Some of the beneficiaries at the event included the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Abia State chapter; members of Abia APC from all the 17 councils of the state, community leaders as well as journalists and on-line media practitioners in the state.
The Chairman of Abia CAN, Rev. Emmanuel Agomuo, who led a delegation of leaders of the five blocs in the christian body, commended Ogah for the gesture, adding that it was the first time a private individual would donate such a large quantity of palliative items to the people.
He called on other individuals with the means to emulate Ogah, whom he described as a man with a heart of gold, so that the weak ones in the society could be strengthened to cope with the ugly impact of the ongoing pandemic.
The cleric promised that CAN’s share of the palliatives would be equitably distributed and invoked God’s blessings on Ogah for making provisions for the people in need.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chief Obinna Ibe, expressed profound gratitude to the minister for including journalists among the beneficiaries of his stimulus package.
He noted that journalists, by the nature of their profession, have put their lives on the line along with those at the front lines in the fight against the pandemic.
Ibe stated that though journalists were often neglected while doing their job of self sacrifice, Ogah has demonstrated his acknowledgement of the important role of journalists in the society and the need to encourage them.