*Community decided on self-help since neither FG nor state govt has data of the indigent in our community, says Mr. Ibe
By Daniel Tyokua
A former university Vice-Chancellor and renowned scientist, Prof. Chiweyite Ejike, was yesterday named the coordinator of the Aguobu-Owa Covid-19 Palliatives Committee set up to assist the poor and vulnerable in the town ward off the pangs of the pandemic.
Prof. Ejike, who is the current Deputy Chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT) , and a native of the community, is to lead other distinguished sons and daughter of the community, including a former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Enugu State Chapter, Comrade Chumaife Nze, in the task of collecting cash and other material donations for distribution to identified indigent persins in the community.
According to Mr. Emeka Ibe, who coordinated the setting up of the committee from the membership of the Aguobu-Owa Patriots Forum, “several of our community people are so poor, yet, have never been captured in the federal or state governments palliative schemes in the past or even at present.
“We hear the federal government has mandated the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to identify indigent Nigerians and provide such with cash and other material support to cushion the negative impact of covid-19 pandemic, but we have not heard of any of the extremely poor people in our community benefiting or captured in the programme.
“Nobody from our community had equally ever benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government, yet we have people that qualify to be classified as among the extremely poor in the country.
“I must tell you that these people are not just poor, they are extremely poor. They are all along being fed and clothed by some anonymous individuals in the community and members of St. Vincent the Poor, a Catholic Church group that caters for the extreme poor and vulnerable people in the society.
“We know that these people will not benefit from the planned posting of financial palliative to people with less than N5,000 in their bank accounts because they have no bank account in any bank. They have never been to any bank and there is no bank in the community, even though it is an old local government headquarter.
“Government does not know that these vulnerable people exist in our town and there had never been any attempt to empathise with them through the public process. They only get support when politicians seek for votes bit that is only in an election year.
“Even at that, they were never classified as poor people, but as mere human beings that are given money and other handouts just to secure their votes.
“Whether we like it or not, they are our community people and covid-19 has made them to be even more vulnerable and unfortunately the federal and state governments do not recognise them as worthy of receiving any form of palliative.
“That is why we decided to bond together from the two communities of Aguobu-Owa, Eziowa and Ozom communities, so that we can holistically assist these extremely poor and vulnerable people in our midst.
“We have already sent out messages to Ndi Aguobu-Owa at home and in the diaspora to send in their support. So, this committee headed by Ozo, Prof. Aguowulu Ejike will determine how the gift items will be distributed among these vulnerable and poor persons,” he said.
Mr. Ibe added that Aguobu-Owa citizens have been called upon “to demonstrate our patriotic zeal by donating generosity to the fund”, adding that “no amount is too small as our reward is dual here on earth and up there in heaven”.
Other members of the committee includes the Councillor for Eziowa Ward, Hon. Peter Okafor; his counterpart from Ozom Ward, Hon. lfeanyi Ejike; as well as a Chartered Accountant and Lecturer at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Dr. (Mrs.) Uche Onyekwelu.
The committee was given the free hand to determine their modus operandi but to constantly update The Aguobu-Owa Patriots on the assignment.