In four years, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano has changed our understanding of what it means to be the wife of a governor.
And now we have realized that far from the glitz and glamour; far from the dazzle of long motorcade, the circle of fawning aides and the malevolent glare of envying eyes, the wife of a governor can take responsibility for the happiness of the most vulnerable groups in the society and leave an indelible. We now know that the wife of a governor can be a phenomenal woman! Many thanks to Ebelechukwu Obiano, Osodieme (the one who performs great feats like her husband), we now know that a governor’s wife can change the world by changing the colour of her own side of the sky.
But Osodieme’s narrative of courage and purposeful engagements does not come to people who know her by chance. Her antecedents stand her out as a woman with a load of destiny on her head.
She began rather early to show that her personal contentment is incomplete if anyone around her is in dire need of help. Her direct personal interventions in the affairs of the downtrodden and people in dire need of help started from her days of small beginning; long before the coat of arms and the imperial wailing of the sirens.
It was in full acknowledgment of this that against the run of play, she was admitted into the hallowed chambers of the Igwe’s cabinet in Aguleri. Indeed, Igwe Christopher Idigo of the ancient Idigo dynasty showed a frightening blend of courage and clairvoyance when he decided to admit a woman into the royal cabinet, the first in living memory. The ancestors must have given him hints about the spark Osodieme carries. Perhaps.
To be candid though, we have seen philanthropy. But it would be unfair for anyone who has closely followed Osodieme’s activities to tag her rare accomplishments as mere philanthropy. Osodieme stirs the vulnerable population like a ripple which starts unheralded but spreads inexorably wide enough for all eyes to see.
Indeed how could anyone in Anambra State pretend not to see Osodieme’s ripples of kindness that have continued to spread far and wide in the past four years? How could anyone not have heard the touching testimonies of the hundreds of people who received prosthetic limbs or the hundreds of children who underwent surgeries to fix their cleft palates and who no longer shy away from their once hideous images in the mirror? Who can pretend not to have heard the stories of a dozen widows whose lives had shattered at the passing of their husbands, leaving them marooned in homes that could easily pass for dunghills but who through Osodieme’s kindness had become proud owners of splendid new homes?
To be candid though, Osodieme took her act to a whole new height when she decided to devote a considerable chunk of her time to running a home for the mentally challenged at Nteje in Oyi Local Government Area of the state. Through the auspices of the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE) which she set up to give focus and direction to her life of charity, Osodieme has routinely picked up mentally unbalanced people from the streets to treat them and reunite them with their families. The most emotional of these great triumphs of the human spirit in Osodieme’s growing narrative of exceptionality is the story of 72-year old Mrs Rose Anene who was considered dead 35 years ago when she suddenly wandered off beyond trace.
Mrs Anene was eventually picked up by Osodieme’s team and after spending some time under her restorative care, regained full self-possession and identity. Tears flowed freely when her children and grandchildren who had thought her dead for 35 painful years suddenly came face to face with her at the Nteje Mental Home. The children had no words for Osodieme but it was understandable. Such experiences deny us the power of words!
While all these acts of love and kindness stand out in their strong significations as timely and enduring, what marks Osodieme’s touches on the society as rare and inspiring is the passion she brings to bear on everything she decides to focus on. There are no middle grounds for Osodieme. It is all or nothing!
Indeed, Osodieme’s little light has continued to shine to the admiration of discerning members of the society. In fact, important organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and UNICEF have all acknowledged and honoured her for sharing her love with humanity. Osodieme is a UN Peace Ambassador, a UNICEF and EU WASH Ambassador and a winner of the Irish Red Cross Award for service to humanity. The Nigerian Women Association of Atlanta also conferred her with an award for Excellence. Osodieme is perhaps the only Nigerian conferred with the Honorary Citizen of the State of Georgia, USA. Odi ofele?
As she receives the prestigious Zik Prize for Leadership in Humanitarian Services today, Osodieme has finally ascended to the heights where only great personages with a keen eye on immortality dwell. But what makes her ascension fascinating is that she will not be alone. The love of her life, Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano is already seated there and waiting to receive her with a warm embrace.
Ijele Anambra jide ka iji!
– James Eze is a media aide to Governor Obiano