By Emeka Ozumba
Gratitude they say is the mother of all virtues; I say this in the knowledge that words alone cannot convey the good tidings and best wishes from many to Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) who today celebrates yet another year of bountiful harvest of life.
Already many are on queue wishing her well for different reasons, but to ndi Anambra, the wife of our Governor, Osodieme came into state-wide nay national prominence like a beautiful lotus flower which grows and unfurls her beautiful petals through daily acts of compassion and kindness.
Born in Onitsha, Anambra State Nigeria, She hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area and is married to the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuodike) from Aguleri in Anambra East LGA.
She attended Lagos Premier Day School in Lagos State and Okija Community Secondary School in Anambra State, where she obtained General Certificate of Education (GCE). Her Tertiary education started at University of Lagos where she earned a Diploma in Mass Communication, and followed it up with a Degree in History and International Studies from Lagos State University (LASU). She later obtained an Associate Degree in real Estate from Lone Star College, Houston, Texas, United States of America. She also had other trainings in Human and Material Management in Nigeria, Europe and the USA.
After graduation, Mrs. Obiano worked in many reputable institutions and corporate organizations, holding sensitive positions in the course of her career. Between November 1991 and May 2010 she worked in various capacities at the National Petroleum Investment and Management Services (NAPIMS), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as Catering Supervisor, Corporate Procurement Officer and as Welfare officer. She had on several occasions represented NAPIMS as material officer in France, USA and UK on Bonga Field Development Projects of SPDC.
Osodieme’s passion for charity is unparalleled, long before her husband took office as Governor, she had always been involved in charity programmes and helping the less privileged. She undertook church welfare projects and was a marriage counselor among other humanitarian endeavours. Hence her seamless transition, as an exemplary ‘First Lady of Charity’ in Anambra State and beyond, came as no surprise to those who knew her. Thus Osodieme formally set up an active NGO, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) on 1st August 2014 in pursuit of her life-long passion of providing succour to the needy.
In just a little over three years, Mrs. Obiano has made CAFÉ, a platform for touching lives and in support of the governor in delivering good governance to Ndi-Anambra. CAFÉ has since inception lived up to its aims & objectives and has sustained its vision of becoming a beacon of sustainable empowerment for women and the less privileged within Anambra state and beyond. It focuses on improving the fortunes of all members of the society by providing succour to the less privileged.
Osodieme’s commitment to charitable courses never wavers, through CAFÉ she has set a new paradigm for helping the needy through the various projects and programmes she has accomplished. These include; CAFE Housing for Indigent Widows which has seen ten 2-Bedroom bungalows built free and handed over to beneficiaries across the three Senatorial Districts of Anambra State. In the same vein, she has constructed eleven CAFÉ Market Toilets in major rural markets to promote hygiene in rural communities, and twenty-one water boreholes across the twenty one local governments of Anambra state.
Also Mrs. Obiano has trained and empowered over two thousand, six hundred indigent widows, women and youths in various skills under CAFÉ Skills Acquisition Training programme. These include: Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy, Fashion Design, Soap Making, Cake Baking and Confectionery, Telephone Repairs, and Community Health Services. The beneficiaries were supported with equipment and start-up stipend.
She equally made possible free Prosthetic limbs to over a thousand three hundred physically challenged persons and donated free wheel chairs to many more. She also facilitated free surgeries for 35 children with congenital abnormality of Cleft lips and Cleft palates and sponsored the care, treatment and discharge of forty-five mentally challenged persons at a Home in Nteje amongst other interventions.
Mrs. Obiano is a recipient of several awards both local and international in recognition of her commitment to charity and the welfare of the less privileged. Some of the awards include; the Irish Red Cross award for services to humanity, “Onye Anambra of The Year 2017,”by Anambra Irish Professionals Association (AIPA), Anambra State Association (ASA) Women, Ireland Award for Services to Humanity 2017. Others are, Primetime Reporters First Lady of the Year Award 2016, Most Valuable Governors’ Wife Award 2016/2017, Excellence Award 2016 by Nigerian Women of Atlanta Georgia, United States of America, EU/UNICEF WASH Ambassador, and United Nations Peace Ambassador to mention a few.
As Osodieme celebrates her birthday today, let us draw from the wealth of wisdom expressed by the American, Leo Buscaglia as we join many who have encountered her beautiful soul, let us celebrate this amazon who never underestimates the power of an honest compliment and the potential of the smallest act of caring to turn a life around. Let’s applaud her industry, the courage of the conviction that drives her daily to do good to others, knowing it will never be never repaid; let us wish Osodieme – Mama Anambra, a happy birthday!