(THE ARENA) DAO Foundation Day At Onicha-Olona: Caring Exploits of Dr (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei
By Chukwudi Abiandu, Williams Ugbolue and David Diai.
The road leading to the market was decayed, in ruin and wrecked. The market, the Onicha Olona market was originally built by the Aniocha North Local Government of Delta State in 2003. But the people for whom it was supposed to bring succour for business – an open place where they are to gather in public for buying and selling of merchandise, especially farm produce could not access the location. As a result, what was supposed to bring help and relief to them was in an unpleasant condition. Frustration set in and the site was accordingly abandoned.
Before now, Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei never knew that the dilapidated road led to a market. Just out of sheer compassion to ease the suffering that the road in bad shape brought to the people, this woman of essence and substance took up the challenge to rebuild and repair the road, using her Foundation, the Dr. Doris Amaka Ochei Foundation. It was in the course of commissioning the road, now repaired, that she observed from the scene of the commissioning that there was a space having stalls like a market, but abandoned. Visible all over the structures were decay as the roofing sheets had gone and the site overwhelmed by weeds that had grown to become giants and lush weeds. Of course, they were weeds, whether lush and giant. Dr. (Mrs.) Doris Amaka Ochei saw the situation as unbecoming and empathised with the people. She then announced that by the Easter celebration of April 2023, that that market would become ready for use. Today, that road, now pliable, has been named Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei Road, Onicha-Olona.
Of course, she kept to her promise to rebuild the market, with a grand opening held on Tuesday, April 10, 2023 and Easter Monday. Expressing the delight of the people in recognition of the personage of Dr. (Mrs) Doris Ochei, the Master of Ceremony at the market’s inauguration said: “Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei has brought joy to the Onicha-Olona community,” adding that Onicha-Olona is blessed with good sons and daughters and good wives.”
Now the guests that came for the commissioning were gathering. The market women and men saw the day and event as being for their benefits. Dignitaries from far and wide, notable among them were well known sons and daughters of Onicha-Olona began to drive into the arena. Former Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, a prominent politician and Executive Director, NIMASA, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, a son of the soil, arrived. The Executive Chairman, Delta State Waste Management Board, Hon. Emma Chinye arrived. The monarch of Onicha-Olona, His Royal Majesty, Obi Uzu Diji arrived. Hon. Kennedy Okoh, Secretary, Aniocha North Local Government Area who represented his boss and Chairman of the Local government, Hon. Kevin Okwechime arrived. Also present was the Omu Anioma, HRH. Obi Martha Dunkwu. Now the sun was in its glory and brightness, endowing weather, conducive and perfect for the market’s formal inauguration.
Before long, Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei arrived, accompanied by her husband, an officer and gentleman, Major General Raymond Ochei, a splendid athletic figure and dazzling in his all white outfit. Alighting from the Jeep that drove her into the market arena, her oval features were amazing; her creamy rosy complexion and stunning beauty glowed. The market women struck the traditional music tune and marched forward in a blaze of praise and welcome for their benefactor who reciprocated, dancing to the music and expressing her thanks to them for offering her generous welcome.
The President General of Onicha-Olona Development Union, Sir Patrick Ejidoh welcomed all and thanked Major general Raymond Ochei and his wife, Doris. In a special way, and on behalf of the community, he thanked Dr. (Mrs) Doris Ochei for her interest in the development of Onicha-Olona town. He said: “She completed and tarred this road, and went ahead to proclaim that the market would be completed by Easter.”
Sir Ejidoh continued: “This market was built 20 years ago by Mr. Callistus Nwawolo who was the local government council Chairman then. When the market was completed, the road was dilapidated and it discouraged traders from coming because it was difficult terrain. The people resorted to trading at the centre of the road in the town. But Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei stepped in and uprooted all the trees.” He also informed the people that the contractor who did the work of rehabilitating the market was from Dublin. “The water system and the conveniences are working,” Sir Ejidoh said, adding that there are 460 stalls in the market and that the market beginning from Tuesday, April 11, 2023 was opened for operation on a daily basis, while allocation of stalls would be by ballot. “Nobody will be allowed to sell on the main road anymore,” he declared. In other words, it is henceforth a taboo for traders to sell their wares outside the market in Onicha-Olona.
Indeed, Hon. Kevin Okwechime was full of gratitude to Dr. Doris Ochei for her great generosity and noble spirit act. Represented by the secretary to the local government, Hon. Kennedy Okoh, Okwechime paid glowing tribute to Dr. (Mrs) Doris Ochei’s effort in helping to deepen the concept of Private, Public Partnership and self help effort in community development. He said: “It is in this regard that we salute the vision and commitment of the Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei Foundation with the rehabilitation/expansion of this modern market, which by design would inspire a wide range of income generating and livelihood enhancing activities.” For the Council chairman, DAO Foundation has created in Onicha-Olona another window for improved economic activities towards wealth creation and poverty reduction. “May God reward your modest effort to impact on humanity,” Okwechime prayed.
The Omu Anioma, HRM Obi Martha Dunkwu, who also goes by the traditional NNEOHA, unveiled the plaque of reconstructed Onicha-Olona Market in Aniocha North LGA, which was rebuilt and donated by DAO Foundation and it’s chairperson, the wife of Maj. Gen. Raymond Ochei to the community through Aniocha North Council, after performing the necessary rites and offering prayers as the Mother of all Market women, to signal the traditional commencement of market activities by traders and buyers.
Omu Dunkwu, while presenting the Traditional Akwa Ocha to her as a mark of encouragement and appreciation, extolled the elegant wife of Maj. Gen. Raymond Ochei, whose NGO – Doris Amaka Ochei Foundation rehabilitated the market and delivered it for the use of Onicha-Olona community, noting that her legendary philanthropy kind-heartedness was rare, especially after she had, in addition to rebuilding and handing over the market free of charge to the Council and community, also empowered 89 market women with #50,000 each in order to enhance their trading activities.
Omu Dunkwu equally commended General Raymond Ochei, husband of the market builder for his philanthropy, maintaining that his rare and uncommon generosity to the people of Onicha-Olona in particular, and Anioma people in general is worthy of mention.
As the Mother General of Anioma Nation, Obi Martha Dunkwu not only admonished well to do Anioma daughters at home and abroad to emulate the virtues and generosity of Mrs. Ochei, she also offered prayers for the Nigerian Armed Forces for the good work they were doing in protecting the nation even as she urged them to continue in that patriotic assignment of keeping the nation safe, secure and peaceful.
Maj. Gen. Raymond Ochei and his wife, Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei, later presented varying gifts to Omu Dunkwu and her entourage, which marked one of the highlights of the colourful ceremony.
In truth, Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei’s disposition for assisting the underprivileged is one that is innate in her and influenced by her desire to give God glory for being faithful and good to her. On how the DAO Foundation came into being, she said: “The Foundation is my initiative and I am the President. It’s an initiative that is birthed because I feel that God has been so faithful in my life. He has been so awesome that I need to give back to the community, especially the community that has made me who I am and that is Enuani as a whole. So it’s not limited to Onicha-Olona or any other place.”
Shortly after the commissioning of the rebuilt and expanded Onicha-Olona Market, Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei fielded questions from CHUKWUDI ABIANDU, Editor-in-Chief, banneronlinenews.com and CHIJIOKE UGBOLUE, Editor-in-Chief cshowcasenews.com. Read on.
Tell us about your Foundation and the motivation.
The Foundation’s name is Dr. Doris Amaka Ochei Foundation, aka DAO Foundation. The Foundation is my initiative and I am the President. It’s an initiative that was birthed because I believe that God has been so faithful to me in my life. He has been so awesome that I need to give back to the community, especially the community that has made me who I am and that is Enuani as a whole. So, it’s not limited to Onicha-Olona or any other place.
We are fairly new but we have also done quite a number of things. For instance, the road that leads to the market. Then at Ubulu-Uku, we have actually built a modern multi-purpose hall for the Ezemuge grammar School, which is my alma mater. The Foundation has also empowered about 200 market women in Ubulu-Uku. We gave them an interest free loan. As a matter of fact, it’s not really a loan but what I tried to do is not to give them money. You know our people, you give them money and some will say “let me use it to buy something.” Some will use it to buy clothes. So what we did was to teach them how to save; teach them how to do business well and properly. What we did was to give them N50,000 each in a year. We asked them to pay N1,000 every Eke market day. The next day whatever that is their account we give it back to them and we add like 50 per cent so they now start to grow their capital.
What we are trying to do is that these people, most of the time they start a business from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, they don’t have anything to account for because they don’t have the saving culture. So we want to inculcate in them the culture of saving. It is to ginger them up to start saving and they are so excited about that. Because it’s really not a loan because the money we give to them we don’t take back, rather we add to it. There’s quite a lot that we are doing; we are interested in community development. We are interested in empowering the youth, the women in manpower development. We are interested in ensuring that these women understand what it means to do business, especially the rudiments of business. Because I am an entrepreneur by God’s grace. I will say that I am a successful entrepreneur. So I also want to teach them some little-little tips they need to know in terms of savings.
in terms of starting a business small, small; in terms of knowing that you don’t need to have billions to start a business and in terms of not dipping your hand into your business funds.
In fact, the next level we are going into is to put a workshop together where we bring these women together and do some talks on capacity building to encourage them. There’s a whole thing we are trying to do. God has put in my heart that I am doing just to say thank you to God for keeping me to where I am today because there’s nothing you can do without God.
Tell us about other projects your Foundation is involved in.
As a matter of fact there are other projects that we have actually done, not in Olona alone, we have done projects in Ubulu-Uku. In Ubulu-Uku, we have done 10 solar powered boreholes. We are also paying WAEC fees for every child that is writing WAEC exams. We also support children in inter house sports schools competition. We pay attention to health issues like people coming to us that they have health issues. We make sure that they go to the hospital and we finance it. A lot of things we are doing are all encompassing – community development. Like I said at the commissioning of the Onicha-Olona market stalls, I said that the community starts with women and ends with women. Let me tell you why I said so. Women, we are everywhere; we take care of our husbands, take care of the children and we take care of ourselves. We raise our children. So you find out that if you empower the woman, then you’ve touched virtually everybody because when a woman is financially capable you find out that she puts less pressure on the man. And with less pressure on the man, there will be peace in the house. The man will appreciate you more, respect you more, treat you better and there will be peace at home. And that will also radiate even in the way the home is run and you see that the children will be happy too.
Most of the family issues that you have all boil down to Naira and Kobo. That’s the truth. Because when the woman is not getting enough from the man, probably the man is not giving enough, possibly because he cannot carry it all alone, so you find that the woman will start nagging, the man starts getting tired and a lot of things are happening. And the man, maybe he’s not always at home and it’s rubbing off on the children. So, women for me are a priority.
You have talked about your motivation and that you are not a politician, speak to us about not being a politician.
Let me tell you that Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei as a person is an entrepreneur with many businesses. Just to name a few, I’m a stockbroker; I have a stock brokerage company. I am a travel consultant; I have a travel agency where we do ticketing, tourism and I train for elites and other agencies. I do training for travels. I have Bureau de Change; I also have a bottled water company, not just bottled water, sachet water and dispensable water. Then I have an engineering company where we do dredging. So, I have a whole lot going on. So, what do I do with all of these?
By God’s grace, God has blessed me. So, I looked and like I said earlier, this is to say thank you to God Almighty. So I’m giving back to society. I am grateful to God that God is faithful to me. What I do at the end of every year, a certain percentage of all the proceeds that I have mentioned I put into charity. So I come up with how much I have to put into charity and what exactly that I want to do.
I want to let you know today that there’s no political motive, no political undertone. I am not a politician and I am not going to be a politician. And you know why? I have a lot happening in my hands. And you know my husband is not a politician. So after retirement, we want to relax and enjoy ourselves. Like I said, you can see that I’m a very busy person. I am not a politician. I don’t want to be a politician tomorrow. This Foundation is 100 percent financed by me. No donation, no external financial support and no political motive.
Is your area of concentration just Aniocha North and Aniocha South?
Let me tell you, I am interested in humanity. I don’t care where a person comes from. Even in Lagos where I live, there’s a community, the Makoko community, there’s a school there that I pay bills and I do things for them. It is that when I see things to be done in terms of finance, sometimes it’s not about giving financial aid; sometimes you meet children that need a shoulder to cry on. Somebody they will look up to as a mentor even as a mum. So I am there for everybody and anything humanity. It’s not about any location, no.
Let’s get to know you. Who is Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei?
Dr. (Mrs) Doris Amaka Ochei is a girl child from Ubulu-Uku, who has grown to be a mother today, a wife, an entrepreneur. I was born by late Mr. Fidelis and Mrs. Margaret Nwaefulu in Ubulu-Uku. I had my primary and secondary schools in Ubulu-Uku. Then moved to Lagos where I did my B.sc in Accounting in UNILAG (University of Lagos). After that I got married, then moved to the United Kingdom (UK) where I did my Masters in Business Administration, University of Wales. Then I went to the United States where I did a second B.sc in Public Policy, after which I did my Ph.D in Forensic Accounting in Karisma University.
Apart from my educational qualifications, I am a professional, a Fellow in accounting and also a member of IOD. I am also a chartered Taxation practitioner. Actually, as I speak to you there are some other things I plan to do; one of it is that I got my Ph.d because I actually want to be a lecturer.
Where do you derive your strength from?
I don’t understand myself. I am as confused as you are. I just wake up with these ideas and I pursue them. Sometimes, I do ask myself, “what’s your problem?”
Sometimes my husband gets frustrated like “come when are you going to stop?” Because I keep coming up with different ideas and driving motivations. And so far so good, I’ve been able to articulate everything in a way that my home front is not suffering. But that’s another thing because by the time you want to be a professional or you want to be a successful business woman; if you don’t balance it, it will tell on your home, it will tell on your children. But you know one thing, I’m a manager. That’s the truth. I’m a solid manager. Even my staff will tell you. I can use people to get what I want. I know how to organize my things. I make sure that the home front is running the way it should run; I make out time.
It’s not easy though. I’m not going to sit down here and tell you that it is easy. I will be lying. But sometimes it gets overwhelming, but then it gives me joy.
I started business with telecoms and I sold so much in telecoms that I was one of the top 20 that Adenuga gave Land cruiser Jeep. From telecoms I migrated to travels. Why did I even go to travels? Because I was looking at a business that I don’t really need too much money to start. That was exactly why I went to travel. After that I went into brokerage. Why? Because my husband loves shares and he said “I want to retire as a stockbroker.” And I encouraged him, I said “fine, let’s go and write the exams.” And everybody was like, “where are you going to get the time?” I said we are qualified, we are chartered. We are both chartered stockbrokers. So there’s a lot.
But we find a way to put them together so that we are not found wanting, especially at home with the children. So that’s it. But it’s God Almighty; He is the one giving us the strength, the capability, the knowhow and everything. We give God the glory.
You just spoke about the children, in all these are some of your children aligning with some of the things that you are doing or are they aligning with their father?
Let me put it this way, we have four children, two sets of twins, a boy and three girls. Our children are still very young because we got married and for 11 years we didn’t have children before God finally blessed us. So they are still very young. Actually, my children believe that I work too hard. But I don’t know, I don’t know. It gives me joy actually.