September 5 2017 was designated as the International Day of Charity. This was in honour of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who poured out herself in the service of humanity in her native India and internationally. Mother Teresa gave up pleasure and the prospect of a comfortable life as a Catholic nun for a life in the slums amongst the poorest of the poor, the sick, the maimed, the impoverished, the destitute and the societal rejects. The commemoration of the International Day of Charity in her honour is apropos and only a show of the appreciation of a grateful world.
In Delta state, Her Excellency, Dame Edith Okowa took out the day to do what she thinks is charity. Delta, a state with huge potentials and highly intellectual and enterprising people is today worse off than Calcutta. By a calculated, nebulous and obnoxious policy called the SMART AGENDA otherwise called EGO ARIA, the poverty rate amongst the civil servants especially Local Government Council employees who are being owed several months arrears of salary have reached an unbearable crescendo. The health facilities in the state have been left to fall into disrepair, school children are exposed to an unpredictable academic calendar due to the neglect of the teachers by the government.
The state capital once a thriving urban conurbation that attracted the cream of film makers is now a glorified village with decrepit infrastructure. The list is endless. This is despite the Hundreds of Billions of Naira that have accrued to the state under the present administration. Informed sources have concluded that the government in Asaba has seriously looted the treasury and used the commonwealth of the state to build up a huge war chest for the 2019 elections.
While Deltans rue their sad fate, the governor and his family enjoy the milk and honey of life. Of recent, it was reported that the governor’s daughter gave birth in a US hospital. It is also a public knowledge that none of Governor Okowa’s children are in Nigeria. They are all in the US, UK and Ghana either schooling or working.
So it was on Tuesday the 5th of September, 2017 that Dame Edith Okowa in a company of a coterie of praise singers and political hangers-on besieged the Federal Medical Center, Asaba in a supposed show of charity. Coming under the cover of 05 Initiative, the first lady, it was reported paid off the sum of #2.386 million being the hospital bills of patients who had been discharged but could not afford to pay. Her Excellency stated that her gesture of charity was in line with the legacy which Mother Teresa lived and died for.
The above assertion by Dame Okowa could only be an insult on the blessed memory of Mother Teresa. Firstly, the state hospitals in Delta State are nothing to write home about. The structures are dilapidated and the health workers are not motivated for service delivery, hence those who can afford it go to Private Clinics or the Federal Medical Center Asaba where better services are offered. For the masses of Deltans including hungry civil servants, even orthodox medicine in the substandard state hospitals and maternity has become a luxury that they now resort to herbalists and trado-medical practitioners. Dame Edith Okowa should have done well by visiting the state hospitals and not the Federal Medical Center. More so, the inability of the patients to pay off hospital bills is only reflective of the prevailing poverty in the state.
Another concern about Mrs Okowa’s charity is the source of the huge funds being committed into it. It is public knowledge of how contractors having cornered inflated contracts are coerced to give kickbacks to the first family in the form of humongous donations to the 05 Initiative. While the initiative becomes a conduit for the siphoning of the state treasury, the contractors find some justification for executing haphazard jobs or abandoning same completely while Deltans languish in their suffering. A wise man once captured this ugly scenario when he said that charity is not charity when it involves other people’s money. Dame Okowa should be told this home truth and desist from this self delusion of being Mother Teresa. Deltans are aware that this is deception taken too far and cannot be swayed.
To redeem herself of the many failings of the Okowa administration and if indeed the milk of human kindness runs in her, the Dame should mobilize her 05 Initiative to protest against her husband whose EGO ARIA policy has impoverished the generality of Deltans. The Dame should also show by strength of personal example in her believe in Delta State by relocating her children to school and work in Delta state rather than in the USA and London. In this way, charity would be said to have begun at home. This is what Mother Teresa would have done and that is how not to be a fake Mother Teresa.
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