My Testimonial: Dame Okowa Gives Scorecard of Her Project ‘O5 Initiative’
Wife of Delta Governor, Dame Edith Okowa, has given an account of her stewardship as First Lady in the 8 years of her husband’s administration, with focus on her O5 Initiative project.
In an appreciation dinner held Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the Dome Event Center, Asaba, the governor’s wife used the occasion to thank donors and partners of her O5 Initiative project; the platform through which she fulfilled her vision of touching the lives of vulnerable Deltans and Nigerians.
Speaking to a cross section of guests, Dame Okowa who exuded gaiety and fulfilment, recalled that, prior to being the first lady of Delta state, the statement by Jesus Christ in Matthew 25 vs 35-36, inspired her to lead a life of charity.
“These statements left a profound impression on me early in life; hence, in my private life and professional career, I strove to lend a helping hand to the poor and needy whenever the opportunity presented itself. When, by the grace of God, my husband became Governor in May 2015, I saw it as the Lord giving me a bigger platform to positively affect more lives. Inspired by those verses of scripture, I founded the 05 Initiative with the following five-fold mission: To feed the hungry; to clothe the needy; to care for the sick; to provide shelter for the homeless; and to visit those in prison.
“To achieve these goals, we needed the generosity of public-spirited individuals, while maintaining the highest levels of transparency, accountability, and integrity in our operations. With gratitude to God, I am pleased to inform you that we are blessed to have faithful partners who believe in our vision, and a good crop of passionate and dedicated staff, who sacrifice their time, talent, and resources to help the 05 succeed.
“Prisoners in the five correctional centres received hope and encouragement through our regular visitations and the benevolence of our donors. In the course of time, we added spiritual programmes to our activities such as the Mothers Arise and Couples Forum outreaches. We are glad that many lives, marriages, and homes have been transformed through these outreaches.” Dame Okowa stated.
She empathetically, appreciated partners, donors, and staff who stood by her through the years in reaching out to the poor, orphans, women, and other vulnerable groups.
“I crave the indulgence of this audience to single out few persons for mention. First, is my dear husband and best friend, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, whose moral support gave us the wings to fly.
“As you may be aware, the 05 Initiative is not funded by the government. We depended solely on charitable donations. Worthy of mention in this regard are Mr Jim Ovia, the Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, and Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie, the Chairman of Rainoil. These great achievers of our time have been outstanding in their generosity and unflinching commitment to the cause of the poor and vulnerable.
“I thank Dr. Ernest Ogbedo of Restore Sight Africa who travelled round the state with us to perform free eye surgeries and provide free eye glasses. Dr. Clement Isibor also deserves commendation for his counsel and guidance in our work with those living with sickle cell disorder.
“Finally, my gratitude goes to the indefatigable staff of 05 Initiative led by Mrs. Kevwe Agas, the Director-General. I cannot thank you enough for staying true to the vision.
“As this administration winds up on May 29, 2023, I am happy to inform this audience that the work of 05 Initiative will not cease. However, after that date, the organisation will be known as 05 Foundation. I, therefore, solicit for your continued partnership and support. Together, we shall continue to change the world, one person at a time.”
In his remarks, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa commended his wife for staying focused despite several distractions, and appreciated the partners of O5 Initiative for the support given to her through the years.
According to the Governor, “I encouraged my wife to pursue her dream. I am proud of the work she has done. By giving account of her works, I know my wife is satisfied”.
He urged all who supported his wife, to also support the incoming first lady.
Leading a colloquium of goodwill messages, the Director General, National Sickle Cell Centre, Idi Araba, Dr Annette Akinsete, eulogized the traction at which Dame Okowa achieved a great feat in giving a beautiful lifeline to the Sickle Cell warriors in Delta State.
Dr Akinsete further commended O5 Initiative for registering children with sickle cell disorder into the state health scheme to enable them assess free and quality healthcare.
In their goodwill messages, the first ladies of Edo and Bayelsa states, Betsy Obaseki and Gloria Diri, who graced the event as representatives of Nigeria governors’ wives forum, said that they were proud of the charitable works of Dame Okowa, noting that she did something different that is worth celebrateing and emulating.
Dr Ernest Ogbedo of Restore Sight Africa, Venerable Omaje, the Medical Director, FMC Asaba, Dr Victor Osiatuma and the State Controller of Corrections, Babafemi Jaiyeoba, all lauded the achievements of Dame Okowa O5 Initiative in the various sectors of humanity.
Highpoint of the occasion was the screening of a video documentary and unveiling of her the Book, My Testimonial. Both were a compendium of remarkable achievements of Dame Edith Okowa’s O5 Initiative in the last eight years.
Since the inception of O5 Initiative in 2015, a total of 23 sickle cell clinics and a world class referral centre has been established in Delta state.
Also, an equipped clinic was also built for inmates and handed over to the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ogwashi-Uku Correctional Centre.
A total of 63 orphanages has been supported with foods items, cash sums, others over the past years.
Most importantly, over 51,000 Deltans and residents in the state, benefitted from the free eye care outreaches, including eye surgeries under the O5 Initiative and Restore Sight Africa partnership.
Flood victims, leprosarium, indigent women and patients trapped at various hospitals due medical bills, received the touch of O5 Initiative.