• Says pet project, WAOH, to address needs of orphans and widows
Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Olayemi Oyebanji, on Monday showered gifts of school materials on about 400 indigent pupils from the 16 local government areas restating her commitment to ameliorating the suffering of vulnerable people in the state.
Dr. Oyebanji distributed brand new schoolbags containing water bottles, mathematical sets, food warmers, six 60 Leaves exercise books and transport allowance to each of the beneficiaries of the exercise majority of whom were orphans under her Back to School Programme for Vulnerable Children.
The Governor’s wife explained that the Education Empowerment Programme which was part of her Widows and Orphans Hope (WAOH) Project was also to relieve the guardians and caregivers of the pupils the burden to be shouldered as schools resume throughout the state next Monday.
She explained that the gifts given to the kids was an opportunity to make an impact in their lives, give them a sense of belonging, support their education to motivate them to do well in their studies and ensure that their smooth resumption back to school was not hampered by lack of needed materials.
According to her, lending a helping hand to the beneficiaries who are pupils of primary and junior secondary schools was intended to support them to become great in life and help them realize their ambitions in the future.
The Ekiti First Lady, who assured that the support for the indigent kids would be a continuous exercise to incorporate more beneficiaries, also revealed her intention to launch an Interface With Adolescents very soon to cater to their needs.
Dr. Oyebanji who disclosed that WAOH Project would be formally unveiled in October revealed that over 30,000 widows have so far been registered under the scheme to support them and give them succour socially and economically.
She emphasized that the Back to School Programme for the Vulnerable Children was not government sponsored but was bankrolled by her friends and partners urging privileged individuals, corporate bodies and interest groups to support her pet project, WAOH, with funds to enable her assist the poorest of the poor.
Dr. Oyebanji said: “This is not a political jamboree, this is not a government sponsored programme. It is with the support of my office, friends and some well-meaning individuals. This is an opportunity for people and organizations to support our project so that we can make more impact on the lives of the vulnerable persons among us.
“Every week, I dropped N200,000 in WAOH’s office to be shared to the needy widows but God has put us here to have impact on their lives. We have to give them love, we have to give them hope and we have to give them platform to assist them and give support to those who have been left on the fringes of the society.”
The Ekiti First Lady disclosed that orphans in tertiary institutions and other matured orphans who are not in schools would be accommodated when WAOH comes on stream in October for assistance to assist them in their studies and vocations.
Dr. Oyebanji revealed that over 30,000 widows in the state had registered for various forms of assistance through her WAOH Project noting that the screening conducted for the intending beneficiaries had helped to identify their needs and how to meet them.
Speaking earlier, the Deputy Governor, Chief Monisade Afuye, lauded the First Lady for taking a personal interest in offering hope for the needy especially the widows and orphans noting that with the gesture she (Dr Oyebanji) is sowing great seeds of impact into their lives.
The Deputy Governor said the Back to School Programme of the First Lady would boost the pupils’ interest in education and give them a sense of pride among their colleagues as the new school session is about to take off in the state.
She also commended Dr. Oyebanji for coming up with the WAOH initiative which she noted would alleviate the suffering encountered by widows and give them hope and joy in their time of need and give them a platform for economic empowerment.
Some of the pupils who could not hide their joy for the shower of gifts said the gesture of the First Lady was a great and unexpected assistance and a relief that came at the right time as they were preparing for resumption.
One of them, Toluwani Ajayi, said she never expected the largesse but was surprised when she was told that she had been selected to benefit from the school empowerment scheme.
“I came all the way from Ikole and I was excited to come here when I was told that the First Lady would give us new schoolbags but I was surprised that the bags contained mathematical sets, coolers, water bottles and exercise books.
“My prayer is that God will continue to bless our mummy, the First Lady for remembering us. I am excited that I am resuming school next week with a new schoolbag. I will show it to my friends when we return to school.”
A guardian, Mrs. Bosede Olanrewaju, who accompanied one of the beneficiaries to the programme said the First Lady’s largesse should be emulated by her colleagues, political office holders and other privileged citizens to assist the poor and give them solace.
She said: “This is what other first ladies, political office holders and people who have the means should be doing from time to time. The gifts are special because we never expected them and they came when they are needed.
“We pray that Mrs Oyebanji will continue to find the favour of God together with her entire family. As they bring joy to the less privileged, they will find joy and their prayers will always be answered.”
The programme was attended by the Deputy Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Bolaji Olagbaju,; wife of the Speaker, Mrs. Adenike Aribasoye; the Head of Service, Engr. Sunday Komolafe represented by his wife, Mrs. Komolafe; state lawmakers, members of the state executive council, local government chairmen, top civil servants, labour leaders and other stakeholders in education.