The First Lady of Charity

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Rendering public service in any capacity needs to be documented in a book so that posterity can have a handle on the affairs of the homeland. The book Ebelechukwu Obiano – Anambra’s First Lady of the Grassroots by Emeka Ozumba serves this crucial purpose. With this book in their hands, admirers and critics alike of Mrs. Obiano now have a document to crosscheck the activities of the First Lady in her tour of duty as the wife of Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Maduburochukwu Obiano.

It is of utmost importance that the author of the book knows his onions. Emeka Ozumba is a 1987 graduate of Mass Communication. He has well over 25 years’ experience in marketing communications with a bias for crisis and political communications/public affairs. His expertise in strategic communications, advocacy and stakeholder relations is much sought after. Prior to being a political office holder, he was the Managing Consultant at Ozion Limited, a government/public affairs and media advisory consultancy based in Abuja, FCT, until March 2014. From 2006 to 2010, Emeka was the Practice Leader in Public Affairs at C&F Porter Novelli Lagos, Nigeria’s leading business advisory consultants where he honed his public relations skills while successfully managing communications programmes for blue chip firms such as MTN, Etisalat, Stanbic IBTC, Actis and several public sector accounts. In 2005 he was the Project Coordinator, Reputation Management, for the Office of the Senate President.  He is currently the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State. He is a Member of several professional associations including the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (MNIPR) and Nigerian Institute of Management (MNIM).

In the words of the blurb, “Ebelechukwu Obiano – Anambra’s First Lady of the Grassroots, is a trailblazing offering in Nigeria where men dominate the politics and tell hagiographies all over the place. The First Lady of Anambra State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, has courageously given women a voice in this compelling biography inimitably written by Emeka Ozumba. Popularly hailed as “Osodieme”, Mrs. Obiano has worked in perfect tandem with her doting husband, His Excellency Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, Governor of Anambra State, to lend a new meaning to inspired governance. Like a fresh charge of electricity, Mrs. Obiano brought forward her charitable works as a private citizen into public duty by setting up cThrough her dogged efforts, in the tradition of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, widows get houses built for them, people who had lost their limbs are given prosthetics while the mentally challenged are taken from the streets and rehabilitated. Ebelechukwu Obiano – Anambra’s First Lady of the Grassroots by Emeka Ozumba depicts Mrs. Obiano as a class act whose good works are steeped in charity that lasts well beyond government.”

obianoThe Foreword written by Councillor Ernest Ezeajughi, the former Mayor of London Borough of Brent, United Kingdom, stresses: “I am aware that leading a revolution almost always attracts motley darts from the opposition, especially in this age of the social media, but Mrs. Obiano’s charity work in relation to her predecessors and first ladies elsewhere in the country, is outstandingly phenomenal and I dare add commendable. I have no doubt that these achievements will always speak for her.”

The book traces Mrs. Obiano from her early life, and encompasses her uncommon passion for helping people even as a private citizen, her tour of duty as a first lady of hearts, her passionate advocacy of inclusive politics, her resolute role as a pillar of support for her husband’s government, her irrepressible approach to the task of public service, her representative speeches, and her championing of the cause of her NGO, CAFÉ, while her husband is in office and hereafter.

The difference that Mrs. Obiano engineered comes blazing forth in the Introduction to Ebelechukwu Obiano – Anambra’s First Lady of the Grassroots thus: “In Anambra State, it has been the norm for the governor’s wife to mostly perform her all-important role as the First Lady from the background, usually with no well-defined programme to specifically make the matching marks. Admittedly, the Office of the First Lady is latent, except to the degree of which relevance is bestowed on it by its occupant. It all boils down to the depth of one’s desire to live beyond one’s self, to look out for others, and to serve when no one looks up to them to do so. Former Anambra State First Ladies were seen but not heard – or heard, but not clearly. This time, and for the first time, Anambra State has a First Lady that is seen, heard, and is able to define her role within the Anambra First Family’s commitment to public service – a First Lady able to use her position of significant personal influence to advance public good.”

The pictorials in the book lend credence to Mrs. Obiano’s charitable works. In the well-packaged book, Ebelechukwu Obiano – Anambra’s First Lady of the Grassroots, the words and the pictures blend in showcasing a worthy human endeavour.

Emeka Ozumba has written a worthwhile book that deserves the attention of all interested in the documentation of Nigerian history for posterity.

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