The eerie feeling of offering a helping hand was palpable when members of the visitation sub-committee of the presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (RCFRR) visited Imo and Abia States last week Tuesday, Adeola Akinremi writes
When the Presidential Committee on Flood, Relief and Rehabilitation visited Imo and Abia State last week, one thing was clear, they made a good choice in Mr. Tony Elumelu as a leader of the team.
At Eziorzu community in Imo State, the residents got more than relief materials. Indeed, the expression on the faces of the flood victims showed they were relieved by just having Elumelu visited them, much more than the relief materials brought to them.
"We have had relief materials before. This is not the first time, but this came in a bigger and surprising way. It's my first time of setting my eyes on Mr. Elumelu, the man who commands global attention. I have seen many UBA banks in my life time, but today I have seen the young man with that magical touch. That is more than relief material. His coming here is an inspiration to our young men and women," said Chief Samuel Maduka, a community head of Mbele Autonomous who represented the traditional ruler at Eziorzu when Elumelu led his team to visit the flood victims last week.
The chairman, Heirs Holdings and leader of visitation committee, Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (RCFRR), Mr. Tony Elumelu led a delegation of five members of the sub-committee to visit the flood victims in Imo and Abia States respectively in what he described as "the first phase in relief and rehabilitation support to the victims."
According to Elumelu whose delegation were received in Owerri by the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, the visit has enabled his Committee to obtain first hand information while providing windows of support to the flood victims.
"This committee was set up to provide relief, rehabilitation and prevent future occurrence. It was bad that the flood occurred and people and communities were affected, but we will see better communities come out of it," he said.
Elumelu visited Eziorsu community, one of the hard- hit communities by the flood, where he assured the victims of regular government support.
He said: "This is the first phase in relief and rehabilitation support. We are going back to Abuja to provide report. We are moving to the next phase for rehabilitation and we will look into the fundamental causes of the flood and help to prevent re-occurence."
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha while receiving the delegation in the state house said, "history is changed today that we have privileged people coming personally to the less-privileged to touch their lives. This will definitely guarantee national unity."
It is not common to see people like these coming out to identify with the commoners. You made out time to think about this less privileged and now you have earned their trust. I can assure you have changed the season for them. Receiving this at a Christmas time means a lot. It will be a celebration for them and we will use the materials for empowerment."
In Abia State, Governor Theodore Orji assured the committee that the relief materials will be delivered to the people affected. He presented a report of the impact of the flood to the committee.
"We will ensure that what you have brought reach the right hands," he said.
The delegation include: Fashion Icon and the richest black woman in the world, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, Secretary General of Nigerian Red Cross Society, Mr. Bello Diram and Mr. Umar Gulani
The relief materials provided include bags of rice, sugar, Noodles, salt, toiletries, clothes, and mattresses amongst several items.
Earlier, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has given a donation of N1 billion to boost the on-going efforts for the rehabilitation of victims of the recent flood disaster across the country.
TEF, established by the former Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA), is the vehicle being used to reach out to the less privileged in the society and build capacity for young entrepreneurs on the continent.
It was set up as a pan-African venture in August 2010 to finance promising business start-ups and SMEs on the continent, deepen public private partnerships, and mentor a new generation of business managers.
Elumelu, while announcing the donation was convinced that the government should not be left alone to cater for the victims and called on corporate organisations and multinationals to come out fully in the joint task of providing relief to the victims.
According to him, these organisations make their profits from the society and it is time to give back to the society that has helped them in wealth creation.
Commenting on the new wave of philanthropy in Africa, Howard Jones of Investment Security Trust also stated: "This is a new phase in philanthropy, coming from Africa. It is a welcome development. It is also a new phase in corporate giving, coming from young African entrepreneurs. It is a highly commendable move that should be lauded by all and sundry."