COVID-19: Okunland Launches Relief Response Initiative

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  • Jemibewon, Bayo Ojo, Jamodu, Lambo, others named in elders’ council

Prominent indigenes of Okunland in Kogi West Senatorial District have launched an initiative aimed at providing relief for inhabitants of the area from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Known as the Okun People Covid-19 Relief Response Initiative, the move is meant to tackle the social and health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to the Yoruba speaking people of the state.

Among the prominent Okun (Yoruba) people named in the initiative’s Elders Advisory Council are former military governor of the old Oyo State and Minister of Police Affairs, Major-General David Jemibewon; former Minister of Industries and Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chief Kola Jamodu; former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo; former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and one time Acting Governor of Kogi State, Chief Clarence Olafemi.

A press release issued yesterday by a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Duro Meseko, on behalf of the Media Committee, also announced the setting up of a 21-member steering committee as well as various sub-committees including contact/network, fund raising and materials collection, procurement, media, relief materials distribution and funds/materials audit committees, among others.

According to the statement, the steering committee headed by former Deputy Chief of Staff in the Presidency, Prince Olusola Akanmode. Other members of the committee are former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Arc Yomi Awoniyi; Senator Smart Adeyemi; Senator Dino Melaye; Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mathew Kolawole; National President of Okun Development Association (ODA), Barr. Femi Mokikan among others as members while Public Policy Analyst, Dr Ronke Bello, will serve as the Secretary of the committee and head of the secretariat.

The steering committee is expected to drive the process for raising funds to buy drugs and essential commodities to be distributed to the people of the area as a way of complementing the efforts of the federal and Kogi State governments to contain the spread of the dreaded virus in the state and the country as a whole, as well as cushion the effects of the stay-at-home order subsisting in the state.

Eminent Okun personalities drawn from all walks of life and listed in the various sub-committees include business moguls Chief Jide Omokore, Chief Tunde Ayeni, Chief Funsho Owoyemi and Chief Sam Owa; former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr Osten Olorunsola; Director-General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera; founder, Phase 3 Telecoms, Mr Stanley Jegede; Managing Director,Thisday newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello, former Managing Director, Trust Newspapers, Isiaq Jibola and Managing Director, TheCable News, Mr. Simon Kolawole.

The conveners are Senator Smart Adeyemi who represents Kogi West Senatorial District and two current serving members of the House of Representatives, Hon Leke Abejide and Hon Tajudeen Yusuf, representing Yagba and Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituencies respectively. 

All former senators, House of Representatives members and current serving political office holders at the federal, state and local government levels, both elected and appointed, irrespective of political lineages, are expected to play one role or the other. 

The statement quoted Jamodu as saying that all sons and daughters of Okun from the corporate sector, private businesses, academia and the public service at home and in the diaspora will serve in the “Committee of the Whole”.

The media committee headed by Hon. Meseko has as members, TVC’s Journalists Hangout anchor, Babajide  Kolade-Otitoju; Managing Director, Kogi-Government owned Graphic newspapers, Dayo Thomas; Director, News (Voice of Nigeria),  Austeen Elewodalu; Rector/Director Nigerian Institute of Journalists, Gbemiga Ogunleye;  Deputy Editor, The Nation on Saturday, Vincent Akanmode; Head of the Department of Journalism, Lagos State University, Jide Jimoh; the Special Assistant, Electronic and New Media to Deputy President of the Senate, Lara Owoeye-Wise; and Ralph Omololu Agbana of The Guardian Newspapers, who will serve as secretary.

In the his inaugural statement, Jamodu, Chairman of the Elders Advisory Council on Covid-19 Pandemic agenda, charged the steering committee to hit the ground running by coming up with a “Programme of Action” and timelines.

He said that the activities of the Elders’ Council and all committees would cease once the objective of the intervention is achieved.

He said: “For the sake of emphasis, the broad objective of the Okun People Relief Response is to galvanise a broad-based support in raising funds for procuring materials and medical supplies, including drugs, as well as ensuring sustained awareness and preventive campaign in order to mitigate the impact on our people.

“This has been made more imperative because, even in the best of times, the preponderant majority of our people are used to eking out a living with tremendous difficulties.

“The Advisory Council, which I am privileged to lead, is at the apex of the organizational structure. The members are expected to use their best endeavours to instill confidence in all our people in general and to provide leadership, guidance and motivation to all the members of the various committees.

“By virtue of their antecedents and pedigree, it is also believed that they will lend credibility to the entire project.

“I appeal to all our people to regard themselves as members of the ‘Committee of the Whole’ in the parlance of our legislators. Nobody should feel alienated if he or she has not been assigned specific roles.

“This exercise is significant not only for its expected utilitarian outcomes, but as a symbol of our unity. It should therefore serve to close rather than expand our fault lines. 

“Finally, I know that none of my colleagues on the Elders’ Advisory Council will want to get involved unless the objectives are laudable, the processes are transparent and the outcomes are impactful. I therefore implore all those involved to bear these in mind and strive to deliver results we can all be proud of. I now have the honour to formally inaugurate the Covid-19 Okun People Response project and call upon all Okun people in Nigeria and in the Diaspora to key into it and make it a resounding success,” he said.


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