• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Philanthropy and national development

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One of the most fundamental goals of an ideal state is the happiness of the citizenry. Once the masses are happy and susceptible to the ideas of true democracy, development will certainly occur. A prominent scholar, Jeremy Bentham, once postulated in his famous theory of utilitarianism that society will be better when there is happiness of the greatest number of the people. The roadmap to sustainable national development is usually difficult to find.

History has shown that it usually takes more than natural endowments and fat annual budgetary allocations to build a just and ideal system. However, many believe, albeit rightly, that it is the statutory duty of the government to provide for the well-being and other anthropocentric means of moving the polity forward. But philanthropy by some affluent patriotic individuals in our midst has undoubtedly provided a solid leeway to rural transformation and overall societal growth. This salutary development perhaps lends strong credence to the much-vaunted private sector participation in national development.

No doubt there are many philanthropists in Nigeria who have used their God-given wealth to impact positively the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Some of them have even succeeded and excelled where government piled up reasons for non-performance. The recent victims of terrorist attacks in the north, fire disasters, flooding and other natural and man-made hazards in various parts of the country can readily attest to this fact. The deluge of philanthropic gestures witnessed from all parts of the country were not only salutary and invaluable but also a clear pointer to the fact that Nigerians are indeed their “brothers’ keepers”.

However, a critical and unbiased study of the mortis and history of philanthropy in the country shows that most Nigerians do not give anything for nothing. One might say, for example, that any act of philanthropy exhibited in anticipation of a lucrative contract award, political appointment, chieftaincy title, political patronage, religious investiture, and other egocentric purposes cannot be described as philanthropy or benevolence in the true sense of it.

Buoyed by the belief in the existence of true philanthropists in our dear country and fervent desire to identify them wherever they are, yours sincerely embarked on a frantic search in all the nooks and crannies of Anambra State and beyond in the universal belief that such purveyors of common good indeed deserve public notice and commendation. True to expectation, the journey towards the realisation of this noble dream was as investing as it was titanic, akin to the popular Gulder Ultimate Search.

Fate finally smiled on me when I came in contact with Godwin Ezeemo, a businessman from the remote and serene town of Umuchu, Aguata LGA of Anambra State. He was described by many as a great philanthropist, a man of the people and a patriot. My further research to find out why he was so popular among the people, despite the fact of his residing in faraway United Kingdom, revealed that he has made monumental contributions to the growth of Umuchu community and Anambra State in general, such that one would not hesitate to affirm that he is indeed a true philanthropist and a public-spirited individual.

For example, between 2010 and 2012, Ezeemo empowered over 400 widows and the less-privileged within Old Aguata (comprising Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South LGAs) through the Charity Ezeemo Trust for the Less-Privileged, an NGO established in 2004. He has also awarded scholarships to about 120 indigent students of the area in various tertiary institutions in the country. Within the period also, Ezeemo built a magnificent two-storey press centre for Anambra State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). The towering edifice located behind CBN Awka is arguably the best press centre in Nigeria at the moment. Before he came on the scene, the state NUJ had made several unsuccessful appeals to the past and present administrations in the state for financial assistance towards the press centre project, a scenario which compelled journalists in the state to grapple with crippling accommodation wahala, as their rented office accommodation at Amawbia was not large enough to contain them.

In May 2012, Orient Magazine, Newspaper and Communications Ltd, a media conglomerate owned by Ezeemo, took another giant stride in collaboration with the Anambra NUJ by organising a one-week public conference on value re-orientation. The forum, themed “Rediscovering the Lost Igbo Values”, had many Igbo scholars, media executives and cream of the society in attendance, with Ezeemo promising to make the forum an annual event. Two months after, he donated a brand new L-300 bus to Radio Nigeria Purity FM Awka to ease the transportation problem facing the media organisation.

To further demonstrate his penchant for giving succour to those in need, he donated relief materials to victims of last year’s the flood in Anambra State. Only in March this year, he donated N3 million for the annual award presentation to the best Igbo filmmakers organised by ‘Otu Subakwa Igbo’. The list is exhaustible.

While appreciating the plenitude of philanthropic gestures by this good man in the past few years, one prays God to continue to bless and ultimately use him to actualise the envisaged socio-economic transformation of Anambra State so that the state will truly stand out as the ‘light of the nation’

 

LEONARD AKAOLISA

Akaolisa, a legal practitioner, is of the National Orientation

Agency, Anambra State.

 

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