• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye: A topnotch perception of public service

Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye: A topnotch perception of public service

On 6th June, 2024, the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Barr. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye demonstrated that she knows her onions well as far as public service is concerned. She explicitly understands that public service is for adding value in society. This lady-minister profoundly has an in-depth perception of the purpose of government particularly Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which outlines the ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’ despite the fact the chapter as presently provided is not justiciable. Section 14 (2) supra provides thus; “It is hereby, accordingly, declared that; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

Unfortunately, the purposes of government and being in government have always been misconstrued by state-actors akin to non-state actors. This ugly trend has always deprived the masses from benefitting anything tangible from the government , particularly Nigeria despite her enormous resources, sufficiently abundant to cater for the citizenry. It’s usually during the campaign time that the masses are brainwashed to believe their lives matter with meagre foodstuffs, biscuits and few naira notes distributed to them. We have seen politicians drinking sachets of pure water, eating and dining with the masses but soon after swearing-in, a very wide gap is put up to signal “O.Y.O.” (on-your-own). So, I will give it to the Hon Minister of Women Affairs for her responsible, responsive, swift intervention to save a citizen in dire condition with passion and as a duty.

Now, the reason; for about two months, I always met a certain young lady under some trees adjacent to my law office in Maitama close to accidented cars parked by Maitama Police Headquarters, precisely at Rio Garcia Street/Nile Street Junction. As I always noticed her at the same spot, I was curious to know; perhaps it was a coincidence that she was always standing at that same spot. Besides, she was always greeting. So, I interacted with her, and discovered she’s mentally-deranged though speaks very well and apparently, soundly educated.

After the interaction, I went further to inquire from the two women food vendors under the same trees that I learned she relates well with and helps to clean up the place for their business daily, and in return, they feed her. They explained her partial-mental predicament and that she sleeps inside the accidented cars at night with an unknown background, as per family and relatives. This gave me serious concerns on how to assist in rescuing her from imminent dangers, particularly the recurring ritual killings that have turned society into something else or falling victim to rape on account of her calmness. I also learned that some men had made attempts to lure her away from the location to an unknown destination but perhaps didn’t persist for fear of police personnel near the place. Of course, I know that the delay in taking the necessary action for her evacuation is dangerous.

After considering many options, I settled for one: to engage the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. So, I quickly petitioned the Honourable Minister, Barr. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, for her intervention, possibly to liaise with relevant agencies towards evacuating the lady for rehabilitation. Immediately after the minister received the petition the next day, she personally called to acknowledge the letter and for further details, and she promised she would handle it herself and would arrive in a few hours the same day to evacuate the lady for rehabilitation and, thereafter, her empowerment. As assured, the Minister arrived with her full entourage, including the Director of Gender Matters and heads of other relevant units, in a convoy to rescue a helpless common citizen. After a briefing, we all made respective efforts to persuade the deprived lady to go with the minister, but to no avail.

Along the line, the lady entreated to discuss only with the minister, perhaps woman-to-woman, and the minister devotedly obliged and went to her. The lady asked her guest, the minister, to take a seat on a chair beside her; the minister did so without hesitation, not even minding how neat the chair was, just to achieve the goal. They freely interacted at length, both in English and a local dialect, for over half an hour right there under the tree. Unfortunately, all persuasions by the minister to go with her still didn’t yield the target result. Rather than discouraged, the minister vowed the evacuation must go on and then met with her entourage for an alternative approach. Thereafter, she contacted the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to mobilise its evacuation team to the place to assist in moving the young lady to the hospital immediately, and she emphatically said that she won’t leave the place without the lady being taken to the hospital, even if it rains as the weather signals, and that she’s waiting.

Amid delays, the minister unswervingly followed up with calls that she’s waiting, until the team eventually arrived. This is the purpose of government and has been the pattern of governments in civilised nations like the USA, the United Kingdom, etc. After their arrival, the evacuation was peacefully carried out, and as assured, the minister took her underprivileged host to the hospital, registered her accordingly, and the lady is presently receiving medical attention at the hospital. Even the two women food vendors who supported the helpless lady with food were not left empty-handed. The minister, in appreciation, granted each of them a sum of one hundred thousand naira to support their businesses.

This is a commendable action of the Women Affairs and Social Development Minister, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye. She responded swiftly, modestly, attended to an emergency situation herself with a passion for a good outcome; devotedly stood on the road for hours to ensure that a disadvantaged citizen; a common person in a critical situation receives succour. Keep it up Hon Minister! Ideally, this is a model of public service, thus other state-actors need to emulate.

Umegboro, ACIArb, is a legal practitioner, social crusader, and writes from Abuja.