Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, came alive on Monday as the state celebrated the first anniversary of the Ekiti Development Foundation (EDF) and the Forum of Spouses of Ekiti State Officials (FOSESO). Interestingly, the day coincided with the 49th birthday anniversary of the initiator and founder of the two organisation, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, which completed a triple low-key celebration.
Despite the decision of the governor’s wife not to roll out the drums, friends and partners of the linchpin, nonetheless, turned up in Ado-Ekiti in dribs and drabs to identify with the success story of the organisations. And from different corners sprung up cakes of different sizes and customised greeting cards in honour of the 49th birthday of the woman of moment.
The one-day event, which started with a thanksgiving service at the Government House Chapel, Ado-Ekiti, took the train to the Erelu Angela Adebayo Children’s Home, Iyin-Ekiti and later the Office of the Wife of the Governor.
The Matron of the Home, staff and even the inmates could not conceal their glee on sighting a sparkling brand new white bus in the convoy inscribed with the home’s name, with donated by EDF written on it.
Scores of indigent citizens with personal financial crises also received financial assistance, while some widows carted away Glo mobile commercial call centre materials at the First Lady’s office, marking the third leg of the anniversary.
The husband of the celebrant and Governor of the State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; his Deputy, Mrs. Funmilayo Olayinka; and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin; had led top officials of the state to the church service earlier in the morning.
The Secretary to the State Government, Dr Ganiyu Owolabi; lawmakers, members of the State Executive Council, top brass of Ministries, Department and Agencies, as well as well wishers across the country also joined in the celebrations.
The first reading at the service was taken by the governor from the book of Judges, Chapter 5, verses 1-13 while the second reading was taken by Erelu Bisi Fayemi from 2nd Cor. Chapter 8, verses 7-15.
In his sermon, the Chaplain of Government House Chapel, Ven. Deji Alabi, commended the celebrant and the initiator of EDF and FOSESO on her vision aimed at transforming the state and improving the status of women and girl child in the state.
While congratulating her and thanking God for adding another year to her life, the cleric urged her to continue with her mission of empowering the women of the state and put smiles on the faces of lots more. He charged the two bodies to renew their vigour for service to humanity, adding that there are yet a lot of grounds to cover.
In her remarks, Erelu Fayemi thanked God for sparing her life to witness her 49th birthday solicited for more support for her husband’s administration in the state. She commended members of FOSESO and board of EDF for their consistent support and solidarity towards achieving her task of assisting the less-privileged in the state.
The First Lady announced the birth of another body, named Women in Leadership which will comprise the Deputy Governor, Female Executive Council members, female legislators and female full time members of boards and heads of institutions. Erelu Fayemi noted that FOSESO and EDF were built on integrity and accountability, with a promise to render account of her stewardship to show the world that the organisations could be entrusted with resources.
She said, “I will like to announce that we (EDF) are going to be issuing a report, a narrative and financial report stating what we have done over the past year so that people will know that we are an organization that can be trusted with resources.
At the Erelu Angela Adebayo Children’s Home, Erelu Fayemi stressed the importance of caring for the less privileged children in the society.
She said that the deteriorating condition of the home at the time the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration got on board was a “sad reminder of our failing as a society.” Erelu Fayemi stated that she immediately went into action to ensure that the building at the home was renovated to make it habitable for both the children and workers.
She used the occasion to call on the citizens of the state to treat children as gifts from God, adding that they should be nurtured to be responsible future leaders.
The governor’s wife urged women to adopt the basic principles of family planning and assist people in their communities who are not able to look after their children due to one reason or the other.
She further urged mothers to mentor their daughters to avoid unwanted pregnancy that could lead them to abandon their babies by the road side, thus bringing more burdens to the people around them and government.
Erelu Fayemi also called on influential citizens of the state to adopt and foster some of the babies at the home on a permanent basis to forestall their adoption by people from other states or foreigners.
She commended the workers of the home and those who contributed in one way or the other to ensure that the children lived well for their love and support for the children.
The initiator of EDF used the opportunity to thank everyone that had supported the foundation in the last one year and hoped that they would continue to lend a hand to ensure the sustainability of the foundation.
She said, “This is our own way of saying whatever little resources we have in the foundation, we would deploy those resources to the benefit of people of Ekiti state because that is our mission, to support the people of this state. So I’m thankful to God that that has happened.”
Still in the spirit of the celebration, the EDF also disbursed grants worth over N1m to 42 individuals to support their livelihoods in one way or the other.
Addressing the beneficiaries, the governor’s wife urged them to make judicious use of the fund to enhance their livelihood.
She hoped that the various gestures of the foundation would encourage citizens of the state to come forward and provide helping hands to those who needed support and assistance in their communities.
Erelu Fayemi promised to continue to provide platforms to help the less-privileged in the society.
The beneficiaries were assisted towards solving personal crisis, and for the payment of medical bills and school fees to livelihood issues.
Meanwhile, since its establishment on June 10, 2011, the EDF has attracted N74 million donation, out of which it has disbursed N46m in programming and grants to associations, groups and individuals across the state.
The foundation has equally expended N8 million on fundraising, publications and communication.
Briefing the media on the activities of the EDF, the Executive Director of the foundation, Mrs. Bisi Olonisakin-Olowoyeye, said it has supported individuals and organizations in the past one year.
She said, “Since last year, EDF has funded various projects in the state in the areas of economic empowerment, women’s leadership and rights, health, education and training and arts and culture.”
She also noted that the organization was receiving requests for assistance from individuals and organisations on a daily basis.
The ED added that the EDF spends a lot of resources on capacity building, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Social Development and Gender Empowerment.
She explained further that such collaborations were in the area of Gender-based violence prohibition law, which ensures that women’s rights were protected in the state.
Olonisakin-Olowoyeye disclosed that the foundation spent about N40 million on small and main grants, given to organizations, as well as on direct programming.
According to her, the thematic focus of the foundation on which it had committed resources were economic empowerment (N20,797,000); Women Rights and Leadership (N4,100,000); Health (N4,569,375) and education and training (N1,620,000).
Others were arts, culture and sports (N2,900,000) and local philanthropy and asset building (N5,800,000).
She also stated that the foundation disbursed a total grants of N770,000 to individuals for social welfare and N5,190,700 in special cases.
Examples of such grants were micro-credit finance for grassroots women’s group; support for the Ministry of Health Hernia festival for 50 patients; and co-convening of Ekiti state gender summit.
The EDF also supported public lecture on the prevention of maternal mortality organized by Women and Children Development and Health Research Initiative, among others.
She also announced that the EDF undertook programmes such as market women consultation, in partnership with the Office of the Governor; maternal health record-keeping programme; gender-based violation prohibition campaign and breast cancer awareness programme.
Olowoyeye said that the organization was able to achieve a lot due to generous donations it received from individuals, groups, corporate bodies and funding organizations.
She promised that the organization would release its audited account to the public by December this year.
The ED seized the opportunity to thank the foundation’s donors for contributing its success story, as well as ministries, department, agencies and others that have partnered it in the past one year.
She, however, appealed for more support to enable the organization to continue to perform its social responsibility to the people of the state.
In her remarks, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, who is the President and Founder of the EDF, appealed to the general public and corporate organizations to support the foundation’s drive towards alleviating poverty through its empowerment programmes.
She said, “One of the things I have always enjoyed doing is mobilising resources, and for me, it is not about the money that you raise but about the course that you are advocating.
“When people see that you are genuine about what you are doing, the resources will come. They might not come in their millions or trillions.
“People will like to place their resources in the hands of those they could trust. That is why we were able to achieve significant success at EDF over the past one year.”
Last modified: June 17, 2012