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Governor Obaseki’s ‘Feed the Hungry Initiative’ Kicks Off Across 18 LGAs, as Obaseki Commits N1b Monthly to Cater for Indigent, Vulnerable Residents

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By Godspower Eguasa

In an effort to respond effectively to the needs of citizens and residents in the state, especially the indigent and vulnerable, and in order to rekindle hope, restore dignity, and alleviate the sufferings of the citizens from the worsening effect of the current economic crisis in the nation, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, flagged off the Governor Obaseki Feed the Hungry Initiative, committing the sum of one billion naira monthly, to drive the process and ensure the successful actualization of the program.

The flag-off ceremony which was held at the chancery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, on Friday March 8, 2024, in Benin City, had in attendance; Edo State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, Apostle General (Dr) Irekpono Omoike; Archbishop of the Benin Metropolitan See, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze; Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Hon. Chris Nehikhare, other dignitaries and top government functionaries.

The Governor who in his remarks, appreciated God for the opportunity to serve, noted that the initiative is driven by the need to directly impact the lives of residents in the state, lamenting that despite his warnings, the country still could not escape its current economic woes.

According to Obaseki, “I want to begin first by thanking God Almighty for the opportunity to serve and for the opportunity he has given me to associate and work closely with the men and women of God in Edo State. As I have always said, as the Governor of Edo State, when citizens are in distress, when they need help, very few of them can cross the gates of government house to reach me.

“But almost all of them invariably can walk and do walk across to their various churches and parishes to meet you, the men of God, to intercede for them and to also assist them through such difficulties.

“For me, it is beyond that. You know my position about what is going on in Nigeria. You know how we raised the alarm of the situation that we now find ourselves in. But it did not stop us from getting to where we are today.

“For us, we cannot now sit and begin to lament and complain about the situation we have found ourselves. As a government, we must now think of how to respond and deal with the situation.

“So, I called the Archbishop, I called CAN, and we had our first meeting here on the 10th of February. I was very deliberate. I did not invite them to the government house for this meeting. I rather decided to come out to meet with them in the house of the Lord, because I did not want this to be seen as a purely government initiative, that would be tainted with politics and other issues.

“I got several ideas from them. So, my original rough idea was polished, enlarged, and corroborated by the several meetings that they subsequently held. The committee they set up has worked very hard and diligently in the last three weeks, to come up with a program of action”.

Governor Obaseki who pledged the sum of one billion naira monthly, as the state’s support to drive the program, thanked the CAN Chairman and other heads of religious bodies for their immense cooperation and support, expressing confidence in them to actualize the program beyond expectations, noting that the initiative would be solely driven by the Christian Body in the state.

Obaseki said: “I must say that this initiative is being purely driven by CAN and the Church. Our responsibility as a government is just to make the resources available and then help monitor the process to ensure that our goals are met.

“For the pilot phase, we are making available one billion naira monthly, which will be placed in a dedicated account from which this program will be operated. This is just the first phase of our intervention.”

Launching the initiative, Obaseki declared: “It is now my singular pleasure to say that I am formally launching this program, the Feed the Hungry Initiative in Edo State, and as soon as I get the account details from you, the funds will be moved, and we will have periodic reviews to see how the program is going, and how we can correct any shortcomings in the program. Once again, I deeply appreciate each and every one of you who continue to support us, and note that tough times do not last, but tough people do; and we are all tough. God bless you.”

In his address, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Edo State Chapter, Apostle General (Dr) Irekpono Omoike, commended the passion and commitment of Governor Godwin Obaseki, in responding to the needs of citizens and residents in the state, assuring the Governor of the unfailing commitment of the Church to drive a seamless process in actualizing the goals and objectives of the program without compromise.

He said: “We wish to humbly appreciate the Governor, the initiator, the sponsor, the guarantor of this project. Our dear Governor is taking the lead in seeking and implementing strategies to tackle the hardship occasioned by the worsening economy, spiral inflation, and hunger in the land.

“A few weeks ago, the idea of providing additional support to feed the hungry and the vulnerable in Edo State through the Church was discussed with us by the Governor in this hall.

“On behalf of the Christian Association of Nigeria, we want to appreciate the Governor for his dogged commitment to the success of this program. We also want to appreciate the Governor for the confidence he has reposed in us. We will not disappoint.

“The pilot phase of this project will target 60,000 poor and vulnerable persons in the 18 local government areas. It is hoped that the experience from this pilot phase will guide subsequent months for more effectiveness, more efficiency, and possibly for scaling up the program”.

In his address, the Archbishop of the Benin Metropolitan See, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for the laudable initiative, stating that the actualization of the program will help to reposition and uplift citizens and residents in the state from the effects of the lingering economic crisis in the country.

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