By SAM EYOBOKA & JOSEPH ERUNKE
DANIEL Okoro is 15 years old now. He had lived on Iyara Street, Warri in Delta State with his parents for about 13 years without the ability to walk on his own feet. If you call him a cripple or a lame you may not be wrong though he was not born so. When he was about 16 months old Daniel fell ill and was rushed to a medical centre where he was given an injection that turned out to be deadly. After the treatment he became crippled.
On Boxing Day, Daniel was full of excitement as he became one of the over 250 persons who went home with so much enthusiasm and hope of a better future.
The case of Pa Chikale Sunday, residing in Warri with impaired vision is a story to behold. At over 60 years old, he became a sudden owner of a brand new Hyundai car courtesy of Word of Life Bible Church in collaboration with its subsidiary, Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank.
Like it has always been on every 26th of December in the last seven years, Ajamimogha Road, Warri, Delta State was not different this year. The only thing that stood the street out among the previous years was that the crowd that greeted it was unprecedented! As early as 6.00 a.m. that fateful day, even when some people were still in their beds, following the previous day’s activities, thousands of others had already converged on the street, waiting anxiously for the day’s event to kick-start.
The event was the 7th anniversary of a yearly poverty alleviation programme of Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank, solely owned by Word of Life Bible Church, founded by current National President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Those who couldn’t arrive the venue before 7.00 a.m., ended up climbing tall gates and trees to catch a glimpse of what was going on, just as security personnel, fearing that there could be a stampede, had a herculian task wading off the unpresidented crowd of expectant men, women and youg people who were eager to celeb-rate an unusual Christmas, while those who could not stand the unimaginable crowd, went some metres away to watch activities of the day through large projectors stationed some distance away.
Just as the event had always brought surprises to the people all over the state, this year’s did not only replicate the feat but went further in volume and scope as it increased the number of gift items that were dished out. In all, six brand new Hyundai cars, 15 tricycles, 100 grinding machines, 3.8 KVA power generating plant, Omega gas cookers, three deep freezers, a set of crystal glass dinning set, 32 LG LCD Tv set, washing machines and 200 bags of rice as consolation prices, amongst other items were given to the needy through raffle draw.
Among those in the crowd who had come with expectation, and who was not disappoin-ted at the occasion was Mrs. Osatemu Tejiri Jennifer. Through the draw, she became the first car owner to the bewilderment of her husband, Mr. Osatemu. The 31-year old mother of one was short of words when she found her way to the stage as she pla-ced her two hands on her chest, unable to speak for several moments over fate that had befallen her.
When she finally found her voice, Osatemu, a teacher in a private primary school in Okwagbe, one of the riverine communities around Warri, was full of appreciation to Pastor Oritsejafor in particular and by extension God, for the car gift which she disclosed, would be deployed into commercial venture to generate income for her family.
Thought it was a gimmick
Emmanuel Tijere, 46, was until recently had fed his family with proceeds from ridding okada in Effurun, until November 1, when the Delta State government outlawed the ubiquitous motorcycle in Asaba, Warri and Effurun area of the state. After the ban he had no visible means of keeping his family until a friend told him of the poverty alleviation programme of Word of Life.
He promptly applied and won a tricycle for which he was very grateful to the first couple of Word of Life Bible Church. The member of Deeper Christrian Life Bible Church, Effurun District, said: “I thank Papa Ayo and Mama Helen for the generosity. I thank God for the using Pastor Ayo to bless the people of this area.
I never thought that things like this can be true. I thought that if it is tyrue it is only for members of Word of Life Bible Church. But what I have seen today, I can boldly say that what they are doing here is real and not one of those boju boju thing that people do these days.”
Speaking at the event held at the instance of the Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank, National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said the gifts were his own way of giving back to the society, especially the less privileged; noting that the essence of waelth was all about sharing with the needy. He appealed to governments at all levels in the country as well as corporate organisations to be more proactive in coming up with similar empowerment programmes that could help cut down the poverty rate in the country.
He said the level of poverty in the country prompted his intervention and tasked churches to start looking towards such direction. While stressing that the responsibility of government at all levels was to cater for the welfare and security of the citizenry, he regretted that some companies operating in the country and in particular, were making money without giving back to their host communities.
Challenge corporate organisations
“Why is it that wealthy Nigerians and corporate organisations cannot do much more than what the church is doing in terms of bringing succour to the people? Is it the church that people should really be concerned about? There are institutions, corporate bodies, industrial establishments that are entrenched in different communities and are making millions of naira. You want to look at how much some of these companies are putting back into the communities; it would be ridiculous how meagre it is”, he lamented.
“I will personally use this opportunity to challenge corporate organisations, micro-finance and commercial banks and all different kinds of organisations to look again at this very important issue. If we have done this little and another does the same thing, when you add all of them together, you will be surprised how many Nigerians will be out of the poverty level”, he noted.
On her part, Chairman of Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank and wife of the founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Pastor (Mrs.) Helen Oritsejafor, said the gesture was in collaboration with the Word of Life Bible Church, in fulfillment of her husband’s desire to minister both to the spiritual, physical and economical aspects of human existence.
She disclosed that in order to enhance the service delivery of the bank to its numerous customers, certain related banking operations such as Eagle Square Wing Insurance Company which avails opportunity to insure companies, businesses, properties, staff, children for indemnity in the event of fire, burglary or death of loved ones, had been introduced.
“Also, Eagle Flight Bureau De Change came on board on the April 19, 2007 and was granted license to operate June 6, 2007 by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Presently, we are a sub representative of Western Union Money Transfer. We provide foreign currencies at competitive rates. We have done all these to demonstrate our commitments to poverty reduction which we are set to achieve by the grace of God”, she said.
The event which witnessed the presence of ministers of God, traditional rulers, civil commissioners, local government chairmen, captains of industries and non-Government Organisations, was indeed one that would be forever remembered, giving its importance in the lives of the people.
Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Tony Elumelu keyed into the dream of taking the Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank national, because “when we took over a distress bank in 1997 we dreamt a similar dream but many people didn’t believe it but by the grace of God it came to pass. What I have seen here today, is quite humbling, informative, educative and in fact is worthy of emotion by all corporate Nigeria.
I said to myself, imagine the number of micro finance banks we have in this country, and if each of these banks can do 10 per cent of what Eagle Flight has done today, it will go a long way in helping to alleviate poverty in this country. Two, to inculcate entrepreuneuring spirit in our people,” he said.
He described the event as a memorable one, stressing that the essence of living is not to accommulate wealth for yourself, but God sometimes chooses someone for specific roles in life..”It is only the myopic that thinks that wealth is just for himself,” he ended, thanking Pastor Ayo and Mama Helen.