BY NKEMAKOLAM NWACHUKWU
TODAY, marriage, to many, is mainly for the purpose of procreation and materialism. But even with that, most marriages have crashed, many are on the verge of crashing, while some others are thriving even as the couples aged.
For Abia State governor, Chief Theodore Ahamuefula Orji (Ochendo) and his ever supportive wife, Mrs. Mercy Odochi Orji (Osinulo), it was a marriage made in heaven many decades ago at their youthful age, and consummated on earth for several purposes that will benefit mankind.
Recollecting the genesis of their blissful marriage, Governor Orji in his book titled “Confronting Errors With The Truth” said: “Because I was my mother’s only male child, she requested that I should marry early. I acceded to the request and it has remained my best decision in life.
“Fortunately my search for a bride at a young age led me to a sober, careful, beautiful young girl with impeccable manners and a very pleasant disposition. Though I met her when we were both young, I noticed that she was mature for her age.
“While my peers were busy searching for wives, my life moved on at full blast. I had a job in the civil service which I liked, a family that I loved that loved and valued me in return, a wife who loved me and gave me all the support and encouragement I needed to follow my dreams.”
The above statement best captured and described the unique attributes that differentiate Mrs. Orji from the other women. With this, it is obvious that Mrs. Orji’s philanthropic and humble life style which has endeared her to all Abians as a mother of all before and since her husband assumed office as governor of Abia State in 2007 is genuine and natural.
Instead of embarking on bogus pet projects that will not have direct impact on the lives of the less-priviliged people in the state and rather benefit the privileged class, Mrs. Orji embarked on grassroots projects that have directly impacted and still impacting positively on the lives of the downtrodden and less-privileged ones in the state without much publicity or fanfare.
It was on this basis that she was recently honoured with the “Award of Heart of Gold” by the management of the Champion Newspaper alongside the wife of the Lagos State governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola.
A visit to Abia will surely convince one that Mrs. Orji is truly a woman with a heart of gold as underlined by the award. It would be recalled that in 2007 when her husband was unduly incarcerated by the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after emerging as governorship candidate of the Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, Mrs. Orji against all odds mounted the podium and led her husband’s election campaign train. At the end, her husband emerged victorious in the election while in EFCC custody.
As a way of giving back to the people for their support, Mrs Orji on her husband’s assumption of office initiated a lot of people-oriented and empowerment programmes targeted at empowering the widows, the downtrodden, the physically challenged, the women and youths in the state.
Through these programmes, Mrs. Orji has built several three-bedroom bungalows for the indigent widows, blind men and women in the state. The latest beneficiary of the gesture was Mrs. Best Ekoba Alozie who hailed from Abayi, Ohanze, Obingwa Local Government Area of the state. Apart from putting shelters on the heads of the indigent widows in the state, she has taken the responsibility of catering for many indigent children whose parents cannot afford to take care of them.
Through her charity organisation, Hannah-May Foundation which was named after her mother, many women in the state have undergone skill acquisition training. This is both in the state capital Umuahia and rural areas where the foundation built several skill acquisition centres for the training of youths. The foundation has also provided those who undergone training with the necessary support to take off.
Today so many of them own their own shops in the state and are doing well. Health African Cancer Mission, Abia State Medical Mission, MTN Foundation, Associated Health Resources Centre in the United States and Tolaran Charity Foundation, Lagos have been attracted to partner with Hannah May Foundation to provide support to the less-privileged in the state.
Also not left out in Mrs. Orji’s magnanimity are the physically-challenged people who have been provided with artificial limbs, wheelchairs and other things to make life better for them. Several bedding materials, food items and others have also been provided to prison inmates in the state.
With Mrs. Orji’s assistance and advocacy, many women have been empowered politically and otherwise. From the council chairmanship position to state executive and ministerial appointments, Abia women have enjoyed and are still enjoying the best opportunity to serve in governments.
It has never been like this before now. For the first time since 1999, the people of the state, especially the women, are feeling the impact of the First Lady in the state. From Abia North to Central down to the North, the people are testifying to Governor Orji and his wife’s goodness to them.
But surprisingly with all these laudable achievements, Mrs. Orji has remained herself, not flaunting or bragging about anything. She has been able to combine well her roles as the First Lady of the state, a mother of all and wife of the Governor. She has been able to draw a parallel line between her immediate family and her office.
That is why she has remained a role model and very submissive to her husband. Blessed with very humble children just like her and her husband, Mrs. Orji has remained the pillar behind her husband’s success; an evidence of the wise saying that behind a successful man, there is a good woman.
This success has trickled down to every nook and cranny of the state, as the people are happy today for having Mrs. Orji and her husband, Governor Orji as mother and father of the state.