By Boluwaji Obahopo
THE moves by Kogi first lady, Rashida Bello to bridge the gap in equipment and consumables in Kogi hospitals has given reasons for cheer in the state. The governor’s wife has been able to mobilise health equipment worth million of naira for some clinics in the state using her NGO; Kogi Women Youth Advancement Foundation, KOWYAF.
The equipment presented to the people was a mark of the First lady’s identity with the health challenges of the people. The event in Ekinrin/Adde, Okene, and Olamaboro in Kogi west, Central and East senatorial axis respectively immediately she resumed her position signaled the beginning of a new dawn in their health sector.
Speaking during one of the presentations in Olamaboro, Rashida Bello who is the founder of KOWYAF stated that the donation was informed by the dire need for a proper healthcare system in the state. She said that having felt the pulse of women round the state, she discovered that many were dying because of past neglect of the health sector. She maintained that instead of waiting on the Federal or state Governments to perform similar function, she embarked on the project as a personal sacrifice. “This is a way of appreciating our people in the rural areas, who gave my husband their mandate to serve. I believe health is wealth and I have seen many medical centres lacking basic medical equipment for diagnosis and even blood pressure measuring devices, not to talk of syringes and equipment for anesthesia. I believe that I must do all I can to augment the efforts of the State towards improving the health of Kogi people,”
The health gesture details labour and post natal kits for pregnant women; medical drugs for sickle cell patients and other serious medical challenges, coupled with massive campaign and awareness programs.
On assumption of her office, Mrs Rashida Bello defined for herself the role she wanted to play in the development and growth of Kogi State in line with the New Direction administration of her husband, Yahaya Bello. After a thorough feasibility study, she realised that not much attention are being paid to the demography of women, children and youth in the state.
Rashida Bello, being disgusted with the complacent and obnoxious complicity of the youths and women in the State towards work which she saw as highly inimical to their growth, was spurred to create this project not with the intention of profit maximisation but to liberate the women and youths from the shackles of unemployment in the State.Though, not an Indigene of the state by birth, her foundation (KOWYAF) which was geared towards the empowerment of both women and youths respectively has yielded positive results.
KOWYAF which has the core objectives of capacity building, giving training and skill acquisition, health support, providing equipments and tools necessary for economic and intellectual development. Over 100,000 persons in the State have benefitted from KOWYAF with major testimonies from trainees and persons who have been empowered. She celebrated the World Hepatitis Day, World Heart Day viz-a-viz sickle Cell Day and her birthday anniversary with orphans, less privileged and destitute in the society.
In the first phase, sewing machines, hair dryers and a non – refundable amount of N100,000 each to 42 women from the three senatorial district in the State desiring to make ends meet were given out despite the economy crunch.
This year’s International Day for Women also saw 420 women drawn from the 21 local government areas of the state enjoy start up capital to start or expand their businesses.
Says Rashida Bello “My biggest motivation is to bring succour to the downtrodden; my mission is to change the live of the girl child who has rarely the same opportunities as her male counterparts.
Kogi State of my dream is one where all women are well informed and educated irrespective of religion, tribe or social standing.” She also prompts women in the state to be strong, self conscious of themselves as women and the power in their ability to function as a group, realising the special qualities that makes them peacemakers, and mothers.
She has also hinted of her plan to pursue the state government and House of Assembly in formulating policies; such as creating an office for violence against women, promoting the passage and roll out of the Stage children’s Insurance Program (SCHIP) to extend health insurance to children in lower income families.