By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The role of First Ladies in governments has changed, considerably, over time. Though not elected to political office, each First Lady, in varying circumstances, lately, transcend stereotypical background and ceremonial roles, through devotion to public service, philanthropy, and finer aspirations of the administration. It is no wonder that the First Lady of Anambra State, Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, a maven of social causes, fresh from receiving the Zik Award for Philanthropy, would be honored, in Los Angeles, under the auspices of the Anambra State Women Association of Southern California (ASWASC), a nonprofit cultural organization, marking its tenth anniversary in June.
Getting off an extensive phone interview with the association’s current president, Mrs. Amaka Ada Akudinobi, an attorney by profession, it was remarkable how the organization’s prescient aspirations, primed on origins, heritage and philanthropy are aligned with the First Lady’s visions for humanity and charity. Following a question about this momentous threshold, Mrs. Akudinobi replied heartily, “First, our cherished home state is the Light of Nation and the First Lady, its prominent torch-bearer. With Her Excellency’s chieftaincy title, Osodieme (literally, one who works in unity with her husband), and the administration’s commitment to robust advancement in areas like education, healthcare, security, and economy, the stars could not have been better aligned.”
Remarkably, the First Lady’s abiding concern for disabled children is not lost on ASWASC which, incidentally, has donated medical equipments to the home state. As members of the Anambra diaspora, ASWASC, according to its President, is steadfast in exploring various arenas of community engagement, because, “Development is about communal progress. In our culture, all has stakes in community affairs. Of course, each will contribute within respective means and circumstances. We are involved in the Anambra community, here, through scholarships and youth activities, for instance, and like the present administration, aim at charting newer frontiers.”
As one hinged between formal and informal roles, private and political spheres, and closest to the Governor, there are no doubts the First Lady is always under the spotlight, even constant scrutiny by allies, the opposition and media, and that her position is of significant value to the state. Insofar as Her Excellency, mindful of the respect her status commands, has engendered several initiatives involving humanitarian issues, remedies for challenges vulnerable members of society face, the acknowledgment, laurels and auspicious platform offered by ASWASC have significant implications for equity, empowerment, progress and cultural ideals of the Igbo saying, Onye aghana nwanne ya, which, essentially, counsels: Leave no one behind.
Asked, if she had a closing comment, Mrs. Akudinobi laughed, before replying, with palpable enthusiasm, “Her Excellency’s attendance, would be an honor, affirmative gesture and, in lots of ways, a boon for our home state. This is for posterity, as well as women’s role in development, and we look forward to the occasion.”
The august event which will take place on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Long Beach, California, will showcase Her Excellency, as a celebrated achiever whose landmark efforts have yielded so much to the inter-relationship between the Diaspora and Ndi Anambra. Her Excellency Mrs. Obiano, popularly hailed as Osodieme, will through her presence be of immense value in enhancing the collective developmental goals of ASWASC
Mrs Amaka Akudinobi also extended “hearty congratulations to His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) on your re-election as the Executive Governor of our beloved Anambra State,” and concluded thusly: “The manifest transformations in our home state under your able leadership are very deeply appreciated.”