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COVID-19: Okunland inaugurates relief committee

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The committee, regarded as “Pan Okun Relief Agenda” was formed to address the various issues relating to the Coronavirus pandemic to the people of the senatorial district.

The committee consists of 21-member Steering Committee and sub-committees including Elders’ Advisory Committee, Steering Committee, Media Committee, Fund Raising/Relief Materials Collection Committee, and Contact/Network Committee.

Others are Relief Response Funds/Material Management Committee, Audit Committee, Relief Materials Distribution Committee and Procurement Committee.

The prominent Okun (Yoruba) people in the initiative’s Elders’ Advisory Council are former military governor of old Oyo State and Minister of Police Affairs, Major-General David Jemibewon; former Minister of Industries and Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chief Kola Jamodu; former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo; former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and one time Acting Governor of Kogi State, Chief Clarence Olafemi.

Chief Kola Jamodu

The Steering Committee, headed by a former Deputy Chief of Staff in the Presidency, Prince Olusola Akanmode, has as members former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi; Senator Smart Adeyemi; Senator Dino Melaye; Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mathew Kolawole; National President of Okun Development Association (ODA), Mr Femi Mokikan among others as members while Public Policy Analyst, Dr Ronke Bello, will serve as the Secretary of the committee and head of the secretariat.

Dr Ronke Bello

The Steering Committee is expected to drive the process for raising funds to buy drugs and essential commodities to be distributed to the people of the area as a way of complementing the efforts of the Federal and Kogi State Governments to contain the spread of the dreaded virus in the state and the country as a whole, as well as cushion the effects of the stay-at-home order subsisting in the state.

Eminent Okun personalities drawn from all walks of life and listed in the various sub-committees include business moguls Chief Jide Omokore, Chief Tunde Ayeni, Chief Funsho Owoyemi and Chief Sam Owa; former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr Osten Olorunsola; Director-General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera; founder, Phase 3 Telecoms, Mr Stanley Jegede; Managing Director, Thisday newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello, former Managing Director, Trust Newspapers, Isiaq Jibola and Managing Director, Cable News, Mr. Simon Kolawole.

The conveners are Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District and two current serving members of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Leke Abejide and Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf, representing Yagba and Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituencies respectively.

All former senators, House of Representatives members and current serving political office holders at the federal, state and local government levels, both elected and appointed, irrespective of political lineages, are expected to play one role or the other.

The media committee, headed by, Hon. Duro Meseko has as members, anchor of TVC’s Journalists Hangout, Babajide Kolade-Otitoju; Managing Director of Kogi Government-owned Graphic Newspapers, Dayo Thomas; Director, News (Voice of Nigeria), Austeen Elewodalu; Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of First Weekly Magazine, Mr. Dayo Asaju, Rector/Director Nigerian Institute of Journalists, Gbemiga Ogunleye; Deputy Editor, The Nation on Saturday, Vincent Akanmode; Head of the Department of Journalism, Lagos State University, Jide Jimoh; the Special Assistant, Electronic and New Media to the Deputy President of the Senate, Lara Owoeye-Wise; and Ralph Omololu Agbana of The Guardian Newspapers, who will serve as secretary.

The Fund Raising and Relief Materials Collection Committee, for instance, is expected to design and implement lawful, effective and creative methods for raising funds to execute the project, receive donations in cash and kind on behalf of the Pan-Okun Relief Response Project and ensure that all cash donations are deposited in the designated Project account.

The Media Sub-Committee is expected to coordinate media reports of all the activities of the “Pan-Okun Relief Agenda,” provide reliable, timely adequate information on the project to Okun people at home and in diaspora, and to the public in general, and ensure positive projections of the project on the Traditional and new media through feature articles, documentaries, interviews and other strategic communication tools.

On its part, the Relief Materials Distribution Sub-Committee has a mandate to design equitable and acceptable distribution template subject to the approval of the Steering Committee, distribute relief materials strictly in accordance with template and details approved by the Steering Committee, and guide against diversion or abuse of the distribution guidelines and processes.

In his inaugural statement, Jamodu, Chairman of the Elders’ Advisory Council on “Pan Okun Relief Agenda” charged the steering committee to hit the ground running by coming up with a “Programme of Action” and timelines.

He said that the activities of the Elders’ Council and all committees would cease once the objective of the intervention is achieved.

He said: “For the sake of emphasis, the broad objective of the “Pan Okun Relief Agenda” is to galvanise a broad-based support in raising funds for procuring materials and medical supplies, including drugs, as well as ensuring sustained awareness and preventive campaign in order to mitigate the impact on our people.

“This has been made more imperative because, even in the best of times, the preponderant majority of our people are used to eking out a living with tremendous difficulties.

“The Advisory Council, which I am privileged to lead, is at the apex of the organizational structure. The members are expected to use their best endeavours to instill confidence in all our people in general and to provide leadership, guidance and motivation to all the members of the various committees.

“By virtue of their antecedents and pedigree, it is also believed that they will lend credibility to the entire project.

“I appeal to all our people to regard themselves as members of the “Committee of the Whole” in the parlance of our legislators. Nobody should feel alienated if he or she has not been assigned specific roles.

“This exercise is significant not only for its expected utilitarian outcomes, but as a symbol of our unity. It should therefore serve to close rather than expand our fault lines.

“I therefore implore all those involved to bear these in mind and strive to deliver results we can all be proud of. I now have the honour to formally inaugurate the “Pan Okun Relief Agenda” and call upon all Okun people in Nigeria and in the Diaspora to key into it and make it a resounding success,” he said.

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