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Uncertainty over the First Lady’s motherless babies

Posted by Vanguard on 2005/10/30 | Views: 821 |

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Uncertainty over the First Lady’s motherless babies


BETWEEN the Federal Government Girls College and the Nigeria Law School, Bwari, the headquarters of Bwari Area Council, Abuja is the Child Care Trust established by the late First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, who died last Sunday after undergoing surgery in far away Spain.

BETWEEN the Federal Government Girls College and the Nigeria Law School, Bwari, the headquarters of Bwari Area Council, Abuja is the Child Care Trust established by the late First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, who died last Sunday after undergoing surgery in far away Spain.

The Child Care Trust commissioned by Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 9 May, 2000, is a charity foundation established to cater for the educational and health care needs of physically challenged children in Nigeria.

The Care Trust, situated in a serene and large mass land, about twenty-four kilometres from Dutse junction was also established to institute programmes that would help combat child labour as well as rehabilitate abandoned babies.

When Sunday Vanguard visited the centre that has over 250 day students, over 55 other students in the boarding house and close to 100 staff, the atmosphere was one of gloom. The hitherto lively environment with children doing one thing or the other was dull and quiet that the sound of a needle falling into water could be heard.

On getting to the gate of the centre whose medical clinic was commissioned, 31 January 2005 by Madame Chantal Compaore, First Lady of Burkina Faso, Daniel Mgbelu, the security man, whose mood rightly captures that of other staff and students, told Sunday Vanguard, that major players at the centre and some of the children had gone to the Presidential Villa in preparation for the interment of the founder, adding that their involvement in the burial arrangements was the only way the staff could show love to the First Lady whom he described as a very loving and caring mother.

Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Abigail Oseni, who hails from Kogi State and a pioneer staff who has spent close to five years in the Child Care Trust, said she was devastated when the news of the death of the First Lady was received at the centre adding that she had her doubts about the news, but when it became crystal clear that it was true, she became helpless and a sense for despondency enveloped her.

"When I heard that my madam died, I was devastated. The way she behaved towards the children (in the centre) and children in Nigeria generally was okay, she has done so many things for us, and we will miss her a lot. I pray that God Almighty should grant her eternal rest and give every Nigerian the fortitude to bear this great loss"".

The Child Care Trust, in recognition of the pivotal and motherly role the First Lady played in the establishment and functioning of the centre, opened two condolence registers for visitors and members of staff.

In the visitors’ condolence register, Chairman, Bwari Area Council, Isah Dara Bwari, prayed that her soul rests in perfect peace, just as a member, Parent / Teacher Association, Dr. Dimas Zanayi, said: "We love you mummy but God loves you most. May your gentle soul rest in peace, Amen"".

The Director, Education and Programmes of the Care Trust, Mrs. Lucy Dickson, in the register, described Mrs. Obasanjo as a loving mother who cared so much about children in particular and others in general. "You left a great assignment for us. The Lord who called you home has a purpose.

"Rest in the bosom of your Father till we meet again. God bless and save your soul", she added.

"Mum, why did you leave like that, remember the promises you made to the nation but I want to say that where you are going is a place that God will give you rest. Mum, I miss you, rest in peace", Victor Emmanuel, another staff of the Care Trust wrote.

A doctor in the Child Care Trust, Dr. Y.Y. Balami, did not only describe the First Lady’s death as a great loss, but not believable. "A great loss and not believable initially, but it has become a reality, may her gentle soul rest in peace", he said.

Many questions that agitate the minds of Nigerians include what will be the fate of the children and members of staff of the Care Trust as well as the Trust itself? Will the Care Trust outlive the founder now that she is no more, or allowed to die and hopes of the children shattered?; will well meaning Nigerians and government watch while the dream of Stella attempting to bring ability in disability perish before our very eyes?

A member of staff of the Trust who spoke on the condition of anonymity was quite pessimistic about the survival of the centre now that the initiator and founder is no more.

Mrs. Obasanjo once said: "These children deserve special care and love". How would this be sustained now that the sponsor of the project is dead.

Many Nigerians, especially the governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and the chairman, board of the Nigeria Television Authority, Ibrahim Buba, have said that in view of its laudable nature and the need for the lives of children to be saved, the Child Care Trust must be supported in all its ramifications.



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