Mr. Peter Ogbaji is Secretary, Board of Directors, Alochu Foundation for the Less Privileged, a Benue based charity organization. In this interview with jamesibechi.com at the wedding of the foundation president’s sister, Charity, Ogbaji explains the motive behind the foundation’s empowerment for widows, orphans and youths. He also addresses salient political issues in Chief Alochu’s sister’s wedding. Excerpts
Jamesibechi.com wishes to felicitate with you and Alochu Foundation President on his sister’s wedding. Perhaps you would like to comment on the wedding
The marriage of Alochu’s sister, Charity Ugboji, is very important to the President of Alochu Foundation. Charity is not only a sister but a friend to Alochu Ikpobu; they are close. Chief himself is up and doing for the success of the marriage. If you were in the Church you would’ve seen this yourself; even you would have seen that he was all over the wedding reception. He is so excited that his younger one is getting into matrimony and so he has to leave all his schedules, businesses and travel down from Ghana to willingly, happily give the younger sister’s hand in marriage to Wallace Igori. The marriage is so significant because Wallace and Charity had dated for close to 12 years. They were still very young in their tender age when they started their courtship and by the grace of God they have been together till their marriage today. Their introduction were done sometime last year on the same hoping to get married, unfortunately death took the immediate elder sister to Charity, Adiya Favour, barely a month to their marriage. That caused the delay in the marriage of Charity till today. After Favour died, the mother also died later. So the family is happy today that instead of mourning they are celebrating life and the marriage is so blissful and Chief himself is happy. The members of Alochu Foundation, the crew, the board is also happy because the boss is giving the younger sister’s hand in marriage. The board members travelled from far and near, most of them resides in Oju here, some at Makurdi. They are everywhere; they are in reception and the church during the Holy Matrimony. Here in the mansion that we are in now you can see all the board members around. They are happy with their boss, you can see the crowd and the marriage is significant because you have people like Comr. Aba Morro, Rt. Hon. Ezekiel Adaji, Rt. Hon. Samson Okwu.
Can you explain why personalities like Rt. Hon. Samson Okwu, Rt. Hon. Nick Eworo and Rt. Hon. Ezekiel Adaji, even former minister of the Interior Aba Morro are particularly here because the last time Morro was here was during David Mark’s senatorial campaign. Is there any significance too?
At the marriage of the daughter of the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Benue State Dr. Samuel Ortom, remember that it was like a state event; two senators from Zone A and B were there, the Tor-Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse was there; the governor, his deputy, etc, were present. Chief Francis Alochu Ikpobu was nominated as the Chairman of the Occasion by the CPC.
Comrade Daniel Onda who happened to be a member of the CPC and is from this axis knowing well that Chief Francis Alochu is a philanthropist and a stakeholder in the state facilitated that marriage and so Chief had to come and, in that marriage, knowing that Chief Alochu is the Chairman of that wedding, he was accompanied by Alochu Foundation board members, friends and associates.
Coming down to the marriage today like you said it is so significant because in less than two weeks one would have said ok because after the Terwase Orbunde’s daughter’s wedding let him stay away; but he didn’t do so, rather he went and still returned for today’s wedding because the marriage is very important to him and he wants it done. He had to give his approval and that was why he came for the other wedding and this one.
Another significance was about some of the dignitaries. Alochu himself is apolitical, if you see the crowd around him you will see people of the ruling party, APC, and people of the PDP, etc. The father of the groom today, Hon. Godwin Owulo whose son Walex Igori is marrying the Chief Alochu’s younger sister is the zonal chairman of the PDP, Benue State Zone C. He has informed his party members about the wedding; that is why you see them here today. Owulo, being the zonal chairman of PDP Zone C is the reason all the big shots in Zone C who belong to PDP are present.
Are you saying most of these big big politicians are here more because of the Zonal Chairman of the PDP, Hon. Owulo and not because of Alochu?
You journalists have a way of delicate questions but I must be frank with you. The former minister Abba Moro is intending to step into the shoes of his boss David Mark after leaving the office and so occasions like this especially the one that affects his party he can’t miss it, that is why you see him here. Comr. Abba Moro is a lively person and he is vocal; events like this avail him the opportunity to present him to the public. Being an ex-minister and faithful to PDP and his zonal chairman is the father of the groom today. They have a familiarity with the President of the Alochu Foundation that cannot be ruled out. It is not that Chief Frank Alochu’s younger sister is marrying that all these PDP stalwarts are present. They came because their zonal chairman’s son is the one marrying today. So, the Zonal Chairman personally gave invitation to all these people. If you come down to Oju we have people like Ulaka Ulaka. A very strong man of the PDP, he is there in the marriage. I am standing categorically to tell you that the people you have seen from that political axis have come to felicitate with their zonal chairman, Hon. Godwin Owulo.
You are the board secretary of Alochu Foundation and in a couple of days Alochu Foundation will be dishing out cash empowerment to youths and ophans. How is the event going to be like? Is it going to be different from the last empowerment scheme which was for widows? Or any information to the public specifically from your stable as the Foundation secretary.
The one we are doing now for the orphans and the youths is actually more than what we did in January this year for the widows. This time the foundation is going to empower one hundred and six youths and orphans together. During the last widows empowerment it was 67 but this time 106 have been nominated, verified and screened. Arrangement is 96% complete. Everything – logistic for the event has been put in place. The difference is that screening and clearing of beneficiaries won’t be carried out at the foundation office. It will be at the venue of the event. When you go there you will see the banner at the event showing the date and it is still 2nd of January 2018. It has not changed. The venue is COE Oju Multi-purpose Hall. The names will be put on display to avoid any prank by beneficiaries. We had experiences last time where a lady was claiming who she is not and she is not even from Oju. Clarification has been made to avoid those kinds of situation again. Last year, beneficiaries were treated to live refreshment and other dignitaries were taken to Chief Alochu’s house. This time no part of the event is going to Chiefs house. Dignitaries will be taken to a different location where they will be treated to a reception.
What does the Foundation seek to benefit from this cash empowerment?
It’s not a trade where the foundation is trying to make profits. The benefit is to put smiles on the faces of the vulnerable. The empowerment will help lots of orphans. Some orphans have dropped out of school because of fees; some are apprentices that can’t establish their own businesses; some youths which parents are alive but don’t have the wherewithal to train them. We also want to see that immediately after the event those of them who are into one trade or the other can go back and resurrect.
There have been reactions following empowerments for the widow, some section of the public read meanings with some saying that the foundation president is giving the empowerment to induce people.
The foundation is strictly apolitical. It is a non-profitable organization where the president has no intention politically. Widows were empowered on 28th January, 2017. After that. there were other empowerments not made public. Let me sight an instance; immediately after that empowerment the foundation registered 61 candidates for NECO in March. About 35 farmers were also empowered with fertilizers. There was a thanksgiving organized by World Harvest Church for the president of the foundation where he lavishly spent money. There were other medical attentions given by the foundation. It gave 200,000 to Ado Ode Gabriel for a facial surgery. The foundation also gave N285,000 to Iyana Micheal for eye surgery. All these were not done with any political intention.
The president of the foundation, I can say categorically, right now has no political intention whatsoever as we speak if it is right about now we are talking about 2019. He is just being a cheerful giver, he is just being a benevolent giver, and he is just doing a humanitarian service.
Your final word
From the foundation we wish to tell the public that Chief Alohu Foundation is not PDP or APC or any political party. We reach out to the less privileged, vulnerable and orphans. The public should see us that we are doing these things in segment. In 2015, we paid school fees, in 2016 we also did lots of empowerments to people – boreholes were sanked, electrification of some communities were made in 2107. At one time, it may reach the class of persons in the public. The foundation is being financed by Chief Francis Alochu Ikpobu only and he is doing it from the proceed of his business. He is not a government worker, neither a politician and so the general public should encourage him with prayers.