Okowa’s wife reacts to alleged N3.5billion financial grant for 05 Initiative from US NGO

AUSTIN OYIBODE, EDITOR

Wife of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Dame Edith, on Wednesday said the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), a United States based non-profit organization, has neither made any financial commitment nor a memorandum of understanding signed with the international organization with regard to funding 05 Initiative.

Her response was in reaction to a widely circulated report alleging that the international organization during a sensitization event organized by the governor’s wife’s Pet Project 05 Initiative in New York donated $10million which is equivalent to N3.5billion in Nigeria currency.

The report with the headline “Delta first lady gets N3.5 billion grant to fight sickle cell” said the organization has announced the donation of 10million dollars for the management of sickle cell in Delta state, adding that the funds will be coming to the state through 05 Initiative, a project being managed by the governor’s wife.

The report further said Leila Ndiaye, the Chief Executive Officer of IGD, made the announcement at a sickle cell sensitisation forum organised by 05 Initiative in New York on Thursday, September 26, 2019. The news story was popularized by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

According to the report, the event which was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was part of the funding and partnership drive of 05 Initiative, a non-governmental organisation. Ndiaye said the money was meant for the digitisation of sickle cell centres established by 05 Initiative across the state to provide care for patients.

But wife of the governor’s wife, during a press conference in her office and flanked by directors of the 05 Initiative, said her pet project did not receive N3.5billion from the Initiative for Global Development.

She said that her O5 Initiative, as a registered organization, was invited to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly where she made presentations and explained the successes she has made in the fight against sickle cell disorder through her 05 Initiative.

She said: “A major outcome of our UN presentations is the expressed desire of the Initiative for Global Development to partner with O5 Initiative. Their interest is centered on digitizing our sickle cell clinics across the state. This will generate critical data that will aid in the management of sickle cell patients.

“I would like to state categorically that no memorandum of understanding has been signed and no financial commitment has been made. If my Initiative was giving any money, I will be very glad but no money was given to it,” she said.

Mrs. Okowa said that the O5 Initiatives, a non-governmental organisation, has enjoyed the support in cash and kind from various donors, individuals and corporate bodies including Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Rain Oil Nigeria Ltd among others.

She mentioned the Initiatives achievement to include grassroot medical outreach in the state impacting 26,304 patients in year 2018.

“Also the distribution of 15,811 eyeglasses, suspension of 9,386 eye drops and performed surgery on 2,241 patients. In the past four years, we have paid hospital bills for indigent patients to the tune of nearly N14 million.

“Perhaps, our most visible achievement to date is our contributions to the treatment and management of sickle cell disorder. We have so far establish 12 sickle cell centers in government owned hospitals in Agbor, Oleh, Kwale, Okpe, Ughelli, Otu-Jeremi, Umunede, Issele-Uku, Patani, Emu and Koko, fitted with modern laboratory equipment, genetic counsellors and medical doctors,” Mrs. Okowa said.

Emeraldng.com reports that Nigeria is said to have one of the highest incidences of sickle disorder in the world, with about 40 million carriers.

Every year, 150,000 babies are born with the disorder out of which only 50,000 survive beyond age five, according to Dr Annette Akinsete, Director of the Sickle Foundation of Nigeria.

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