Chief Chidozie Iroegbu a.k.a ‘Social’ is the Managing Director of CDI Nig Limited with interests in Oil and Gas Down Stream sector. He is one of the illustrious sons of Ohuhu Umuahia from Amafor Isingwu. ‘Social’ as he is fondly called by many of his admirers is the face behind the success of the Amafor Isingwu COVID-19 Relief Fund, through which palliatives worth several millions of Naira were distributed to residents of the community. In this interview with The NewsCritic online, Chief Iroegbu spoke on his role in making the Relief Fund a success, why he is not interested in politics now and on other important national issues. He said his primary concern about political leaders is for them to be accountable to the people and provide good governance irrespective of political affiliations. Excerpts:
Q: Can you tell us about the Amafor Isingwu COVID-19 Relief Fund Programme?
A: We initiated the COVID-19 Relief programme in order to assist our people both natives and non-natives resident in our community during this lockdown. The idea is to alleviate the sufferings of our people who are affected by the economic hardship in the land due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and we are glad that the sons and daughters of Amafor Isingwu responded positively to the clarion call.
The response was so massive that in the first phase of the distribution of palliatives we were able to generate close to N4million within 48 hours. In the first phase of the relief programme we bought about 60 bags of 50kg Rice, 100 cartons of noodles, 5000 tubers of yam, 16 bags of beans, and large quantities of face masks.
On the second phase we still repeated what we did during the first phase because people were still responding in terms of donations and there was enough money in our account. Even after the Phase 2 we still got some money which made us to venture into medical outreach programme to also assist our people take care of their medical needs. To this effect we equipped our medical centre with drugs, all the necessary drugs like immune boosters, in fact we procured al the drugs the nurses there could dispense without Doctors prescriptions. Let me say that from the look of things we might do the Phase 4 because people are still responding and contributing to the fund seriously. It has been very wonderful indeed.
Q: What would you say is responsible for the high rate of the response?
A: Initially, when we started I was approached by our people to make my account available which I refused, but when the pressure became much on me I succumbed to the pressure and it did the magic. At that time a lot of people called me from home and abroad requesting that I should confirm whether truly the account in question belongs to me, which I answered in the affirmative. I also gave them my word that all monies contributed to the account would be used judiciously, that there will be transparency and accountability because I know I have the capacity to be accountable.
Another thing that gave our people confidence was the calibre of people that were assigned to manage the programme, they played a great role to its success. People like Obed Asiegbu played a special role to the success of this programme, Chibuike Obogwo returns home every weekend because of it from Port Harcourt, and Ugochkwu Ezeocha also played an important role too to make it a success. The Relief programme I must say brought a kind of unity to Amafor Isingwu because we never believed we could achieve such level of success in record time. It is an eye opener that we can achieve anything we want to achieve in the village in unity.
Q: The health centre that was equipped with drugs through the contributions for COVID-19 Relief materials, how will it serve the people?
A: Treatment there is free… we handed over the drugs to the community leadership and they have commenced dispensing of drugs to patients. Whatever treatment one gets there is free in line with the medical outreach programme initiated by the COVID-19 Committee. Malaria drugs, HBP, Pains killers, anti-biotic etc are all available at the health centre, and it is our duty to restock it to ensure they don’t run out of drugs so as to meet the primary health needs of our people.
Q: Do you have any political interest?
A: For now, I have not considered it, personally I think the time is not yet ripe for me to join politics.
Q: …but have you been supporting candidates?
Supporting a candidate is also politics, but I must tell you that what I am after is good governance. So, whosoever that is opportune to be there either from party A or B should realise that Abia belongs to all of us, Umuahia particularly belongs to all of us. We must contribute our own quota, do the best we could to make sure that Umuahia hasve a facelift as state capital.
Q: Despite the warnings and guidelines that we should follow to stay safe from the pandemic a lot of Abians appear not to take the issue serious, what do you have to say?
A: This is an issue of self-discipline, even in the western world the adherence has not been 100 per cent as some of them are opposed to wearing of facemasks. But the important thing is that there is an NCDC guidelines to follow for us to stay safe which we must practice. We must try and adhere strictly to the guidelines, it is very important; physical distancing, sanitizing of hands etc, all these we must observe. When you are out it very important you obey government guidelines or you face the consequences.
Q: What do you have to tell the Leadership following the pandemic?
We all have seen it that we have not done well in the health sector. The pandemic has exposed the total failure in the health system as regards to health facilities. This is an opportunity for us to use this period to put health structures on ground because nobody can predict when next a pandemic will break out. So, if we have the facilities we can be rest assured that we will take care of any health emergency situation that might arise on time. So this is an eye opener for the government to buckle up and do the right things.