Mr Ezeukoh Ebubechukwu is the Founder, Eziokwu Ebubechukwu Foundation (EEF). The foundation recently donated Covid -19 palliative support funds to widows and private school teachers across 12 states in the country; Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Port Harcourt, Anambra, Abia, Sokoto, Niger, Oyo, On do, Osun and Kaduna to cushion the economic effect of the pandemic, he speaks about government support and the need to assist the vulnerable in the country, Excerpts.
Do you think the government/corporate organizations have done enough for the vulnerable or less privileged Nigerians in term of regular support or assistance?
The government and corporate organizations have not done much to offer assistance to poor and indigent citizen of the country. I wouldn’t really blame them considering that there are overwhelming numbers of people to support. In most instances, the effort of the government and corporate organizations are just a little drop of water in an ocean. So it is virtually impracticable for only government to dole out palliatives to everyone at this point in time hence, other public spirited individuals and organizations need to assist in alleviating the sufferings of the citizenry. So, it is important for NGOs like ours (Eziokwu Ebubechukwu Foundation) to offer palliatives to indigent people as way to contribute to the effort of government and corporate organizations. Likewise, I will advise the government to focus on creating enabling environment for business and trade, and that will really go a long way to improve the living standard of the citizens. Meanwhile, the corporate organizations should prioritize their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ensure the beneficiaries of their CSR are actually people who are really in need of it.
Out of so many affected by covid-19 pandemic, why is your foundation attention focused on widows and teachers?
Actually, a lot of businesses and individuals were negatively affected by the impact of covid-19 pandemic. But basically, we decided to select private school teachers and widows because we believe these categories of people were more affected by the pandemic. When things were normal we knew the hardship faced by widow; the pandemic has further increase their hardship considering that a lot of businesses have been crippled. Likewise, schools are yet to open till now. So what is the fate of teachers engaged by private schools? At least, it is an open secret that a good number of private schools didn’t pay their teachers since March when schools were first lockdown. Some of them have families to feed, bills to pay among others.
How many Nigeria did your organization target to reach and which of the states would enjoy donation/support fund benefit from your foundation?
We are targeting one hundred private school teachers and widows spread across Nigeria to support them. Donations were made across States like Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Port Harcourt, Anambra, Abia, Sokoto, Niger, Oyo, Ondo Osun and Kaduna.
Kindly share specific motivation that triggers ‘Reaching widows and teachers outreach especially at this time?
My motivation was borne out from my personal experience. My mother is a widow and I knew how things were difficult for her to provide for us then when the economy was still much better. You can then begin to wonder how widows who are single-handedly catering for their children will cope given the harsh economic realities coupled with the effect of the pandemic on the country’s economy presently.
Reaching the vulnerable in the society, especially, in the Nigeria context, does it require any specific gift or talent or just passion?
Well, it is basically passion. I mentioned earlier that my motivation to assist the indigent was borne out of my personal experience. I came from a very humble family and lived for large part of life in the rural area. So I would say that the odd have not really been in my favour. My driving force to suceed and overcome obstacles in life has been my saving grace. I will say I am lucky but everyone cannot be as lucky as I was. So it is important that in one way or the other I contribute my quota through the Eziokwu Ebuchukwu Foundation to support the vulnerable people in the society.
Being the founder and CEO of the Foundation, what has been your experience and challenges so far?
My experience so far has both been tough and fulfilling. One of the challenges is working with my team to get them function optimally considering that presently we are not bouyant enough to pay volunteers. Another challenge is sourcing for funds. For our first outreach, I had to sell one of my personal property to fund the project. Being our first major outreach it was really difficult to convince people to donate towards the project. However, for the second outreach raising fund has been a bit easier unlike the last outreach. We were able to raise #500,000 within a short duration while it was really very difficult to raise #150,000 for the last outreach.
How many lives have your Foundation touched so far?.
In our first project/outreach, we were able to cater for over 200 pupils at St. Aloysius Pry Catholic School, Iloti-Ijebu. However, we are planning to reach 100 private school teachers and widows. Conservatively, we have been able to reach out to over 300 people officially. Unofficially, we have reached a lot of people that we cant really give a figure. The goal is to reach a lot of people that we wont be able to count or remember unless we check our record.
What specifically do you want the government to give attention to?
It will be nice of the government can provide accessible loan at single digit interest rate for the indigents to invest start up a business or invest in their existing business. Also, we understand education is the bedrock of development . As such, it will be good if the government can provide quality and accessible education to the populace. Likewise, government should provide rural infrastructure to make life easier for the rural dwellers considering that the bulk of the country’s population lives in rural areas. Also, the government should do more for the indigents by providing palliatives for them. Lastly, economic policies should be design in such a way that it will not adversely affect the poor or less privileged in the society.