Ekaette Unoma Akpabio’s Heart of Gold
Although the primary targets of the FLEI housing programme are widows, men have also had a taste of the milk of human kindness that flows from Mrs. Akpabio’s heart of gold. Mr. Noah Jonah is one of them. He made a dream move with his family of nine from a mud house to a decent twobedroom apartment, courtesy of FLEI. Beneficiaries in the second phase of the programme include; Mrs. Idongesit Emmanuel Ibanga, a 35-year old widow with six children from Ukanafun Local Government Area; Mrs Ufot Sam, a 52- year old widow and mother of four children in Onna Local Government Area and Mrs. Affiong Moses Nketa, 40 years and a mother of four, from Itu Local Government Area.
Mrs. Akpabio is a child rights advocate. It took one visit to an orphanage for this part of her to become manifest. That visit brought her face to face with the inhuman conditions in which some children live. Not able to bear the hurt the children felt during her interactions with them, Mother Terasa initiated the building of a befitting orphanage for homeless kids, now known as Turai Yar’Adua Reform Centre. The centre was built with money from corporate and individual donations, and is equipped with an administrative block, classrooms, computer studio, sick bay, craft workshop, play areas and vocational training units, with capacity to comfortably accommodate 1,000 children.
Mrs Akpabio has, since becoming the First Lady of Akwa Ibom, remained a pillar of support to the Special School for the Deaf and Dumb, Ifuho, in Ikot Ekpene and other children centres across the state. She routinely visits the centres, to ensure their needs and supplies are provided regularly. More than 20 families have enjoyed financial assistance from the multiple-birth support programme of the FLEI. Under the programme, parents of new born twins, triplets or quadruplets get financial assistance for the upkeep of their new babies. She also offers assistance to others who are afflicted. She was there for Mrs. Josephine Inyang, a widow and victim of severe fire burn, whom she gave enough financial assistance to start a business. Miss Ekaette Anthony Joseph was empowered to start a beauty parlour and hair salon business. Mrs. Aniekpeno Ofonime Daniel and Mrs. Eyak Monday Akpan Unang, both from Ukanafun, received oil palm milling presses and financial assistance. Mrs Idongesit Udo Akpan of Essien Udim, Miss Uduak Effiong Udo and Mrs. Christiana Udom of Mkpat Enin received equipment and cash to start Hair dressing salons.
Others who will live with the memory of Mrs Akpabio’s large heartedness include; Otobong Innocent of Essien Udim who got equipment and money to start his own business; a cripple shoe mender, Rufus Eyo Okon, who received financial assistance to enhance his business, as well as Mrs. Emem Vincent Essien and Mr. John Asuquo Ntak Oron, who also got equipment and money to start their businesses.
To the people of Akwa Ibom, Mrs. Akpabio is a first lady like no other. Never in the history of the state has a first lady touched the lives of the less privileged as she has done. They wonder if the state will be blessed with another first lady in the mould of Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, when she leaves office in a blaze of glory in 2015.