Nkechi Ikpeazu: Woman with a Heart of Gold By Jude Ndukwe

Office of the First Lady in Nigeria has since become synonymous with power, influence and flamboyance. While many have used their positions as wives of presidents or governors to simply elevate themselves, enhance their private pockets and prove their class before others, some others have come to see the opportunity of being the wife of a governor as a divine providence for the betterment of the people who their husbands govern.

Those who belong to the latter have also used their privileged positions to positively impact their husbands on the way they govern, and it shows. Most times, when a performing governor like Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is being commended for his sterling performance in the State, some do not reckon the contributions of a woman like Mrs Nkechi ikpeazu, whose motherly role is obvious.

An ordained Deaconess of the Christian faith, the Abia’s First Lady has conducted her activities in the State like a true angel sent by God at this trying time in the history of the nation particularly as it concerns the welfare of women and the girl-child.

As the Founder of Vicar Hope Foundation, she has been touching lives in no small measure, using the Foundation to create immense awareness on the sickle cell disease that has ravaged a large number of citizens. It is even more pathetic that those who suffer from this disease do so for no fault of theirs but only if the needed awareness was created on the need for couples to check their blood groups and genotypes before going into procreation.

Owing to the devastating effects of this disease on the populace, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu showed how serious she is with this issue to the extent that she pursued it to the highest levels in Abia State until the Abia State Blood Group and Genotype Identification Law 2018 was passed by the State House of Assembly.

Apart from creating awareness, The President of Vicar Hope Foundation has also sponsored treatment and palliatives for victims of the sickle cell disease in the State. She has also sent her team of qualified medical personnel on seminars and other skill/knowledge improvement programmes outside Abia on the current management of sickle cell disorder. According to her, “We are committed to ensuring that Abia children who are suffering from this disease are given the best type of attention and care to enable them lead a normal life”.

The cooperation, mutual support and shared vision the Deaconess enjoys with her husband is reflected in a book co-authored by her and the governor titled: “Towards a Better Tomorrow, a Guide for Teen Years”, which was also co-published by the Vicar Hope Foundation and the Abia State government. the subsequent public presentation of the book also reflects the commitment of the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, and his easy going wife, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, to the welfare of children in Abia State, an immeasurable contribution that has also seen to the excellent performance of Abia school children in national exams.

She has taken her advocacy for the protection and promotion of the right of women and the girl child a notch higher by recently leading some women to pay the governor an official visit at the Executive Chambers of Government House, Umuahia, where the governor assured that all that needs to be done to continue to protect women and the girl child from abuse and violence would be done.

Without the usual monthly allocation from state treasury for her office as First Lady to run her pet projects, Mrs Ikpeazu, has found a way of working with relevant government agencies to keep her humanitarian work going. For example, she collaborated with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to teach skills to over 250 women, and thereafter empowered them all, both financially and materially, in order for them to start off their enterprise and remain self-reliant. Over 1,000 grinding machines, sewing machines and such other items were distributed to the women.

Through her Widows/Indigent Shelter Scheme, WISS, the wife of the governor has built over 50 befitting housing units for widows and indigent women in Abia, using direct labour and thereby making prudent use of scarce resources while also providing job opportunities for those engaged in the buildings.

This, no doubt, has brought succor to these women, some of who were victims of obnoxious and archaic laws that denied them rightful ownership or a share of the properties left behind by their husbands, reason why the issue of protection of the rights of women and the girl child is also of topmost priority for Mrs Ikpeazu.

Another commendable humanitarian service of the Abia First Lady is her ‘Abia Book and Learning Link’ which has seen her build and furnish two new schools with over 2,000 books distributed to pupils free of charge.

Mrs Ikpeaqzu’s kind gestures are not limited to women, the girl child and scholars, as she keeps searching for those to show love and kindness to, through the Vicar Hope Foundation, she recently distributed over 340 wheelchairs, 100 crutches, and in collaboration with Tolaram Charity Foundation, gave out 150 prostheses to amputees at no cost to the beneficiaries.

From the foregoing, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu who has brought exemplary simplicity to her role as Wife of the Governor and position as First Lady of Abia State, once stated: “The world can be a better place if we see each other through. We are not here on earth to see through each other, rather, we are here to see each other through”.

Having done so much for the people, her drive and passion to touch lives and bring succor to humanity without getting weary is defined by her relationship with God. To this end she once said, “This is my covenant with God, to give hope to the hopeless. With him, we will do more.” And, indeed, this woman with a heart of gold is doing more. Abia State is a witness!

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