From CHUKS EZE, Enugu
A former governorship candidate in Enugu State, Pastor Donatus Ozoemena, has rolled out charity packages for Enugu communities including food items, beverages, cash and scholarship schemes, among others, to help the less privileged, children and the indigent to mark the 2020 Yuletide season.
The elaborate charity programmes also includes a football tournament tagged, “The Governor’s Cup,” with football teams drawn from 20 communities in Awgu Local Government Area (LGA) vying for the trophies.
According to the organisers, no team will be a loser, as all participating football teams, apart from the first, second and third best would receive cash compensation.
It was gathered that the winners and prizes of the scholarship awards, which is scheduled to be drawn on December 30th, 2020, would be unveiled at the grand finale of the events slated for January 4, 2021.
Pastor Ozoemena, a philanthropist and the governorship hopeful of the United Democratic Party (UDP), is also the General Overseer of United States-based God’s Anointed Live Ministries.
Although he was absent at the opening ceremony of the weeklong activities, which took place on Christmas Day, at the Onoli Community Primary School field, Awgu, in Awgu Local Government Area (LGA), Enugu State, he however, declared the event open, virtually, with a pledge to scale up the scope of the scheme in the next edition.
According to coordinators of the programmes, Cyndia Okafor, the General Secretary of Voice of Awgu (VOA), and Pastor Magnus Okeke, who both represented the philanthropist at the flag-off events, Pastor Ozoemena, could not make it due to the ravaging effect of the Coronavirus (COVID- 19) pandemic.
Okafor was in charge of the Scholarship scheme/Football Tournament, while Pastor Okeke coordinated the Food Drive which was said to have run since 2014.
The event also witness conferment of distinguished award on the philanthropist by the African Free Press Magazine, an Abuja-based newsmagazine, tagged “Prestigious Distinguished African Pace-Setter/Transformation Ambassador Award”.
Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, Chief Clifford Ibe, who presented the plaque to Cyndia Okafor on behalf of the recipient said the honour was conferred on the Pastor Ozoemena, “for his outstanding and invaluable service to the spiritual, social and economic development of Igboland, Nigeria and Africa; and for his credible leadership, empowerment and philanthropy and service to humanity.
In his address, pastor Ozoemena appreciated the magazine for the award and pledged to continue to use his God-given resources as well as his local and international contacts to better the lives of the people.
He also appreciated citizens of Enugu State for their support and goodwill towards him and his family, noting that he had planned to scale up the 2020 charity – Food Drive and De Governor’s Cup football tournament, but for the “global destabilizing effect of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
He said: “My heart hungers for more good, better developments and more improvements; to expand the scope of this scheme beyond Awgu to Enugu state and Southeast geopolitical zone.
“We hope to accommodate other Local Governments in Enugu State come next edition.
“I urge our well-to-do men and women to join me in doing supporting our youths through any means possible in order to better our communities, our council areas, state, senatorial zone and Nigeria at large,” he said.
He appreciated the Voice of Awgu (VOA) and the entire planning committees of the 2020/2021 De Governor’s Cup/Scholarship scheme, as well as the committee for Food Drive, for their dedication and hard work.
On the scholarship raffle draw, Pastor Ozoemena explained that selection would be by raffle draw to ensure transparency, fairness and impartiality, stressing that one secondary school student would be selected from every village in Awgu town.
According to him, every winner would receive the sum of N30, 000 for an academic session, and explained that, “we had planned to give out more but, as you all know, this year has been very dark for everybody globally.
“He admonished all citizens to celebrate Christmas and New Year with love, avoiding heavy drinking of alcohol, careless driving, while strictly observing all official covid-19 precautionary measures.
The cleric also paid special tribute to a football player, late Uche Abuchi, who had participated in the 2019/2020 edition of De Governor’s Cup but had died midway into the build-up to the current edition, urging his colleagues and family to bear the irreparable loss of the deceased soccer talent.
On the reported clamour for him to contest the 2023 governorship election, Pastor Ozoemena said that the idea had not been ruled out, adding; “but, let’s focus on our football tournament and scholarship and other empowerment programmes for now and see what the future holds as I rely on God’s direction for future”.
Some beneficiaries of the food drive including Mrs Josephine Chijioke and Mrs Jenifer Mbamalu, who spoke to our correspondent, prayed God to continue to bless and expand pastor Ozoemena’s coast, and preserve him to enable him to continue his good works for humanity.
It would be recalled that the clergyman had during the last edition of De Governor’s Cup, pledged to “use my contacts to create link-ups for outstanding football talents for them to try their luck at reputable local and international clubs with a view to pursuing fruitful cocker career”.
Meanwhile, the kick-off ceremony for the opening game which was between Onoli FC and Ohaja FC was performed by Comrade Joe Udefi, the Special Adviser on Youths and Sports to the Executive Chairman of Awgu Council Area.