Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The face of a woman of fortune-HE Obioma Liyel-Imoke


Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel Imoke, Wife of the Governor of Cross River State attended Federal Government College, Enugu and the famous University of Nigeria Nsukka where she bagged honours degree in Law. She proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos for her B.L. She has a rich career spanning brokerage and retailing through oil and gas to finance and investment, and of course, philanthropy. 
Since becoming the First Lady, Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke, has dedicated her entire life to joining her husband to take governance to the people who need it the most. She has been working towards the improvement of the livelihood of the people of Cross River State, especially the women whom she sees as the key to family growth and development and she considers this as a sacred assignment from God. 
It is these considerations that have inspired Mrs. Imoke to initiate Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realization, POWER, which is the flagship of all her other initiatives including Mothers Against Child Abandonment, MACA; A State fit for a Child, ASFAC, Destiny's Child Centre, DCC; the Refuge which is a project of MACA. She also facilitates a quarterly prayer meeting christened Cross River Pray which brings the whole state together to pray for the government and people of the state. In addition to this, she established the only American-certified international school outside Lagos and Abuja, Surefoot American International School, Calabar; together with her retail market outfit, Valuemart Limited, Calabar. 

POWER is the driving machine for most of the development interventions she has embarked upon. She tells you that POWER is a holistic empowerment tool. The organisation's interventions are in the area of economic, political, social, and spiritual development. In the simplest terms, POWER, she explains, is about value addition. She uses this vehicle to improve the lives of the women of Cross River State. Economically, she is putting more money in the hands of women by strengthening their businesses, providing access to finance, sharing information and knowledge, facilitating mentorship for the women, and directly facilitating micro credit for the women. Spiritually, she holds a quarterly prayer programme that brings the women and servants of God to pray for the state. Politically, she is promoting an agenda that will see more elective and appointive offices for the women using the First Lady's (Chief (Dr.) Dame Patience Jonathan) Women for Change and Development Initiative as a spring board. 
In the four years that POWER has been running, women's lives have been positively affected. Scores of women across the state have their businesses enhanced through the micro credit facility POWER is facilitating. The success story of the micro credit scheme resonated across the country and earned her awards and recognitions including that from the Central Bank of Nigeria as Best First Lady in Micro-credit and Agriculture. In appreciation of the highly impactful work she is doing, Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke was recently conferred with the following awards: 

i. Humanitarian Award for the year 2011 by the Safari Group
ii. Award of Appreciation in recognition of Her Excellency's contribution towards the upliftment of guiding in Cross River State
ii. Munjeres Entre Mundos Award in recognition of Her Excellency's hospitality in hosting volunteers from Spain between 2010 and 2011,Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke is driven by passion and her idea is to make the world a better place to live in. It is impossible to do that in a broad scale without starting from her immediate community. That is why she has made Cross River State her initial target community. This is more so that, as Wife of Governor, she is in some form of unwritten contract to compliment her husband's revolutionary move in grassroots development. She sees herself as merely an instrument in God's hand leading change in the community called Cross River State. Through her initiatives, she is tackling incidences of poverty reduction, wealth creation, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, child abandonment, cancer, HIV/AIDS, among others. She is a strong advocate of women working in partnership to help one another tackle the problems that darken their lives – poverty, neglect, domestic violence, illiteracy, discrimination, inequality, malnutrition, disease. She has psyched up the women not only to believe in their abilities but work to change their world. In her usual pep talks, she does not cease to remind them that although they may lack material resources, but they possess a wealth of an even more precious resource: imagination. And their imaginations light the dark. One of the stunning features of Obioma LiyelImoke is her entrepreneurial spirit and the inventiveness with which she takes advantage of the local skills and resources to create sustainable solutions. 

The other passion that fires her up is her determination to find solutions that not only work, but spread. She works assiduously to touch base with the 196 political wards in the state. She has undertaken a couple of pilot projects, with a plan to replicate them across the different communities around the state. She has also motivated the women in the state to share a sense of responsibility not just to themselves and their families, but to their communities. Her hard work has a multiplier effect on the people around her. 
Like her name, Obioma, literally suggests, heart of gold, she is so tender-hearted. She literally picks up abandoned children, takes them to her home, nutures them until she puts them in foster homes through a very transparent and organised legal system with the Ministry of Social Welfare at no cost to the beneficiaries. She does not think that orphanages are the best places for abandoned children. And what happens to pregnant teenage girls that have been rejected and thrown out of their homes? They come to her and after thorough investigations, the ones with sincere stories are taken into a safe haven she calls the Refuge where they are catered for, counselled against vices, and are taught some LIFE (Living Independently For Ever) skills to help in their self development. The girls are mainstreamed into normal societal life after delivery of the babies. 
Although she has a well structured system with well trained staff and experts assisting her, the passion she has to help hardly gives Mrs.Imoke any space to rest. Her phones ring ceaselessly. Letters for help pour in like torrential rains and you wonder the energy she has to personally attend to all these issues and also take care of her family which, to her, must come first. 
These enterprises have created tons of jobs for men, women and children. In Obioma, you find a powerful woman with a clear vision and unusual strength of purpose to change her world. Her imprints are legibly emblazoned in the minds of the womenfolk and in the sands of time for her courageous interventions in critical areas of development especially as they affect women and children. Mrs. Liyel-Imoke has added immeasurable value to the women and children of Cross River State. She is married to His Excellency, Senator Liyel-Imoke (CON) and the Executive Governor of Cross River State. The marriage is blessed with four lovely children. 

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