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First Bank, Cross River First Lady Partner To Build Women, Child Centre

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IT was both inspiring and instructive watching Essien Ayi Okon and Abigail Effiom Opiok, as they took turns to publicly appreciate the First Lady of Cross River State, Mrs Obioma Liyel-Imoke, who rescued, cleaned them up and also gave their lives a meaning.

That was at the Villa Medici restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue the fundraising dinner organised by the board and management of First Bank Nigeria Plc, to support Mrs. Imoke’s drive to establish a model humanitarian facility tagged Women Development and Child Protection Centre, (WODAC), in Cross River State. A multi-purpose facility, the WODAC centre is targeted at quartering all pet projects of the first lady under one roof for administrative and logistic convenience.

Meanwhile, Essien and Abigail represented over 200 children in Cross River State, who would have died or wasted away as wandering hooligans. They had been either written off as abandoned babies or branded as witches and wizards and thrown away from home. But luckily, they were salvaged and rehabilitated by Mrs. Imoke through her foundations — Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realisation (POWER) and Mothers Against Child Abandonment, (MACA).

Worried by the high level of poverty among women in the state, as well as the rising incidences of child abandonment when her husband, Liyel Imoke assumed office as governor of the state, Mrs. Imoke quickly conceived and floated the twin pet projects in 2007 and 2008, respectively, to combat the ugly trends. After establishing POWER in 2007, she got thrilled by its speedy successes and floated MACA in 2008.

But in order to streamline both outfits and make it more sustainable, she conceived WODAC to enable her put both NGOs under one operational headquarters. And to boost the First Lady’s resolve to take the project to higher levels even beyond her tenure, the board and management of First Bank Plc had agreed to key into the project and promptly organised the fundraising dinner.

Meanwhile, the event drew dignitaries from far and wide especially friends, associates and business partners of both First Bank Plc and the first family of Cross River State. Among them were the Governor of Cross River State, Chief Liyel Imoke and his wife, Obioma; a team from the bank led by its Group Managing Director, Bisi Onasanya; consummate businessman, Chief Oba Otudeko; Chairman of Channels Television, John Momoh; Hon Habeeb Fasinro, top filmmaker, Omoni Oboli and the Executive Chairman of Ogoja Local Government, Rita Agbo Ayim among others.

In his speech, Onasanya noted that the board and management of First Bank Plc had organised the special fundraising dinner to raise funds to support the efforts of Mrs. Imoke to establish a sustainable legacy that is geared towards child protection and women empowerment. He also praised the Mrs. Imoke for her relentless selfless services to women and the vulnerable in Cross River State.

According to him, “apart from First Bank’s usual support for the annual Calabar Carnival, we are pleased to identify with and support this laudable project.” He further urged guests to join the bank to support the initiative generously.



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