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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Obasanjo, Anyaoku, and more leaders rally to raise N100 million for cancer care

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Having lost some family members to the dangerous cancer disease, renowned Nigerian broadcaster, Bimbo Oloyede, has reeled out her plans to dedicate her 70th birthday to raising a minimum of N100 million in support of cancer patients in the country, and research works on the dreaded disease.

Towards achieving the set target, Mrs Oloyede said former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, have volunteered to grace a gathering of family, friends and well-wishers where funds mobilised ahead of the day and those to be donated on that day will be publicly announced.

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Mrs Oloyede, who will join the septuagenarian club on 15 March, said the event to be graced by both Messrs Obasanjo and Anyaoku, and aimed at climaxing the fundraising activities, will be hosted at Glover Memorial Hall in Lagos.

She spoke on Thursday at a press briefing hosted at the International Press Centre (IPC) in Lagos, noting that the birthday ceremony, which coincides with the ongoing Lenten period and the forthcoming Ramadan month, will feature the fundraising “immediately after a short Songs of Praise Service, before the reception proper.”

READ ALSO: Nigerian philanthropist donates books to Jigawa government

She therefore appealed to philanthropists globally to support her initiative targeted at helping humanity.

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Towards ensuring probity and accountability, Mrs Oloyede said a fundraising committee chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of Women Radio 91.7 FM, Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, has been set up to coordinate the donation through the celebrator’s non-governmental organisation- Lifeline Advocacy and Development Initiative.

Why Cancer care?

While thanking God for granting her the grace to be alive, Mrs Oloyede hinted of her bitter experiences each time her family was struck by the dreaded disease. She thanked friends, family members and well-wishers for standing by them during the difficult times, even as she rued the challenges faced by numerous cancer patients who she said might not be as lucky as her family to receive such support.

She said: “I felt that I should tell you myself about my plans for my 70th birthday. I feel so grateful to God for enabling me to stand before you in this manner. I feel thankful that my profession and the nature of my job pushed me to keep showing up, despite the personal difficulties I had with various members of my family. I owe my reason to my God, my profession, my family, and my friends, because the combination of the four kept me going.

“These are the thoughts that brought me back to this constituency (that is you) and my resolve to mark my birthday in a different way. I have spent almost 50 years performing in public and it has been a blessing. It is that same public that I come to now, asking for their help.

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Mrs Oloyede and Mr Alabi at the briefing

“Some members of my family have struggled with an ailment known as cancer; sometimes winning and sometimes losing, but, thankfully, in those trying times, when we reached out to friends, we received the help we needed to cope with the situations, one by one.”

She said she has, however, spoken to relevant stakeholders including oncologists, and health practitioners, who she noted confirmed that new cases are being diagnosed at an alarming rate every clinic day in all the public hospitals. “I am therefore convinced that I must do something significant to make life more comfortable for cancer patients.”

Specific target

Apart from targeting cancer patients in dire need of intervention from any part of the country and without ethnic, gender or religious bias, Mrs Oloyede said some basic but necessary tools that could ease cancer care management in public health facilities have been identified to be supplied to hospitals.

She however noted that beneficiaries will only be considered for intervention at public healthcare facilities, saying: “I have also investigated ways of making diagnosis and treatment days more agreeable for cancer patients and have identified items that will help to achieve that aim.”

“From my investigations, some Nigerian hospitals are working with Professor Olufunmilayo Olopade, a globally renowned haematology oncologist, who is the Associate Dean for Global Health and Walter L. Palmer, Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. The structures are therefore available to pursue various research programmes,” she added.

Mrs Oloyede said the donations should be credited to the Lifeline Advocacy and Development Initiative’s account 5601206418 with Fidelity Bank Plc.

She said the NGO has a board of trustees people by men and women of integrity including a former diplomat and elder statesman, Christopher Kolade; the Vice-Chairperson of Channels Media Group, Sola Momoh, among others.

Committee pledges accountability

Welcoming journalists to the briefing, the chairwoman of the fundraising committee, Mrs Okewale-Sonaiya, commended the media houses for supporting “their own,” even as she sought their support in giving prominence to the campaign.

She said: “We have gathered here this morning because our own Mrs Bimbo Oloyede has chosen to celebrate her 70th birthday in an unsual humane way by raising100million naira towards fighting cancer in Nigeria and extend a lifeline and hope to cancer patients.

“The birthday gift Mrs Oloyede is requesting of you her colleague is to help give media awareness regarding this laudable cause and on behalf of this planning committe, I thank you for honouring our invitation. We are grateful.”

Mrs Okewale-Sonaiya, who pledged accountability and transparency in the management of the funds, thanked members of her committee, which includes the Deputy Director of News at Arise Television, Ohi Odiai; PREMIUM TIMES’ Mojeed Alabi, and Kikelomo Oduyebo of the Lagos State Ministry of Information.

Others are Grace Moronfolu, Wemimo Adewuni, Bukola Oloyede, all media practitioners, and Mercy Ekwuruke.

Meanwhile, reechoing the motive of the initiative was a representative of the NGO’s board of trustees and Chief Executive Officer of Industrial Development Communications Limited, Kingsley James, who also spoke of openness and transparency in the execution of the intervention.

About Mrs Oloyede

Mrs Oloyede is an author, speaker and trainer and has been a broadcast professional for nearly almost five decades. Employed by the then NBC/TV as an assistant producer in 1975, she was later assigned to the Presentation Department, and became a pioneer member of NTA’s Network News team and thus, the first woman to cast Network News on Nigerian Television.

Thereafter, she teamed up with her husband and became an independent Radio/TV producer, presenter, moderator and compere.

She established The Women’s Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) and from 2000 to 2015, partnered with UNFPA, UN Women, UNIC, USAID, UNDP, the Canadian Government, the British Council, among others, convening workshops, producing radio jingles, radio and TV drama, even as she promoted gender equality, highlighting gender-based violence.

She was also elected National Coordinator of The Global Fund for Women Network in Nigeria, which she headed for more than five years.

From 2002 to 2015, she was a consultant/news anchor and trainer at Channels Television and was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for journalistic excellence by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, in 2015.

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