|Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun State governor|
Amosun Celebrated 54th Birthday with Inmates and the Aged.
Written by Olayinka Olukoya Monday, 30 January 2012
Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun State governor
Ogun State correspondent, Olayinka Olukoya, captures the 54th birthday celebration of the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, held last Wednesday. Her report.
LAST Wednesday, January 25, was a day that will remain evergreen in the hearts of inmates of Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and Oba prisons and also the senior citizens across Ogun State, as the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (FCA), celebrated his 54th birthday in a special way devoid of noise-making and merrymaking.
The governor, Nigerian Tribune learnt, had told friends, associates and family members not to waste their resources by placing advertisements in newspapers or throwing birthday bash for him, saying that such resources should be expended on developmental matters that could impact positively on the lives of the people, especially the needy.
Maybe, this was what informed his decision to celebrate his first birthday as the governor of Ogun State with the senior citizens from age 60 and above and also with inmates of the above mentioned prisons spread across the state.
Governor Amosun’s first port of call on this special day was the Governor’s Office, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, where he declared open a one-day workshop for Permanent Secretaries in the state as part of his assignment and immediately travelled in company with some of his commissioners and aides to Ijebu-Ode.
The mission to Ijebu-Ode by the governor was to celebrate with the prison inmates by giving them a sense of belonging that despite their present condition they could not be cast away.
He lamented the state of the prison and promised the inmates that his administration would see to the welfare of the inmates, promising that mattresses, bunks and other basic needs would be provided to meet the challenges confronting them.
The governor made a personal donation worth N500, 000 to the welfare of the inmates and urged his friends and associates to channel their resources towards the improvement of the prison, which he said was nothing to write home about.
The governor also lamented a situation whereby 80 per cent of inmates in the prisons were awaiting trial, some of them for minor offences.
“There is need for stakeholders in the justice system to dispense justice quickly and fairly, because justice delayed is justice denied,” the governor said.
Amosun in exercising his power of prerogative of mercy as contained in Section 212 subsection (2) of the 1999 Constitution, having consulted with the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, granted amnesty to a septuagenarian, Pa Kayode Adeyemi, who was convicted of arson.
Pa Adeyemi, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment and had spent six months in the prison, regained freedom courtesy of the governor’s benevolence.
The joy of the ex-convict knew no bounds as he promised the governor that he would live a good life for the remaining part of his life.
The governor, while addressing the inmates, said, “I believe this is the more appropriate way to celebrate my birthday by identifying with you people. I have seen the condition of this prison and I promise on behalf of the state government that moves to improve your conditions here will be given priority.
“We will give you mattresses, bunks and other basic needs that will make this place conducive for you. Be of good behaviour while here because prisons all over the world are reformatory centres.”
Pa Adeyemi was the only lucky inmate that enjoyed the state pardon because of his age.
The story was the same when the governor’s train moved to Abeokuta Prison, where he commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence passed on Messrs Rasidi Yisau and Saburi Adebayo while he also gave his words of assurances that government would come to their aid as regards basic needs.
The new Oba Prison in Obafemi Owode Local Government of the state was also visited by the governor who promised to build a modern mosque and sink a borehole as requested by the inmates.
The governor also put smile on the faces of Ibrahim Yinusa and Olanrewaju John. They were sentenced to three years imprisonment and had about a year and some months left to serve. But due to their records of good behaviour, they were asked to be released.
Others that received the “bountiful birthday packages” were Monday Iheakpo and Semiu Afolabi who belonged to the group of long term prisoners who had served more than 10 years with good records.
Governor Amosun also made personal donations of N500,000 and N1,000,000 to the inmates in Oba and Abeokuta Prisons respectively.
As if that was not enough, over 1,000 senior citizens drawn from the 236 wards in the state also received gifts from the “birthday boy”, when the governor’s wife, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, put together a programme tagged “Uplifting the aged” to celebrate Governor Amosun at 54.
The expansive hall of the June 12 Cultural Centre was filled to capacity. Medical check-ups were carried out on the aged and drugs were dispensed free of charge.
Mrs Amosun said that the essence of the gathering was to celebrate with her husband on the occasion of his birthday, while advising younger people to pay attention to the welfare of the older ones.
She noted that ageing was a gift from God and that the elderly ones deserved to be taken care of.
She said, “Our desire is to fill the gap of meeting the social needs of vulnerable elderly people who are lonely, who have lost touch with their environment, who struggle hard in their daily activities, who are down-hearted and who need daily basic health care.
“We hope to regularly hold a wonderful forum to make them happier and uplift them.”
Mrs Amosun said that she decided to celebrate her husband’s birthday with the senior citizens, since he did not want to celebrate it in an elaborate way.
The programme afforded the aged an opportunity to undertake free health screening and referral services where applicable.
Giving health talk on “Active and Healthy Ageing” during the programme, a Senior Registrar at the Nephrology and Geriatrics unit of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Dr (Mrs) Afolashade Oluwole; urged the government to propose Elder’s Right Act to cater for the aged in the country.
She said that most senior citizens, especially those who had served the nation meritoriously at different times, in their old age suffered untold hardship because of lack of care from the government.
“If animals can have their own rights in some countries, how much more human beings?” she queried.
She also canvassed for periodic review of the nation’s pension laws to accommodate inflation rate at any point in time.
Dr Oluwole advised the senior citizens on the need for them to go for periodic medical check-up of their blood pressure and sugar level.
The major highlight of the occasion was the distribution of gift items to the senior citizens, which was followed by merry-making.
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