The first executive female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba of Anambra state’s seventy third birthday was celebrated not with the high and mighty in the society but with prison inmates in Ekwulobia, Awka, Nnewi and also the inmates of Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled, Old and Tramps(RECDOT) Ozubulu.
The former governor actually kick started the birthday celebrations on 9th November with a visit to the Ekwulobia and Awka prisons.
At Ekwulobia, Dame Virgy Etiaba was received by the one hundred and twenty eight inmates and prison officials with songs and dancing.
In her address to the inmates titled “Water in the desert” the former governor encouraged the prison inmates not to lose heart because they are in prison but rather take their incarceration as an opportunity to be reformed.
She urged them to take whatever training and skills they are being thought seriously so that they can be useful for themselves and the entire society when they eventually regain their freedom and as such should be in high spirit.
The former governor popularly called mama Anambra made references to some wealthy and affluent personalities who have passed through the prisons before actualizing their destinies as example of what God do to water the desert of the inmates.
Mama Anambra stressed the need for the inmates to be constantly in high spirit and continually pray for divine intervention, pointing out that they are God’s projects and that it is not over for them until they get into their destinies.
Dame Etiaba pointed out that it is not everyone in the prison that is a criminal as some may just simply be victims of circumstances of peer group and other human inconsistencies.
She however warned youths against the dangerous consequence of joining the evil bandwagon which can truncate God’s plans and purposes for their lives.
The former governor commended the Assistant Comptroller in charge, Mr Pascal Ibegbunam and other officials for the neatness of their environment and for keep the inmates in high spirit.
In his response, the officer in charge, Pascal Ibegbunam thanked Dame Virgy Etiaba for remembering them on the occasion of her 73rd birthday and urged other Nigerians particularly the affluent to borrow a leaf from mama Anambra.
At Awka minimum prison the following day, Dame Virgy Etiaba was received by the Deputy Comptroller, Ejenam Chinedu who told her that the prison has four hundred and fourteen inmates.
She repeated her message of hope to the inmates. She told them of how she lost her husband and became a widow early in life noting that she however pointed out that she took solace in God and that today she has seven successful lawyers in her kitty, four of which are her biological children, two by marriage and another person she trained.
Deputy Comptroller Agedo Gabby while welcoming the former governor to Nnewi prison revealed that they are facing a number of challenges which needed urgent attention.
Dame Virgy Etiaba who promised to assist in her own little capacity also encouraged the inmates to be truly repentant, prayerful and wait patiently for divine intervention.
The birthday train of mama Anambra anchored at the Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled, Old and Tramps(RECDOT) Ozubulu and was received by Mrs Angela Ilika and many of the inmates of the home.
She noted that Dame Etiaba visited the home as a deputy governor and as a governor to encourage the workers and the inmates.
Mrs Ilika pointed out that some of the inmates encouraged by mama Anambra when she was in power are now in the universities and other higher institution of learning.
The former governor who went with some of the pupils of Bennet Etiaba Memorial Schools challenged the society to rise in support of the home.
Dame Virgy Etiaba actually sang, danced and ate with the disabled at RECDOT as a proof that there is no need to discriminate against them.
Items like soap, noddles, tomatoes paste, bread, vegetable oil, cloths and plastic buckets and basins as well as other valuable materials were given to the inmates in the three prisons she visited and inmates of RECDOT.
While briefing journalists at the end of the tour, the former governor thanked family and friends who contributed the items that were distributed to the needy said she decided to spend her birthday quietly and prayerfully in appreciation God’s grace upon her life.
Mama Anambra was seventy three on 11th November.
She said she was overjoyed because she has been able to put smiles on the faces of the nearly forgotten ones in the society.