Sunday, 6 January 2019

Meet the Brain behind the Transformation of Mentally Ill Family in C'River —by George Odok


6 January 2019 


Ex corps member Progress Oberiko is a Business Administration graduate from the Delta State Polytechnic, Oghara. She was posted to Cross River State for her mandatory NYSC scheme between 2017/2018 and she did her primary assignment in Bekwarra LGA of the state.

She served as a receptionist/ Service Supervisor in one of the firms in Bekwarra. However, she sought community challenges she could proffer solutions to.

Her humanitarian work started at a Vocational Institute for catering and hotel management courses, where she taught students on Front Office Management, the department she managed at her place of primary assignment.

She organised a youth seminar and invited speakers who spoke on the theme ``30 Things to do Before you turn 30 years'' and ``Sustaining the valued of a Christian Youth in a Deteriorating Society. She also carried out an essay competition in a government secondary school for SS2 and 3 students; she awarded three best students with a term's school fees scholarship.

Having acquired some catering skills, she organised a free school meal for over 120 pupils and their teachers at a primary school in her area of primary assignment. As a contributor to the growth of education, she also provided 100 pairs of school sandals and 110 pairs of socks of various sizes for 110 pupils. Also, she distributed 60 packs of sanitary pads to 60 senior secondary school students in the state, and many more health and educational projects she executed with her meagre monthly allowance of N19,800.

Interestingly, in her desire to put smile and joy in the faces of people, Progress took up the case of a mentally ill family who have been in the condition for over a decade, roaming the streets of Bekwarra/Ogoja communities, living a bizarre lifestyle. She followed it up and made an article on social media about them. This article occupied the social media space, caught the glooming attention of the world and concerned Nigerians of goodwill reacted. Immediately, the family were lifted to the Neuro Psychiatric hospital in Calabar, where they are currently receiving treatment.

These, among many other things, earned her the award of the ``BEST Corps member in Cross River State''. Furthermore, she received an award from the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria for Humanitarian Service and the Ambassador of Mental Healthcare in Nigeria.

But sadly, when the pictures of the rehabilitated family went viral on social media, she was left in the dark; no credit was give to her by some social media handlers who celebrated Gov. Ben Ayade as been behind the victory.

More sadly was the fact that her name was technically cropped out in all the pictures she took with her phone that surfaced online; even when they saw her photogrid name boldly written ``Progress Oberiko'', they cut if off. We shouldn't play politics with everything, no.

I urge my esteem readers to look at the above pictures carefully to see her name ``Progress Oberiko'', boldly written on them. She deserves the credit for the divine transformation of this family. She led the advocacy and the federal government intervened. This is the same Progress Oberiko that Sparkling Fm Calabar had commended several times for her numerous good projects, and urging the state government to compensate her for her well deserved community development service.

Meanwhile, the NYSC in Cross River State, through its Public Relations Officer, Mr Yuguda Abdullahi has described Progress as an `Asset and a Blessing' to the scheme, saying that she has proven to the world what Community Development Service is all about.

When she spoke to me extensively, she expressed sadness with the whole development, saying that even the paper certificate award for the best corps member has not been issued to her after the pronouncement.

She said. ``Their false propaganda is spreading too fast and might prevent people from reaching out to the mentally ill family for help. People should also know that the Cross River State Government is yet to support the family; they need help to foster their rehabilitation process.

``The federal government is the one responsible for the treatment as of now, not the state government.

``When I posted the pictures online, the Federal Ministry of Health contacted the psychiatric hospital in Calabar to pick up the family and they eventually got back to me as the source. I went with the team from the hospital to the village, we contacted some notable heads in the community, showed them evidences from the hospital and they followed us to where the mentally family was.

``With the help of some community youths and the doctors, they were able to pick them into a bus straight to Calabar.

``After the Federal Government informed the Cross River State government that some of their citizens were in the hospital, they should see what they can do about their welfare, they went they and took pictures of them and posted on social media that the state government had rescued them.

Furthermore, I went extra miles to speak with the Chief Medical Director of the Neuro Psychiatric Hospital in Calabar, Dr Joseph Okegbe with a view to corroborated Progress Oberiko claim and this is what he said….

``Within the coming days, I will discharge that family because the burden is now on the hospital management. The Psychiatric hospital is not a revenue generating agency.

``Apart from the hospital money, no one has given us any dime to rehabilitate that family. We now feed them from the hospital pocket. It was the Federal Government that mandated us to bring the family to Calabar for treatment.

``I will discharge them in the coming week so that the state government can take them to their own facility and keep them there. The victims are well now, but they need support so that they won't go back to square one'', he said.

My opinion: The Governor has a good heart, he should please intervene.

Today, I want to celebrate Progress Oberiko for the bold steps she took that led to the divine transformation of this family. She deserves the credit. She deserves a national merit award and a federal employment. I pray God to reward her efforts bountifully.

Secondly, the state government should put measures in place to totally rehabilitate this family and explore ways of compensating Progress for all her kind and selfless projects in Cross River State within the period of her service.

KUDOS PROGRESS OBERIKO. MAY YOU CONTINUE TO PROGRESS IN LIFE.


Odok is a journalist with NAN 



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