The Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, has challenged Nigerians living in the cities and in the Diaspora to always remember their roots and do whatever is necessary to give back to their communities to impact their hometowns.
Doing so, the monarch said, would not only give them a sense of pride in their homes, but also make impact that will last for generations to come.
Atuwatse III spoke at the launch of Allison and Oluremi Ayida Foundation at the Habour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
“I was coming to remind the children of our late illustrious son and daughter of how close their father was to home; but I came here to realise that they are already close to home.”
At the event that attracted eminent Nigerians like former Minister of Petroleum, Phillip Asiodu; former Chairman and Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries, Felix Ohiwere; former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; and Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the monarch urged everyone to always remember that home is always the best.
“I want to urge all who have made success in the big cities not to forget home. Home is where the heart is; do not forget home. Wherever you are, in Lagos, Abuja, the United States or Canada, whatever success you have made, always remember your home and find a way to help.”
On the focus of the foundation, one of the children of Allison and Oluremi Ayida, Mrs Alero Ayida-Otobo, who is also a trustee of the AOA Foundation, noted that the foundation was a fulfilment of the desires of their parents.
“The foundation we are launching today is in honour of our parents, who were amazing individuals. Our father and our mother were not just individuals that were special to us, but there were three things that I would say distinguished them ¬– the love for family, the love for the nation, the love for community and where they came from, Warri.
“Another thing that distinguishes them is their heart of service. They were selfless, generous, kind and did everything excellently. So, love, service and excellence are the three core values of this foundation that we have established in honour of Allison and Oluremi Ayida.
“We have been in existence in the last 10 years, but not as an organisation. We were just doing what our parents told us to do, and that is to be generous. We gave to many ministries, from Friendship Bible Ministry, Redeemed Christian Church of God to Lapiso Zuli. We also gave to schools such as Christ Ambassador in Kaduna.”
Two years ago, the foundation decided to expand, to have greater influence and impact, to become relevant to nation building. It proposed two evergreen projects; one is adopting schools in Warri Kingdom, where the deceased couple hailed from.
“We are going to start with one school in Koko, in the creeks, next year. We are going to renovate and transform the school. The second project is to set up a tennis academy. Those are the two projects we are passionate about. Thereafter, we will be giving out scholarships and doing a lot more.
“We chose the projects because they were important to our parents. My mother, before she died, was already a part of many of these groups and her Will says we should continue to support them, even after her death. She has been dead for 11 years. That was how we started. But the foundation has grown and evolved. Now we are going to be more deliberate, by focusing on projects that are not just ministries, but focus on education, health, wellbeing and focus on tennis as a means of exercise.
“The quickest way to transform an individual, to have significant impact on an individual, is to educate them. Give them quality education and you pull them out of poverty, pull them out of the slums and you then set them on the track to fulfilling their destiny, to become the best they could ever be. Just give a child quality education and see the entire family, the entire household and the entire community transform and progress. That is why in Nigeria we need to focus on education.”