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Why I am Into Humanitarian Service - Former Kogi First Lady

Ambassador (Dr) Aisha Audu-Emeje, the first Nigerian woman to bag a Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business from the Washington DC-based Canadian International Chaplaincy Academy (CICA) is a former first lady in Kogi state. Aisha who also got a United Nations Ambassadorial Award for the promotion of peace, education and poverty reduction is also the founder of A3 Foundation, a United States-based humanitarian NGO. Shortly after she was given the award, she spoke with ABIODUN OLUWAROTIMI. In the exclusive interview, the former Kogi state first lady speaks on the award and the relief efforts of her NGO to the people and areas affected by flooding in Nigeria, among other issues. Excerpts:

Your Excellency ma, you have just got a Honorary Doctorate Award in Business from a foreign Institute and also a United Nations Ambassadorial Award for the promotion of peace . How did you come about these two awards, and can you express your opinion?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: I feel great with this award. I am humbled by this Honorary Doctorates and I want to say that it was a double joy for me as I was also a recipient of an Ambassadorial Award for Statesmen/Women at large under the United Nations statutes for the promotion of peace, education, and poverty reduction and also conferred with the highest Honor of the Commander of the most distinguished Order of Ambassadors. It all started when we got the invitation as new graduaate of CICA to attend the 57th Session of the Presidential Inauguration prayer at the Cathedral in Capitol Hill, Washington DC with the President Obama and his wife, Michelle. For me it’s memorable, and I feel blessed and honored by Almighty God himself. I just believe it was God’s making for me to come about these awards. Those that gave me the Honorary Doctorate award said that it was based on my background. They said they have confirmed with CICA International Chancellor and WOLMI Chief Ambassador, the Right Rev. Ambassador Hon. Phillip S. Phinn, and that upon receipt of my pre-requisites, they discovered that I deserved a Honorary Doctorate in Business and and also a Commander of Royal Order of Kingdom Statesmen/women under the entity of the UN ECOSCO). Normally a Doctorate can cost tens of thousands of dollars but it will surprise you and worthy of note too that I was given these awards freely because they recognized my contribution to humanity as the Doctor of Humane Letters is offered to persons who have made numerous contributions to society through philanthropic work. As a matter of fact, i will be recieving the WETATi Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming 2nd Annual International Women's Conference and Celebration on March 30, 2013 at the HILTON BWI Airport, Linthicum, MD. I have also been nominated for the African/Global Partnership African International Achievers Awards, 2012.

You are the founder of A3 Foundation, a United States-based Non-Governmental Organization. Can you tell us the major priorities of the Organization, and again, how does the operation of the NGO affects the Nigerian government and Nigerians living both in the country and abroad?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: I can say the major priorities of A3 foundation is ‘’ Building Brighter Communities for a Better Tomorrow’’. Our focus is clear and limited, we prioritize some of the most neglected issues, and we identify a specific point of intervention and apply our efforts against a theory of change. The A3 Foundation is a US and Nigerian-based NGO, partnering with a wide range of International organizations to ensure that Nigerian citizens across the world, most especially those with the fewest resources, have access to the opportunities they need to succeed, while living healthy and productive lives. A3 Foundation helps, protects, cares and provides for orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria and the Diaspora. The NGO as well mobilizes community capacity building programs to help them realize their full potentials. Since its inception, the A3 Foundation has provided shelter, medical supports, water, and developmental trainings. It has also helped in the renovation of educational buildings, creation of sustainability projects, and the provision for adequate counseling to youth and communities in general.  Ultimately, the A3 Foundation is about helping people achieve better opportunities and watching hope take root where it languished before.

Of recent, flooding has been a major problem in Nigeria. What is your NGO doing to help the Nigerian government and the affected areas in this critical area?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: A3 Foundation has engaged in numerous activities to assist the flood victims in their local communities before and after the flood/waters receded. I want to note that A3 Foundation was created as a reaction to the disparities in wealth, health, and education which exist around the world. The mission of the Foundation like I mentioned earlier is to provide resources to impoverished communities that will help individuals living within those communities to live healthier more productive lives. My passion for visible development in my native Kogi state and the Middle Belt area of Nigeria is unquenchable. Our quest to reduce the suffering of the people gave birth to White Flood Relief  Mission, an initiative of A3 Foundation in partnership with various local and International non-profit organizations to assist the victims of the flood in Nigeria when the country and especially  Kogi state were overwhelmed by recent devastating flood, killing many, destroying properties and displacing thousands. We sought support for the victims both from Nigeria and abroad. The post-flooding consequences in most part of Nigeria at the moment calls for urgent assistance, especially in the area of health. It is imperative that as leaders, we have to come together to address the situation. A3 Foundation has sent an initial assessment team to the affected areas and at present we are on ground in Kogi, Plateau and Imo states. Apart from sending relief materials, we have deployed flood experts to help in solving the problem.

What is the Foundation doing to help the flooding victims that have already been plagued with various degrees of sicknesses?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: The A3 Foundation has also deployed medical personnel with equipped mobile clinic to assist these people you just mentioned. I mean the victims plagued with sickness and diseases associated with the flood. The medical team started out from the Bassa and  Ibaji local government areas in Kogi state, where urinalysis, random blood sugar, malaria tests, blood pressure checks and diagnosis was done. Treatments and drugs were provided for solvable cases for over 500 persons in each LGA, but for those with severe and acute medical conditions, referrals were given to the patients, although most of these rural communities are far away from proximity to primary health centers and we are looking to see how to help them get these treatment paid for too because they cannot even afford the cost and we have to sustain the program. Some MDGs advocates were present during the exercise at in Bassa and a team from UNICEF was around to observe the exercise. The White Flood Relief Mission is made possible through the collaboration of the A3 foundation with local and International NGOs that were on ground to offer training and educational material to victims in areas of water sterilization and treatment in order to reduce the possibly increase of water borne diseases, sanitation and capacity building with support for startup were promised. The medical team and welfare volunteers will cover the three states, providing furniture’s to schools hit by the effects of the flood, books, computers, and other house hold materials and storage facilities.

Going by your statements, one can easily realise that the A3 foundation is spending a lot to develop the Nigerian people and their communities. Is the NGO  getting a back up from the government?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: This is an organization that does not solely depend on any government to fulfil its agenda. A3 Foundation has many partners and collaborators such as Impakt Nigeria, Bishop Alicia Perry of APMII Inc , USA,  Mrs Fadojutimi of All Eyes on Africa Communications, Dare2Dream, US Global Partnership Organisation, Leadership Initiative USA, International Christian Academy, Thelma Horton Zewholdings, Gourmet, Alliance of Nigerians in the Diaspora, Skyesville Woods lnc., Hallelujah and the Health Ministry of Plateau state in Nigeria. Let me also say this, apart from sending relief materials and medical drives, we are planning ahead looking into Flood Mitigation/Prevention in the affected area. We have deployed flood experts to help in solving the problems. ‘Gourmet to Your Doorstep’ that was a first responder for 911 and was also part of the relief efforts for Sandy, has shipped its food truck from America to serve the needs of some people who could be displaced by providing hot meals in future occurrences as we prepare for the coming raining season in June. In order for us to maintain our operations, we want whoever that wants to know about how we operate to contact us at [email protected] or via TelePhone numbers - 1-240-844-9004 & 234-702-300-9004,7064440956,08033156271 or visit our offices at No. 45 Ajose Adeogun Street,Utako District, Abuja, FCT. Nigeria, and 1437 long hill drive,Potomac MD,20854.USA. Or visit our webpages on Website-- / FB: Facebook page-victims of the floodsinNigeria.                            

Can you tell us the implications that the Honorary Doctorate and UN Ambassadorial Awards  that you have just got have on the Nigerian system?

Ambassador Aisha Audu-Emeje: The importance of these awards to the US and Nigerian communities are enormous. Firstly,  the Humane Letters (Honorary doctorate in Business) being an additional feather to one’s life achievement, adds value to your credentials especially in this society. It allows for better  interaction in various levels of engagement  in our daily strive. it give us access to partake as representatives on deliberation of global  issues  and of  matters that are of importance to the continuous struggle to elevate our citizens both in Nigeria, the US here where I  live presently and other African countries. The awards will enable us expand our fight for the eradication of poverty, promotion of improved educational systems and fostering peace. The ideas I believe, is to support and encourage us to do more and get involved in issues that affect the  world we live in today. It will also help to partake in dialogues and creates solutions to real problems especially as it affects our continent,  Africa.  It’s also a great deal for the Nigerian community out here because we as leaders are seen to be representing our  country well. This also promotes the credibility of Nigerians anytime one of us is recognized for good  instead of the reverse.

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