By Oluwakemi Ishola
In a rare display of love and care for the most vulnerable persons affected by the novel coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic, members of the foremost Osogbo professional group, Osogbo Affairs Forum (OSAF), distributed relief packages of food items to over 600 households, thereby, directly impacting at least 3000 less privileged and vulnerable persons across the seven major communities in Osogbo.
OSAF, is a Non-Governmental body, comprising of Osogbo-born professionals spread all over Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
In a statement issued in Osogbo on Sunday and made available to the media, Rasheed Bolarinwa, Chairman of the OSAF COVID-19 Relief Committee, while giving an insight into what informed the decision of OSAF to assist the vulnerable said::
“As concerned professionals, we felt the need to collectively reach out to the vulnerable and impact our immediate communities, where many have suffered untold hardship due to the earlier COVID-19 lockdown as ordered by the state government as part of measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
“It is our utmost joy that we had the opportunity to intervene in our immediate communities, Osogbo when they needed us most and we are of the belief that when the COVID-19 storm is finally over, God willing, history will be kind to us that when it mattered most, Osogbo-born professionals under the umbrella of OSAF stood to be counted and reached out to those in dire need in our ancestral home” he added.
The group adopted a community-based and direct distribution system which leveraged on the existing zoning of the town into seven different communities comprising of Ita-Olokan, Owo Ope, Ayegun-Gbonmi, Oke Baale, Isale Agbe, Isale Osun and Oke Popo. This allowed for the bulk food items made up of bags of rice, beans and semovita to first be distributed to the community heads who in turn packaged and delivered the food packs to the vulnerable and the poorest of the poor in their communities under the supervision of the OSAF COVID-19 Relief Committee.
The distribution system which was done in two phases in May and concluded in June, according to one of the committee members, Dr. Mujidat Salawu, an Academic, was to enable the package get to the targeted members of the communities as the heads of these zones were in the best position to identify the poorest among them.
The second phase of the distribution of the palliative which was concluded a fortnight ago was done via a direct distribution system wherein the Committee members dedicated two days between Friday and Saturday to directly give out the food packs to widows, the infirm, the aged and vulnerable – 30 each across the 7 communities that make up Osogbo. We adopted this approach to reach more people and address shortfalls we noticed in the distribution of the first phase through the community leaders”, Mr. Bosun Oode, another member of the Committee disclosed.
The beneficiaries were full of joy and commended OSAF for its philanthropic gesture at this time when all economic activities were more or less yet to pick up as a result of the long lockdown occasioned by the pandemic. One of the community heads, Chief Aliu Sonibare prayed for the group and the committee Relief members for their efforts at easing the economic burden of the people in this trying time.
In his own remarks, the Ajagunna of Osogboland, High Chief Gabriel Oparanti, who also doubles as the community leader of Isale Agbe zone, express profound appreciation on behalf of his community for the OSAF relief food items. In his own words, “Our community really appreciate this kind gesture from Osogbo Affairs. We are happy that successful sons and daughters of the landf spread across the globe are giving back to their ancestral home at this time when the people have need of it the most. We pray that God almighty will continue to replenish the purse of everyone who contributed to make this possible.”
In summary, the OSAF COVID-19 palliative and relief items were distributed to over 600 Compounds (Agbooles) across the seven zones in Osogbo with each pack comprising rice, beans and 500kg Semovita enough to feed five persons in each household. Approximately therefore, over 3000 mouths were fed by OSAF which significantly eases the impact of the over two months COVID-19 lockdown as experienced in Osun.
The Nine-Member OSAF COVID-19 Relief Committee set up by the Steering Committee of the Forum had the following professionals as members: Rasheed Bolarinwa, Chairman; Bosun Oode, Secretary; Olalekan Rasidi Musefiu; Obafemi Kolade; Dr. Mujidat Salawu; Wale Adediran; Dele Ajibade; Adebiyi Rasheed and Philips Omodeni.