The war against cancer in Nigeria received a boost recently with the inauguration of the Centurions’ Luncheon’, an initiative of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP-Nigeria) in Abuja, the federal capital territory. The Luncheon is designed to inspire united action through concerted philanthropy in support of the developmental effort of government.
The event was hosted by Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to kick-start the 2016 edition of #GivingTuesdayNigeria, in his capacity as the programme’s national patron. GivingTuesday, initiated by the United Nations Foundation in 2012, is observed worldwide to engender and celebrate philanthropy. It is promoted by business, political, and social leaders, who jointly champion fund-raising for societal wellbeing and community development.
Expectedly, the focus of #GivingTuesdayNigeria this year is on the Big War Against Cancer in Nigeria, which is the flagship initiative of CECP. The war against cancer involves taking holistic healthcare to the grassroots through the provision of at least one Mobile Cancer Centre (MCC) for each state of the federation and one Comprehensive Cancer Centre (CCC) for each of the six geopolitical zones in the country. The CECP’s operational partner for the Big War Against Cancer is the National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP), a non-governmental initiative.
Explaining the choice of cancer as an area of focus this year, the Vice President said, “There is hardly any family in Nigeria that has not been affected in one way or another by cancer”.
“The purpose of the Luncheon is to raise funds for at least 12 MCCs. The ultimate goal is to have at least one MCC in each state of the Federation. This in turn would enable us to save millions of Nigerians from preventable suffering and agonizing death. This vision can only be achieved with the generous support of all people of goodwill. Without these donations, the goal would not be reached and the opportunity to save lives would be lost,” Osinbajo said.
He commended the three philanthropists who are the sponsors of the first two MCCs — The current President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; the Immediate Past President of NSE and President of the Dangote Foundation, AlhajiAlikoDangote; and the Managing Director of the Folawiyo Group, Dr. Tunde Folawiyo — even as he urged all the eminent Centurions to donate generously towards the worthy cause.
Following a call to action by Dr. Christopher Kolade, Anchor of CECP-Nigeria, some of the Centurions made pledges totaling 13 MCCs. Mr. Jim Ovia pledged ten MCCs while Mrs. Winifred Akpani (Nortwest Petroleum & Gas), Mr. Tonye Cole (Sahara Energy), and Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim (Global Fleet Group) pledged one MCC each.
Other Centurions/Philanthropists who donated towards the MCCs were Chief Michael Edematie-Ikuku (Michharry), Chief Suresh Murli Chellaram (Chellarams Plc), Barrister Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, (Air Peace Airline), Mr. Gregory Utomwen Ogbeifun (Starzs), Sir (Chief) Eddy Martins Egwuenu (Matbeny Holdings Ltd), Dr Alex AigbeIzinyon (SAN, OFR), and Otunba Funso Lawal (Sogenal).
Prof. Umar Danbatta (Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC) and Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye (Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA) were among the government dignitaries that were at the event to show their support for the Vice President.
Among the international organizations present at the event were ECOWAS Commission, UNFPA, Open Society Initiative for WA (OSIWA) and Clinton Foundation.
The CECP, which aims to provide a platform through which the private sector can support the developmental efforts of government, is the promoter of #GivingTuesdayNigeria.
The private sectors driving CECP activities are the Institute of Directors (IoD), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
According to Osinbajo those designated Centurions are the one hundred most eminent philanthropists of Nigeria who are committed to investing their resources to create positive change and make life better for the masses, through the practice of massive, exceptional and far-reaching philanthropy, at the national level.
He said “the Centurions’ Luncheon would be an annual event to be held each year on the first Tuesday in March. The luncheon is an exclusive and epochal event which also kicks off the #GivingTuesday celebration for each year.”