01 Jan 2024 2024 OCI Foundation’s Goodwill Message: Video and Full Text from the President (01/01/2024)
TEXT OF THE GOODWILL MESSAGE FROM THE OCI FOUNDATION (JAN 2024)
I, Dr Onyebuchi Chris Ifediora, the president and founder of the OCI Foundation International, welcome you all to this New Year, and hereby wish everyone a happy and productive 2024.
It is the beginning of another year that offers lots of hope to the thousands of OCI Foundation members and volunteers worldwide, as well as the millions of our beneficiaries across the globe.
On behalf of the trustees, directors and partners of the OCI Foundation, I humbly wish to deliver this Goodwill Message, which is an annual tradition that allows us to provide updates on what we have done in the preceding 12 months, as well as what we intend to do in the coming twelve.
The OCI Foundation International is a conglomeration of independent charity bodies that exist and function in Nigeria, Australia, and the United Kingdom. As most of our associates already know, the Foundation was originally established in 2016 to serve Nigerians through a tripod of well-tailored activities that are centred on the Advancement and Promotion of Health, the Promotion of Education, and the Promotion of Public and Social Welfare.
2023 was a great year for us. In addition to firmly establishing our presence in the United Kingdom, the OCI Foundation officially became a member of the Union of International Cancer Council, the UICC. UICC, ladies and gentlemen, is the leading global body of cancer advocates, and is affiliated with the World Health Organization, the WHO.
We will now look at a summary of our specific activities in 2023, with a major focus on each leg of our activity tripod, which as stated, borders on Health, Education, and Public or Social Welfare.
- We successfully consolidated the Arm Our Youths Anti-cancer Health Campaign.
- Also known as the ArOY Health Campaign, this OCI Foundation-inspired initiative is an evidence-based, technology-driven project borne out of raw research that was championed by the Foundation’s team of seasoned researchers that include highly-ranked academics from Australia, Nigeria, and other parts of the globe.
- The Griffith University School of Medicine and Dentistry in Australia is at the heart of all the research work, and yours sincerely is an Associate Professor of Family Medicine with that institution.
- The ArOY campaign is a global first that was developed with significant input from the United States’ prestigious Harvard Medical School, of which I am an Alumnus.
- It is also supported by the WHO’s Country Office in Nigeria, among other reputable institutions and personalities around the world.
- In 2023, the campaign was staged SIX different times across most of the 37 orientation camps of Nigeria’s National Youths Service Corps, the NYSC.
- The NYSC is, arguably, Africa’s largest youth organisation and the OCI Foundation’s partnership with them over the past two years and 12 editions has seen us reach over half a million Nigerian youths with the anti-cancer message of the ArOY Health Campaign. This, ladies and gentlemen, is massive.
- The NYSC-OCI Foundation partnership has also seen us dole out millions of Nigerian Naira in cash rewards to hundreds of raffle draw winners, as well as dozens of participants in our VLSS and CDS online social media challenges. These raffles and social media contests are designed to inspire and empower Nigerian youths on a regular basis, irrespective of their gender, tribe, religious, political, or cultural affiliations, as they promote and propagate anti-cancer messages to their compatriots.
- For the records, the Nigerian Cancer Society and other prominent organisations in Nigeria have been instrumental to the success of the OCI Foundation’s ArOY Health Campaign. Notable in this is the Future Assured Foundation and its Founder, the former Nigerian First Lady, Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs) Aisha Buhari. Others that played key roles include Chief Femi Adesina, the former Senior Special Assistant on Media to the immediate past Nigerian president, the Nigerian First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC), the Sweet Home Africa Humanitarian Foundation, the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation, Nollywood Nigeria, and many other groups and individuals.
- In addition to the breakthroughs made through the NYSC-OCI Foundation partnership, the ArOY Health Campaign enjoyed remarkable success with our quest to introduce anti-breast and anti-cervical cancer programs into the teachings for young adults in Nigerian senior secondary schools.
- Working with associates in Nigeria’s 9th National Assembly and beyond, the OCI Foundation facilitated a legislative bill that will integrate the relevant teachings of the ArOY Health Campaign into the regular curriculum of all Senior Secondary Schools and Colleges of Education across Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT.
- The Bill has, as its Chief Sponsor, Hon. Dr. Tanko Sununu (former House Committee Chairman on Healthcare Services, who is now Nigeria’s Hon. Minister of State for Education). The Co-Sponsor of that bill was Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, who was, at the time, the House Committee Chairman on Basic Education. He is now the Majority Leader in the 10th (current) Nigerian House of Representatives.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, as we speak, that Bill is only just awaiting presidential assent before it becomes a law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Once signed, a full implementation is expected within 12 to 18 months, allowing the OCI Foundation and her partners to further reach millions of Nigerians on a regular, annual, sustainable, culturally acceptable, and cost-effective basis.
- We know that this will work in Nigerian schools, as a version of it has already been implemented successfully across all the 261 public schools in Anambra State since 2019.
- The program in Anambra is accompanied by an annual statewide quiz competition. This competition was started in 2021, and is now in its Third Edition.
- Finals of the Second Edition of that quiz contest in Anambra were held in 2023, while preliminaries for the Third Edition have already been concluded across all the Six Educational Zones in the State. As has become part of the OCI Foundation’s tradition to mark the annual Global World Cancer Day, the Grand Final for the quiz’s Third Edition will be held around February 4, 2024.
- We are pleased to announce that once the ArOY Schools Cancer Bill is implemented, the OCI Foundation will work with the relevant ministries, parastatals and partners, to make the ArOY Cancer quiz an annual Nigerian national project that will involve all public and private-owned senior secondary schools across the Country.
- In our humble view, ladies and gentlemen, the ArOY Anti-cancer Health Campaign is, arguably, one of the most impactful healthcare initiatives in Nigeria’s recent history, particularly one initiated by a private NGO.
- Given these, we are bold to assert that the ArOY Health Campaign is a big deal. It will not just empower Nigerian youths, but will also set the stage for what is expected to be a comprehensive, sustainable, cost-effective and wide-reaching anti-cancer campaign within Nigeria and beyond. This is so, given its sheer potential for impact, reach and spread.
- The Campaign is technologically driven and has two additional components based on this.
- One of those components is the CerviBreast Mobile Phone Application, an innovative and interactive anti-cancer App that is freely available on the Google and Android Play stores for anyone, anywhere in the world. Please, if you have not already done so, pause this video now, and download it. It is a life-saver, a global-first, and a multi-award-winning initiative of the OCI Foundation. Just search the name C-E-R-V-I-B-R-E-A-S-T, on your Playstore, and download it.
- The second technological component of the ArOY Health Campaign is the Gynocular Project, which facilitates free and/or highly subsidised digital cervical cancer screening for Nigerians. In partnership with the Primary Health Care Board of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, the OCI Foundation established a Gynocular Cancer Centre that was commissioned on February 2nd, 2022, by the then Hon Minister of State for the FCT, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu. To date, ladies and gentlemen, we have screened scores of Nigerian women, and urge all women of age within the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory, to take advantage of this free service now.
- The OCI Foundation is currently working with its international and local partners to expand this cancer screening and treatment centre to all parts of Nigeria, the long term aim being to have at least one centre in each of the six geo-political zones across the Country.
- The OCI Foundation continues to deliver on its SIX different sets of scholarships.
- The Foundation’s scholarship project is unique, as five of the six on offer are interlinked, allowing a potential recipient to stay on its various levels all the way from junior to senior secondary school, and then through to the completion of their tertiary studies within Nigeria.
- The first two scholarships were named after my beloved father, the late Obi Ifedioramma Isaac Okafor, who was an academic champion in his lifetime. They are the “Ifedioramma Okafor Memorial Secondary School Academic Junior and Senior Awards”, otherwise known as the IFOMMSA Junior and Senior Awards. They benefit those in junior and senior secondary schools, respectively.
- The JAMB Award is the third Scholarship and facilitates enrolments into the University Matriculation Examination (UME), which allows entry into Nigerian tertiary institutions.
- The fourth and fifth incentives are the two scholarships targeting undergraduates already in Nigerian tertiary institutions. They are the Cyfed Undergraduate Scholarship and the Cyfed-Bradley Hope Scholarship. The latter was introduced to honour the memory of a late Australian teenager, Bradley Hope, whose Australian-based family, the Hope Family, partners with the OCI Foundation to deliver this scholarship to Nigerians on a yearly basis.
- The OCI Foundation is proud and excited to announce that at least seven existing Cyfed Scholars became graduates within the 12 months of 2023, joining others before them in the years gone by. Among the current Cyfed Scholar graduates are medical doctors, engineers, accountants, biochemists, laboratory scientists and educators. Some of these young men and women are those who might have struggled to gain admission, let alone graduate, from tertiary institutions, without the little support provided by the OCI Foundation. For these, we are pleased and proud, just like any parent would be, and we look forward to more graduates in 2024. We thank all those who have made these possible, particularly the management of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria, under the leadership of their Vice Chancellor, Prof Charles Esimone.
- The sixth and final scholarship of the OCI Foundation, is the Literary Award for Medical Students, otherwise known as the LAMS. LAMS is a scheme designed to incentivize students in all recognised medical schools across Nigeria towards developing better literary and research skills.
- Ladies and gentlemen, we are also pleased to announce that, in this New Year, 2024, a version of LAMS will be introduced for medical schools in the United Kingdom as part of the projects lined up for the newly established “OCI Foundation UK”. We enjoin everyone to stay in touch with all our social media handles as the details of the LAMS UK unfold in the coming months.
ON PUBLIC AND SOCIAL WELFARE:
- This is the third and final footing of the OCI Foundation’s activity tripod.
- This arm has continued to expand since it roared into life in 2021.
- In 2023, a second legislative bill initiated by the OCI Foundation was also fully passed by both chambers of the Nigerian National Assembly. The bill promotes the introduction of “preventive measures on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) into the curriculum of all secondary schools in Nigeria, starting from the first year of the Junior Secondary School (JSS 1), all the way to the final year of Nigerian high schools, the Senior Secondary School 3 (SSS 3). This second bill was a brainchild of the OCI Foundation’s Liaison Officer to the Nigerian National Assembly, Barr Vivian Obinwa, to whom we are very grateful.
- This second Bill from the OCI Foundation was sponsored by Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, who, at the time, was the House Committee Chairman of Basic Education. Currently, Prof Ihonvbere is the Majority Leader in the 10th Nigerian House of Representatives.
- Apart from the SGBV legislative bill, we are proud to state that, in the past, our social and public welfare program had allowed us to sponsor a number of social activities across multiple NYSC orientation camps in Nigeria, including Pageantries and Quizzes, as well as Cultural, Singing, and Eating Competitions.
- For the 4th year in a row, we have also continued to sponsor a soccer outfit in Nsugbe, the hometown of the OCI Foundation’s President.
- We also hope to consolidate our Direct Empowerment Project, which sees beneficiaries trained in various skills acquisition programs.
- Finally, this Public and Social Welfare component of the OCI Foundation allows us to stand with our bereaved associates at their most trying moments while celebrating with those who had cherished times at weddings, anniversaries, and other events.
IN CLOSING, ladies and gentlemen, we wish to thank all our members, volunteers, partners and associates around the globe. We cannot mention all the names, but proudly assert that we hold you all dear in our hearts. None of our achievements would ever have been possible without your patience, dogged loyalty, support, and steadfastness.
We also thank all those who have recognised and honoured us in different ways. We appreciate all the awards and remain ready to receive more from reputable institutions across the world.
Thank you all for listening to this speech. Kindly share it among your friends and associates, as well as in all your social media networks.
“Happy New Year” to you all once again. We wish everyone God’s continued blessings and protections.
And we invite all men and women of goodwill from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe, to join and partner with the OCI Foundation International, as WE RISE, BY LIFTING OTHERS.