Asearch on Google, Wikipedia or, even the Encyclopaedia Britannica, if you want do an advanced search will tell you that philanthropy “derives from the ancient Greek phrase ‘phylantropia,’ meaning ‘to love people’.
Today, the concept of philanthropy includes the act of voluntary giving by individuals or groups to promote the common good. Sometimes, certain levels of giving is referred to as charity and there is a good number of people everywhere that give a lot of charity to a huge of people around them.
A recent study concluded that Microsoft’s Bill Gates was number one on the list of the world’s top philanthropists with $27 billion in lifetime donations, followed by Warren Buffet with $21 billion, George Soros at $8 billion, Azim Premji, the Indian-American of Wipro, $8 billion down to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
In Nigeria, Wealth writers agree that Aliko Dangote. Rochas Okorocha, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Theophilus Danjuma, Emeka Ofor and Oba Otudeko in this particular order are among top philanthropists in Nigeria. How much each of the above Nigerian free givers has given out over time is, however, not known or documented.
Yet, there are hundreds more Nigerian philanthropists that remain anonymous and will never reveal the extent of their giving to several causes and charities. For instance, a US-based Nigerian medical practitioner, Dr. Godwin Maduka, who is so passionate about his people and their development has poured in hundreds of millions of US dollars into his community’s development, to the point that his community of Umuchukwu in Orumba south senatorial district of Anambra State has witnessed a huge transformation from a totally inconsequential community to a giant, well-developed town which boasts of a world standard medical research centre that has so far gone up to 70 per cent completion on the main structure while only furnishing and installation of equipment is left in the final completion.
That medical centre in Umuchukwu will attract national and international medical experts to study the efficacy of African traditional medicine and come up with different drugs and medical solutions to various medical issues.
This level of philanthropy is totally unknown not only in this part of the world but even worldwide. For a man or woman to take up the provision of infrastructure – roads, bridges, primary and secondary schools, churches of different denominations, a world standard police station, magistrate’s court, high court with fitting housing for the judges, policemen, houses for the poor, water and electricity and perhaps most important, a health institution for his own people is probably the height of giving.
This has not included the number of people he has sent abroad to study. Notable also is the fact that many of those that have benefited from his largesse are not necessarily his relations.
If you discount what he has done for his relations such as building palatial homes for his brothers, one of whom provided the seed money of N5000 to enable him go to America for further studies, you can begin to imagine the level of his philanthropy. That seed money has culminated in a Harvard University School of Medicine degree plus doctor of philosophy degree in Pharmacy from other American institutions.
It was afterwards that he moved to the state of Texas to establish a chain of top-rated hospitals or Pain Institutes.
His success in the United States where he has so far spent 40 years has generated the fortune he is using to finance his huge philanthropy in Nigeria and elsewhere. Dr. Maduka’s huge charitable giving is extraordinary and certainly dwarfs that of other philanthropists in this part of the world. A situation has recently emerged when the Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara Foundation looked at the extent of his philanthropy in the city of Umuchukwu in Anambra, decided to honour him with the ‘Philanthropist of the Millenium’ later this year as they launch the foundation for the former Premier of Eastern Region who did so much to industrialize his region when he was in office.
Dr. Maduka was born 1959 just when Dr Okpara became the premier of Eastern Nigeria, but according to the philanthropist, the leadership qualities and template he used to govern are admirable and he intends to utilize his industrialization and agricultural strategy when he gets into office.
The organizers of the Okpara foundation said that the kind of philanthropy exhibited by Dr. Godwin Maduka has never been witnessed in Nigeria. And when a man or woman shows the kind of generosity that Maduka has done for his people, it is important to recognize it so that others can do the same when they are in the same position.
Dr. Maduka said, ‘’The entire cost of what I have built in Umuchukwu so far is in the region of $200 million dollars’’ or N8billion naira in today’s exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria. It was in the course of building the edifices in Umuchukwu that one of his relations asked if he was running for Governor of Anambra state when he noticed the extent of his philanthropy.
“I never contemplated this idea of politics when I began caring for my peoples’ welfare, but I was just interested in developing the place and by extension, the whole Anambra state and Nigeria ultimately”, the medical doctor have said. “Some of my friends have wondered why I am venturing into the murky waters of Nigerian politics, but I believe that if good people abstain from the affairs of the land, there will be no future for our children, particularly the unborn who could be left with no meaningful future in the years ahead.”
Dr Godwin Maduka feels that he cannot sit idly by when his people are enveloped in misery and severe poverty while God has made the kind of provisions he gave me. He said that he cannot wallow in wealth while the bulk of his people are wallowing in poverty, adding, “For God has given me more than I need for my immediate and extended family members and it was only fair that I distributed the huge extras for the welfare of my people.”
He added, “If I get the keys to Anambra government house, what I have done in Umuchukwu will be replicated across the state and within the four years of the mandate, what I hope to put on the ground in terms of development of the state would be such that I will not bother to campaign for a second term as my works will do the talking for me.”
From far off Scotland, United Kingdom, the head of Dr. Godwin Maduka Support Group, Dr. Chioma Nwafor, stressed the need for an Anambra statewide support for the success of the Maduka governorship project to win the gubernatorial election next year. She told a Jombo Radio audience in Glasgow that Maduka is a man who is not coming to government to make money for himself, rather to industrialize, create jobs and promote good governance.
Dr. Nwafor added that Dr Maduka will not only pull resources from his constituency in the USA to ensure that the Anambra state economy and general wellbeing of the people is advanced, adding that he will ensure judicious use of the state resources for optimal development.
A spokesman for the Michael Okpara Foundation, Bruno Uche, said the board of the foundation decided to honour Maduka for the simple reason that what he has done for his people is unprecedented in the philanthropy history of Nigeria. Indeed, it is difficult to believe the tale of the wonders of Umuchukwu until you go there to find out for yourself. And the fact that all the infrastructure you see out there was built by one man is astounding. As a Catholic, Maduka added a monastery in the vicinity of central Umuchukwu where the nuns continuously pray for the people of Nigeria, Anambra and the people of the wonder town.
– Tony Amadi writes from Awka, Anambra.
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