By Ahmad Abiodun |
A search on Google, Wikipedia or even the Encyclopaedia Britannica if you want to do an advanced search will tell you that ‘philanthropy’ ‘’derives from the Ancient Greek phrase phylantropia, meaning ‘topop 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.
There are however 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% completion on the main structure while only furnishing and installation of equipment is left in the final completion. That medical center 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 court, high court with fitting housing for the judges, policemen, houses for the poor, water and electricity and perhaps most importantly, 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 has 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 who provided the seed money of N5000 (five thousand naira) 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 state, 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 that ‘’the entire cost of what I have built in Umuchukwu so far is in the region of $200 million dollars’’ or N8 billion 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.
– Abiodun is a public affairs analyst