INFORMATION that a husband or a father ran away at the news that the wife has been delivered of a baby is one that may have shaken the social fabrics of our society. In many cases, it is on account of the cost of the hospital bills. And where not, it may be on account of the attendant post-natal care. It is an attendant but perhaps inexcusable consequence from the harsh economic situation that has befallen the nation. It was perhaps in that direction that Governor Kayode Fayemi, in his first stint as governor of Ekiti State, conceived the Multiple Birth Trust Fund, a scheme to provide succour to multiple birth families. It was especially auspicious given the fact that the rate of twinning among the Yoruba in Nigeria is believed to be among the highest in the world. Whether in the genes or in the delicious ewedu soup, multiple birth rates have been established to be above the normal among the Yoruba. However, providing for twins is a special challenge that often requires more than what an ordinary family can provide for. Whereas other families plan to pay school fees for one child at a time over a period of time, it becomes a special challenge when two, three or four children are birthed at the same time.
It could often lead to distortions in family expectations. However, that programme was abandoned between 2014 and 2018 by the succeeding Ayodele Fayose administration.
It was as such a thing of joy when on June 24, 2019, the scheme was re-launched by the wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, with the disbursement of products to 104 families. Mrs Fayemi, who made the first tranche of the disbursement in Ado-Ekiti, expressed her happiness that the Trust Fund was back. She also congratulated parents who gathered at the ceremony organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with Office of the First Lady. Cash gifts, baby foods and other family support products were distributed to families with multiple births at the event. Mrs Fayemi said the Multiple Birth Trust Fund was initiated in 2010 to provide assistance for families who have been blessed by God with Multiple births, but who were finding it difficult to cope because of their circumstances.
“We were receiving many reports of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets in the hospitals and the fathers running away because they were scared of how they were going to settle the bills of their obligations, she said.” She added that the Multiple Birth Trust Fund supported no fewer than 740 families between 2010 and 2014. “While some of these families received cash and products support from the administration, investments were also made on behalf of some of the families who had triplets”, she added.
The investments, according to her, were created to support the children through school on a long term basis. Erelu Fayemi expressed her sadness for the non-continuation of the initiative post-Kayode Fayemi administration, hinting on the need to institutionalise the trust fund. “I was deeply saddened to note that this initiative did not continue in the post-Kayode Fayemi administration. It is, therefore, my pleasure that it has commenced now as part of the Social Investment Programmes of JKF2. However, I am also using this opportunity to alert the public that we are going to be working on ways to ensure that this program is institutionalised, so that it is not done at the discretion of incoming administration but is done as a matter of cause, as an obligation to Ekiti people.”She urged them to utilise the amount given to them for the care and upkeep of their babies.
Mrs. Oriowo Victoria, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, lauded the First Lady for the initiative while describing it as unprecedented. What the Fayemi administration has done in recognising the special needs of multiple birth families is especially commendable given that it is the expectation of government to cater to the special needs of those governed. The administration, it will be recalled, had in its first stint also introduced the first social welfare scheme under which the aged and indigent were paid N5,000 monthly. It was a quiet but effective way of distributing resources to the lower rung of society, a social welfare scheme that really pointed at a solid connection between the governed and the government. It is laudable that government recognises that not everyone is capable and that some may be especially challenged in society. The aim of government should be to balance the needs for the good of everyone. The Multiple Birth Trust Fund will undoubtedly help to reduce the number of delinquent Taiwos and Kehindes in Ekiti State.
- Aziken is editor at gwg.ng