Why Heritage Club spends millions on prisoners, others – Ted Ojukwu

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Published 13 hours ago on December 1, 2019 By VICTORIA PASCHAL

Sir Ted Ojukwu is the outgoing president of the Heritage Advancement Club of Nigeria. In this interview with VICTORIA PASCHAL, he talks on the Club’s annual end of the year award ceremonies, it’s ideals and commitment to restoring the country to sane society

Who is Sir Ted Ojukwu?

I am a lawyer, an entrepreneur and the President of Heritage Advancement Club of Nigeria. It is a club that has worldwide spread; we have members in Canada, America, London, South Africa and Europe. Our membership is for adults of 25 years of age and above who are business owners, or professionals and public servants. We have two organs; the General Assembly and the Executive Council; and a Board of Trustees.

Could you let us in on the objectives and aims of the club?

The Heritage Advancement Club of Nigeria was established to curb moral decadence in the society. As the word heritage connotes, you will agree with me that the virtues we inherited from our forefathers are dying gradually. There is a high level of moral decadence in the society today. Our club is committed to fighting moral decadence. We are working and also ensuring that we spread the message on the dangers of drug abuse and other vices prevalent in our society.

In addition, we patronise and promote businesses of members. The welfare of members is very important to us. We have over 30 members residing in Nigeria and outside the country. The club is three years old. Though officially registered in 2017, Heritage Club was founded in 2016. We had an interim President in the person of Mr. Osasume Ogie, for a period of time. I was his Vice President. I later became the first elected President.

What activities has your club been involved in, especially, in line with your aims?

We’ve had a Healthcare Outreach and the Say NO to Drug Campaign at Ilasan Estate, Jakande, on the Lekki axis. We discovered that the classes of people who live around that neighbourhood are deeply involved in drug abuse. So we went there, sometime last year and we treated over 800 people who came that day to receive medications. Our Welfare Unit was also able to do some follow up on those whose cases were very serious.

Recently, we had another medical outreach. The professionals amongst us and in the medical profession organised a medical outreach to Ikoyi Prisons. We ran free medical tests for 150 inmates, gave them drugs and followed up on those inmates who have extreme cases.

Did you notice any peculiar or common health challenge suffered amongst the inmates?

We found out that many of the inmates have scabies, infections and coughs. They have bugs within the area, because the environment is not tidy. Our next project will focus on how we can help the prison environment, have it fumigated regularly; we will commit the club to see to that matter because that is a major area that needs to be looked into. We are not sure that the authorities are looking into all of that, because we find that the inmates burn robber/plastics to keep bugs away. I also think our club needs to provide beddings, mattresses, blankets. All of that will be essential aspects of our next prison outreach.

Do you have any programme for the year ending?

Of course, we will be having our end of year party on December 15. We have also conducted an election because my time as President has come to an end. Hence, we will be handing over to the new Executive Committee on that day. Also that day, we will induct 10 new members. We will also give awards to distinguished dignitaries within the society.

Besides, we have our back to school project. We try to take few children, as many as we can manage, off the streets. We started the programme with five pupils. This time around, five pupils will be recipients of certain cash awards, at least N250, 000 each, that day. Again, we will be visiting about six motherless babies’ homes with gifts, cash and essential items.

How does the club fund these programmes?

Our members provide the sponsorship. Heritage Advancement Forum is where everyone comes in to put in their little resources for the interest and betterment of indigent people in the society. Our members have been very generous; they’ve been very committed to what we are doing.

We will also give a special award to the most committed member of our club. Only one member except the president will be so decorated. Because we are so committed to impacting on the less privileged in society, we are establishing relationships with our agencies so that we can go into other areas of need.

How much do you put into one outreach for instance?

Each of our outreaches cost about half a million naira; and we plan to organise more outreaches next year. We have already done our budget. The Board of Trustees is looking into our 2020 budget. We hope that we get a quick passage between now and the take-off of the next administration.

What does it take to become a member of Heritage Club?

One simply needs to pick up a membership form, fill it up, pay the registration fees and that’s it. There is a membership committee that screens, get information regarding the characters and other necessary requirements of an intending member, because we want to be sure of who you are. We make sure that we take very good people, who have good characters and who will be able to represent our aims and objectives. The membership committee looks into that and passes it on to the President for approval. The president and his Executive Committee members give approval before a person is admitted. There is a probation period before the person is inducted; we usually have inductions twice in a year.

Are there any benefits for members?

Part of the welfare package we have is N5million life insurance and health insurance policy for each member. We have other welfare programmes, like benefits that accrue to any member in case of death of family members. The clubs does that to help them throughout that period. We also have the birth benefits, marriage and the rest of them. So the welfare unit handles this; and it’s compulsory that everybody attends these ceremonies with the exception of those who live abroad. We have found out that those who live abroad fly in to participate in these programmes. Because we have very committed people, we schedule the programmes properly, so that people have time to come.

The welfare of our organisation is very dear to us. We believe that our members should be OK and this compels them to be able to do more.

You didn’t tell me how much the membership cost. Is that a secret?

Membership fee is not a secret but I believe if you want to be a member, we will give you a prospectus, a form. And in that form it is appended. I know now that it is about a 132,000; including yearly dues, induction fee and all of that. The finance committee handles that.

What level do you envisage Heritage Club to be in the next five years?

He intends to consolidate on our advocate against moral decadence in the society, criminality, dishonesty, drug abuse and other vices. It hasn’t really been encouraging, with what we see on social media. It really calls for concern. What we are trying to do is to promote African cultural heritage, where a woman will dress properly as a woman and a man will dress properly as a man without exposing certain parts of their body. These are the things that bring about rape and the rest of them. It’s a bad situation but we are trying to help the government and the society to deal with it. We plan to extend our membership to university and secondary schools students so that we catch them young, at that level. All though they will not be financial members, they will get all the benefits of members. Next year, plans to have not less than 1,000 memberships. We need more hands, we can’t do this alone. We are going all out now, to catch them young. So we will be able to form branches almost every place in the country.