It was Joya Rose who once said that "when you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence". Similarly, Melinda Gates said "philanthropy is not about money, it's about feeling the pains of others and caring enough about their needs to help".
The above best captures the person and nature of a young and successful businessman, Pastor Keniebi Okoko. An indigene of Obunagha community in Gbarain Clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, Okoko resides in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. He is one of the few rich men in Nigeria who love to share their riches with the downtrodden.
Due to his large appetite for humanitarian services, the philanthropist established a foundation named Keniebi Okoko Movement. The movement does nothing but to put smiles on the faces of the distressed. It has rendered help to several Bayelsans and people from other parts of the country. Okoko, through the foundation, has awarded scholarships to countless pupils and students up to university level.
Apart from award of scholarships to students of indigent parents, he has also been helping society in the area of providing free medical services to communities. This he does periodically by distributing free drugs and administering free medical tests through paid medical experts in different communities in Bayelsa state and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, the 2018 flood victims in Bayelsa state will forever be grateful to Okoko for the role he played during the flood palaver. He did not spare his time and hard earned resources but released them lavishly to provide succour for those who lost their all to the destructive flood. Without expecting any reward from anyone, the businessman doled out funds and relief items to help cushion the harsh effects of the water disaster on its victims. From community to community, Okoko went about ameliorating the plight of the victims of the flood. Mattresses and pillows, bags of rice, cartons of noodles, bags of sachet water, detergents and toiletries were ubiquitous, courtesy of the Keniebi Okoko Movement.
Only penultimate week, the Keniebi Okoko Movement also stormed the secretariat of the Bayelsa State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB in Yenagoa to distribute note books to primary and junior secondary schools across the state. A total of 15,000 pieces of exercise books were donated by Okoko to complement the government of Bayelsa state in the area of education. Indeed, this is highly commendable.
Overwhelmed by the gesture, state chairman of SUBEB, Pius Jonah, while receiving the books could not hold back his joy and appreciation. The SUBEB boss aptly described Okoko as a role model whose philanthropic services were worthy of emulation. The chairman called on all well meaning and well to do Bayelsans to borrow a leaf from the Keniebi Okoko Movement.
While we commend Okoko for his large heart, we join Jonah to call on all those whom God has blessed to give back to society as Okoko has always done. Society should not respect or regard any man or woman as rich if they fail to add meaning to the lives of the poor. Riches are not measured by how much one has in his bank account. Neither is it calculated by how many landed properties one acquires around the globe. What is paramount is how many lives one can touch positively.
Therefore, the act of individuals amassing so much wealth for selfish reasons should be jettisoned. Political office holders who use their positions to stash public funds abroad or hide them from public use should desist forthwith. It will profit them nothing to gain the whole world while the needy keep wailing. No wonder, Gamaliel Bailey once posited that we should not “respect men for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy, we do not value the sun for its height but for its use".
Like Okoko, privileged persons in the society should learn to touch the life of the common man who may not even require too much to be satisfied in thier own way. The truth about life is that you become happier when you make others happy. This must be the singular philosophy that drives Okoko. That is why he does not see fellow men as trees. The plight of the common man is always his primary concern.
The more Okokos we can have around, the better our society will be