Reuben Okoya has become a household name in Bayelsa state and beyond. The name is synonymous with philanthropic advancements. A native of Boumondi-Ekpetiama in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Okoya finds philanthropy as a hobby and therefore does it from his heart without qualms.
Despite the fact that he was born with silver spoon into a wealthy and royal family, Okoya refuses to be puffed up by his family and sound academic background but chooses to be friends with the downtrodden. He belongs to the rare breed of well-to-do persons in this part of the world that derives great pleasure in putting smiles on the faces of those who really need help and not to play to the gallery.
It is due to his vehement sensitivity to the plights of the less privileged that he formed the Reuben Okoya (ROK) Foundation. The Non Governmental Organization serves as a propelling force that drives the famous philanthropist to the doorsteps of the needy for the provision of succour.
Okoya's altruistic gestures cut across a very broad spectrum of society. The NGO has been awarding scholarships to numerous pupils and students from penurious homes that cannot send their children and wards to school. It also presents cash gifts to indigent families to cater for their immediate financial challenges. The none profit making organization also recognizes and rewards youths that have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of endeavours especially in academics and sports as a way of encouraging others to be hardworking and become useful to society.
The Reuben Okoya Foundation does not only provide help to the common man but also assists the state government and organizations in different ways.
During the 2018 flood disaster that hit Bayelsa and a host of other states very hard, Okoya and his foundation did not shy away from the foundation's social responsibility to offer help to those who were directly affected by the natural carnage that struck the people. He felt the pulse of the bewildered victims and swiftly reacted accordingly. The ROK visited all the camps of Internally Displaced Persons and donated cash and relief materials running into millions of naira.
Prior to the 2019 general elections, the foundation stood firm by it’s political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ensure that the ruling party maintained its dominant position in Bayelsa State. In doing this, the ROK donated buses and cash to support the state leadership of the party. The buses were handed over to all National Assembly as well as some state assembly candidates to aid their campaigns.
Due to his unflinching love for education, Okoya and his foundation recently donated desktop computers to Bayelsa students through the Bayelsa State Education Trust Fund recently launched by Governor Seriake Dickson. Presenting the computers to the trust fund, Okoya stated that he had a bias for academic development of all Bayelsans having been a beneficiary of sound education. He postulated that nothing could be considered overdone when investing in the education of his people.
His words: "the importance of education can never be overstated and can never be overdone in society. That's why I am happy that today Bayelsa has started a revolution in education and that revolution is being carried out by governor Dickson. Whether we like it or not, we are making tremendous progress in education; the boarding schools are there, the science facilities are there. That is why private citizens like us who know the value of education will like to contribute our little widow's might to assist the government".
Last Tuesday was a memorable day to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Nembe Ogbolomabiri in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa state as the ROK foundation stormed the ancient city to identify with the displaced persons. It could be recalled that about 1000 residents of Opu-Nembe Bassambiri were displaced on March 23, day of the 2019 presidential and national assembly election following electoral violence that errupted which reportedly led to the deaths of some residents. Since then, the affected persons are yet to return to their homes but are taking refuge at Nembe- Ogbolomabiri and other villages in the area for fear of being attacked.
Before the arrival of Okoya and his philanthropic train, the King Koko Square in Nembe, venue of the event was already agog curiosity and excitements. The IDPs were full of expectations. Indeed, they were not disappointed. At the end of the day, they had a reason to jubilate. They were shocked when Okoya took the microphone and announced the donation of N2million to the refugees for their upkeep. Okoya told the jubilant IDPs that he would not rest on his oars until they returned to their respective homes. He promised to reach out to his friends, corporate bodies and the federal authorities to also come to the rescue of the refugees and ensure they returned home soon.
While commending the state government for catering for the needs of the people, Okoya called on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other international oil companies operating in the area to come to the aid of the IDPs.
He said "it is a very pitiful sight to see normal regular human beings that are displaced. In addition to providing food and money for them to survive, it is very essential for us to plead with the relevant authorities to come and prepare the ground for them to go back to their houses. We must be our brother's keepers. I have been a commissioner here in Bayelsa state before I went to Abuja to manage cities. To those of us who have been fortunate, we should be ready to give back to society. That is why l am here to help you out for this very short period". He enjoined the displaced persons to remain calm and not take laws into their hand.
Responding, chairman of the IDPs, Mr. Arthur Clement said he was short of words to describe the display of human feeling and sense of friendliness toward them by the foundation. Mr. Clement promised to reciprocate the friendly gesture of Okoya by any means possible, stating that ROK was the first corporate body that had identified with their plights to complement government's effort since the beginning of their ordeal.
Also speaking, chairman of the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Zedekaiah Isu who was represented by a staff of the agency, Mr. George Oru, thanked the foundation for providing relief for the IDPs and promised to monitor and ensure even disbursement of the N2million cash to the rightful persons.
Meanwhile, it was reported that seven women among the IDPs had given birth to new babies in their respective temporary settlements. Okoya was seen attending to some of the nursing mothers and presenting cash gifts to them.