Roses for Roli at 55

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    Despite the roller-coaster of public life, a woman has been able to draw inner strength to help mankindwaxing stronger as she advances in age

    BY ELIJAH OLUSEGUN

    WIFE of Delta’s ex-Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan told a reporter Sept. 27, 2008 that life’s circumstances don’t change her. She could be right. Her rich background, comfy matrimony, political rise, Ph.D. laurels, and other trappings of the good life have taken nothing away from her modesty. Maybe.

    But, then, she definitely can’t deny changing on one note: age. Roli Uduaghan just notched up her 55th birthday. The point is: she gets better with age, like vintage wine. And about 30 years of her life have been eventful. From being the wife of a medical doctor, who became a health commissioner and later secretary to the government, Roli took the rough with the smooth, along with her man, until she became Delta’s first lady for eight years.

    She saw the mix of power and pomp, with all their giddying tendencies; she felt the pressures and challenges of being a first lady. “But they have not in any way affected me,” she said in the interview.“I am just who I am–the same Roli yesterday and today. And I am not conscious of my position. As I was as the commissioner’s wife, so I was as SSG’s wife.”

    And so she has always been. That is no grandstanding. Roli the wife and mother never lost her heart all the years she was Roli the first lady. Her life-long goal of lending a hand started before the couple’s political career. And their rise and rise in politics over the last decade has only brought her closer to a particular class of have-nots dear to her–widows.

    She loves them.  Caring for them is so important to her it’s become part of her piety.

    “Long before I became the First Lady, I had prayed to God to give me the strength and courage to take care of widows,” she said, talking about her Master Key Foundation.

    With the NGO, she has been mobilising support to assist widows across Delta. Her primary focus is maternal health. And that has brought lots of campaigns: breast cancer awareness; HIV/AIDS awareness; eye care; and others. As of 2012, more than 4000 Deltans benefitted from the eye campaign. Master Key has done a lot more in empowering the widows. Scads of three-wheelers, cassava processors, rice milling machines were handed out to many of the widows.

    Her foundation isn’t just about handouts and freebies. It’s about emotional and spiritual support. With Delta Mothers’ Prayer Day for inmates, X-mas visits to orphanages, Roli has proved her heart of gold connects with theirs.

    The Uduaghans have finished their course as Delta’s first couple. Just like many others across the nation. And charity concerns like hers, floated while the couples are in power, usually come crashing like a lead balloon after leaving office. The driving force, in most cases, is political power and perks of office. And t hose things are, by nature, tenured.

    But Roli’s is different. The Master Key Foundation has a divine root that runs deep into her heart of hearts. “I am moved by pure religious injunctions to take care of the widows,” she once said. And that’s where she draws the spiritual strength that keeps her and the foundation going even though she’s out of office.

    Most do-gooders may not take that divine theory. Who cares? “I am a Christian, so my husband is,” she said in an interview with Pointer News on her 47th birthday. “If you ask me, God has his favourite people, and I want to regard myself and my husband as some of his favourite people on earth.”

    That favour Roli is extending to others, apparently, is just beginning. She herself is still in her salad days now. Even her golden year–about a decade ahead—are no less promising, as far as helping humanity goes.

    The cause, she claims, is divine.

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