The Ekiti State government has made fresh investment of about N10m on the upkeep and education of multiple births, as part of a sustainable scheme to discourage fathers of such children from absconding from home.
The initiator of the Multiple Birth Trust Fund and wife of Ekiti state Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, made this known during the fifth disbursement of financial and products support to multiple births families, in Ado-Ekiti, on Friday.
She announced that N200,000 has been kept in trust in interest-yielding accounts in designated banks for 21 set of triplets for the sole purpose of paying their school fees and related expenses.
At the occasion, 141 multiple birth parents across the sixteen local government areas of the state received cash support and baby-friendly products to assist them in fending for the newborns.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi said the gesture was in fulfillment of the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration’s promise to reduce maternal and infant mortality rate by empowering multiple birth mothers.
She said that the free health programme for pregnant women and children under five years was part of the holistic approach to improve the health status and wellbeing of women.
Since the MBTF was initiated in 2011, the First Lady disclosed that no fewer than 754 low income multiple birth parents have benefitted from the quarterly cash disbursement and products support.
The Ekiti Development Foundation, founded by the governor’s wife, is collaborating with the ministry of women affairs, social development and gender empowerment, to fund the MBTF.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi said that the state government came up with the fresh idea of depositing money in trust for triplets to discourage fathers from abandoning their wives when they give birth to more than a baby at once.
She said, “From experience, we know that some men abscond from home as soon as they realize that their wives had given birth to multiple children. We don’t want that to happen anywhere in Ekiti.
“That informed the decision of the government to deposit N200,000 in trust for 21 set of triplets to cater for the needs of the children. The future of these wonderful set of babies is being guaranteed through saving of funds for their education.
“I must emphasise that this money is not meant for the parents to buy aso ebi or settle debt. We have put in place a mechanism to ensure that the money is used for the sole purpose it is meant for.”
So far, she said that the beneficiaries of the MBTF were not selected based on political affiliation or ethnic bias, stressing that they were chosen based on hospital records and notification from the families.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi said, “I will like to say that this initiative is not political. We are not concerned about the political affiliation of these parents. All we care about is that these are Ekiti children and Dr. Kayode Fayemi is governor to all.”
The governor’s wife, however, used the opportunity to educate mothers to embrace family planning to be able to plan for the future of their children for them not to become liabilities to the society.
She also advised parents of multiples to always entrust their children in the care of reliable persons in order to safeguard the infants against injuries or theft.
The governor’s wife was particular about female children, whom she said often became victims of assault from close relatives, neighbours and family friends due to parental negligence.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Gender Empowerment, Mrs Fola Richie-Adewusi, said that the MBTF was aimed at alleviating the challenges confronting multiple births families.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Peju Babafemi, the commissioner reiterated the commitment of the administration to the promotion of the wellbeing of the family.
An official of the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Kemi Akinleye, was also on hand to sensitise mothers on the health and social benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of the birth of the babies.
She urged mothers to engage in profitable ventures to enable them to contribute to the upbringing of their children and family expenses.
The 21 set of triplets were from Ado-Ekiti, Ise/Orun, Ido/Osi, Oye, Ekiti South-West, Ijero, Gbonyin and Irepodun/Ifelodun local governments, while the 141 families that benefitted from the latest disbursement cut across the 16 LGs of the state.