It was a dazzling convergence of high profile personalities from the pharmaceutical industry, government parastatals and other sectors of the country as the Chike Okoli Foundation held its 8th annual Heart & Soul Gala, at City Hall, Lagos Island, on 14 June.
The event, which is held annually to raise funds as well as create awareness on heart attack and entrepreneurial training in memory of the late Chike Okoli, was graced by Dr Stella Okoli, chairman, board of directors, Chike Okoli Foundation; Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health; Mrs Olufunke Amosun, first lady of Ogun State; Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, NIPRD Director General; Dr Paul Orhii, director general of National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Mrs Vera Nwaze, managing director of Novartis Pharma, and His Royal Highness, Dr. Laz Ekwueme.
Others were Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, former special adviser to the president on petroleum matters; Mrs Taiwo Taiwo, managing director of Shonny Properties Limited; Chief (Dr) Oladele Sanusi, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Onyeka Onwenu, executive director of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD); and Prof. Boniface Egboka, vice chancellor, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Vera Nwaze recalled the saddening circumstances surrounding the premature death of the late Chike Okoli, at the age of 24, noting that he might still be alive if he had obtained timely information about the state of his health.
“I believe this foundation is a way to create awareness on the need for people to check their health,” she said.
In his own remarks, Chief Oladele Sanusi commended Dr Stella Okoli’s stoicism in the face of bereavement, adding that he was glad the Foundation was fulfilling a worthy cause.
“I think Stella (Okoli) has proven to us how strong one can be even in one’s weakest moment,” he said. “She never gave in to self-pity. Instead, she embarked on creating awareness to ensure people take their health seriously. I implore all of us here today to contribute generously toward the success of this foundation.”
Expressing her appreciation, Dr. Okoli thanked the participants for making out time to honour the event. She however lamented that it was quite unfortunate that not many people in Nigeria today fully understood the significance of giving.