Five Nigerian governors, including Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and wife of the Lagos State governor, Bolanle Ambode and the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osibanjo on Tuesday said for the nation to move forward women are key agents in driving the nation building agenda.
The other Governors are Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson; Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel and the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the National Women’s Conference, organized by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, COWLSO, held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Ambode, said women were constantly creative; making something out of nothing.
“Creativity has become very essential to succeed in today’s world because we face new challenges everyday – at home and at work. As the woman creates and transforms, she positively impacts the family, the workplace and the nation.
“With the female population in our country today, it is clear that our women have the capacity to positively affect the Nigerian economy and are already doing so. What is required is a deliberate and articulated policy to support female entrepreneurs and MSMEs. And from my experience, female entrepreneurs are outstanding business people who are very creative and hardworking. If you want a job done properly and delivered on time, give it to a woman,” he said.
The governor said his administration remained committed to supporting female entrepreneurs., disclosing that through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, many female run Medium and Small Scale businesses had been funded, adding that as at September 2017, 2,613 female entrepreneurs had received a cumulative sum of N2.1 billion, which he said represented 42% of the total loans disbursed but that government’s target was to ensure that at least 60% of the loans were given to women.
The governor encouraged more women to approach the Employment Trust Fund and also take advantage of the many initiatives from the Ministries of Wealth Creation and Women and Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, saying that supporting women businesses should no longer be seen as a social support or empowerment but as a necessary step to revive and improve the economy.
Speaking, Gov. Emmanuel said women represented love, stressing that celebrating women should be a habit and not at an event as their rights were God-given, adding with love, women could actually create and transform the nation.
Edo Governor, Obaseki said his administration would continue to support the course of women in the area of entrepreneurship development.
Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose emphasized that life without women would be one full of crises, saying that if women were put at the helms of affairs of the nation, they would turn things around.
“We must encourage women, even in politics; women should not be second fiddle. When you conduct Local Government election, they should make it to be that when a woman scores 40 percent of the vote, they should be declared winner,” he said.
In her welcome address, wife of the Governor of Lagos State and Chairman, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, COWLSO, Mrs Bolanle Ambode said the theme of the conference, “She Creates, She Transforms,” and with a theme thrust of “Creativity and Skill Acquisition,” was expected to focus on ingenuity of the Nigerian women in the pursuit of innovative and practical solution aimed at achieving sustainable development within her immediate sphere and community at large.
“Women are uniquely created, endowed with skills and blessed with creativity. We are helpmates, we care for the family. We impact our immediate environment positively. The woman out of very little creates. We transform the little created to something bigger and better. Our transformation efforts extend to all facets of human engagement.”
She listed some of the topics to be examined to include “Building a better World,” “Women in Agriculture,” “Women Empowerment-A Pathway to Development,” and “Financing Option for Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises.”
Mrs Ambode said women must rise and have zero tolerance for the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, saying that the campaign must start from the homes, churches, mosques, offices, among others.
According to her, “female gender mutilation is evil, it is evil, it is anti-social and unjustifiable. In fact, it is a crime against women. We must devote time for enlightenment and awareness, especially among uneducated mothers. We must stand together against it until the practice is totally eradicated in our country and the world.”
Mrs Ambode said women must never fall to the temptation of pursuing economic empowerment at the expense of taking good care and paying attention to their children, warning that children, who did not enjoy good parental care, easily grow to potentially dangerous youths, who becomes nightmares for the society.
“We must desist from and discourage child-labour, Child Abuse and fight child-trafficking with all our strength. We owe it a duty to give good parenting to our children and indeed all other children put in our care. We must give them hope and allow them see the positive side of life as a way of bringing back good morals and societal stability,” she said.
Declaring the conference open, Mrs Osinbajo challenged women to reflect on the past and to know where they were coming from and continue to create and transform the nation in all spheres of life.
She listed several women who had achieved greatness in the past, such as Funmilola Ransome-Kuti and challenged women to emulate their virtues.
She also charged women to speak out against rape and abuse; speak for the needy and speak in defence for the unity of Nigeria.
One of the major highlight of the conference is the launch of the COWLSO anthem- ‘’We are one’’, and the presentation of the inspirational woman of the year award to Engr. (Mrs.) Sandra Aguebor (MFR), aka ‘Lady Mechanic’.