Nkechi Chima Onyele
Women in Nigeria joined their counterparts across the globe to celebrate womanhood on the occasion of the 2018 International Women’s Day. This year’s occasion was, however, celebrated with a difference compared to what obtained in the past. There was visible presence of cream of women groups drafted from the six geopolitical zones who converged in Abuja to make the yearly event memorable.
Visible were the Association of Nigeria Farmers, Association of Nigeria Engineers, Nigeria Tailors Association, Association of Women in Information Technology Society, Security Agencies such as Civil Defence, Custom, Prisons, students from secondary schools, tertiary institutions, Markets Women Association of Nigeria, Country Representative of UNICEF, United Nation Women, Association of Nigeria Entrepreneurs and members of National Council for Women Societies of Nigeria (NCWS).
Not lost in the euphoria of the event was the sad event of the kidnapped girls of the Government Girls Science and Technology College, Dapchi from their dormitory, which the wife of the Presudent, Mrs Aisha Buhari harped on and the need to rescue the hapless girl.
It was to drum home the importance of protecting young girls from predators, particularly those who embraced western education in the North that she flagged off her campaign “Leave our daughters alone.”
Mrs. Buhari had collaborated with the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) and the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) to make this year colourful in all ramifications.
It started with a three-day event of showcasing Arts & Crafts Exhibition, featuring arts, crafts, local foods, drinks, where indigenous products by Nigeria women were on display.
At the grand ceremony, the convener and wife of the President, Mrs Buhari congratulated every women all over the world particularly Nigeria women.
“It’s a day that offered the opportunity for women to reflect on issues affecting women and children. Sadly in Nigeria we are facing the painful adoption of our children in Dapchi, Yobe State. So, we produce a local film featuring women in every field titled “Leave our daughter alone.” As a mother I understand the pains in the hearts of women whose daughters were adopted and I’m aware of the efforts being made by security agencies to rescue these girls and I’m hopeful it will yield positive results,” she stated.
She also urged women to speak up on issues affecting them such as domestic violence, sex traffickers and advocacy on the girl-child among others.
Mrs Buhari urged wives of governors, NGO’s, union leaders to enlist in the campaign.
Part of the programme was a public presentation of the final position of Nigeria Women on the burning issue of restructuring.
Speaking at the event, wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo encouraged Nigeria women, especially the mothers of the missing girls in Dapchi not to lose hope in the Nigerian project.
“We stand with Dapchi women suffering the abduction of their children and pray these girls will return home. However, it’s the best of time and it’s the worse of time, because Nigeria women are standing tall. I also want to appreciate every woman for striving to make life meaningful for themselves,” she said.
Also speaking, wife of the Speaker House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbiya Dogara congratulated Nigeria women and wife of the president for making Nigeria women proud.
“I want to encourage Nigeria women to continue to speak up for change in governance. We support the wife of the president and we stand with Dapchi women suffering for the abduction of their children and we are hopeful on their return.”
Director General, National Centre for Women Development, (NCWD) Mrs. Mary Ekpere-Eta congratulated Nigeria women on the occasion of the 2018 International Women’s Day with the theme “Time is now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.”
According to her, the 2018 theme gave women the platform to showcase the activities of Nigeria women as you will see through the three-day exhibition we have put together to transform this momentum into action.
“The exhibition is one of the many activities we have put together in collaboration with the wife of the president to empower women in rural and urban areas. We are also working persistently to claim women’s rights and realise their full potentials,” she said.
She also said the Centre was working towards sustainable development goals, especially in the rural areas to improve their standard of living, a life free of violence, harmful practices, as well as their access to land, productive assets, food security, education and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and right.
In her keynote address, National President, National Council for Women Societies of Nigeria (NCWS), Gloria Laraba Shoda, said the international theme for the year is titled “Press for progress.” So, every woman should encourage each other instead of bringing each other down.
“Women should work together to gain equality for women. Though, we are not contesting with the men as our head, we are saying Nigeria women should be given their rightful position.
“As we approach 2019, women should contest election as candidate not aspirant to win election and we are hopeful this will change at the forthcoming election,” she said.
Also speaking, wife of Kebbi State governor, Zainab Bagudu encouraged Nigeria women to promote girlchild education regardless of the abduction of their children in the north.
“Northern women should not be scared to send their wards or children to school because of the fear of abduction. They should see education as a tool to make their children confident to protect their self-esteem and I pray these girls will be released,” she prayed.
Former Minister for Woman Affair, Josephine Anenih appreciated the wife of the president and encouraged her to continue in her quest to make the life of Nigeria women better.
“We are really faced with the abduction of Dapchi girls and I pray this will not occur again. I want to encourage Nigeria women to remain prayerful and steadfast in all they do in life,” she noted.
Senior special Adviser to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabire-Arewa, appreciated the wife of the president on her efforts towards spacing the lives of Nigeria women.
“I want to encourage more women to contest for elective positions to make Nigeria a better place and I’m hopeful for a Nigeria where a woman will be the president and povernors,” she stated.
It was indeed a remarkable event as the Police band was on ground entertaining with songs while they dance to celebrate the day.
The wife of the president later led other dignitaries to the exhibition hall.