• Things will improve as CNG buses come into country, as we prepare for a new minimum wage – SGF

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has unveiled the Nigeria for Women Programme tagged P-Bat Cares for Nigerian Women, an initiative aimed at ensuring women are economically empowered, comprising of an e-market portal, a national women’s helpline, Naija Save Nigeria Integrity/Transparency Brigade, and a Nigeria Be Informed National Broadcast Channel.

The programme is to further advance the course of women and children in the country. The focus of the programme is on empowerment, protecting the rights of women and children as citizens of the country.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, at the State House Conference Center, Abuja, the President assumed that his administration is working day and night to develop policies that will enable the growth of Nigerian women but noted that policies alone cannot fix everything.

“We need a change in attitude, the determination to make things work, the determination to build our nation. This means knocking down the outdated obstacles that hold women back.

“Social and gender norms are a critical underlying factor limiting the progress of Nigerian women, there are so many unspoken barriers to women empowerment, many of this start from birth of our female children and run the course of their lives, limiting them mentally and physically, this has to stop.

“This Administration is very concerned about ending norms that affect our girl child and women. We need to take the diversity issue very serious, we need to do things differently, take a leap of faith, hire, promote and invest in our women.

“We know what it takes to have a more gender-inclusive country, we need to all make a deliberate effort to achieve this. It is time to empower our women.

“There is a limit, of course, to what the government can accomplish on its own. We extend a hand of partnership to all the stakeholders present and beyond, imploring them to join us in building our Women and Nation.

“Think of these and also of the millions of Nigerian women today, brimming with talent and potential, just waiting for the chance make their mark and turn their dreams into reality.”

The President also used the occasion to wish the Nigerian women a happy International Women’s Day.

Speaking in his capacity as the SGF, Akume said the future of women in Nigeria looks very promising with all what the ministry is doing to meet the needs of women.

He admitted that traditional institutions are closer to the people and are potent to the success of President Tinubu’s administration.

He said: “We will work together to ensure that women and children get what they deserve.

“We are not just committed to women in Abuja but all over the country particularly the most vulnerable in the country to increase their economic capacity.”

The SGF welcomed the use of technology in dispensing social welfare to the people, calling on international donors to continue to support the ministry.

He said that as the Ramadan period approaches and as Christians continue their fast, Nigerians must rise up to pray for a united and peaceful Nigeria and for the President.

He said: “Ours is a complex federation, where the three tiers of government all have access to federation account and so we if we work together, we can do more for our people.

“Things will begin to change as more Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses make their way to the country and as we prepare for a new minimum wage.”

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, said women do not want to remain silent nor continue their to make noise in the usual way by going on protests knowing fully well President Tinubu cares for them.

The Minister said through Naija Save Nigeria Integrity/Transparency Brigade, her ministry will fight for the rights of women through legal form. “If a woman has been maltreated, we will come out and make noise, come to our aid and trust me they will come to our aide. If a child is maltreated, we will make the same noise and attract attention of those who will come to our aid. We are asking for more compassion as women and a human being as a whole and reduce our wickedness and greed, trust me the country will move further. So let’s feel for one another because even God said it, love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

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She added that Naija Save Nigeria Integrity/Transparency Brigade, is to ensure cases concerning women are promptly attended to at the courts and if they don’t, “we will head to the CJN’s office and cry to him, he will have compassion on us because he has a mother. We will cry to the ones in the states and they will have compassion on us and listen. There’s nothing we will not achieve if we do so peacefully.”

Country Representative to United Nations (UN) Women Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, in her remarks, noted that the programmes being launched by the Ministry of Women Affairs was in tandem with this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “ Count HER In: Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”.

She noted that the programme did not only capture women in the modern cities like Abuja but in rural areas.

Eyong further noted that the IWD’s theme was also in line with 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women coming up later in the month in New York, which has the theme: “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective”.

She said investing in women is not only a matter of economic necessity but also a fundamental human rights.

“This year we are reminded to escalated action by uplifting women, economic empowerment all over the globe and in Nigeria in particular. From a global perspective by 2030, an alarming 347 million women and girls could be trapped in extreme poverty.

“So, policymakers need to acknowledge and account for the significant contributions women make to economies globally through both paid and unpaid care work. If these activities of unpaid care work were given monetary value, then they would represent 40 percent of global gross domestic products.”

The UN Women country representative, commended women that are contributing to the economy saying: “We recognize the energies that you put to ensure there’s food on the table, water and fuel. We really, really appreciate that.”

Eyong added that empowered women not only contribute to the economy but also serve as catalyst for prosperity. She said, “therefore, it is imperative to allocate financial resources to enable women have adequate access to resources and economic opportunities.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his remarks noted the important role of traditional rulers being the closest to the people.

He said: “We are gathered here to tell ourselves the home truth and what we should do if we really want to move forward as a country. That is who a woman is, what she should do and what a woman shouldn’t be etc.

“We know the role women play, without them there will be no procreation, a woman is the first teacher in the home. If you have a good person, check his background he has a good mother.

“As royal fathers, we know without mothers they can’t be men and without men they can’t be women. So we are here to demonstrate our commitment to help the government succeed in its programmes.

“We are not anti government but anti social ills. We assure the government that we are 100 percent ready. We have respect for women because they are the real wheel of development in the country.”

The monarch, urged the minister of women affairs to be transparent in implementation of the programmes because “we will not support any dirty programme”, noting that the people trust royal fathers endorsement of government programmes and they will be held responsible if anything goes wrong.

Th Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on his part, commended the minister for bringing governance closer to the people, noting that it was important for governance to be brought closer to the people.

He further urged her to do more particularly for those in the rural areas “because there’s life beyond Abuja.”

“This shouldn’t be one off, try to leave your comfort zone to go and see what people are going through from time to time outside Abuja. You have a lot of networks you can work with to ensure women are better empowered.

“Traditional rulers are closer to the people permanently. We face the good, the bad and the ugly all the time while we see politicians once in four years. Let’s walk the talk and not just talk and talk. For some women, all they need are motivation not just money and equipment.

“Continue to impact and instill culture to our children.

“Things are not okay with the country and we should all try and leave our comfort zone and show empathy and empower our people”, he said.