Raphael Ede, Enugu

Igbo women have continued to play critical role in the development of their environment. Today, they are found in every area of life, making their mark in Nigeria and abroad.

It was therefore not surprising that the women, under the auspices of Umuada Igbo Nigeria and in Diaspora, were March this year, granted Special Consultative Status by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) United Nations.

This rare attainment was not just one that should pass without notice, hence, the group recently staged a grand event, rolled out the drums and celebrated the recognition

At a thanksgiving mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Enugu, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Chime prayed for God’s guidance and protection of members of Umuada Igbo and for God to grant them success in their activities and programmes.

Fr. Chime admonished Nigerians that “any government that put God first will always triumph in the time of difficulty and deprivation.”

While applauding Umuada Igbo for recognising God first in their activities and programmes, the cleric urged them to use their reach to unite Ndigbo and ensure that the enviable values which the Igbo were known for were restored.

Promoter of Umuada Igbo Chief Kate Ezeofor in setting the tempo for the day glorified God for the ECOSOC status granted the body.

By this recognition, Ezeofor said they were now a registered non-governmental organisation in the UN.

“Every year, in the month of March, we take 20 women for the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) meeting of the whole world at the UN headquarters in New York.

“This year’s CSW 62 took place from 12th-23rd March 2018, at the UN headquarters. We attended and our president delivered a lecture during a conversation circle on rural women. On 16th of March, we participated actively during CSW 62 rally at the UN and our photograph of last year rally was used for this year’s flyer at the CSW rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. This is what we are celebrating and we are grateful to God that we went and returned successfully”.

She however, stated that the aim of the organization is to bring Igbo women together, pointing out that the aftermath of the civil war was that Ndigbo scattered and nobody thought about the brotherly spirit that the Igbo were known for. She reasoned that if women were well educated; understand the need to be united, they will be able to inculcate those values in their children and the society would be better.

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On their achievements so far, Ezeofor said they have built skills acquisition centre at Emene in Enugu state and were only looking for philanthropists that will help equip it to become functional.

“We have 7.7 hectares of land donated to us by Omoghe Community in Orumba, Anambra state for ultra-modern cancer and diagnostic centre. The Umuada Igbo Nigeria and in Diaspora Diagnostic and Cancer Centre is in progress,” she disclosed.

She said that the centre, when completed will reduce deaths caused by lack of medical equipment and personnel required for specialist cancer treatments. It will provide good health, economic empowerment, jobs, growth and development in the community.

According to her, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 240 Nigerians die of cancer daily, meaning that 10 die every hour. “This centre will add value to cancer patients lives and put the South East on the map for internationally acknowledged healthcare services that will compete with international cancer centres abroad”, she enthused.

International Representative of Umuada Igbo, Chinwe Amakalu in an interview with Daily Sun on the sideline, gave insight into other activities of the group, including in the area of cultural promotion.

“We have passion for our language because our language is dying. We need to encourage our young ones to learn how to speak our language so that tomorrow, we know that Igbo language will still be in the dictionary and people will recognise our language.

“Most importantly, what Igbo culture is about; being your brothers’ keepers, we should also not always think about ourselves, but what can we do, how can we add value to our land that is why we decided to build a cancer and diagnostic centre in Anambra State.”

Amakalu disclosed that those of them in the United Kingdom make out time to teach their children how to speak and write Igbo language.

“We formed an Igbo organization where we actually teach children how to speak Igbo. We are not only teaching children but we have adults that cannot speak Igbo language and we also teach them,” she said.

The international representative further explained that they were already cultivating the traditional Igbo communal life to some extent in the UK, as they try to take care of the elderly the way it is done in Igboland.

“We bring out time to go and spend with them, teach them our cultural dance, show them our food; make them to understand and appreciate what our culture is, so that they can integrate as well in the land. We do a lot with them and we also have current programme we are trying to start-up which is celebrating young mothers that are still struggling being mothers. We are trying to hold a package to be able to educate them to understand that life doesn’t end because they are mothers; that they still have to continue their lives and also be role models for these children they have given birth to,” she stated.

Highlight of the celebration was presentation of awards to some Igbo personalities who have distinguished themselves in different fields of endeavour among whom was Chairman of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema.