Nigeria’s House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, Governors of Lagos, Kwara and Ogun States, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Abdulrahman Adbulrasak and Prince Dapo Abiodun respectively, on Tuesday said the quest of the nation for a viable society will be a mirage if women were not carried along.
They all spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2019 National Women’s Conference, organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), held at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
According to Gbajabiamila, “Women are born to influence the society. What this is about is empowerment of women. We have all heard about 30 per cent. The question is how do we empower women? I believe education is the first step to empowering women.
“”Like I said earlier, some people talked about 30 per cent and when you talk about 30 percent and I identified certain constitutional impediments which many women may not understand. There is constitutional impediments when we talk about 30 per cent. Our thought is I will champion the amendment of those Constitutional impediments.”
The speaker said certain part of the nation’s constitution talked about discrimination on the basis of sex, saying that when one created certain percentage for a group the other would feel discriminated against.
Gbajabiamila said it was high time the Constitution was amended to accommodate whatever percentage needed without necessarily discriminating against any particular sex.
He said the part of the constitution that captured federal character could be amended to include gender balance, assuring that the course would be championed in the National Assembly to accordingly amend those sections of the constitution amended.
Wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, who was represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo said bringing about positive change was not negotiable in the country, urging the wives of political officers saddled with the responsibility to use their positions to transform the society.
“it therefore important one gets an orientation on how to optimize this opportunity . These I believe is the focus of this conference,” she said.
Mrs. Buhari charged the women to prioritize the welfare of the vulnerable members the society, like the children, disabled, elderly that require protection and empowerment, saying ” Many projects are being run by people like us across the country to positively influence and affect their lives.”
Speaking at the event, Governor Sanwo-Olu noted that the theme of this year’s Conference which is,”Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives and Approach’ would impart knowledge to all the participants.
According to him, such knowledge would enable them contribute more effectively to the collective goal of building and delivering the Lagos they deserved.
“Imparting knowledge is not only about adding new knowledge, which is the learning, but also about reminding ourselves of old and unchanging truths, which is the re-learning,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said his administration had redefined gender balance in the State with the appointment of 13 women into key decision-making positions in the cabinet. Empowering women with right skills and given them opportunity to be part of the decision makers, the Governor said, would set the State on the course of irreversible growth, economically and socially.
He added that implementation of his government’s six pillars of development, known as Project T.H.E.M.E.S, would not be effective without the support of women, citing waste management as one of the key areas where women would be playing key roles.
Chairperson, COWLSO, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu urged women to strategically position themselves to take full benefits of government’s programmes, saying that taking advantage of government’s programmes would ensure the women unlearn, learn and relearn.
”As women, we must strategically position ourselves to take full benefits of the programmes of government. To unlearn means to do away with habits that are outdated and as well jettison practices that are against public good and public safety. In this 21st century, women must also embrace new ideas and new innovations to be relevant.
”Women must learn to think outside the box and even go a step further to think without the box, to fit into the modern society,” she said.
According to her, Lagos State Government recently launched a couple of programmes in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, in strategic sectors including Health, Environment, Agriculture, Education and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Ogun Governor, Abiodun said concerted efforts must be made to ensure Nigeria culture laid emphasis on learning, relearning and unlearning.
Abiodun said COWLSO had been instrumental to the development of Lagos since its establishment, noting that the theme of the conference was one of the ways to change negative narrative against women.
He said: “The theme of the COWLSO conference has offered a template for strategic thinking towards changing negative narratives against women in our country. A 21st century woman must learn and re-learn. To hold a woman back is to hold a society back. Democratic values don’t support the relegation of women.”
Kwara Governor, Abdulrazak charged women to work collectively to help each other.
For a better society