From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The wife of the President, Dr Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has described First Ladies as the underbelly of any government, explaining that they provide humanitarian, compassionate and mercy services by organising health, educational and empowerment projects.
Mrs Buhari spoke at the Independent Newspapers Nigerian First Ladies Impact Awards held in Abuja on Wednesday night.
The wife of the president further emphasised that First Ladies also help in the protection of the vulnerable people including women, children, youth and the aged, adding that they also provide counsel to the governors.
While describing them as advocates for school enrolment and retention, adult education, self-reliance and health awareness, Mrs Buhari charged the media to provide publicity to make the projects of First Ladies more visible.
Represented by her Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Aliu Abdullahi, she said: ‘First Ladies provide the underbelly of any government as they provide humanitarian, compassionate and mercy services by organising health, educational and empowerment projects.
‘They help in the protection of the vulnerable people including women, children, youth and the aged. They also have the advantage of providing counsel to the governors.
‘First Ladies have become advocates for school enrolment and retention, adult education, self-reliance and health awareness. They are also advocates against gender-based violence, drug abuse, and trafficking of persons. They also provide financial support in terms of scholarships and settlement of medical bills for those who are underprivileged.
‘I want to use this opportunity to call on media practitioners to engage more with First Ladies so that their projects can get more visibility. The partnership will be a win-win because the media would then have discharged a part of its social responsibility.
‘I congratulate those recognised today. I believe this will not only spur you to do more but will equally spur others. It will also open discussions with regards to more partnerships which will be in the overall interest of the nation,’ she charged.
The awardees include First Ladies of Akwa Ibom, Dr Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel, Kwara, Amb Dr Olufulake Abdulrazaq, Bauchi, Aisha Bala Mohammed, Ekiti, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Cross River, Dr Linda Ugwuye Ayade, Osun, Kafayat Oyetola and Taraba States, Barr Ann Mbasughun Darius Ishaku.
Thanking the management of Independent Newspapers on the important milestone, Aisha Buhari noted that ‘it is a testimony that the medium understands its role as a partner and a stakeholder in development.
‘It is without a doubt that the media has a pivotal role to play not just setting agenda for discourse, but also in supporting and amplifying worthy causes,’ she appealed.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Independent Newspapers Limited, Steve Omanufeme, said: ‘The First Ladies, even though they do not have any constitutional duty to do what many of them are doing and have done, have and are working assiduously, using their position, to change the narratives and shape the destinies of families, women, children, widows, the motherless in their various domains. We duly felt that they be celebrated.
‘It is quite imperative that the success stories of First Ladies in Nigeria should be publicly recognised so that they become role models and mentors for future generations of Nigerian women. Such recognitions would also go a long way in moulding societal mindsets to accept and encourage the significant contributions of First Ladies in Nigeria.
‘The awards will reinforce the positive image of First Ladies in Nigeria and help in reducing the influence of negative attitudes and practices that discriminate against and exclude women from attaining leadership positions,’ he said.