Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
It was a blend of activities at the just concluded Alaghodaro Women Summit held at the University of Benin Sports Complex, Ugbowo, Benin City, where women from the 18 Local Government Areas of Edo State converged to mark three years of Godwin Obaseki’s administration with fanfare.
The previous year’s summit was great but this year was a carnival of sorts to behold. As early as 8 am, women from the three senatorial districts were already thronging the venue and taking their seats.
The women’s headgears popularly called ‘Igele’ competed freely for space as they were flamboyantly displayed at the event.
The drums, gongs and maracas rent the air unhindered while the women showcased their dancing skills to the admiration of their guests. The Ekaba dance which has its roots in Orhionmwon Local Government, was performed by the women from that local government. There was a roll call of local government areas and the women filed out with their banners depicting where they came from.
What should have been a march past later turned out to be a fashion parade and a dancing competition. The Oredo women were beautifully dressed with eye-catching costumes. They also put up an excellent dancing performance with a song which its refrain ends with ‘Osa ma kueyeeghian e’.
The women from Etsako were not left out. They hypnotised the audience with their flutes and after that, each local governments was given N100,000 for participating in the march past.
Earlier, there was a novelty football match played to officially declare the summit open. The group representing the state governor won the day by eight goals, signaling the usual ‘four-plus-four’ which translates to two terms for Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu. There was a raffle draw and 10 persons who emerged winners went home with one life chicken each.
Commenting on how she felt about the summit, the Edo State Market Women leader, Blacky Ehi Ogiemen, said she was very happy to be a part of the 2019 Edo Women Summit while also commending the governor for his good works in the state.
“I feel elated. We have seen the progress in the state. So, we commend the governor and his amiable wife. My message to the governor is that, he should keep doing the good works he has been doing. We are satisfied”, she said .
Blacky said the women are prepared for the forthcoming governorship election as they always support any government that is in power.
“We are very prepared for the forthcoming governorship election. We women will support any government in power and since we have been supporting this government, I know by the grace of God, we will not be disappointed”, she said.
Also expressing her feelings, Mrs. Bose Adeyemi, secretary, Ovia South West market women, described the event as massive and impressive.
“Today’s event is very impressive and fascinating. We are all happy about it and may God grant everybody that participated in this event safe journey in Jesus name. Though I was not here last year but what I have just witnessed now is great,” Adeyemi said.
For Jegede Ruth, from Afuze, Owan East Local government area, the large number of women at the event means that their support for Godwin Obaseki can ensure his victory at the forthcoming election in the state.
“The event is wonderful and it is a massive one. This shows that women can rule the world. As you can see, there are lots of women here and if we are asked to vote, we will be the number one citizens to vote for the governor. I was here last year and I must confess that this year’s event is very massive. We want the four-plus-plus to continue,”she said.
Earlier, Edo State Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Maria Omozele Edeko, tasked the women to lead the fight for a second term of Governor Obaseki.
“It is the people that should determine who they want to go into social contract with. Women should lead the fight for a second term of Obaseki. When there is peace and prosperity the women are better off. We all as a people must support his Excellency to continue his governance without any disturbance,” Edeko said
She said Governor Obaseki has re-enacted the purpose of governance, which she said was for the common good of the people. Edeko added that the governor has remained focused on the people, stressing that women can hardly survive were unbridled might is power
“I call on all women to give the greatest support to the governor in the struggle for a second term. No matter the money that may be given to you by those that want to steal our common patrimony, we must resist and stand by Governor Obaseki.
“The salvation of women, children, the elderly, persons living with disabilities and the entire people of Edo State lies in the survival of the administration of Obaseki. Take it as a fight for your survival and that of your children. Fight for it because you believe in it. It is an issue of principles and values”, she said.
Speaking on the achievements of the Obaseki ‘s government in the past three years, Edeko said investors are coming to the state to harness prospects in projects.
She listed the projects to include, Benin River Port, the Edo Modular Refinery, Edo Innovation Hub, Edo Production Centre, Benin Technical College, food production through the agricultural empowerment programmes, job creation, toursim and sports.
In her remarks, Wife of Edo State Governor, Betsy Obaseki, appreciated the women for their support for her husband. She said the Obaseki administration is doing a great job and delivering the dividends of democracy as it celebrates good governance in her third year anniversary.
On his part, Governor Obaseki who was happy with the massive turnout of women at the ceremony, reiterated that the state does not belong to a few people in the state.
“We are not afraid of anybody and any noise you are hearing, ignore it. Politics has started and we are going to include women in our campaign, because you believe in our dream and you are part of our success. They said we are mosquitoes, but mosquitoes can cause malaria, if you are not careful, malaria will kill you,”
He said with the investment in education through EdoBEST, the state will no longer produce touts but youths who are graduates. According to him, women have been the driving force of his administration and the success recorded so for was as a result of their efforts.
“I will continue to create enabling environment for women to do business and no one will come to harass you in the name of getting a ticket,” he promised.