It was an evening of music and social advocacy. And the venue was The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos where Black Rider, a unique motorcycle platform with a mission to use bike adventures as a tool for social change, rallied the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and top artistes like Timi Dakolo, Waje, Cobhams Asuquo, E Daniel and Byno to wage war against sexual violence in Nigeria.
The event was an eye-opener for many attendees who were shocked to hear victims of sexual abuse narrate their experiences. Not a few had shed tears as they listened to incredible tales of rape and domestic violence perpetrated against some women.
Taking the podium one after the other were guest speakers like Itoro Eze-Anaba, Anthonia Ojenagbon, Alero Awoyemi, Misan Rewane and Olivia Codd, Head of Programmes, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), who gave a graphic analysis of gender-based violence in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
Dr Sanwo-Olu, who was delighted to be part of the programme, expressed her appreciation of the efforts of various NGOs at creating awareness of rape and domestic violence in Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular.
According to her, unlike before when there was nobody or place to go for counselling and succour, there are now institutions to which victims could go to seek for help. “I thank all the NGOs collaborating with the Lagos State Government in ensuring that domestic violence is stopped. I believe domestic violence must be stopped, not reduced. I believe in zero tolerance as much as possible. I also believe prevention is better than cure.
“The effect of rape on a victim, the psychological trauma that the person goes through tend to affect the person throughout his or her life. So, we really need to have a preventive approach to this menace, and that is by being our neighbour’s watchdog at home, schools, churches and mosques. In the olden days, when a child is born, that child belongs to the community. So, we have to be more involved in what is happening out there. We have to be more concerned. We need to continuously monitor what is happening around us. The more awareness we create, the better for us. We need to start educating our children, parents and caregivers about what they need to know. I am happy that the Black Rider is partnering with other NGOs in creating more awareness about domestic violence, child and sexual abuse. And I am happy to add my voice to this,” she said.
Popular musician, Timi Dakolo whose wife, Busola, recently accused Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA of sexually molesting her as a teenager, did a musical narration of the emotional trauma he and his family went through as a result of the unfortunate incident.
To him, the Black Rider’s initiative is a brilliant idea. “We are creating enlightenment, it is one person at a time,” he said.
For Cobhams Asuquo, “it’s quite a revealing night. There has been a mixed grill of emotions and I am so excited to be part of the programme.”
In his remarks, Black Rider’s leading advocate, Toyin Adebola, said he didn’t need to wait for any member of his family to be sexually abused before campaigning against the menace. According to him, he initiated the programme out of the urge to develop more opportunities to represent the people whose voices are either suppressed or not loud enough.
“We need to help amplify their voices,’ he stated. “The problem is that everyone says it’s not my problem, but it is your problem. If you don’t feel the pain of the next person, how do you expect the other person to feel your pain? No member of my family has been sexually abused but I don’t have to wait for that before I speak on behalf of someone who has been sexually abused. No man is an island, that’s why we are working with different NGOs and celebrities like Cobbams, Timi Dakolo, Waje, and Byno, because we believe that if we come together, our voices will be heard and amplified against sexual abuse.
“This is just the beginning, the next step is for the law enforcement agencies to be empowered to do their job as they should do it. The programme is going to be held annually and the material generated will be used to sensitise people against sexual violence so that perpetrators will be brought to book.”