From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The fifth edition of the summit organised by Oyo State Officials’ Wives Association (OYSOWA), has come and gone. But its impact will remain fresh in the memories of participants for a long time. Participants agreed that Nigerian women need to be given a springboard to launch themselves into limelight, with a view to creating women that will always take bold steps and leave their world better than they met it.
The three-day summit entitled: “The Ultimate Woman at a Time Like This,” was held at the Emeritus Theophilus Ogunlesi Multipurpose Hall, Opposite UCH Gate, Ibadan. Speakers at the technical sessions included, Messrs Nimi Akinkugbe of Bestman Games Limited; Nike Adeyemi of The Real Woman Foundation; Foluke Abdul-Rasaq of United Bank for Africa, Nigeria; and Tara Fela-Durotoye of House of Tara.
The opening attracted wife of Zamfara State governor, Hajia Asma’u Yari, who represented wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari; wives of governors of Imo, Osun, Lagos, and Kwara States, Mrs Nkechinyere Okorocha, Sherifat Aregbesola, Bolanle Ambode, and Omolewa Ahmed, respectively. The roll call also included Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; South West Woman Leader for the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mrs Kemi Nelson; Iyalode of Lagos, Chief Bintu Tinubu. Wife of Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mrs Abimbola Fashola; wife of deputy governor of Oyo State, Mrs. Janet Adeyemo; Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, and Justice Jumoke Pedro, were also at the occasion.
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, and his counterparts from Lagos and Osun, Akinwumi Ambode, Rauf Aregbesola, deputy governor of Oyo State, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, as well as Group Managing Director of Odu’a Investment Company, Mr. Adewale Raji, equally graced the occasion.
The hostess and leader of OYSOWA, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, described the summit as a landmark for two reasons: “The first is that this is the fifth edition of the summit and it is so amazing that this small idea that was conceived a few years ago has become a reference point.
“The second is that just this year, the Violence Against Women Law 2016, was passed by the Oyo State House of Assembly to the glory of God. I recall that during the first summit in 2012, I mentioned that steps were being taken to pass this bill into law and there was even a session on passing a bill on violence against women during that summit. This summit gives us an opportunity to celebrate this achievement for Oyo State that now, we have a law that protects us (women) specifically.”
She noted that over the last five years, several programmes have been organised with a view to producing ultimate women in the society. She also advocated upward review for the roles of women in nation building.
Mrs. Okorocha, wife of Imo State Governor, who advocated greater recognition for women, noted that the change that Nigerians desired and believed has finally come to the country.
Mrs. Orelope-Adefulire emphasised the need for Nigerians to pray for their leaders and why women should be supportive to their husbands and play their own quota in the growth and development of the country.
Ajimobi, Aregbesola and Ambode called for increased support for women to ensure that they overcome challenges limiting their potentials. The three governors noted that in this period of economic recession, the leaders at every level should ensure that the water does not become too hot for women, and that the future of every society is determined by the quality of women in that society.
They also called for empowerment programmes capable of preparing women economically for any emergency situation in the country and on the home front.
Ajimobi: “At this time of uncertainty, we need to pause and look at the interests of our mothers, our wives, sisters and daughters whenever issues of development arise. It is not just to ponder on the interest of our women but to also celebrate the heroines of our individual homes and the nation in general. We need to elevate women beyond the present level because of their strategic positions in nation building.
“It is important for us as fathers and leaders to acknowledge the role of our mothers and wives in nurturing and caring for us from our childhood to our old age. For me, whatever little success I have achieved in life in my professional career and politics I owe it to my wife.”
Aregbesola, who noted that the South West is culpable of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), urged governors’ wives and other women leaders to be the champions to eradicate female circumcision in the country, saying: “we must jettison anything that could denigrate the status of women in our society.
“Government must develop great capacities for the development of women because at times of trials and tribulations, men, oftentimes, get weary. It is women that stand to face the situation and neutralize it. We should learn from the experience of troubled countries of the world.
“I demand of governments at all levels to design programmes that will empower women to be able to face any challenge, particularly those in the lower economic class. During civil strives and wars you only see women sheltering the children.
“The ultimate woman must be a champion against female genital mutilation because it is barbaric, evil, unhealthy and psychologically demeaning. We must all rise against anything that demeans the women.”
Ambode stated that women have strength and ability to rise up above challenges of the moment, especially the myriad of socio-economic and political problems besetting the nation. The women, he said, should be supported: “I promise on behalf of other governors that we will ensure that the water does not become too hot for you.
“Our women, with their resilience, inner strength and ability to live up to current situations, are like magicians. They make something out of nothing just to keep the home front going.”
Mrs. Ajimobi also stated: “Quite a large number of our women need to be given a springboard from which they can launch themselves into limelight. This is what we hope to achieve with OYSOWA summit. We want to create women who will entertain no fear to go where there is no path and leave a trail.
“OYSOWA is determined to, amongst a variety of objectives, effect positive change in the physical, emotional, social and economic well-being of families and communities through the empowerment of women in Oyo state.
“We are also poised to inspire women of Oyo State to reach beyond existing boundaries and attain great achievements by providing them with right knowledge and resources, as well as to restore grace, dignity and hope to our women. We are also unrelenting in our quest to promote peace and unity at the local government, state and national levels.”
Highlights of the summit included presentation of awards to distinguished women that were specially recognised for their contributions to national development and achievements. The awardees included the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Folake Sholanke; Mrs. Fashola and the first female Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu.
The list also comprised President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Onikepo Akande, who was the first Nigerian woman to be appointed as Minister of Trade; a leading industrialist and chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika.
An indigene of Oyo State, who emerged the 2016 best graduating medical student at the International University of Africa, Khartoum, Sudan, Miss. Oluwatoyin Islamiyat Abdukadir, and a legal practitioner, Pastor (Mrs.) Omowumi Popoola, who is the visioner and President of Women Intercessory Network (WIN), were also honoured with awards on the occasion. The Heritage Bank Nigeria also received a special appreciation award for its commitment to women empowerment.