From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Wife of first Nigeria’s President, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, has called on Igbo women to stop shying away and go fully into politics like their male counterparts.
Prof. Azikiwe made this call at a one-day international Igbo women conference organized by the Ohanaeze Igbo Women Organization Worldwide in collaboration with Ezumezu Ndigbo Women Organization Worldwide in Nnewi, Anambra State.
She urged the women not to be afraid to contest elections side by side with men, advising them to exploit their numerical strength to achieve their political goal in the country.
“If you cannot come out, support whoever that comes out among the women. And we must pressurize the National Assembly to approve the 35 per cent representation we demanded,” Mrs Azikiwe, who was an award recipient at the event, said.
Also speaking, the leader of Ohanaeze Igbo Women Organization Worldwide, Chief (Mrs) Calista Nkiru Adimachukwu, quoting the late Dr. Nwafor Orizu, noted that to educate the mind was to liberate it from darkness.
She, therefore, agreed with Orizu, that people perish because of lack of knowledge while pointing out that it was based on that premise that the awareness conference was organized.
“Not too long ago, the issue of 35 per cent affirmative quota to women for appointive and elective positions was rejected by the National Assembly. If the women could be made to understand how relevant they are in the socio-political landscape of this country, I believe they will see the need for them to come together and remain united in their efforts towards securing their voice in the decision-making process of this country.
“However, there are salient and mind-boggling issues I must not fail to raise in this forum. These are those things that are found unacceptable to us, that must be rejected, if women must realize their potentials in the patriarchal society where gender syndrome plays out,” Mrs Adimachukwu said.
Some of the vexed issues, she said, were “the refusal by the Senate on the proposal to provide women with 35 per cent of all appointments at all levels of government; refusal of married women to use their husband’s state of origin for elected and appointed positions; that women should no longer be treated as second class citizens in the society as they are capable of undertaking any task, including participation in governance like their male counterparts given the same condition, among other gender related issues.”
The Ohanaeze women leader also gave reasons for recognizing efforts of Igbo daughters, who she said had long been neglected.
“Firstly, if we are to make progress and set the pace, we must first appreciate those daughters of ours who in one way or the other, contributed towards the upliftment of the Igbo nation,” she said.
She also announced plans of the organization to build a skill acquisition centre, where women would be given free training and subsequently empowered just as she called on all well-meaning Igbo both at home and in the Diaspora to financially assist the organization towards achieving the goal.
The women who attended the conference vowed that if such an injustice and maltreatment as replicated in the deliberate move to stop the 35 per cent affirmative action by the National Assembly continues, they would not hesitate to rise again in protest, this time, in much more organized manner than the Aba Women Riot of 1929.