By Yemisi Akinmameji
It is no gain saying that women are very important to development at all levels- national, state and local. Hence, any administration that wants to take the credit for enhancing all round development must accord women their right place in government.
In Ondo State, the Rotimi Akeredolu led-administration has continued to prove its recognition of women as pivotal to the development of the State.
Hence, the government, through the office of the Wife of the Governor, has since inception mounted different women oriented programmes.
Important among these is the BRECAN (Breast Cancer) project of the First Lady, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.
Believe it or not, the woman’s breast is important to her existence. Hence, she needs to be enlightened regularly on how to take proper care of these organs.
And to think of how terribly breast cancer ravages the female gender in the most recent years, one would understand the essence of a project like BRECAN at a time like this.
Beyond her physical and physiological health, government identifies the role of women in societal development as very important. Thus, the need for her to also enjoy sound mental health which can be achieved where there is no form of abuse unleashed on the woman.
Underscoring this, Arabirin Akeredolu at a meeting of Imo State Town Development Association, held at the National Stadium, Lagos State emphasized the place of women in the society and the need to address the issue of increasing domestic violence against women.
Arabinrin Akeredolu while speaking on the theme:” Impact of Domestic Violence on Family” appealed to husbands not to maltreat their wives.
Her words: “Domestic violence is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development in our society.
“The effect of violence can remain with women and children for a life time and can pass from one generation to another. Don’t see your wife as a piece of furniture. The take-home message is that our wives should be honoured”, she said.
Given that a world that is free of domestic violence against women would boost the capabilities of the female gender, sports and sporting activities are also not only essential for physical fitness, they go a long way in boosting mental health of women.
To this end, Arabinrin Akeredolu organised a Summer Tennis Clinic for the children of Primary and Secondary School which held at Ondo State Sport Complex Akure.
The Tennis clinic is essentially conceived to integrate sports and education in a sustainable social forum, and is strategically billed to be sponsored by corporate organizations and personalities who have passion for Tennis and other related sporting activities in Ondo State and beyond.
The week long programme kick started on Thursday August 24, 2017 and ended last week Saturday. It was specifically designed for children between the ages of 4-13years old
Notable personalities like Mr Nduka Odizor, a former player based in the USA, Rolake Olagbegi, Mr Olajide Fashikun the Director General of Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc. Abuja Mary Onyali and other notable Nigeria Sport Administrators and Philanthropists were at the occasion.
The General Manager of Ondo State Sport Council, Mrs Idowu Akinbulumo said over 60 children registered for the programme.
She thanked God for giving the State leaders like Arakunrin and Arabinrin Akeredolu who are sport loving people saying this springs assurance that various sporting activities especially Tennis game would be revived in the State.
According to her: “The support we have received from the present administration in sports development is overwhelming”
She pledged the council’s unflinching support for the Arakunrin Akeredolu led administration.
Beyond her health, women need empowerment. To this end, government, through the First Lady has given her support to the training of over 7,200 women between the ages of 18 and 40 on Information Communication and Technology (ICT).
Arabinrin Akeredolu made the commitment when Nigerian Women Techsters, (NWT) Microsoft, Tech 4 Dev and other partners paid her a courtesy visit to solicit for her support in bridging the gap between male and female genders in ICT.
Her words: “I am really delighted because if this press conference has come before now, I will not be so sure of what to say. But now, I can confidently say that we are on the path to bridge the gender gap between males and females in the ICT world.
“Even my experience with the two initiatives we had during the summer makes me to be really excited about the possibility to nurture new Nigerian young women in ICT. The feedback we got from ICT girls really shows that it was a successful programme.
“I am 100 percent in support of this project. I hope Microsoft will continue to show the support as he has promised that the programme is not only to bridge the gender gap, but to use ICT to solve social problems”, she said.
The First Lady who revealed that her background as a young girl from remote village made her to know that students from villages do not always have access to quality education.
“With ICT, it can be possible for students in all the marginalized communities to get quality teachers and I am set to get it done. With ICT, teachers in Akure can be teaching students in the remote villages. We also have solar 4 girls naija to solve the problem of irregular electricity in the country”, she opined
Also speaking during the visit, the NWT Programme Manager, Peace Odili said that the press conference was to announce the opening of the stated application process where over 7,200 women will benefit across 12 states in the country and to solicit for the support of the First Lady of the state.
According to her, the programme which she described as a social enterprise to solve the world major problem will help to empower young women with technical skills, to increase women participation in ICT, to develop a robust curriculum that will expose women to ICT among others.
She implored every woman who falls within the speculated age to seize the opportunity and register by logging on to www.nigerwomen.org as she maintained that ICT cuts across every discipline.
“We are driving the commitment to ensure that more women are into ICT in order to bridge the gender gap. We are running this initiative to inspire other organisations to join in the programme of empowering Nigerian women. We thank Arabinrin Akeredolu for her support for women and children in the state.”
To ensure that all the beautiful plans of government for women in Ondo State come to fruition, a visionary Commissioner for Women Affairs is also a prerequisite.
Little wonder that the governor made the choice of Mrs. Omowumi Olatunji-Edet as the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development.
Olatunji-Edet has promised to ensure that all the plans of the present government for women materialises and she has also pledged to build on the achievements of her predecessors, modify where necessary, and introduce new concepts that will have positive impact on women, the vulnerable and families in the state.
She has since resumed to work after her inauguration penultimate week and has inspected the infrastructure on ground. She has also affirmed that she will run an open door policy and welcome new ideas from the staff.
She hinted that the vision and mission of the Ministry is to concentrate on families, women developments, vulnerable among others saying their welfare will be priority to her.
“Our women are begging for attention, there must be a paradigm shift, the society is not balanced if women are not taking the rightful positions in the society, our duty is to bring out the best in them, and make them understand that they can contribute to the economic development of the State.
“We will give them sustainable jobs through our skills acquisition, introduce them to micro finance, Agriculture and let them know that the economy can be diversified through them.
“We will rebrand our social welfare programmes, pay attention to child care department and upgrade it, there is a lot of dilapidation here and there that are begging for attention” she explained.
While assuring the women and other people that have connection with the ministry that she is ready to listen to them, she noted that they should have confidence in the present administration and key into its programmes.
She reiterated the commitment of the Arakunrin Akeredolu-led administration to the development of all and sundry in the state.
“Our state can never remain the same, we have a wonderful governor and first lady, ours is to collaborate with them and form a synergy that will move the state forward and our people will be happy at the end of the day” she said.
She enjoined the staff of the ministry to work with her as a team to move the ministry to the next level.
So, with the round peg in the round hole in the Women Affairs Ministry combined with a passionate woman embedded in the person of the First Lady, Arabinrin Akeredolu, one could say with respect to Ondo women that it is uhuru!