Wednesday 24th May, 2017
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Changing era for Southern governors' wives, as they unite against ill practices against women

Changing era for Southern governors' wives, as they unite against ill practices against women

STEVE OKO, in this piece, captures the new bond among the wives of Southern governors as they unite against some vices militating against women and the girl-child in the region.
On February 15th, 2017, wives of the 17 Governors from the three geopolitical zones in Southern Nigeria - South East, South West and South-South gathered in Umuahia, the Abia State capital for their summit. The three day- event had 11 First Ladies from the three geo-political zones in attendance.
Southern Governors’ Wives’ Forum ( SGWF), a brain-child of the wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, came in existence 3rd March, 2016 in Ow­erri, Imo State.
The forum’s aims and objectives include: to pro­mote unity and peace­ful co- existence among Southern States of Nigeria; to impact positively on the lives of women, children, youths and the vulnerable in society; and to comple­ment the giant strides of the Southern Governors for the development of the region, among others.
SGWF pioneer Chair­person and wife of the Imo State Governor, Mrs. Nneoma Rochas Okoro­cha, set the tune of the summit when she said the forum was seriously com­mitted to eradication of child labour, promotion of the girl- child, women em­powerment and sensitisa­tion of women on self-re­liance. She also identified creation of awareness on some threatening diseases like cancer and diabetes as the major focus of the fo­rum.
She regretted that some parents pay little or no at­tention to the education of the girl child and called for attitudinal change, arguing that if the girl child is ad­equately educated the soci­ety will be better for it.
The first Ladies unani­mously declared war against obnoxious widow­hood practice, child abuse, neglect of the girl child and other harmful practices against women. The sum­mit also stepped up advo­cacy for women empower­ment and sex-education .
The wife of Enugu State Governor, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, almost stole the show during her presenta­tion as she spoke eloquent­ly against harmful widow­hood practices which she said still exist among dif­ferent cultures in Nigeria. Describing such obnox­ious practices against wid­ows as barbaric and inhu­man, Mrs. Ugwuanyi said time had come for their total eradication from the country.
Her words: “ Why is it that any time the man dies we think it is the woman’s fault? Sometimes she is forced to sleep with the corpse or to drink the water used in bathing the corpse.”
The Enugu First Lady whose speech was inter­rupted with applauses and ovations from the au­dience as she made her points, called on women to rise against every form of inhuman treatment meted out against widows and women in society
Her Lagos State coun­terpart, Mrs. Bolanle Am­bode, called on women to rise against all forms of violence against women including child trafficking and child abuse. She also joined in the advocacy for sound academic empower­ment of the girl child.
Sensitizing women on the rising incidents of can­cer and other killer diseas­es, Dr. Mrs. Linda Ayade of Cross Rivers State, called for caution against some habits and life styles that could predispose peo­ple to the diseases.
She identified breast can­cer, cervical cancer and cancer of the womb as the most common among women which according to her, claim about 80 of their victims.
Delivering talks against gossip and pull- her down syndrome, Mrs. Edith Okowa of Delta State, warned women against gossips, blackmail and slander, even as she regret­ted that a lot of families had been scattered as a re­sult of gossip, and charged women to eschew such evil tendency.
In her speech, the Akwa Ibom State First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, charged women to imbibe in the girl child the fear of God and moral values of the society, even as she advocated for sex educa­tion and warned parents not to leave their girl child with male strangers or the so- called uncles to avoid defilement.
The host First Lady and wife of the Abia State Gov­ernor, Mrs. Okezie Ikpea­zu, had earlier in her open­ing remarks, assured her colleagues of their safety while in the state.
Highlights of the summit were the official launch of her pet project, the Vicar Hope Foundation; and the distribution of empower­ment items to some indi­gent women in the state. Some of the empowerment tools include sewing ma­chines, grinding machines, hair dressing kits, coolers, among others.
Mrs. Ikpeazu announced that she had so far built 24 houses for indigent wid­ows across Abia under the indigent widows shelter scheme of the foundation. The Foundation accord­ing to her, has also distrib­uted 320 wheel chairs and clutches under the silver cloud programme while plans have been concluded to provide 200 artificial limbs to the physically challenged.
The governor’s wives de­serve commendation for coming together under one umbrella despite their political and cultural dif­ferences, they should go beyond the usual political rhetoric and match their words with action.
 

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