By Emeka Ozumba
The wife of Anambra State governor Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano has tasked the Anambra State Women Association Lagos (ASWAL) to champion the think home agenda of the Obiano administration by contributing to the socio-economic, political development of Anambra.
The wife of the governor made the call Saturday while speaking at the ASWAL Silver Jubilee Lectures and Awards held at the Colonedes Hotels Ikoyi, Lagos, where she charged the women to be in the vanguard of the renewed quest to develop Anambra and make it one of the most prosperous in the country by attracting investments.
Said Mrs. Obiano: “You are all achievers in your own right alongside your husbands but the task before us today is to ensure that we drive the development of Anambra state by bringing investments and your wealth of experience back home now that the governor has created the much needed security and environment for businesses to thrive. Many are already answering the call and are beginning to reap the benefits but more hands are needed on deck and you have a major role to play.”
Mrs. Obiano urged ASWAL to brace up as they celebrate twenty-five years and be counted in the scheme of things especially in the application of their inputs and talents to the development and growth of Anambra, stressing that “it is obvious that our men have led the way, but the time is right for you to stand and be counted. We should not feel inhibited by our gender because increasingly it is becoming clear that intelligence and talent rather than status will determine the choice of leaders in the years ahead.”
Mrs. Obiano cited the encouragement she has received as the wife of the Governor of Anambra State which made it possible for her to expand the scope of her involvement in charitable giving since 1991 to the formation of an NGO, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) – a non-profit service organization which acts as a beacon for the empowerment of women, indigent widows and the less privileged.
She highlighted the achievements of CAFÉ so far aimed at improving the living conditions of the helpless and our communities. these include; the building and hand-over of nine standard 2-Bed Room houses in Agulu, Alor, Amichi, Amorka, Enugwu-otu Aguleri, Ogbunike, Nri, Umunya and Awba-Ofemili. Also, CAFÉ Market toilets have been completed at Eke Igwe Nteje, Afor Mbaukwu and Afor-Igwe, Umudioka while CAFE water projects are now spread across nineteen communities including special institutions. She emphasized that her NGO receives no funding or government support, but that the projects were made possible by the grace of God, the encouragement of her husband who donated his salary and other donors.
Furthermore, the wife of the governor advocated constructive criticism as panacea for sustainable development and good guide for leaders in positions of authority rather than divisive rhetoric which tends to divert attention from the object and programmes that will make positive impact in the lives of the people.
Presenting a paper titled “Property Rights of Women, Nigerian Perspective,” Speaker of Anambra State, House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Barrister Rita Maduagwu, identified cultural inequalities and gender barriers to property rights drawing comparisons in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa customs. She cited extant laws to buttress her argument for equal opportunities, and noted that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has abolished most of the discriminations against women, thereby allowing them to own properties in the country.
In his Opening remarks, Chairman of the occasion, former Commissioner for Local Government in Anambra State, Chief Dubem, said that “our prayers to God are for our state to continue to progress,” and advised ASWAL to properly define their vision and mission in the next twenty-five years to guide their march to greater heights. He also told them to teach their children Igbo language to help preserve our heritage and above all think home.
Welcoming the guests to the Silver Jubilee ceremony, President of ASWAL, Dr. Mrs. Nkeiru Ifekwem, appealed to Anambra men to allow women to develop their talents and pursue their aspirations to be able to contribute towards the development of the state state . She outlined the programmes of the association which include the building Skills Acquisition Centre in Awka.
A total of twenty persons received various awards including Mrs. Obiano who was recognized for Services to Humanity.
Anambra state women association Lagos was formed twenty five years ago by Anambra women resident in Lagos with the aim of promoting peaceful coexistence among ndi-Anambra, welfare of the members to enlighten women on their roles towards building Anambra state and to help the vulnerable and the poor in the society among others.