Rallying for Peace

Patience Jonathan

Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s first lady, leads more than 30,000 women on a peace rally in Abuja

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Aug. 26, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

BUSINESS activities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, were brought to a standstill on August 15 as Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s first lady, led over 30,000 women under the auspices of the Nigerian Council of Women Societies, NCWS, to a peace rally. The rally was held to sensitise women in the country on the gains recorded so far in enhancing peace and women empowerment in the country.

The first lady said that the show was intended to mobilise and galvanise Nigerian women towards greater contribution to peace and the overall development of the Nigerian nation. She said that women have an important role to play in sustaining and advancing the cause of peace and development in the country. She described Nigeria as one of the best endowed countries in the world, stressing that with greater understanding and love among all Nigerians the country would certainly achieve it full potentials.

She commended the administration of President Jonathan for empowering Nigerian women and making them not only to be heard but also to be seen in the key political offices they occupy in the present dispensation. Commending the women for their joint efforts towards promoting peace, the first lady called on the women to do their part in nation building.

“We note that when there is peace, there will be development. We need collective effort to achieve peace. Age should not be a limitation in bringing peace. Everyone must join hands with this administration to fulfil this. We thank President Jonathan in not only making us to be heard, but ensuring that women occupy key positions in government. We also thank state governors who have ensured that our women are appointed to key positions. Nigerian women must speak with one voice,” she said.

The first lady also challenged the leadership of the National Assembly to emulate the president by increasing the number of female leaders in both chambers. “I call on our lawmakers to ensure that the 35 percent affirmative action is implemented. We need to empower our women so that they can contribute to nation building.”

On his part, Namadi Sambo, vice-president, said that the present dispensation was also geared towards increasing women’s representation in government while keeping to its promise of achieving the promised 35 percent affirmative action for women. “We have actively supported women in politics. We have significantly increased the representation of women in government appointments. We have fulfilled the 35 percent affirmative action by appointing women into key government positions. Our SURE-P targets over 500,000 women and very soon, our women will lead the security agencies. The pivotal role of women in politics cannot be ignored,” he said.

He said that early last year, the National Centre for Women Societies, NCWS, trained over 9,000 women in various vocational skills, evolved micro credit schemes to support women and helped them manage their ailing businesses. He also commended the NCWS and the first lady for their contributions to the promotion of peace and the economic development of the nation.

Amina Sambo, wife of the vice-president, also praised Nigerian women for their contributions to national development over the years. She praised President Jonathan and his wife for their commitment towards women development and empowerment. Amina stressed that the Jonathan administration had shown considerable confidence in the abilities of women to uplift Nigeria and appealed to women to work for peace, emphasising that without peace, development would be difficult to achieve.

The event which took place at the Eagles Square was attended by Senator Bala Mohammed, FCT minister, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, minister of state for FCT, Fatima Tukur, wife of the PDP national chairman, Kema Chikwe, former PDP women leader, state PDP women leaders, faith-based organisations and associations of women societies across the federation. Others were some PDP governors, first lady of South Africa and the first ladies of two other African countries.

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