By Olubusuyi Adenipekun, Emmanuel Elebeke & Etugbo Serah
Female students who are studying accountancy, architecture, engineering, law and medicine in public universities in the country are to benefit from a special scholarship scheme which is meant to increase the representation of females in these professional fields of study as well as in leadership position.
The scholarship programme, which is being coordinated by the Ajesola Solarin Majekodunmi Foundation (ASMAF(), will provide enough financial assistance that will cover tuition, accommodation and upkeep of beneficiaries for a period of up to five years, depending on the course, and subject to maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
It will also provide life skills and leadership development programmes for beneficiaries, including mentoring, personal, academic and professional growth opportunities as well as provide resources that encourage academic excellence and lifelong learning.
These details of the sundry opportunities to be offered by the scholarship scheme were disclosed by the founder of the Foundation, Prof. (Mrs.) Ajesola Majekodunmi, a female professor of Ophthalmology and the first female undergraduate of the University of Lagos at the official launching of ASMAF which recently took place at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, and which also coincided with her 70th birthday anniversary.
According to Majekodunmi, the establishment of the Foundation was informed by the need to offer young women the necessary support and opportunities that will prepare them for the professions, in which they are currently severely under-represented, adding that qualitative women education and vocational skills acquisition constitute the key to economic and political empowerment of women to be able to overcome oppressive customs and retrogressive traditions that have restricted them to the background in the scheme of things.
â€œStatistics available have shown that women have not occupied their rightful position sin various levels of the key sectors in Nigeria. women, in spite of their significant contribution as agents of development remained marginalised when it comes to governance and decision making processes in Nigeria as in other countries in Africa,â€ she says.
Professor Majekodunmi saidÂ â€œ After my successful career in academics and upon retirement from Lagos University Teaching Hospital and College of medicine of the same university, I set up ASMAF for the benefit of mankind in appreciation of the immense kindness shown to me by God and to affect positively, successive generations of Nigerians.â€
In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Christopher commended the convener for what he described as laudable initiative and expressed optimism that the project would impact greatly to the future growth and development of the nation, stressing that training of women would bring the desired change in their lives.
Delivering a paper entitled â€œ Realizing Nigeriaâ€™s Greatnessâ€ Mrs. Omaigui-Okauru, a Director at Lagos State Ministry of Internal Revenue expressed sadness that women are not occupying their right position in the society due to poor education and neglect of girl child in the country, despite their large number in the society.
Okauru noted that Nigeria despite her enormous human and natural resources still lag behind her counterparts in terms of development due to her failure to tap on her potentials, particularly in women, and expressed optimism that the country can rise up to greatness, if the leaders can muster the political will to maximally exploit her tourism potentials and also invest massively on the girl child education, adding that such investment apart from eradicatingÂ poverty and illiteracy in the country will also empower the whole nation.
She described tourism as a great revenue source capable of substituting oil if well harnessed by the government. She condemned the attitude of Nigerian e-lights who patronise foreign topiarists sights during their annual vacations , despite the rich cultural and natural endowment of the country., and urged them to channel the resources back to the local tourism centres to boost the local exchange rate of the naira, and challenged Nigerian young women to take their career more serious by aspiring for professional and leadership courses in tertiary institutions that will prepare them to help build a stronger nation.
While thinking of what to be done to the country, she was of the view that women should get their job done to move the nation forward.
She therefore called on government at all level have been called upon to put a mechanism in place towards exploiting the countryâ€™s huge tourism potentials to enable her attain greatness.
In her speech, Justice Yetunde Adesanya of Federal High Court, Lagos prised the ingenuity of Majekodunmi for bringing her uncommon philanthropy to the Nigerian girl child. With the foundation coming on stream, she said that chances of women is broadened for full participation in building better homes and the nation of our dream, and called on like spirited Nigerians to support he effort.
According to Majekodunmi, the combination of approaches and the structured support of the programme differentiates it from typical scholarship award in Nigeria.
The highlight of the event include fund raising for the take off of the scholarship scheme of the foundation, which is expected to commence next year.
The scholarship awards to be offered female students will therefore not only reduce financial barriers for young women but will also build a bridge for greater female participation in Nigeria economy as well as develop a diversified cadre of future leaders, explaining further that ASMAF will partner with industry, academia, government agencies, non-profit organisations and individuals that complement or share its objectives.
ASMAF was founded by Prof. Ajesola Majekodunmi after retiring from Lagos University Teaching Hospital and College of Medicine, University of Lagos as an academic. Its vision is to be in the forefront of empowering Nigeria and mankind through facilitating the development of qualitative female Nigeria professionals and leaders.
ASMAF has a Board of Trustees who are professionals and are supported in their work by a management council and an advisory committee. The members of the Board of Trustees include Prof. Olusoga Sofola, Acting Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Hon. Justice Yetunde Adesanya, Dr. Nadu Denloye, Prof. A.A. Majekodunmi, the Medical Director of Sajato Eye Hospital, Lagos, Olukayode Aribaba and Olajide Majekodunmi.
While presenting ASMAF to the public as a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, Dr. Nadu Denloye explained that a disparity exists between the number of male and female students registered for professional courses in Nigerian universities, adding that the essence of ASMAF is to enhance the development of women professionals and to promote their potentials in taking up key leadership positions. He said that the programme will take off with 12 students.