By Austin Ogwuda
FORMER President Ibrahim Babangida fought back tears in Asaba Saturday during the first Memorial Lecture in honour of his late wife, Mrs. Maryam Babangida.
He was not alone at the Unity Hall of Government House Asaba, venue of the occasionÂ as the emotion swept the hall which saw some of the guests wiping their faces with handkerchiefs when the sister of the former First Lady, Dr. Nkadi Onyegegbu (nee Okogwu) started reeling out Maryam’s numerous achievements in a powerfully-crafted four-page citation.
As Dr. Nkadi tail doves in the reading of the citation, there were sighs and at that point, the husband, IBB took a white handkerchief to constantly wipe his face after which he dropped his head downwards looking moody.
Earlier in his remarkds, the Delta StateÂ Governor,Â Dr.Â Emmanuel Uduaghan said “there is no doubt that Dr. (Mrs) Maryam Ndidi Babangida in whose memory we are all gathered here today, was a great woman, a role model and pace setter who devoted most of her life to improve on the lot of theless prvileged women in the socity particularly those in the rural areas.
“With her pet project, Better Life for Rural Women and later Better Life For African Rural Women, she was able to mobilize support and galvanize policy makers to initiate and implement policies and programmes to improve the condition of women and attract attention to issues involving womenfolk”.
Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, represented by the Deputy High Commissioner South African High Commission Abuja in a a lecture titled “Empowering Women in Africa’ said “In South Africa, we have established the Progressive Women’s Movement whose convener is our former Deputy President, Her Excellency Madame Baleka Mbethe.
“We have been exploring ways in which we can work together with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to try and see how best we can create linkages between our Progressive Women’s Movement with like-minded women organizations in Nigeria”.
She noted that the “establishment of such linkages will serve as a good example of people-to-people ties between our two countries”.
Earlier in the day, Babangida was formally conferedÂ with the traditional chieftaincy title of “Dike-Doziani”, meaning (Great Worrior who transformed the land positively) while the late wife was post-humously confered with the chieftaincy title of “Ochiligwe-Nneoha (mother of all) of Asaba by the Asagba of Asagba Obi Chike Edozien “in recognition of her contributions to the development of women, Asaba community, Anioma nation, Delta state and Nigeria at large”.
Also yesterdayi, the foundation laying ceremony of Maryam Ndidi Babangida Women Development Centre was performed by General Ibrahim Babangida.