THE Nigerian Women Mega Rally has come and gone but the memory of the epoch making event will continue to linger in the hearts of not only women, but others in Nigeria.
The rally brings to mind the role and importance women play in nation building and also re-emphasised the greater need for women in national development. No government will ever again ignore women as important national assets for fostering peace and national integration.
This National Council of Women Societies, NCWS, rally has driven home the truth that no meaningful development can take place without the integration of women into the scheme of affairs. It also brought to the fore the roles women had played since independence and roles played by prominent Nigerians in empowering the women-folk, including the advocacy played by reputable persons to emancipate the Nigerian women from the doldrums.
The august occasion brought about 35,000 women from across the geo-political zones of the country to celebrate ‘peace and empowerment’ of the women in the 21st century, which was enthusiastically hosted by NCWS under its President, Chief Nkechi Mba, while the amiable First Lady of Nigeria and African torch bearer, Dame Patience Jonathan was the grand patron.
It was a rally that cemented the grassroots mobilisation skills of the First Lady and also echoed the message that women are important national assets in this democratic dispensation.
The rally attracted participants from all walks of life, from the military to para-military, including civilians, artisans, farmers, rural and market women from far and wide who came in their thousands to celebrate a commemorative day meant for them.
The Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo was the distinguished guest of honour, while it had in attendance the ministers of the FCT and Tourism, diplomatic corps, First Ladies from Belize and African countries, including former First Ladies of Nigeria, and women who have been first in many endeavours.
Also in attendance were women in appointive positions in governance, industry, civil societies and the media. It was a roll-call of ‘Who is Who’ among women since Nigeria’s independence.
The day was laced with razzmattazz, dance, drama, parade of colours and a motorcade in carnival fashion that started from the Old Parade Ground and ended at the Eagles Square. It was indeed a day of glamour, fashion and glitz of Nigerian women from all over the federation.
The high point of the carnival was the motivational speech delivered by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan that held the entire Eagle Square spell-bound and drew a rapturous applause. It was also an occasion for the First Lady to declare that women henceforth will demand for their rights and positions from any government in power.
The rally also brought it to their awareness that in future elections, manifestoes and plans for Nigerian women, must be clearly defined. Women must know what is there for them. The rally brought to mind the Aba Women Riot of 1929, when the women in one declared: “enough is enough,” and that their silence should not be taken for granted.
The Aba women riot also removed some negative perceptions against women/girl-child, including the traditional/cultural restrictions of women in Nigeria to aspire to positions of authority.
The women declaration of August 15, 2013, at the Eagles Square will remain evergreen as the womenfolk used the epoch event to drum home their support for Mr. President’s inclusion of women in governance, the 35 per cent Affirmative Action policy, including appointive positions of women in the present administration.
The women, in their thousands, were united in the cause for peace, development and their emancipation.
The women expressed their role in peace building and national development and also used the day to announce their emancipation.
The colourful event was further spiced up with performances by popular artistes such as Onyeka Owenu, Yinka Ayefele, Iyanya and Sani Danja.
The climax of the event was the award dinner at the International Conference Centre, as women came in their numbers from all socio-economic backgrounds to honour those who have demonstrated commitment to the cause of women as agents of peace, unity and development in the country.
The President was honoured with a Life-time Achievement Award for his commitment to empower women through appointive positions of governance in the country. Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Chief Theodore Orji of Abia State, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, amongst others, were honoured at the occasion for according women a pride of place in the nation.
Mr OMOBA K. AIGBEGBELE, Media Adviser to the First Lady, wrote from Abuja