BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
For two days, the entire Benuestate stood still for women of the state, when the First Lady of the state, Arc. Mrs. Yemisi Suswam led other women from across the state to mark the seventh edition of the annual ‘Celebrate the Benue Women’.
The two-day colourful event was heralded by Mrs. Suswam when she led women from the 23 local government areas of the state and top government functionaries in a two kilometer walk around Makurdi town against the dreaded cancer disease.
At the end of the walk, the Governor’s wife engaged the women in a talk where she lamented the menace of the disease in the country, stressing that “cancer remains the number one killer of women in Nigeria.”
According to her, no fewer than 80,000 Nigerians die annually from various forms of cancer pointing out that of this number, over 10, 000 were women.
She disclosed that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, had predicted that by 2030, there would be more than 21 million new cases of cancer, with 13 million cancer deaths every year.
Mrs. Suswam who provided free cancer screening centres at the venue of the gathering also distributed over 10, 000 free cancer testing kits to the women.
She lamented that “the scourge of cancer among Nigerian women is becoming a worrisome development which should be “a source of concern to everyone of us; hence this walk will help is an awareness campaign against the disease in order to stem the scourge in the state.”
She maintained that “early detection of cancer can save lives, and it is for this reason that I am offering free screening for all women in the state and I urge you to avail yourselves of the opportunity.
”Don’t wait until you are 50 years before you get yourself screened. Seek for medical check-up until you are pronounced fit. Join the crusade of early detection through screening’, she advised.
The governor’s wife further counseled the people on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the state, advising that the people join the onslaught against the virus in the state.
Earlier, a survivor of breast cancer, Mrs. Elizabeth Gbadamosi who recounted her cancer ordeal urged women to regularly undertake medical examination in order to avoid falling victim to the disease.
”Early detection of the disease is vital because it will offer you an opotunity to seek proper medical attention at the early stage of the disease; hence if all women make out time to check themselves regularly, it will save us the pains of losing our daughters, mothers and wives to cancer.” Mrs. Gbadamosi said.
The second day of the festivities was kick started with a colourful match-past by women drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state and a display of various farm produce cultivated across the state.
This was followed by the free distribution of over 300 wheel chairs and clutches to disabled persons and the handicapped.
In her speech, Mrs. Suswam said the distribution of the walking aid was a deliberate effort by her to enhance the capacity of the less privileged disabled persons in the society.
She further added that “it is also in consonance with the annual celebration of the Benue Woman which is intended to give hope to the hopeless, to give voice to the voiceless and to uplift the living conditions of downtrodden especially the hitherto forgotten women of Benue state.”
She added that “the annually event was initiated by me in order to avail the women of Benue state a platform to aggregate ideas for the good of the state.
“The festivities also avails our women an opportunity to converge in Makurdi to appraise each other and at the end of the day, share thoughts of how to better ourselves.”
Mrs. Suswam maintained that “we also gathered annually to share ideas, identify our weakness and challenges we face as women in order to transform them to our strength and opportunities to better our society, communities, states and country as a whole.
“We all know that as women, we must learn to take our destiny in our own hands if we must excel in a male dominated world.”
In his speech at the occasion, Governor Gabriel Suswam urged governments at all levels to allow more Nigerian women greater opportunities to participate in all spheres of decision making and policy implementation in the country.
Suswam noted that “it is by so doing that the country would be able to harness the invaluable potentials of the Nigerian woman, which will be of immense benefit to our country especially at this trying times.”
”It is not in doubt that Nigerian women have continually proven their mettle even in the face of challenges and therefore deserved to be encouraged to do more.”
The celebration was climaxed with Governor’s wife cooking for dignitaries in her executive kitchen and the award of a brand new Hyundai Ascent to Mrs. Mwuese Tyokaa who emerged the winner of the cooking competition and the award of prizes to other categories of winners in various competitions.