By EMMA AMAIZE
THE world will be converging on the Niger-Delta, Nigeria annually just like attention is focused on Norway during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies if the plan by the Human Rights Network International, HURNETI, a non governmental organization, NGO, based in Nigeria, to establish a multi-purpose world women international centre, ‘Dame Patience Jonathan International Centre for Women Resource and Coordination’, named after Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, comes to fulfillment.
It is the biggest and boldest independent comprehensive initiative and undertaking in the world to create a platform that will specifically inscribe a special identity for women universally and, for the Niger-Delta, the group also wants to reconstruct the region from its chilling image of militancy through the writing implement. In fact, for many months running, HURNETI commissioned its women research division to gather researchers and thinkers to brainstorm on how the pen can be used to silence the guns in the Niger-Delta through women activism.
Deputy chairman, Governing Board of HURNETI, Chief (Dr.) Alfred M. Bubor (JP), is enthralled by the outcome, as he told Sunday Vanguard: “It is our great and immense pleasure to state that Nigeria and the Niger-Delta will take its pride of place by the activities of intellectuals and wonderful researchers who are using the pen to recreate the Niger-Delta to the international community”.
Bubor, who is the national chairman of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Nigeria and a supervisory convener for the project, announced that with the way the project has been conceptualized, women and issues affecting them being the focal points, Niger-Delta would soon become a complete rallying point for women all over the world.
First, he said, the board, which had concluded plans to establish a special purpose international centre to be named after, the wife of the president in honor of her dogged commitment to the cause of women, especially in Nigeria, would, as part of inaugural events for the unveiling/public presentation of the Dame Patience Jonathan International Centre for Women Resource and Research Coordination, hold an international Dame Jonathan International Women Summit and Dame Jonathan Model Laurus Peace Prize maiden awards for women whose works have conferred joy on mankind in their various callings.
Former justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, is the chairman of the project/program board of conveners with Bubor as member and supervising convener. Other members of the board are Chief A.K. Osawota; Chief B.M. Wifa, SAN, legal adviser; group chief executive director and coordinator, special programs, Comrade O.J. Emperor . and chairperson, Women Research Commission, Comrade (Mrs.) Rofina Otuedon.
The special purpose centre will at the launch of the centre, inaugurate its international advisory board which will be chaired by the former vice chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Grace Alele Williams; former prime minister of New Zealand and current administrator of UNDP, Mrs. Helen Clark; Mrs. Oprah Winfrey, USA; Managing Director, World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; former minister of information and communication, Professor Dora Akunyili and Christiane Amanpour, formerly of CNN.
International dignitaries expected at the event include the president of Liberia, Helen Sirleaf Johnson; president of Brazil, Dilma Rouseff; former prime minister of Britain, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher; former prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark; Secretary of State, United States, Mrs. Hilary Clinton; Ms. Janet Jackson; Ms Naomi Campbell; Queen Noor of Jordan; Ms Nwando Achebe, professor of history, Michigan State University, United States of America; Mrs. Winnie Mandela from South Africa.
President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and Senate president, Senator David Mark are special guests of honour with all the 36 governors and their wives as special guests. The royal father of the day is the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III while the spiritual father of the day is the national president, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Bubor said, “The First Lady, United States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama, is expected to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural program”.
He went on: “From the onset, the heart -warming initiative in honour of Dame Jonathan is not a pet project of a wife of a sitting president, but an independent international initiative on women, named after her with its ancillaries for the purpose of the womenfolk and uplifting humanity.
“The Dame Patience Jonathan International Centre for Women Resource and Research Coordination is being established and named after Dame Patience Jonathan in honour of her dogged commitment to the cause of women, especially in Nigeria , as characterized by her personal involvement and energetic mobilization of the women folk in the political terrain in Nigeria . There is no doubt that campaigns on issues of women in Nigeria have reached a point where it is becoming a norm that women cannot be bypassed as it was in the past. Her energy to move is an inspiration to the women folk.
“The centre is a research-based organization that will be dedicated to all issues concerning women in the world. The essence is to encourage good women leadership participation; make women in their various fields in the society politically and non- politically productive; offer solution role to leadership quagmire in the world, especially in Africa; dedicated to women matters and to strengthening the demand process of the rights of women in the world and especially in Africa; research into the political constraints in order to eliminate the factors that inhibit women identity in political governance and other areas; conduct critical studies into the behavioral pattern of women in leadership matters; comprehensively undertake studies and reviews of all relevant international and regional legal instruments and documents proclaiming the rights of women; engaged in comparative studies on women leaders in the world; publish researched findings to advance women course, especially in leadership participation in the world and particularly Africa; and profile and document great exploits of women in the society; house an immense collection of materials and process archival records of heroines in the world to make it a reference point for researchers, historians, scholars and institutions in the world, etc.
“It is a propeller that will bring out the content in the women for transformation. She (Dame Jonathan) deserved to be honoured in this respect and endowed a special centre after her. This means internalizing her name within the organization and immortalizing her forever in the sand and footprint of history internationally”.
He said part of the resource facilities of the centre are the Dame Patience Jonathan Women Museum, which would house immense collection of historical women, artifact worldwide that has bearing on women, it will internationalize Nigeria and Niger-Delta. The other is the Dame Patience Women Biographical Project, which shall deal with biographical publications of special books and documentations of women exploits in the world; and Dame Patience Jonathan Digital Infrastructure Unit (Women Memory Nerve Centre), which shall be the brain box of the centre and preserve archival documents, photographs and audio visual materials about life and times of great women in the world. It will also have the Dame Patience JonathanWomen Archive to be dedicated to the collection of old public documents, records, special speeches of women icons, main auditorium, administrative block, research libraries/research offices, guest house, recreation facilities and DPJ Model Laurel Hall (conference centre).