By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North, Alice Festus & Faith Gora with Agency report
Residents and visitors to Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital were on Thursday subjected to unwarranted restriction and security cordon, as the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, took time off to sing and dance with women drawn from the 36 states of the Federation.
The event, which was held at the Eagles Square, effectively cut off workers from the imposing Federal Secretariat on both Shehu Shagari Way and Ibrahim Babangida Road, forcing them to trek for miles to the office.
The big event, which took the workers and residents by surprise, also prevented commercial and government drivers from dropping their passengers, mostly workers in their designated bus stops around the secretariat.
As vehicular and human traffic was effectively cut off from all the routes leading to the venue of the First Lady’s rally, tagged, “Nigerian Women Rally for Peace and Empowerment”, frustrated motorists were funnelled to any available space, thereby leading to a chaotic traffic snarl for most part of the day.
Nigerian women optimistic of increased representation in governance
Cross section of Nigerian women at the rally expressed optimism that the government would ensure increased women representation in governance.
Those who spoke at the women rally on Peace and National Development held at Eagle’s Square said the present administration had shown that women are capable of meeting the aspirations of all Nigerians.
The National President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, Ms Hauwa Shekarau, said that it was important for the president to be celebrated as he had shown to be “gender- responsive’’.
“I think today’s event is very remarkable, Nigerian women are coming to celebrate Mr President for the unprecedented role he has played in empowering women in Nigeria.
“You will notice that at the federal level, there are women that have been given prominent positions in the cabinet.
“If you look at the key positions that women are occupying, they are discharging their duties effectively, they are making all the Nigerian women proud.
“Women should learn to celebrate themselves, we are optimistic that we will be given more opportunities in governance,’’ Shekarau said.
She called on lawmakers to enact gender-friendly laws to increase women’s representation in elective and appointive positions.
Shekarau also called on all women to strive to be their best in all they do, saying “there is no difference between a man and a woman’’ in efforts to develop the country.
Mrs Asabe Baba, the National President of National Association for Women Journalists, stressed the need for Nigerians to live in peace by imbibing patience, tolerance and love for one another.
She said that all hands should be on deck to empower women and youths for self-sustenance.
“Let me state here that the issue of women empowerment is a global concern. It is not a matter limited to Nigeria.
“This is because in many parts of the world, women are seen as having lower social and economic status. This, has therefore, made them to be discriminated against.
“It is on this note that our efforts to empower women and youths should be seen as a step toward improving the status of women and also making the youth better citizens.
She stressed the importance of empowering the women and youth to achieving the objectives of the MDGs, adding, “this is what the president is doing through this administration.’’
Mrs Felicia Sani, the leader of market women, stressed the importance of peace to national development.
“The aftermath of war should not be seen or imagined; when there is no peace, the whole nation suffers, we must ensure that peace is achieved in the country,” Sani said.
Sani appealed to Nigerians to give peace a chance and allow the government to carry out its transformation agenda.
The National President of Ohuhu Welfare Association, Mrs Nkechi Okoronkwo, also stressed the important role of women in ensuring peace and national development.
She noted the stabilising role women play in homes, adding, “She is a critical factor that ensures peace, unity and harmony in the home; this can be reflected in the society at large.”
Okoronkwo commended the president for putting women in key positions in governance, stressing that this was a plus for women development.
She called on all women, especially those in the rural area to strive to improve themselves economically as it would help them have a say in issues affecting them.
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