By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, his counterparts in Oyo and Osun States, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola yesterday said that if the nation must make meaningful progress, the family, which is the mirror by which any society is measured, must be strengthened.
The trio, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 16th National Women Conference, organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), said as much as the family is the reflection of the society, government at all levels must give priorities to issues as they affect the women, who are the bedrock of the family that must also be empowered to flourish in her career and the home front.
In his goodwill message, Governor Ambode said while the importance of the family unit to the overall development of the nation was not in doubt, much emphasis must be placed in the commitment towards strengthening the family unit and building strong moral values.
“The importance of the family unit to the overall development of any nation is not in doubt. The family is the foundation and smallest unit of any nation. The heart and conscience of a nation is formed, to a large extent, in the family. However, the issue is the amount of commitment we, in our individual capacities and as a nation, have shown towards strengthening the family unit.
“With Strong Families, we can build a Strong Nation. But Strong Families will only exist in a society where nobody is left behind, where everybody has a voice and a stake. This is one of the toughest challenges facing governments – “to build an all-inclusive society”, the governor said.
He said his administration recognizes the critical need for societal inclusion and thus has initiated policies aimed at guaranteeing equal opportunities for all Lagosians.
He said that his administration remains totally committed to empowering women as well as protecting the girl-child against all forms of negative vices, while creating viable platforms for families to bond and recreate.
“Women are the glue that hold families together and we believe strongly that an empowered woman, with a sense of self-esteem, will be better positioned to make a success of her career and at the same time be a pillar of strength for the family,” Governor Ambode said.
He said the decision of his administration to resuscitate the famous Apapa Amusement Park while speeding up work on Ipakodo Park in Ikorodu, Badagry Recreational Park and Ajako/Alimosho Park was beyond boosting the tourism potential of the State, but to serve as meeting points for families to relax and have fun together.
In his goodwill message, Governor Ajimobi said the family as the building block of the nation must be given top priority, therefore, according to him, women who hold the chord that binds the family together, must be empowered to thrive both in their career and the home front.
Corroborating him, Governor Aregbesola said that if the family must be strengthened, the women who are saddled with the responsibility of building the home front must be encouraged and celebrated.
Declaring the conference open, wife of the President, Hajiya Aishat Buhari, said that COWLSO has emerged as of the many things that have put Lagos in the unique class of excellence.
“What strikes me the most about the committee is that, it is an intellectual and philanthropic association, established to complement the efforts of the Lagos State Government to improve the welfare and well-being of the good people of this state,” she said.
The President’s wife, who was represented by the wife of the Governor of Imo State, Mrs. Nkechi Okorocha, said the importance of strong family values must continue to be emphasized, saying that the absence of it gives rise to the challenges of poverty, crime and declining school performance.
Earlier in her remarks, Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode said the theme of the Conference, ‘Strong Family, Strong Nation’, was carefully chosen in recognition of the fact that the strength of a nation is linked to the strength of its family units.
Mrs Ambode, who is also the Chairman of COWLSO, traced most of the social challenges currently confronting the nation, including drug addiction, cultism, teenage pregnancy, kidnapping, child abuse, domestic violence, armed robbery and others have their foundation in dysfunctional family units.
“When family units are bound together in love and children are raised in the fear of God and high socio-moral values, it begets a good and peaceful society and country, where social vices are reduced to the barest minimum. To build a strong and virile country therefore, we must go back and build strong family units,” Mrs Ambode said.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award to Mrs. Tara Fela-Durotoye and the investiture of Senator Oluremi Tinubu as the Grand Matron of COWLSO.