Rev. (Mrs) Omatsola William
By Julius Oweh
The place of woman and technology in the development of a nation cannot be disputed. Women are the cradle of human existence as nature endowed them with the gift of procreation. Similarly, the advanced nations of the world are marked by their level of technology in conquering their environment.
Thus, recently the Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development, Rev. (Mrs) Omatsola Williams and her counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Sir Bright Onajefe-Gift Edejewaro gave account of their stewardship to Deltans by stressing the imperative of women and technology.
Mrs Omatsola Williams began her accountability by saying that her ministry was a service oriented ministry often regarded as the unseen finger of government with the primary objective of administering activities, programmes and issues that positively affect the vulnerable in the society.
She explained the main functions of her ministry:
*Promotes the welfare of women by embarking on programmes and policies that enhanced their position and development socially, economically and politically;
*Takes charge of the welfare of children by taking actions that will maximize the development of their natural endowment and resultantly make them successful within the concept of the international convention on the Rights of the Child;
*Promotes programmes that improve the life of persons living with disabilities, ex-lepers, destitute and the elderly;
*Mobilize grassroots support towards successful implementation of government policies that concern rural development and
*Encourages rural communities to identify and embark on self-help projects‘.
The commissioner said that there were major achievements in the child department, department of rehabilitation and women affairs department. In the child department, 18 families with multiple births were given economic assistance by the state government. As for orphans and vulnerable children, educational support was given to 300 orphans and vulnerable children and that 300 households were trained in income generating activities in order to have a means of livelihood. The ministry within the period under review approved orphanages making the number to 32, adding that other applications were being processed.
On Remand Home, she said that there was massive renovation of the children‘s Remand Home and detention centre, Sapele with modification and renovation and introduction of spiral wire perimeter fence. The gate house of the remand home was being renovated, as well as the two family court halls, bedroom bungalow and decking of male and female hostels. She also said that the Ministry of Women Affairs Nursery and Primary School witnessed massive renovation and landscaping completed while the 18 classroom block was under construction.
On the adoption of children, Williams disclosed that a total of 693 applications were received out of which 136 children were released from different approved orphanages to prospective parents. The ministry, according to her, was very intolerant of child trafficking in whatever disguise. The ministry, in order to check the menace of child trafficking produced a documentary to sensitize parents and the general public on the dangers of looking for greener pasture outside the country.
The achievements recorded in the department of rehabilitation were in the areas of maintenance of ex-lepers, maintenance and rehabilitation of mentally ill destitute, transit home for persons with disability, school for the handicapped, Asaba, provision of mobility aids and appliances, sponsorship of the blind and empowerment of PWDs. On government gesture to former lepers, she said the government was responsible for “feeding and payment of monthly stipends to over 600 ex-lepers in the eight resettlement centres across the state and construction of solar powered water schemes and two model kitchens. In collaboration with Damien Foundation of Belgium, the construction of block of six toilets and bathrooms and renovation of 12 room accommodation were done at Eku settlement”.
The ministry, according to the commissioner, has milk of human kindness and towards that end, over 510 mentally challenged persons were evacuated from the streets and highways and taken to the seven government approved psychiatric homes. It was a thing of joy, according to Mrs Williams, that over seventy of them have been cured of their mental illness and reunited with their families. She also disclosed that the school for the handicapped, Asaba was recently renovated and that construction work at the lecture halls, hostels, classrooms, staff quarters and the gate house have been completed. Following the government unique disposition for the disabled, 12 blind trainees were sponsored to the farm craft centre for the blind in Lagos for one year training programme on the basis of four persons per year.
The Commissioner also maintained that the Okowa government has displayed unequalled love towards persons with disability saying, “On December 28th, 2017, a state luncheon was successfully held in honour of Persons with Disability by the State Government. This is the first of its kind in the history of the state”.
On women development, she singled out reactivation of women development centres across the states with the establishment of six women development centres where a total of 717 girls and women acquired various skills thereby making them economically self-reliant and employers of labour. She also maintained that the state government extended hope to women living with HIV/AIDS with life support equipment and items, adding that a total of over 300 benefited from the scheme.
The social welfare department of this ministry has handled 3,500,000 matrimonial cases amicably and counselling services rendered to over 1,500,000 troubled families.
Sir Bright Onajefe-Gift Edejewaro explained that the functions of the Ministry of Science and Technology among others are to :
*Facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, to adapt, utilize, replicate and diffuse technologies for the growth of SMEs, agricultural development, food security, power generation and poverty reduction.
*Support the establishment and strengthening of organizations, institutions and structures for effective coordination and management of science, technology and innovation activities within a virile National Innovation System and
*Encourage and promote creation of innovative enterprises utilizing Nigeria‘s indigenous knowledge and technology to produce marketable goods and services‘.
Edejewaro disclosed that within the life span of the Okowa administration, the Ministry of Science and Technology has recorded achievements in these areas : Participation in the 774 young Scientists Governor‘s Award, Partnership in the Annual World Science Day Celebration, Organization of the Annual Council on Science and Technology, Comprehensive and Detailed Mapping of Renewable Energy Sources in Delta State, Technology Incubation Centre (TIC) Warri and Participation in the National Science, Technology and Innovations Exhibitions.
The commissioner disclosed that ‘a student of Delta State origin named Akele Immaculate, a pupil of Demonstration Secondary School, Federal College of Education (Technical) Asaba represented the state in the maiden edition of the Young Scientists Presidential Award Programme and the state had the 7th position‘.
The commissioner also explained that as part of the mandate of his ministry, it organized the yearly Delta State council of science and technology to bring together stakeholders in the field of science and technology.
He said that the theme of the 2017 Delta State Council on Science and Technology was ‘Science, Technology and Innovation: Translating Ideas to Economic Prosperity‘. He further stated that the essence of the council meeting was to promote indigenous science and technology innovations in the state.
On the comprehensive and detailed mapping of the renewable energy sources, Edejewaro explained the benefits: “ The comprehensive and detailed mapping of the renewable energy sources in Delta State is necessitated by a lot of factors, the first being that the conventional energy sources, which is fossil fuel burning results in gas flaring, a global environment concern.
This is very inimical to humans, the environment and the ecological system. The magnitude of the problem of gas flaring is dehumanizing especially in Nigeria. World Bank Report (2007) reveals that Nigeria flares more gas than any other country in the world except Russia”.
Since science and technology now rule the world, the Delta State government was not just folding its hands, according to Commissioner and that efforts were at top gear to reap the benefits of this technology. He added that, “the Delta state government in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in 1999 established the Technology Incubation Centre, Warri to tutor and nurture interested Deltans in product development which runs for a three year period.
Some of the products produced were ozonised water, mulching technology for weed control, floating fish harbour for rearing fish in their natural habitat, palm fruit juice extraction technology, medicinal plant preservation, ointments, herbal soaps, air fresheners, insecticides and coconut oil production”.