President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to give Nigerian women more than the 35 per cent affirmative action they agitated for, considering their contributions to national development and the transformation agenda.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, made the promise in Lagos at the launch of the women chapter of the Centenary celebrations.
”On this auspicious occasion, we cannot forget great women like Queen Amina, Queen Idia, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Emotan, Queen Kambassa and several others,” he said.He said that these great women “contributed greatly to their kingdoms and continually stood that the rights of women be given to them”.
The president said: ”I congratulate all Nigerian women and thank you for your steadfast support in the transformation agenda.“I know that you have been clamouring for 35 per cent, but we will give you more than the 35 per cent being agitated for.
”I acknowledge your contributions; we know you are not competing with us but trying to complement us. I urge that you do not neglect your homes and we will continue to be partners in progress.”
In her address, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, said the Nigerian women could not achieve the idea behind the affirmative action until the necessary laws were passed by the National Assembly.
”It is important, for me, to state that no matter the level of gains we achieve in this administration, we will be limited in going forward,” she said.
She also urged the National Assembly to play its part by giving legislative endorsement to the affirmative action.
The first lady also called on the assembly to ensure the domestication of instruments and frameworks on gender opportunities.
She further appealed to the National Assembly to initiate efforts to provide legislative guarantee for effective girl-child education.
”This is the only way to start them on a sound footing as they prepare to become responsible stakeholders in nation building.” the first lady said.
Delivering a goodwill message, the sponsor of the women chapter of the centenary celebrations, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, said 100 years in the life of a nation ”is a time to look back and celebrate”.
”Nigeria is blessed with many opportunities, but we cannot get to the promise land without the great input of women.
”The various challenges plaguing women should be faced squarely, so that it doesn’t take us another 100 years to get to where we want to be,” she said.
Highlights at the occasion were the presentation of centenary torch to the president’s wife while the wives of past presidents governors’ wives and female ministers joined her to cut the centenary cake.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a two-minute video of Mrs Taiwo Olukoya and Mrs Kehinde Ogunde, the centenary twins born in 1913, was also shown to the audience. (NAN)