The well attended three-day National Women Conference organized by the Committee of Wives of Lagos Officials (COWLSO) came to an end on Wednesday, 24th September, 2014, with the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, asserting that beyond superficially celebrating appointment of women into positions, what Nigerian women really require are justice and fairness and not favours.
In his remarks, as part of the closing ceremonies which also witnessed the award of the 2014 Inspirational Woman of the Year Award of the Committee to retired Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Ayo Philips, Governor Fashola argued that investment in the protection of women and children was more enduring than the claim of appointing them into political positions.
The Governor, who described the claim by “some people” that their achievement is the appointment of a number of women to certain political offices, as “a very low benchmark for measuring success”, said the issues that agitate women borders on justice and fairness and not favours.
He declared, “Some people are claiming that their achievement is the appointment of a number of women to certain political offices and this is their claim to fame. But for me, this is a very low benchmark for measuring success. If you claim a trophy for appointing a woman I think it is a very low benchmark.
“I think also that it shows a lack of understanding of the issues that agitate women. In my view, I think women are asking for justice and fairness, they are not asking for favours. And I think the profound issues about protecting them, protecting their children and protecting their assets are much more enduring investments that we can make in order to ensure that women get fairness and they get justice”.
Fashola, who described the claim as disturbing, noted that it is of no use appointing a woman into any political office if the one who appointed her cannot guarantee her protection or the protection of children from being kidnapped, or protecting her from being violated and when she is violated she cannot be guaranteed justice?.
He called on women, especially those engaged in business and other forms of entrepreneurship, to endeavour to keep their business premises clean at all times pointing out that if they intend to pass such business on to their children, they should make the workplace conducive for their children to come and spend time with them after school or during the holidays in order to learn the trade.
He told them, “As you leave here and as you think about succession in your businesses, please ask yourselves one question; can my children come to my workplace?. And this is the question that I have asked some of our businessmen and women as we seek to improve sanitation and some of them have replied that they can’t come because it is dirty.
“Now, how long is that business going to last if by acts of omission of the things we can control we make it impossible or difficult for our children to come to our workplace.
“Begin to do some little things to make our business places, no matter the kind of business that you do so long as it is a legitimate business, a place where our children can stop by on their way from school or come and sit with us on Saturday or whatever day to participate in it”.
Also urging women to embrace the culture of energy conservation, which formed part of the sessions of the conference, Fashola said without embracing that culture in their daily energy consumption, given the failure of government at the centre to do so, their expenditure on Power every year would erode any anticipated profit in business or deprive them of money they would otherwise invest in more important family need.
The Governor, who cited a hypothetical case of a two bedroom flat where about 48 or 49 kilowatts of electricity is consumed, said at the current tariff, a consumer should power that kind of flat with about N629 a day if there was regular and uninterrupted power and about N18, 000 per month.
But, according to him, “Today instead of N629, we power that flat with about N2, 000 which means that you are losing about N1, 400 daily because somebody is not doing his job of giving you electricity and that will turn out to about N44, 000 per month and adds up effectively to well over half a million naira a year; money that you need not to have spent if there was reliable Power”.
Recommending energy conservation as a mitigating measure for what he described as “this open-ended loss that is being caused the failure of responsibility”, the Governor appealed to the women to “enthusiastically follow the programmes and policies” that the Government will initiate next month, October, which is the state Energy Month adding that some of the programmes include conservation of trees, using gas, distributing gas canisters across Lagos to women who often are in charge of the consumption and management of energy in real term.
Describing the conference as successful, Fashola thanked the leadership of COWLSO particularly the Chairman, and First Lady, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola, for the leadership she had shown and the sacrifice and service she has rendered adding, “I am very proud of you”.
He noted that the communiqué, as read before his remarks, really summed up the feedback that he got in the course of the Conference adding, “I have followed remotely some of the exchanges that you have had, some of the things you have learnt about energy conservation and about saving money, and I think that you should put those things in use until those provided with the responsibility of providing us with electricity really get on with the job”.
Reviewing some of the conference sessions, the Governor recalled that one of the facilitators, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, spoke on how to recognize abusers and child molesters and hoped that the lessons would endure and would help the women to keep themselves and their children safe.
“Of course, building businesses that last, planning succession, getting your children involved is the key really in ensuring that we can pass on the torch”, he said expressing satisfaction that another facilitator, Mr. Fola Adeola, admirably dealt with that subject.
Noting also with joy that another facilitator, Professor Ayo Atsenuwa, shared knowledge with the women about inheritance and succession, the Governor, who said Family Law and Succession Law is one area of Law that he thoroughly enjoys practicing, added, “All of the consequences that come with very simple choice of how you get married can have very really dramatic consequences about succession to some extent. So I hope that we have all learnt very useful things”.
He said from the feedback he got from a number of participants since the beginning of the conference, and the enthusiasm which such participants had expressed over what they had learnt, there was no doubt that the conference, on the whole, has been a huge success.
Fashola thanked, his Oyo State counterpart, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and his wife, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, “for the time they have dedicated to be with us”, adding, “Mrs. Ajimobi has been here for the last three days and her husband also had to make time to fulfill a commitment I extracted from him a few months ago that he has to be here in person”.
In his closing remarks, Governor Ajimobi said the conference theme was a confirmation that women as mothers always seek the good of the society adding that it showed that Nigerian women are clamouring for change in the society. According to the Governor, “They have not waited for the change to come to them but they have decided to pursue the change”.
“The women are at the moment psychologically attuned to the change we are all looking forward to”, he said, adding that a couple of days ago, the Oyo state women organized the state’s version of the COWLSO programme which, he said, also dwelt on the role of women in building a formidable society.
The Governor declared, “Change is very fundamental to our contemporary society. No matter how better the society maybe today, the bitter truth is that our future will be much better. Have we all ever wondered the quality of life we lived few decades ago. Anyone who doesn’t seek and manage change will very soon become an outdated creature fit for the museum.
“I urge you all not to rest on your oars until that desired change lies in our palm”, Ajimobi said adding, “When people say that 30 percent of women should be employed, I begin to reason that why 30 percent, and that 30 percent, in what capacity were they engaged. Why have we never had female Vice President, Female SSG at the federal level?
Earlier, in her closing remarks, Chairman of COWLSO and First Lady, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola, paid glowing tribute to all the previous Chairpersons and leadership of the Committee who according to her, have stood solidly behind the Committee through all its programmes over the last 14 years.
Noting that the 14th National Women Conference marked the end of her Chairmanship of COWLSO, the First Lady also thanked the sponsors and supporters of the yearly Conference including her husband and Governor of Lagos State and prayed that the Conference would continue to fulfill its mission of providing credible platform for Nigerian women to be informed, inspired and empowered to achieve their full potentials.
Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of Certificate of Appreciation to Messrs Core Media Limited and the 2014 Inspirational Woman of the Year Award of the Committee to retired Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Ayotunde Philips.
Also present at the occasion were some members of the State Executive Council including the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule; Head of Service, Mrs. Oluseyi Williams; state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu; First Lady of Oyo State, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi; representatives of the Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1;Vice Chairman of COWLSO and wife of the Speaker, State House of Assembly, Mrs. Mayowa Ikuforiji; wife of the State Chairman of All Progressives Congress, Mrs. Ajomale; captains of industry and other top functionaries of government.