•Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, SAN (3rd right), All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari rtd. (4th right), National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (4th left), Director-General, Buhari Campaign Organisation & Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Ameachi (3rd left), the National Vice Chairman, South, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Segun Oni (2nd right), Lagos State Deputy Governor, Hon. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (right), All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (2nd left) and his running mate, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule (left) during the Town Hall Meeting with Artisans at the Blue Roof, LTV 8, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday, March 19, 2015.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, 19th March, 2015, pressed forward with his campaign for victory in the March 28 election by hosting a town hall meeting with Nigerian women in Lagos.
Joined by other leaders of the party like the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN; and his Rivers State counterpart, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; at the meeting which took place at Harbour Point Hall, Victoria Island, General Buhari promised that there would be a strong political will to promote women empowerment and gender equality through the dedication of needed financial, human and technical resources.
Addressing the town hall meeting consisting of women professionals, top business executives, political leaders and traders, General Buhari said an APC Federal Government would implement the 2005 National Gender Policy which would serve as a roadmap for the promotion of women empowerment and gender equality in the country.
Noting that his mission to restore Nigeria’s fading glory as well as reposition her on the path of greatness would not be possible without addressing the needs of women, who, according to him, constitute half of the nation’s population, General Buhari also promised that an APC Federal Government under his watch would ensure that gender is mainstreamed throughout all government’s commitments in all the key areas of national development.
Such key areas, the former Head of State said, include the economy, education, health, security, good governance, power and agriculture, among others adding that the APC controlled Federal Government would also commit itself to merit based Affirmative Action to level the playing field for women with opportunities to be part of decision-making and governance at all levels.
“We will insist on legislation to ensure women’s right to own and inherit property on an equal basis with men while also making concerted effort to empower women in rural areas”, he said adding that his administration would also enforce legal protection for the rights of the girl-child in all areas of life as well as protecting her right to dignity, shelter and choice.
The APC presidential candidate, who said his administration would have zero tolerance for violence against women and girls, added, “We will provide women with greater legal protection from all forms of violence and sexual harassment with a commitment to the implementation of all existing legislation on violence against women”.
Pledging to strengthen support for women in all sectors of the economy through access to capital, training and skill acquisition, General Buhari, who said the promises were only an abridged version of what his administration has in store for Nigerian women, declared, “I believe that the most important commitment I can make to Nigerian women is that they can count on strong political will from my administration to ensure that women’s rights are safeguarded and protected.
“Ours will be an administration that firmly believes that women hold up half the sky. My vision is for my daughters and your daughters to enjoy a world in which discrimination will be a thing of the distant past. It might be a long journey, but with your support and votes, we will be on that right path together”.
Responding to questions from a cross section of women during a question and answer session later, General Buhari said his administration would pursue with vigour the solution to the problem of Power supply pointing out that without adequate power supply investment would be unattractive as entrepreneurs would never break even.
He said the successful eradication of cultism in the nation’s educational and other institutions would come from a joint effort by parents, teachers and the government pointing out that of the three segments, parents have the most important role of inculcating discipline and good moral upbringing in the infant child even before school age.
The APC gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, in response to a question on alleged recklessness of some members of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), said the agency has become indispensable considering the volume of traffic on Lagos roads adding, however, that his administration would continue to train and retrain the members on good human relations while making efforts to weed out bad eggs within the organization.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, described the election season as a season of choice, “a choice whether to continue with what we have or to change what we have” adding that those who play discordant notes to prevent people from hearing those who ask for change were being mischievous.
“We have an opportunity to decide which way we want our country to go. Who are the people to be entrusted with the responsibility to make decisions that will affect our lives directly, that will affect the lives of our husbands, which will affect the lives of our children and our grand children”, the Governor said adding, “That is what this election is all about”.
According to the Governor, “In making that choice, we cannot avoid, and indeed it is imperative, to hold a referendum on the performance of the current government; because you cannot make a choice without assessing the current Government. How has the current government done well? Have they fulfilled the promises they made to you in 2011?
Recalling some of the promises, Governor Fashola noted that the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in 2011 promised the people of Lagos that the road leading to Murtala Mohammed International Airport would be fixed asking, “For those of you who use that road, has it been fixed?” to which the response was a resounding No.
He also recalled that during the campaigns, the President promised Nigerians stable electric power supply and even said in one of the sessions that those who owned generators would start giving them away, asking again, “Have you started giving your generators away?” to which there was another resounding No with some saying they are even buying more generators.
Noting that the generators are imported and with the spiral rise in the exchange rate, Governor Fashola reiterated that the price of generators have also gone higher adding that the promise of a stable electricity supply has turned out to be one of the broken promises that the present Federal Government made to Nigerians.
The Governor told the women, “One of the achievements that this present government has also touted is that they have done so much for women. You are the ones that have tasted the pudding so you should know. They say that at no time have women benefitted so much and they celebrate the appointment of women into positions. Let me say if you are responsible for bringing us here, I think you have a larger stake in deciding how things are distributed rather than staying at the back and waiting for us to give you a few appointments”.
The Governor recalled a statement he made while swearing in the Head of Service that while some people celebrate the appointment of women to leadership positions, in Lagos and in most states of the southwest women being in leadership positions was taken for granted “because it is on merit. We don’t need to give them anything; they earn it”.
“So that is why we have had two Heads of Service, who are women, back to back. We have had three Chief Judges, who are women back to back. We have had more female Permanent Secretaries in Lagos by exams and merit, back to back. In the Judiciary of Lagos State, we have more women Judges by merit and in the Magistracy we have more women magistrates”, he said.
Other areas of female dominance Governor Fashola said, include school enrolment numbers where, according to him, there is more girl-child enrolment than boys in our public school adding, “This is, for me, the kind of society we should aspire to live in. Majority of voters are women and therefore there should be more policies to give them a fighting chance”.
“As I said, what does it profit a woman to get an appointment, a political appointment, when her children are in captivity? So if you appoint a few women and 219 children are in captivity, have you addressed women’s issues?”, the Governor asked adding that he only spoke to set the agenda of what the women would hear from the Party’s Presidential Candidate, General Buhari.
Also present at the occasion were Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope Adefulire; her Osun State counterpart, Otunba Titilayo Laoye-Tomori; First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola; former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; wife of the APC vice presidential candidate, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Lagos APC Women Leader, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Nelson; House of Representatives member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Hon. (Mrs.) Abike Dabiri-Erewa, moderator of the question and answer and member of the state House of Assembly, Princess Adefunmilayo Tejuoso; and other prominent women leaders and market women.
One of the highlights of the well attended occasion was the donation to the General Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Fund by eight-year-old Eniola Benson who donated her pocket money to the fund. It was received by the Director-General of the Fund Raising Committee and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, who thanked the young child with a handshake to the applause of the audience.