The First Lady of Nigeria has solicited renewed support of the Nigerian media in reporting humanitarian issues and plight of women and children affected by conflicts.
Dr Aisha Buhari made the call during the 32nd Anniversary of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), with the theme: “Leadership with a difference; setting the pace for a better future,” on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event also included the launch of an endowment fund to support the girl-child and an award to Buhari and several others.
Buhari, represented at the event by her daughter, Barr Halima Buhari-Sheriff, called on individuals and organisations to assist victims of humanitarian crises and commended NAWOJ for its support for women in Nigeria and for reporting gender issues.
“I am highly impressed that NAWOJ has evolved to a formidable vanguard for not only female journalists but for women in Nigeria and the sentinel for gender issues. I commend the executive of NAWOJ under the leadership of Ladi Bala, the President, for considering me worthy of this award in recognition of my contribution to nation building,especially through my Future Assured programme.
“I congratulate other awardees as well and call on all people of goodwill to redouble our collective efforts towards expanding humanitarian assistance to our growing vulnerable populations. I also use this opportunity to call on Nigerian journalists to prioritise humanitarian reporting in their regular reporting and commentary, due to the global impact on conflict especially on women and children who are often the worse victims.
“I call on all people of goodwill to support government by joining the global movement to assist victims of humanitarian crises.
“As President of African First Ladies Peace Mission Idedicate this award to all the vulnerable people of Africa,” she said.
The national president of NAWOJ, Ladi Bala, said the association was created 32 years ago as a child of necessity to bridge the gap of marginalisation; offer opportunity for women in the hitherto men dominated pen profession; promote professionalism and advocate for the cause of women, girls and vulnerable members of the society.
Bala said “NAWOJ, as a professional body, is a strategic tool in addressing gender inequality and advancing the cause of women development by creating awareness and giving visibility to such developmental issues in the society.
“32 years down the line, I make bold to say the objectives of establishing NAWOJ are gradually being realised judging by the increase in the number of women journalists and the quality of responsibility being handled by them.
“Development issues have not only occupied the front burner but are receiving the required attention and change for the better, when compared with years past.
“NAWOJ has equally constituted itself into a pressure group of a sort by demanding fairness, equity, good governance and gender equality among others,” she said.
Bala said NAWOJ would not renege on its functions, including agenda setting and bridging the gap between government and the governed in line with its constitutional mandate.
The NAWOJ president said the essence of the conference was to serve as a wakeup call to journalists as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project to examine their roles in nation building, noting that no nation can rise above the mindset if its citizens, and that the award to some distinguished Nigerians were to serve as a stimulus and spur other Nigerians to remain committed to the cause of nation building.
“It is worthy of note that the best life one can live is the one you live for others. It is on this premise that I want to appeal to all to support NAWOJ to continue to carry out programmes and activities for the betterment of the society.
“NAWOJ is willing to collaborate with institutions, bodies and organisations in carrying out advocacy and sensitisation on health issues such as cancer, VVF, malaria as well as sexual and gender based violence in the society.
“I am pleased to announce that NAWOJ is in partnership with End Cervical Cancer Nigeria Initiative to reduce the burden of cervical cancer among women and girls in Nigeria,” Bala said.
Also speaking, the minister of Women Affairs, Dame PaulineTallen, appealed to Nigerians to join NAWOJ in providing succour to the girl-child living without hope as a result of insurgency, insecurity and the negative effect of early marriage.
Tallen said government could not do it alone, adding that with associations such as NAWOJ, the issue of over 15 million out-of-school children in Nigeria which majority are girls, can be curbed.
The minister called on other meaningful organisations to emulate NAWOJ in supporting government to fight the scourge.
“This anniversary is significant as it marks a milestone in redefining the objectives of its existence as the women’s voice for those in the noble profession and supporting the progress of gender mainstreaming in the country. I am also pleased to note that this event is holding on the heels of our historic visit to the National Assembly, led by the mother of the nation.
“Yesterday the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, was fully supported by the President and many of the members. I thank you all the great Nigerian women in this hall that came out, in huge numbers, to register support for the bill and to make our presence known.
“That was the highest level of advocacy and I believe by the grace of God, as mothers of the nation, our children will not fail us,” she added.
Vice-chancellor, Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State,Professor Umaru Pate, delivered a lecture on the theme of the event.
Mrs. Buhari was presented with an award of Icon and Beacon of Hope for Empowerment; Borno governor, Professor UmaraBabagana Zulum bagged the Achievers award as theEmbodiment of True Democracy; while governors of Ebonyi and Kebbi, as well as Senator Olumiji, Tallen, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Jumai Ahmedu spokesperson of FCTA also received various awards.
The former First Lady of Nigeria, late Mrs MariamBabangida, was given a posthumous Award of “Ideal role model for African Women Leaders” and her daughter, Halima Babangida, honoured the event.