Lagos was agog recently with the celebration of women of substance by the MMS Woman of Fortune, Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) Initiative to mark the International Women’s Day. The event which centred on the need to increase women participation in politics in Nigeria also featured fundraising in support of Charity homes, less privileged and physically challenged persons otherwise referred to as special persons.
MMS WoFHoF Initiative with over 50 inductees has shown commitments and unlimited support for the liberation of women irrespective of background and class in Nigeria and Africa at large over the years. It has groomed several young ladies “mentees” who are now on the track of achieving their dreams in life.
This year’s International Women’s Day celebration tagged: “MMS Hall of Famers Day and Charity Night ” took another dimension with prominent personalities expressing their impressions about the MMS WoFHoF Initiative since 2012, seven years after the idea kicked off. The event also provided grounds for the re-appraisal of the placement of Women in Africa. Notable among the testimonies is that the initiative has provided a platform for women to collaborate, synergize and discuss issues affecting their communal co-existence.
In her goodwill message, the Director, Special Duties, External Relations, Technical Cooperation, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Hajia Lami Tumaka said the journey so far has been very wonderful, fantastic and getting better by the year, noting that more women are being inducted even as she felt that for women to take their rightful place in the society, there is need to take active part in the process.
“We have to pick it because there is no more sitting and waiting, wailing and crying and wishing but grabbing and grabbing and grabbing and that is exactly what the women are doing. Congratulations to the founder and his team.” She said.
Moderating discussions, principal consultant at Jean Chiazor and Co., Barrister (Mrs.) Jean Chiazor Anishere, who did the official recognition of Hall of Famers at the event, appreciated the organizers for bringing into existence such innovative and impacting initiative. Mrs Chiazor concurred with Hajia Tumaka’s position for an action-oriented approach to making women take over the mantle of leadership and their rightful place in the society.
“Indeed we don’t have to sit back and wait, we have to go for it.” She said
A former and first Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, Mrs. Kofo Olugbesan concurred with Hajia Tumaka’s recommendation while showing special support and contentment with the proposed October’s women conference in Abuja by MMS WoFHoF with the motive of projecting women into the political limelight. To her, it has become very germane for women to unite themselves, have a common front and support each other for political offices.
“I ventured into politics myself when I left the service and I did well but the men squeezed me. I believe by this year it will be better for women. We should stand firm and show them that we are up to the task by doing what is right” she said
Mrs. Kofo Olugbesan who chaired the occasion acknowledged the event as a unique way of celebrating women in tandem with the United Nations’ International women’s day celebration as she congratulated herself, all women present and organizers of the event for being alive to witness it.
The former customs boss viewed the gathering as an avenue for women, more importantly; the Hall of Famers to know each other better even as she implored everyone to support the MMS WoFHoF programmes especially the mentorship innovation which she described as laudable. While admonishing them to see their achievements through the grace granted to them by God, Mrs. Olugbesan urged Hall of Famers to maximize the MMS WoFHoF Initiative platform to build other women to be great.
“I believe the whole month is meant for celebrating women like the organizer mentioned. I want to thank the organizers and I see this as a way of giving back to the society that made us. Like I mentioned, it is not by age but by grace that we are where we are today and to see that we help other women to achieve is an onerous issue we need to look into especially those of us by his grace we are where we are today. As we unveil the heroines today, I plead that we, Hall of Famers put in all our best.” She said.
The Head, Human Resources and Medical, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ihuoma Onyearugha , expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the MMS WoFHoF Initiative over the years, identifying the calibre of women inducted as merit-oriented. The oil and gas expert said she was proud to be part of the team citing the accelerated pace of growth and development recorded by the organization as worthy of emulation. She, however, urged women to understand the power in them, work harder than the men and erase the mentality of quota system that will never be given to them on a platter of gold.
“You cannot just sit down in a place not working and ask for quota in power-sharing and expect that it will be given to you just because you are a woman. It will not happen. None of these women here was favoured with that mentality. You have to learn and know how to do more than the men on what they know how to do. You have to work, learn as fast as you can, grow your skills and confidence and be adaptive. One of the problems facing women is the lack of confidence, sometimes you cannot do it alone, you need to get closer to older women who will help you build courage and grow you. The older women should also endeavour to identify the younger ones with potentials and groom them.” She said.
The Consultant/Legal Adviser, Lex Cardinale Consulting, Ngozi Nwanze, aligned her thoughts with other women on the need to build a set of women that will effect change. While acknowledging the difficulties in the task, she preached that it wouldn’t be right for women to stay back and expect the desired transformation they desire to come into fruition without making efforts to break grounds in various fields of endeavors even as she noted that the younger generation of women only needed to leverage on the standards built by the older women to make Nigeria great.
“We all know how difficult it is when you are in the boardroom with about seven men and you are the only woman. It doesn’t come to you because you are a woman but because you have the strength to stand your ground to be able to do what is right. Now, we are looking at politics in 2019 and we are wondering how we can all get in
“I remember when I finished law school and wanted to practice, what the first man I spoke to; which actually offended me, said was that he would take me if I could be twice as good as any male lawyer. And I knew from day one that as a woman, you don’t just have to work hard but to work harder than the men.
“I also want the older women to extend their hands to the younger women. Women are always fond of making the right decisions and without women coming together to take part in the decision making on issues bordering on the development of the nation, Nigeria may not be great.” She concluded
Barrister Margaret Orakwusi the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT), MMS WoFHoF Initiative and Chairperson, Ship Owners Forums, observed that women are coming up and taking over but still need the men, noting that when given a level playing ground to strive, women have conquered except in politics where reverse has always been the case because the ground isn’t plain. Hence, according to her, there is need to be very careful and serious with votes in the next election which should be channeled towards electing women into positions of authority even as she admonished women to shun hatred and envy in order to achieve results with ease.
“We have the first female president of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry (NACCIMA), that’s huge. We have female politicians but we are not really making the mark.
“If you have not registered to vote in the next election, kindly go and register. You have your children and husband when they think of our service to them; they will yield to our requests. I’d like to believe that 2019 elections would not be driven by money because we are wiser and we know that that money is national money.
“Students are kicked out of school because parents cannot afford to pay their tuition fees. We have all seen how bad the roads we drive through are. Only one man will have 22 properties, is that fair? We have never believed in a fair election in Nigeria but this time around we have to believe it. So, mobilize your children, workers and others to register. Let us campaign for every woman contesting regardless of their political parties” She stressed.
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