Nigeria’s First Lady, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan, had worked very hard during Nigeria’s recent Presidential Campaigns in mobilising Nigerian women to exercise their democratic rights in casting their votes at the Presidential Election.
This view was expressed by Nigeria’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, “Sarki Tafida”, on the occasion of an Award Ceremony which took place at the Royal garden Hotel in Kensington, near London’s Hyde Park.
Speaking on Saturday, October 14, 2011, Dr. Tafida asserted that the results of the Presidential Election was so transparent, no persons carried placards to disown the results of the Election.
He declared that Nigerians had conducted an acceptable Election and dismissed some Court cases which had sprung up after the Election as an inconsequential exercise on the part of those Nigerian Politicians who sought to exercise their civic rights of going to litigation on the flimsiest of excuses.
“Nigeria is getting it right”, he claimed! He described Dame Patience Jonathan as “a person who should be honoured!”
The Award Ceremony which had been twice postponed had been organised by the High Commission in collaboration with members of the Central Association of Nigerians in the United Kingdom, (CANUK).
In his own Speech, CANUK President, Bimbo Roberts Folayan, said the First Lady had positively impacted on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
He went on: “Our First Lady, as far back as ten years ago (when she was the wife of a Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State) had commenced a well thought-out initiative that changed the lives of women and children in her State.
He added that “in the History of Nigeria, no First Lady had done so much for Gender Equality as much as Dame Patience Jonathan”. As a result of this her maternal care, Nigerians in the Diaspora had decided to recognise and honour her effort and to invite her to” flag off the Nigerian Carnival as Special Guest of Honour and as a Mother of the Day”.
Regrettably, the First Lady was absent at the event, a situation which the high Commissioner had attributed to the innumerable State Duties to which she had to accompany her husband in carrying out.
The Award was instead, presented to the Federal Minister of Women Affairs and Social development, Hajia Zainab MAINA, by the former British Minister of State for Overseas Development in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Lynda Chalker.
In her acceptance Speech, Hajia Maina, said she was accepting the award with humility and on behalf of Nigerian women. Dwelling on dame Patience Jonathan’s Women Empowerment Initiative, she disclosed that there were 13 Women in the federal Government cabinet, holding key Ministerial positions while the percentage of Women in the Federal Cabinet was 33%.
She was optimistic that the percentage would rise up to 50% in no distant date!
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the wife of the Governor of Taraba State, Madam Suntai, the Federal Minister responsible for Nigerians in the Diaspora, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, Patti Boulaye, friends of Nigeria from Austria and a galaxy of Nigerian mayors and Councillors in various Councils and Boroughs in the London Area.
Jenny Okafor presented a paper on “Gender Issues Concerning the Nigerian Woman”.
Chairman of CANUK, Bimbo Roberts Folayan was profuse in expressing his gratitude to the High Commission Staff for the role they played in helping to organise the Award Ceremony and Dinner but High Commissioner Dalhatu TAFIDA in his characteristic aplomb, pointed out that Nigerians should also know and be grateful to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and the GT Bank Plc., for their financial support.
Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK)