Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari has called on journalists to engage more with state first ladies with a view to giving their projects more visibility.
She made the appeal on Wednesday night in Abuja at an event organised by the Independent Newspapers to honour state first ladies who had used their offices to impact positively on the lives of the people, especially the less privileged and vulnerable.
The event was tagged: “Independent Newspapers Nigerian FIrst Ladies Impact Awards”.
Mrs Buhari, who was the special guest of honour at the event, was represented by Mr Aliyu Abdullahi, her Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
“I am happy to be at this memorable event, which seeks to recognise the efforts of first ladies in spreading the dividends of democracy.
“I am particularly happy that some first ladies have been recognised as having excelled in this regard.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on media practitioners to engage more with first ladies so that their projects can get more visibility.
“The partnership will be a win-win because the media would then have discharged a part of its social responsibility,” she said.
She commended the management of Independent Newspapers for organising the event, saying it is an important milestone and a testimony that the paper understood its role as a partner and a stakeholder in development.
“It is without a doubt that the media has a pivotal role to play not just setting agenda for discourse, but also in supporting and amplifying worthy causes,” she said.
She added that first ladies provided the underbelly of any government as they provide humanitarian, compassionate and mercy services by organising health, educational and empowerment projects.
According to her, first ladies help in the protection of the vulnerable people including women, children, youth and the aged in the society.
She said they also had the advantage of providing counsel to the governors and had become advocates for school enrolment and retention, adult education, self-reliance and health awareness.
She added that first ladies were also advocates against gender-based violence, drug abuse and trafficking of persons.
“They also provide financial support in terms of scholarships and settlement of medical bills for the under-privileged,” Mrs Buhari said.
She congratulated the first ladies that were recognised for the awards at the event, saying that the award will not only spur them to do more, but will equally encourage others.
According to her, the award will also open discussions with regards to more partnerships which will be in the overall interest of the country.
Mr Steve Omanufeme, the Managing Director and Editor in Chief of IndependentNewspapers, while welcoming guests to the event, said it was designed to recognise and celebrate distinguised first ladies who had consistently outperformed in spite of prevailing economic circumstances.
He noted that though the Constitution may not have spelt out responsibilities for first ladies, the outstanding ones know how influential the position could be.
“They do not just sit back and watch their husbands toil in the search of a better life for the the people.
“Some first ladies play active roles in policymaking, humanitarian and charitable works, while others have focused on family and social responsibilities, they have embarked on different public projects and excelled,” he said.
He added that though first ladies do not have any constitutional responsibility, most of them were using their positions to change the narrative and shape the destinies of families, women, children, widows and the motherless in their domain, and should be celebrated.
The newsmen report that Akwa Ibom First Lady, Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel, Founder Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orintation Part Initiative, was given an award as the South-South First Lady of the year 2021.
She thanked the Independent Newspapers for the honour and assured that she would continue to advocate for the girl child education and the inclusion of women in government at all levels.
“If you are educating the girl child, you are definitely educating the whole world. If you train a girl child, you are preparing that child for the future.
“I am trying to mould and mentor the young ones so that when we are no more, we would have responsible girls to take after us,” she said.
Also honoured were the first ladies of Taraba, Mrs Anna Darius Ishaku as the 2021 First Lady of the North-East, and Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, First Lady of Ekiti State for empowering women politically.
The first ladies of Cross River, Kwara, Bauchi and Osun States were also given awards for distinguising themselves and using their offices as first ladies to advance the course of the less privileged and vulnerable people in the society.
Hajiya Aisha Bala Mohammed, First Lady of Bauchi State, in her remarks, tasked mothers to stand up and encourage their children, especially the girl child through education, saying that without education, development and peace will remain a mirage.
There were three broad awards categories covering independent first lady of the year, first lady of the year covering each of the six geopolitical zones of the country and the general categories.