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First Lady renames women centre after late Maryam Babangida

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First Lady Senator Remi Tinubu, immediate past Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, and others, at the renaming of the centre, unveiling of Mrs Tinubu’s official portrait and induction of women into the Hall of Fame in Abuja on Tuesday.

By our correspondent

The First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu on Tuesday in Abuja officially immortalised the late Mrs Maryam Babangida by renaming the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) after her.

Mrs Tinubu also unveiled her official first lady portrait and a compendium of activities of the immediate past first lady and wives of state governors between 2015 and 2023.

She applauded the sterling contributions of late Mrs Babangida on the lives of ordinary Nigerians and described her as a matriarch who improved the living standard of women, particularly in Nigeria’s rural areas and in Africa as a whole.

“The late Maryam was an icon who redefined the scope of women’s participation in national development, and through her pet programme, Better Life for Rural Dwellers touched ordinary lives especially in the rural areas.

“I am happy that I was part of the ninth National Assembly Senate when the bill for the renaming of the centre was passed and assented into law,’’ she said.

Earlier in her remark, former Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, during whose tenure the bill for renaming the centre after Mrs Babangida was enacted, said that she felt fulfilled as Maryam Babangida was being celebrated.

Tallen recalled that she was a pioneer official of the Better Life for Rural Women Programme founded by the deceased First Lady, and started as a Councilor in her Shendam locality in 1986, as was directed from above.

She expressed appreciation to former President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the bill for renaming the centre before leaving the office.

“We are gathered here to rename this edifice and immortalize that great woman who initiated it to give us a voice.

“May we keep celebrating all those who have left their marks on the sands of time,” she said.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Monilola Udoh  said the bill for the change of name was passed by the Senate on March 29, 2023, while the House of Representatives passed the same on April 5, 2023.

According to her, the renaming is in line with the amendment of the National Centre for Women Development Act, Cap. N15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Dr Asabe Vilita-Bashir, the Director-General of the centre, equally acknowledged the contributions of the late first lady, through her “Better life for Rural Women” project.

She said the renaming would serve as an inspiration to all women in leadership positions to do more for Nigerian women.

Speaking on behalf of all the wives of state governors, Mrs Olufolake Abdulrazaq, Kwara Governor’s wife, stressed the need to ensure women were given opportunities to achieve self-motivated goals and national development.

Moji Makanjuola, the Chairman, Implementing Committee for Infrastructure and Renaming of the centre, said: “Renaming of the centre is significant.

“We need to start putting history into perspective, if we don’t do that, we will lose sight of who we are as a people, country, nation and tribe,’’ she said.
 
Hajiya Aliyu, a beneficiary of the late Maryam Babangida’s programe, “Better life for Rural Women”, said the renaming of the centre was apt.

According to her, it will encourage other leaders particularly, first ladies to embark on policies and programmes that will impact positively on the common people.

Mr Mohammed Banbangida, son of the late Mrs Babangida, expressed appreciation to the government and Nigerians for the recognition accorded their late mother.

Babangida, described his late mother as a visionary woman with a strong passion for the upliftment of women from all strata of life and ensuring gender equality.

He noted women’s role in the development of any country, adding that, ” this was the dream of our mother, who worked tirelessly in ensuring that every girl child had a voice, every woman had an opportunity and in particular every rural woman had a better life.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that seven women were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

They are: Dr. Mrs. Oluwatoyin Sakirat-Madein (1st Female Accountant of the Federation); Dr. Muheeba Farida-Dankaka (1st Female Executive Chairman of the Federal Character Commission); Prof. Ongoebi Maureen-Etebu (1st Female Professor of Mechanical Engineer in the Annals of Nigerian History.

Others are: Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi (Co-Founder of African Women’s Development Fund); Mrs Moji Makanjuola (first Female “International Health Correspondent in Africa and Pioneer Member of the Centre for Diseases Control, CDC Altanta in USA)

Also inducted were, Toun Okewale -Sonaiya (1st Woman to establish a Women’s Dedicated Radio Station in Nigeria) and Ms Ene Ede (1st Female Publisher of Women’s Focus Newspaper in Nigeria)

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