Former Publicity Secretary of National Council of Women. Societies(NCWS), Dr. Nimi Thom-Manuel, has called for a blueprint for women development.
In an exclusive interview with The Tide, Dr. Tom-Manuel said over the years, there has been decline in women’s participation in politics and governance.
She stated that apart from former President Goodluck Jonathan who involved women in governance, the present government led by President Muhammadu Buhari has put women in backwaters.
“Now, we have two or three women in the cabinet unlike before when we had about 12. We had Okonjo -Iweala , we had Akunyili and other first brains in their various careers, “ Tom Manuel said.
Pointing out that lack of a deliberate policy to empower women has led to poor inclusion of women in governance and politics. She blamed the situation on poor policy framework, recalling that the Beijing Conference laid the foundation for inclusion of women in governance.
As far as she was concerned the Affirmative Action provided the blueprint for evolving programmes and policies for women world all over.
“When I was the publicity secretary of NCWS under the leadership of Hajia Laila Dogonyaro, we participated in the Bienjing Conference and made presentations for Nigeria. Unfortunately, what we proposed were not adopted here, if not by now we would have gotten up to 40 per cent of women in governance.
“ For me , I don’t beleive in 30 per cent. It should be 50-50 though in this kind of society, it’s difficult, but women should push their way up,” Tom-Manuel maiantained.
Part of the current handicap she explained comes from education. Highlighting education as one way women could compete in leadership positions, she used herself as an example as she currently serves on the board of the Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority.
As far she is concerned there is no end to knowledge and to her lies the power to change society, as she challenged the womenfolk to acquire more knowledge.
Further stressing on the role of women in governance ,the woman activist reasoned that there is a gradual decline in women’s participation in politics citing the case of Rivers State.
“ Today there is only one woman amongst 32-member Assembly, so what can she do?
“ We used to have four before and I thought that by now they would have exceeded that figure unfortunately it’s not so. But I thank our governor, Nyesom Wike, for what he has done at the local level where all the vice chairpersons are women, “ she emphasised.
Thom-Manuel submitted that women have huge role to play to stabilise the polity, “ Women leaders have a lot of role to play now. They could be mediators, managers and entrepreneurs. “
Another area she wants women to be alert and arm themselves is in choosing their mates and spouses. She believes that education and exposure play key roles in choosing one’s spouse.
Thom -Manuel attributed the rising divorce rate to male chauvinism and the failure of many women to choose their spouses based on educational and emotional similarities.
She stated that many women in the quest to settle down overlook such factors which later destroy the marriage due to fear from the males that their women are much exposed and educated.
“ If you and your spouse are educated, and operate on the same emotional and psychological level, then it will be difficult for your husband to see your success as a threat.
Dr. Thom-Manuel studied in England. She had her first degree in Botany from London University and she came back to Nigeria in 1974. On her return she took up a brief teaching job with the state government. But she went back to London for more studies after her short stint in teaching.
She returned to London and did a Post Graduate Diploma in International Journalism in Newcastle University. On completion she came back and took up job with the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation and rose to become Woman Editor within 14 years of her service.
She voluntarily retired and went back to the school to start a fresh undergraduate programme to read Mass communication at the then Rivers State University of Science and Technology. She went further to do her Masters at University of Port Harcourt in Political Science and later a doctor of philosophy in International Relations from the same university.
Ibinabo Ogolo & Kevin Nengia
WCD: ‘19.6% Rivers Women Use Contraceptive Methods’
An estimated 19.6% of married women in Rivers State currently use modern contraceptive methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, who made this known at the weekend in his broadcast to mark this year’s “World Contraception Day (WCD)”, noted that while this number indicates that something was being done in this direction, more still needs to be done.
“In Rivers State, only 19.6% of currently married women use a modern method of contraceptive. This data shows that although some progress is being made, there’s yet more work to be done”, he said.
Towards this end, the commissioner said the government, through the state Ministry of Health, and its parastatals “are committed to providing women with access to quality information and services in all public as well as private (healthcare) facilities”.
This, he said, was done in partnership with several implementing partners such as “Association of Reproductive and Family Health Initiative”, “Clinton Health Access Initiative”, “The Challenge Initiative”, and “Marie Stopes lnternational”.
“The state government has developed, and is implementing a work plan targeted at improving contraception through ensuring the availability of right information, commodities, consumables, and equipment to offer the services, while also ensuring that there are skilled health workers who are able to provide these services.
“Together with our partners, we have built the capacity of healthcare providers in public and private sectors to provide quality Family Planning services”, the commissioner said.
He added that efforts have also been made to engage “Community Structures” such as youth and women champions, community reproductive health influencers, and religious leaders to “facilitate counselling within communities and referrals to linked facilities”.
In addition, Chike said, “the Social Behaviour Change Committee has been passed with the responsibility to expand information on Family Planning and its services to our communities and people, so that they can take responsibility for their lives through informed choices, and plan their families in line with the new vision for healthcare development”.
While noting that people can access Family Planning services in 328 facilities spread across the state, the commissioner urged people to access the facilities at their convenience.
“You can conveniently access Family Planning services in 328 health facilities in the state, including the private facilities.
“We, therefore, call on everyone to take responsibility for their lives through voluntary exercise of their right to health, as well as their right to reproductive freedom”, he said.
Quoting the National Demographic Health Survey of 2018, Chike also used the opportunity to inform that Nigeria is currently working to attain 27% contraceptive prevalence rate by the end of 2023, saying that “right now the figure stands at 17%”.
Explaining the benefits accruable from contraceptive use, the state health boss said beyond individual and family benefits, countries also benefit immensely.
“Apart from the health benefits of expanding access to contraception, there are also economic benefits.
“Economists estimate that every one dollar invested in universal access to contraception saves countries $120 in reduced need for infrastructure on social spending”, he said.
“Family Planning”, the commissioner stressed, “provides a means through which individuals and couples can have children by choice, and not by chance, or they can have the number of children that they are able to adequately care for”.
The WCD is marked globally on September 25 of annually.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
44 Years In Marriage: Couple Celebrate Love
While some couples have had to quit their union in very short space of time for various reasons, for Mr and Mrs Akpan, the grace of God upon their marriage had been the spice that had kept the union going.
44 years now in marriage, the couple have gannered enough reasons to celebrate God’s goodness, faithfulness upon their lives. Sunday, September 19, 2021 remains remarkable in the history of their relationship as they appeared before a distinquished congregation at Charismatic Renewal Ministries, Woji, in Port Harcourt, to refresh a covenant they had 44 years ago when they first tied the nuptial knot.
Engr Anthony Akpan who doubles as a Pastor and Zonal Secretary, PFN, sees his wife, Mrs Akpan Emilia, as the greatest gift from God to his life, for which he declared that, “she is worth celebrating for her love, hard work and uncountable achievements these 44 years of marriage.”
In his words, “today is a joyous day and double celebration for us. We are 44 years in marriage and my wife is also marking her 69th birthday. God has been so faithful to our union”, he noted.
Commenting on the uniqueness of their relationship, the Rivers State commissioner for information, Pastor. Paulinus Nsirim discribed the couple as role models and inspiration to the old/younger generations.
Pst. Nsirim reiterated that the couple have been a great gift to the church and have mentored many lives/marriages both in the church and secular world, adding that “they are worth celebrating.
“The couple have been a blessing to the body of Christ and nation at large. Their marriage has been an inspiration to me and others. Their marriage would continue to enjoy God’s blessings”.
Meanwile, the Chairman of Pentecostal Followship of Nigeria (PFN), Rivers State, Rev. Dagogo Jack, has appreciated God for keeping them in harmonious marriage for 44 years.
PFN Chairman said the couple has worked so hard in the Lord’s vineyard, adding that their lives have been an example to believers.
Speaking during the thanks giving service, the celebrant, Engr Akpan appreciated God for the grace given to them that called for the double celebration.
On the secret of the successful marriage, he noted the need for couples to “have a good heart and relationship with God, work in forgiveness for one another, make excuses for each other and always striving to be the best husband/wife for one another”.
He reiterated the need for couples to work together and overcome pressure points in their marriages.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide shortly after the thanks giving service, Mrs Akpan recounted God’s grace and faithfulness in her marriage.
Mrs Akpan who noted that the marriage has been a source of joy due to the presence and grace of God, said the secret of her success in marriage is God’s word and command that, “the two should become one”.
For her, success in marriage starts with the choice of spouse. Thus she advised, “don’t choose a husband/wife based on wealth and look, but ensure that he/she is your soul mate”.
And to the younger women, she stressed the need for endurance and the ability to settle marriage challenges on one’s knees.
Their union is blessed with eight children and seven grand children. Mrs Akpan, is the proprietress of Showers Christian High School.
By: Lilian Peters
Rotary Club To Empower Women On Renewable Energy
As Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Eco District 9141 gets a new Charter President, there are indications that attention is gradually being shifted from fossil fuel to renewable energy. In her inaugural speech as the first president of the charter, Rotarian Emem Bridget Okon, said, “this club under my leadership will champion alternative source of energy, we are going to promote that in the communities.”
She announced the interest of the club in climate literacy, as she declared that the campaign is on a shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy as it would be good to also make contribution in that aspect.
For this reason, the president said, they would train local communities as well as empower youths and women on renewable energy such as solar, so it can help in the area of having energy stoves and solar power in communities, among others.
She called for support from individuals and organisations as well as donors to ensure that this project makes impact in the lives of community members.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after her installation, last Sunday in Port Harcourt, Rtn Okon explained that the state of mother earth has become a global challenge as such the Rotary Club is interested in finding solutions to some of these challenges as it affects all aspects of human life.
Speaking further, she explained that the club’s mandate is to promote environmental conservation, ecosystem restoration as well as climate change mitigation, adding that the club would also seek to contribute to addressing the challenges in the Niger Delta environment in line with Rotary international focus through the following intervention areas: disease prevention and treatment; mangrove restoration; basic education and climate literacy; peace building and conflict resolution; economic and community development and eco ambassador, among others.
She further explained that the environment area of focus in rotary club was adopted in 2020 during the presidential counsel meeting, adding that this is the first club that particularly focused on the environment in West Africa.
Rtn Okon stated that the core mandate has made it become the first in West Africa and first in Nigeria, noting that this same core mandate was first adopted in Kenya, thereby making the Port Harcourt Eco District 4191s core mandate, second in Africa.
She noted that high level of soot was one of their major reasons and concern to focus on the environment, adding that the club has just unveiled the campaign against soot.
The charter president revealed that the club has also started the ‘Safe The Mangrove Campaign,’ which they are targeting to plant 50,000 mangrove trees by June 2022 when this rotary year would end.
She further revealed more activities they intend to embark on to include carrying out tree planting saying: “All these are necessary because these trees are important in absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and also helps in the restoration of the eco-system.”
“You would agree with me that this year’s World Environment-Day has the theme: ‘Eco-System restoration’, while World Earth-Day has the theme: ‘Restore Our Earth,’ so if we look at keying into those United Nations themes, it is better to take actions that would contribute to restoration of the environment, that is why we have decided to do tree and mangrove planting,” she added.
She explained that there got to be awareness creation, which they can only achieve through conferences, policy dialogue and engagement with environmental justice groups, adding that all these would contribute to taking actions to restore the environment.
“Many of us in the club are people, who have been very passionate about the environment in the Niger Delta, a lot of us are environment justice campaigners even those that are government officials are people, who have held offices in the area of environment, so we are all committed to the process.
“We have already started schools campaign and the production of pamphlets on climate literacy, so between now and June 2022 this club is going to be all over the place, building partnership with government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as well as with individuals interested in promoting environmental protection and conservation,”the charter president added.
On her part, the Assistant Governor, Zone 4 2021-2022, District 9141, Rtn Nkiru Enyia, stated that the Charter President, Rtn. Emem Bridget Okon, was fully prepared to lead the club towards achieving its call mandate.
Enyia congratulated her and prayed God to grant her the needed wisdom to do exploits in the task ahead of her.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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