The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and wives of the 36 states governors have canvassed for policy and administrative measures to be put in place at National and State levels to formally accommodate the existence of the office of wife of the President and wives of state governors as a complement to inclusive governance.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Summit on Emerging Trends in the Role of the First Lady in National Development organized by the Office of the First Lady of Nigeria in collaboration with Women and National Development (WAND) at Conference Centre, State House Abuja.
In the communiqué signed by the First Lady of Edo State, Dr Batsy Obaseki, and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs and Administration, Dr. Hajo Sani, the summit said despite limitations, First Ladies in Nigeria had contributed significantly to national development, hence Nigeria needs to move with the times and formally acknowledge the critical role.
The summit encouraged every First Lady to champion an issue or a cause, and be more visible in order to highlight their contributions and showcase how important their leadership is at national and sub-national level.
According to the communique, the dismal numbers of women in leadership and decision-making in Nigeria was discussed with challenge on the First Ladies to serve as mentors and champions in order to open doors for more women in public life.
It pointed out that projects implemented by First Ladies should not be referred to as ‘Pet Projects’ because such terminology trivializes the importance of the initiatives.
”This will enable more accountability and provide an opportunity for worthwhile initiatives to be sustained for the benefit of the people. Meanwhile, Nigerian First Ladies will stay focused on their respective roles and responsibilities, engage in peer learning and collaborations, build coalitions, and continue to support their husbands to achieve their governance goals.
The communique said: ”Summit raised the importance of First Ladies as role models for women and youth. To this end, and in order to avoid negative perceptions and stereotypes, First Ladies were encouraged to live up to expectations by being approachable and inclusive. Summit urged First Ladies to support advocacy initiatives that will facilitate laws and policies to ensure lasting institutional change to tackle key social issues such as Gender-Based Violence, Health, Education of the Girl-Child and other important issues.
”Summit called for partnerships with government agencies, civil society, and development partners to strengthen and scale up the work of First Ladies. Summit stressed the need for a culture of continuity in governance. Efforts should be made to sustain worthwhile social intervention programs initiated by First Ladies, not everything needs to be thrown away when governments change.”