The wife of the Abia State governor, Nkechi Ikpeazu Tuesday celebrated at jer last Abia Women August Delegate Conference, AWADEC with a strong conviction that the program offered her the opportunity to score many points as the first lady of the state.
Speaking at the event which is the 8th in the series, Mrs Ikpeazu said, “The 2022 AWADEC would be my last as First Lady.
“The theme is “Women In Abia: Engineering Development, Creating Legacies”. It evokes thoughts of how women have deliberately created sustainable legacies in the spaces they found themselves by using whatever grace God has given them and whatever skills at their disposal, be it professional, entrepreneurial, maternal, and spiritual to engineer societal change and development.
“Eight years after it started in 2015, I have sat in retrospective thought, wondering if my initial vision of AWADEC has been achieved. It is only a score that can be measured when my stewardship as First Lady is over in a few months from now or perhaps years after.
“The vision of AWADEC has driven me to score on so many other fronts, which I hope can be sustained.
“One of the principal successes I have on record is that I was on the driving seat when a Gender Policy for Abia State was developed: to define the policy thrust of not just current and successive government as it relates to gender, but to interweave with private sectors’ course of action as it relates to gender balancing in various aspects such as development planning, resource distribution, education, health, social welfare, political appointments, in the workforce and the workplace, in the provision of social amenities, in accessing the justice system and the rule of law, in virtually almost all expressions of strategic social development”.
She further mentioned, “My unparalleled interest in Gender-based violence has led to the passage of the Violence Against Person Prohibition Law, the setting up of GBV Incidence Reporting Centres in 17 LGAs, the establishment of GBV Resource Centre in Umuahia, the establishment of a GBV Action Committee, and the ongoing Sexual Assault Referral Centre and many capacity-building interventions to improve the GBV prevention and response ecosystem in the state”.
She recalled her assistance to the Abia State Chapter of Nigeria Council for Women Society, NCWS stating “We have a sprawling halfway home and skill acquisition centre for displaced women completed in Umuahia as we are on course to revive other shelters for vulnerable women in Umuahia and Aba.
“At the last count, I have built and donated 172 houses for indigent families, especially widows, in Abia State, I have put a total of 600 people through a 3 months skills development and entrepreneurial course (facilitated by NDE) and provided them with starter packs, startup funds and equipment.
“Through my Vicar Hope Foundation, I set up a breast cancer prevention and detection programme that includes sensitization, examination, and diagnosis. I have played an indelible role in sustaining maternal and child health care and nutrition.
“I have set up clusters of traders in 13 rural communities, providing business growth funds, did direct cash injections into the businesses of hundreds of small-time rural-based women traders and built market stalls so that the women traders can do business in comfort”.
In the last 5 years, AWADEC has enriched lives directly by empowering women through the AWADEC Loan Scheme and the AWADEC Cooperatives and she says, “We have instituted a revolving, zero-interest loan scheme which is adjudged successful.
“Hundreds of women from the 17LGAs of Abia have had fifty thousand naira (N50,000) and one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) injected into their businesses. For very small businesses, it is a huge lifeline. The scheme is sustainable so it will continue to yield results even after we have left office”.
“To the women of Abia, I am thankful for the support that you have given me. I will not have achieved the much that I did without your help. I urge you to continue to support us as this administration winds to a close and to also support us in establishing a competent successor whom you will also support the way you have supported me”, she said.
Speaking on the occasion, the Commissioner for Woman Affairs and Social Development, Deac. Nna Rose Urenta described the event as a “unifying event which cuts across all the geopolitical zones in Abia and creates an opportunity for our women to discuss socio-economic developments of their various communities, villages and women groups in their various localities.”
This year’s theme she said, is “a call for our women to redouble their commitment towards the overall development of Abia State”.
In his speech, the State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Okey Ahaiwe said women are major pillars of his administration, and thanked her wife for galvanizing women in the area for various community development and assured of his commitment “to serve Abia women”.
Earlier in his speech, the member representing Umunneochi in the state House of Assembly, the deputy governorship candidate of Abia PDP Okey Igwe who represented himself, the chairman of the occasion, Chris Igwe and the Abia PDP governorship candidate, Prof. Uche Eleazar Ikonne said the occasion was “to solemnize the 2022 edition of the women August meeting.
He commended the initiator of the program, Nkechi Ikpeazu as “a woman of change” and called for support to enable her to mobilize Abia women to vote wisely.
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