The Kwara State government says it is poised and determined to do things differently in its bid to rewrite the story of the State.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq stated this at the conferment of the ‘He for She Award of Excellence’ on him by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development as a worthy champion of Nigerian women in Akure, at the 19th Regular National Council Meeting on Women Affairs and Social Development.
Governor AbdulRazaq noted that the margin of the victory recorded at the last poll thrown at the Government the unique challenge to rewrite the story of Kwara State.
The Governor explained that the interest and welfare of the womenfolk and all categories of people are paramount to the government.
“Let me begin by thanking the Nigerian women through the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for this honour. My team and I do not take it for granted. Instead, we see it as a tonic to do more to champion the cause of not just women and the girl child but also the cause of every disadvantaged group in our community” he added.
AbdulRazaq who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Kayode Alabi stressed that nine out of the 16 commissioner-designates are women is a step in that direction stating that many of these nominees are below 40 years is another deliberate step in the same direction.
The Governor stated further that the State Government can’t continue to mouth inclusive or participatory governance while those who constitute the bulk of the population suffer the most when the chips are down and are never involved in decision making.
He advanced reasons for the appointment of more women in his cabinet “at the conclusion of the last general election, it became clear to us that not a single woman made it to the decision making table in a state where they possibly constitute the largest voting bloc. Men cleared all the elective positions. I was not proud of that development. I was not glad because it goes against natural justice. I was not glad because it runs afoul of international efforts to deepen women empowerment and inclusion in governance. I was not happy because the women who are often the first victims of poverty and other downturns were completely shut out of the space and position where they can explain how it feels to be women and offer the best way out of the many quagmires confronting the society”.
AbdulRazaq said the State governmemt have taken concrete steps to not only reverse that injustice but to also emerge as the state with the largest percentage (56.25%) of women cabinet members in the entire Africa.
According to him, women were in fact wired to be kind, compassionate, and good managers of resources and made to endure hardships just to make their family comfortable.
The Governor expressed the belief that the decision to bring as many women as possible to the decision making table will not be misplaced as Kwara is in dire strait and it needs a huge dose of sacrifice and compassion to get through.
“And I’m glad to have heard a number of the nominees say this is a rare opportunity to prove just once again how women are always at the forefront of national development and can always be trusted to deliver” he noted.
Abdulrazaq assured that the government would do everything within available resources to build a Kwara where nobody will be left behind on account of their gender, creed, or disability.
To the nominees, the Governor said Kwarans want to see how the decision, which is a fulfilment of Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), would help engender good governance, probity, and turn things around for the better.
The Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe who represented Governor Nasir El-Rufia said the State would continue to accord due recognition to women in its drive ensure the development of the State.
Declaring the meeting open, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Agboola Ajayi called on women holding political and elected offices to reciprocate the gesture by rendering selfless service to the people.
Mr Akeredolu highlighted some of the steps taken by his administration to improve the welfare of women.
In her speech, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen noted that Kwara State is the Star State of the 19th National Council Meeting calling on other States to emulate the gesture by giving women due recognition and appointments.
Mrs Tallen who condemned discrimination against women commended Kwara and Kaduna State governments for promoting the womenfolk among others.
Other speakers at the meeting include Speaker of the National Children Parliament, National Council for Women Societies, representatives of United Nations Organisations, NGOs and financial institutions.
Six States Kwara, Lagos, Kaduna, Ekiti, Sokoto and Akwa Ibom as well as the Chief of Air Staff received award at the ceremony.
The Council Meeting themed “gender equality and Social inclusion: a panacea for peace, security and sustainable development in Nigeria was attended by women from the 36 States of the Federation including two Commissioner-designates from Kwara State Hajia Aisha Ahman Pategi and Mrs Florence Olasumbo Oyeyemi.