Issues as COWLSO holds successful National Conference

COWLSO

L-R: Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his wife and Chairman, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr. Ibijoke; Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State; his wife, Olufolake; Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and his wife, Bamidele during the opening of COWLSO 2019 National Women’s Conference tagged: Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives/Approach, at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island, on Tuesday.

L-R: Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his wife and Chairman, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr. Ibijoke; Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State; his wife, Olufolake; Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and his wife, Bamidele during the opening of COWLSO 2019 National Women’s Conference tagged: Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives/Approach, at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island.

The assertion that when women come together, greater things happen, aptly resonated recently in Lagos as the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) held its annual National Women Conference from October 22 to 24, 2019 at Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos.

The Conference, 19th in the series, was with the theme: “Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s THEMES Perspectives and Approach.” The three-day conference attracted dignitaries from across the country including Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr. (Mrs) Aisha Buhari ably represented by the Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo who gave the keynote address.

Others include Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and wife, Mrs Salamatu Gbajabiamila; host Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and his counterparts from Kwara and Ogun States, Abdul Rahman Abdul Razaq and Prince Dapo Abiodun respectively; Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; and Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele. The First Ladies of Ogun, Osun, Edo, Taraba, Kwara, Ekiti, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi and Nasarawa states; former Deputy Governors of Lagos, Oyo and Osun States; Senator representing Lagos Central in the National Assembly, Chief (Mrs) Oluremi Tinubu; Lagos State Officials and body of Permanent Secretaries were also in attendance, among other dignitaries.

The conference recorded a total attendance of 3000 participants drawn from all over the nation.

In her opening remarks, Lagos First Lady and Chairman of COWLSO, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, said the theme of the conference was strategically chosen to empower women to continue to play important part as pillars of growth and development economically, politically, socially and in all other areas that matter.

L-R: Secretary to the State Government, representing Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Folashade Jaji; Chairperson, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; her Vice and wife of Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat and Special Adviser on Education to Ondo State Governor, Dr. Wunmi Ilawole, during the official closing ceremony of the 19th annual COWLSO, National Women Conference at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island.

She said: “As women, we must strategically position ourselves to take full benefit of the programmes of government. To unlearn means to do away with habits that are outdated and as well jettison practices that are against public good and public safety.

“In this 21st Century, women must also embrace new ideas and new innovations to be relevant. Women must learn to think outside the box and even go a step further to think without the box, to fit into the modern society.”

She urged women to key into programmes of the State Government in strategic sectors such as Health, Environment, Agriculture, Education, and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs.

She said the Committee would be investing its energy and resources on implementing projects specifically aimed at strengthening the capacity of women and helping them to build resistance against disabilities that may limit their economic potential.

R-L: First Lady of Lagos State and Chairman, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; First Lady of Bauchi State, Dr. Aisha Bala Muhammed; Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abidoun; recipient of Inspirational Woman of the year award, Evangelist Elishama Ideh; Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State and wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun during the opening of COWLSO 2019 National Women’s Conference tagged: Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives/Approach, at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island.

Mrs Buhari, on her part, urged wives of political office holders to work towards impacting the lives of the less privileged and vulnerable persons in the society.

According to her, wives of key government functionaries must create people-centred programmes to catalyse social change.

She said: “One of the key tenets of COWLSO is the issue of restoration of values. I wish to call on more members to use the opportunity of this event to share ideas about ensuring that our children grow up morally upright, patriotic and with a sense of responsibility. We have a duty to raise better Nigerians.”

Also, Gbajabiamila noted that women possessed natural ability to influence the society positively, adding that education was vital towards empowering the women.

He assured that the House of Representatives would continue to leverage legislative process to champion action that would challenge laws that limit women.

Declaring the three-day event open, Governor Abdulrazaq congratulated members of the Committee for taking “bold steps” towards empowering women and making sacrifice for the development of Lagos, while Governor Dapo Abiodun, in his goodwill message, said it was on record that COWLSO had been instrumental to the development of Lagos since its establishment, noting that the theme of the conference was one of the ways to change negative narrative against women.

“The theme of the COWLSO conference has offered a template for strategic thinking towards changing negative narratives against women in our country. A 21st century woman must learn and re-learn. To hold a woman back is to hold a society back. Democratic values don’t support the relegation of women,” he said.

L-R: Chairperson, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; wife of Minister of Works and Housing, Dame Abimbola Fashola, receiving an award from Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat and Chairman of the 2019 National Women’s Conference, Prof. (Mrs) Ibiyemi Bello during a Gala night at the 19th Annual COWLSO’s National Women Conference at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island.

The host Governor, Mr Sanwo-Olu said the theme of the conference was aimed at imparting knowledge that would engender value re-orientation and equip women with skills that would make them relevant in the State.

The Governor observed that continuous learning and capacity building remained a potent tool to drive social change, stressing that knowledge or mind-set that stood against the growth of the society must be discarded.

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He said: “The goal of this conference is to impart knowledge on all the participants and equip them with relevant skills. The knowledge that will enable them contribute effectively to the collective goal of building and delivering the Lagos we all deserve.

“Imparting knowledge is not only about adding new knowledge, which is the learning. It is also about reminding ourselves of old and unchanging truths, which is the re-learning. It is important that we discard ways of thinking that are no longer compatible with current realities. If impracticable knowledge is left unchallenged, it can stand in the way of our ability to imbibe and practise new knowledge. This is the un-learning.”

Sanwo-Olu said his administration had redefined gender balance in the State with the appointment of 13 women into key decision-making positions in the cabinet. Empowering women with right skills and given them opportunity to be part of the decision makers, the Governor said, would set the State on the course of irreversible growth, economically and socially.

He added that implementation of his government’s six pillars of development, known as Project T.H.E.M.E.S, would not be effective without the support of women, citing waste management as one of the key areas where women would be playing key roles.

The event also featured panels of discussion on a number of topics anchored by seasoned professionals including Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who spoke on the ‘21st Century Woman – Build Not Born To Influence The Society’; Mrs Omotayo Omotosho, ‘Entertainment And Tourism: Prism Of Possibilities – Tourism’; Mrs Joke Silva, ‘Entertainment And Tourism: Prism Of Possibilities – Entertainment’; Mrs Funke Felix-Adejumo, ‘The Total Woman’; Mrs Olufunmilayo Agbato, ‘Entrepreneurship: Making Money And More Money – Agric Entrepreneurship; Mrs. Adun Akinyemiju, ‘Mould A Child And Build A Greater Generation’; Professor Adetokunbo Fabamwo, ‘Healthy Woman – A Healthier Nation: Maternal & Child Mortality’; Mr Olukayode Pitan, ‘Entrepreneurship: Making Money And More Money – Financing’; among others.

R-L: Wife of Speaker, House of Representatives, Mrs. Salamotu Gbajabiamila; First Lady, Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun; her Bauchi; Lagos and Kwara States counterparts, Dr. Aisha Bala Mohammed; Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and Mrs. Olufolake AbdulRahman respectively, during an Exhibition tour of 2019 National Conference of COWLSO at Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites.

In a communique issued at the closing ceremony of the conference, the Committee specifically urged the Federal Government and indeed all the States of the federation to see the issue of maternal mortality as a national emergency that must be seriously addressed with the view to considerably bringing down the high figures.
COWLSO said it was important for government at all levels to empower women, saying there was strong need to invest effectively in maximizing the capacity of women, adding: “Maternal mortality is abysmally high; the death of a woman is more grievous than the death of a man. Maternal mortality is taken for granted in Nigeria and this must be seen as a national emergency.

“An empowered and educated woman would raise empowered children; as a nation, we need to invest effectively in maximizing the capacity of women.

“All stakeholders – families, schools, religious bodies, communities and government must, therefore, play active roles in nurturing the child to be upright, hardworking, result oriented, focused, organised and have the fear of God. Moulding a child is a collective responsibility. Every child should have access to quality education.”
While noting that there are limitless opportunities in entrepreneurship, COWLSO also urged the people to see it as a vital way out of financial difficulties, just as the Committee admonished residents to imbibe voluntary compliance to laws, and well-being.

“Government at all levels must continue to partner with the private sector to develop and implement strategies that will showcase the nation’s potential in entertainment and tourism to the world.
“Every society must seek to evolve its own legal instrument through the culture of voluntary compliance to the laws of waste and traffic management.

“Also, well-being is a satisfactory condition of existence and Wellness is more than being free from illness but a dynamic process of change and growth,” the Committee said, while equally urging women to strive to be a total woman, adding: “A total woman is a profitable daughter, an extra ordinary woman, a celebrated mother and award-winning woman,” the Committee said.

L-R: Chairman, 2019 National Women’s Conference, Prof. Ibiyemi Bello; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, presenting an Inspirational Woman of the year award to Founder of The Real Woman Foundation, Pastor Nike Adeyemi; First Lady of Lagos State and Chairman, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat during the opening of COWLSO 2019 National Women’s Conference tagged: Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives/Approach, at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island.

Conference Convener and Chairman of COWLSO, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu said it was indeed gratifying that the conference had been positively impactful, and urged participants to make good use of the lessons learnt.
“It has been three days of mind shifting trainings and brainstorming on how to equip women and position them to key into the emerging opportunities in our dear State. Several papers have been presented on the main theme which centers on unlearning, learning and relearning, as well as other topics.

“I can confidently say that we have all benefited tremendously from the facilitators who have mounted this stage to address us. For me, the target is that we must all go back to our respective offices, homes and business areas to put what we have learned into practice,” she said.

Also speaking, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended the COWLSO executives and members for putting a brilliantly impactful conference together, and urged women to be the ambassadors of his administration.

The Governor, who was represented at the closing ceremony by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, said: “I want to believe that we have all unlearnt; we have learned and we are going to relearn because learning is a life-long thing. Our take away is that after this conference, we owe a lot to this administration because we are all part of this administration.

“We are all going to be the Ambassadors of what the government is doing; we are going to be the role models for those things they have asked us to do and I hope that we won’t allow it to just end here; we are going to be the Ambassadors of this administration so that we can all together achieve the greater Lagos of our dear Governor.”
On his part, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule congratulated COWLSO for the success of the conference, urging women to ensure that the knowledge and skill-sets acquired at the conference are put to good use.

Highpoints of the conference included several mouthwatering prizes including two houses, cars, return tickets to London, Dubai and Ghana, cash rewards, deep freezers, cooking gas, television, washing machines, exquisite beds, among others, which were won by some of the participants at the conference, while A-list artist including Tope Alabi, Teni the Entertainer and others, performed at the Gala Night of the Conference.

Awards were also presented to deserving women including Senior Pastor of DayStar Christian Centre, Pastor Nike Adeyemi, who received the Inspirational Woman Award for her dedicated service to the empowerment of women; Wife of Deputy General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor (Mrs) Siju Iluyomade; and President of Elishama Ideh Ministry and former Presidential aspirant, Elishama Ideh, among others.

No doubt, this year’s conference of COWLSO has come and gone, but its footprints will remain indelible, especially in terms of empowering women to be active players in national development and positively exploring emerging opportunities being provided in Lagos and Nigeria by the government of the day both at national and state levels.