REMARKS OF HER EXCELLENCY, DAME (DR.) PATIENCE GOODLUCK JONATHAN, FIRST LADY, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE WEST AFRICAN WOMEN LEADERSHIP SUMMIT AND AWARDS ORGANISED BY CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AT THE GOLDEN TULIP HOTEL, ACCRA, GHANA ON THURSDAY, 27THOCTOBER, 2011
It is my great pleasure to share the joy of this moment with the organizers of this award, fellow awardees, and everyone here present.
Let me begin by thanking you most sincerely for the confidence you have reposed in me, and for which you have considered me worthy of being honoured with the distinguished award of DEFENDER OF THE AFRICAN CHILD AWARD 2011 and to grace the occasion as Special Guest of Honour.
Please accept my sincere appreciation for your recognition of my modest contributions to the improvement of the conditions of the women and children of Nigeria and Africa in general.
May I at this moment assure you that I am not unaware of your immense contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigerian Youths and Young Women since the establishment of this noble organization in 2004, by helping them to achieve their God-ordained potentials through your landmark programmes.
These programmes, ladies and gentlemen, are meant to empower them permanently in order to be useful to themselves and the society, as they are centered on skill acquisitions, literacy and ICT compliance training.
By these, you have assisted many children and young women to explore their potentials and be truly successful, for which I wish to congratulate you.
Your target audience, which are children and young women, are in a season of life when opportunities abound, a time to really prepare for the future, and a time to channel their energy towards positive ventures.
What readily comes to mind is the words of President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, “The future of the continent rests in the hands of the youth”, and of course a nation that neglects her youths has no future. Today, I am glad to reaffirm to you that you are a partner of this noble adventure, as government alone cannot meet the needs of our teeming youths.
I note particularly your involvement at the community level, because my heart and focus are always there; with the grassroot people, the vulnerable, our dear people.
I am also overwhelmed to note that you also captured the interest of the unemployed, widows, school drop-outs, rehabilitated ex-convicts and physically challenged in your programmes. I am indeed challenged by your vision.
The importance of capacity building for women and children cannot be overemphasized, more importantly, as it has become a global phenomenon that gender equality is central to all development activities in any nation.
Your them for this year’s Summit “The Role of Women in reducing the burden of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Africa” is most suitable as the region of Africa is confronted with security, political and socio-economic challenges which often leave the women at the receiving end.
This is to say that effective integration of women and children into political and economic life forms the foundation for eradication of poverty, and promotion of sustainable development in the continent of Africa.
Let me assure you at this juncture that my twin NGOs A-Aruera Reachout Foundation and Women for Change and Development Initiative are ever willing to partner with any organization that shares the vision to stamp out ignorance and poverty in our society, through empowerment programmes with a view to entrenching peace in our country.
The award given to me is an encouragement to work tirelessly towards achieving my vision and goals, which I am committed to take to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and indeed Africa.
I once again thank you very much for the honour.
I wish you well in your deliberations and endeavours, hoping that we will all make a difference in our world.
Thank you all for your kind attention and God bless us all.