Enugu – The Founder/President General, Nkata Ndị Inyom Igbo (NNII), Iyom Josephine Anenih, Esq , FNIM, mni, SCN, has asserted that inter-tribal marriages make Nigerians one and engenders peace building cum harmonious co-existence.
Anenih, a prominent Nigerian woman leader made the assertion on Tuesday while delivering her welcome address at the 2 day Nkata Ndi Inyom Igbo (NNII) 2023 Annual Conference being held at the Old Governor’s Lodge Auditorium, Enugu on the theme-Women: A unifying force in peace building.
“Inter-tribal marriages make Nigerians one. Through inter-tribal marriages, majority of Nigerians share the same DNA.
Illustrating her point with Senator Grace Folasade Bent and herself, who both married from other tribes, she continued:
“Senator Folasade Bent is Yoruba married to Adamawa; her children are Northerners. As such, she cannot watch anywhere where Northerners are being marginalized. Myself, I’m from Anambra but I married an Edo man; my children and grandchildren are Edo. I can’t allow Edo people to be maltreated.
Equally, she decried that things were deteriorating in Igbo land, with a daily story of tears, sorrow and blood. She lamented that women are the greatest victims of the insecurity wreaking havoc in the Igbo land and Nigeria.
Anenih recalled that the Igbo children whom they saw as the hope for the future were all running away from home and those who remained were roaming the streets due to unemployment, while those in far away places who wanted to invest in their land were reluctant to come home because of insecurity.
“We have sadly looked on, but it is obvious we all need a team spirit for the wrongs to be righted. We must all look in the mirror to see what ails us and how we can partner for the progress of the third tripod in a Nigeria that seems to be at a crossroads, politically, economically, and socio-culturally. The South East needs the urgency of now to address the insecurity that has made the region lose billions if not trillions of naira for a region known for its industry and commerce,” Mrs Anenih said.
During her keynote speech, Mrs Ene Obi, former Country Director, Action Aid & Former Convener, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room urged Nigerian women to become change agents by spearheading the movement for political inclusion which they seek in Nigeria.
“Women, we need to focus on ourselves to become change agents. When they say 50 people were killed, it means 50 pregnancies (wasted). The blood of our children is flowing daily in one conflict or the other across Nigeria. If women in Igboland vote for women, we will have so many senators, Governors. Even if you are not contesting, vote for women contestants”
The internationally acclaimed activist urged women to treat their daughters in-law with love and respect
“When my son brought home the girl he wanted to marry, she entered the kitchen to cook but I told her “No, sit down, I will cook for you, I’m not that kind of mother in law. You are my queen and will remain my queen.”
“Somebody’s daughter, a princess was given to you, somebody who was raised differently, you should treat her as a princess.”
“How do you treat your house maids? They were also carried for 9 months by their mothers like you carried your own children.
Emphasizing the importance of women and inter-tribal marriages in peace building, she elaborated her key role in ensuring that the 2021 Anambra State Elections took place peacefully.
“I’m from Benue but married to Anambra. I’m a stakeholder in the South East, my children, grandchildren are from the South East. Due to the heightened state of insecurity, especially after the death of Dr Akunyili, people were afraid to go to Anambra. My office called me and asked me not to go and I said I was already in Anambra. My colleagues said we should leave but I said NO. Death must come one day”
Obviously, she went an extra mile because she thought of her children and decided to take all necessary risks, including risks to her life, to ensure they had a better future.
She then decried the exclusion of Nigerian women from decision making.
“Unfortunately, Nigerian Women are not involved in decision making processes but bear the brunt of the adverse results of such decisions.
Finally, she charged Igbo women to rise up to the challenge of changing the narrative of their political exclusion.
“Among Igbo women, we have retired professors, judges, etc, what have you done for your sisters?
She recalled her visit with other female activists to foremost Nigerian women activist, Margaret Ekpo.
“She (Ekpo) told us that herself, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti and Hauwa Sawaba, were all barely educated. She then told us that we, being more educated could do much better”
In her own presentation on the topic,”Women in leadership: Defying Gravity, changing the Game”, Senator Grace Folasade Bent(CON) told the story of how she “defied gravity” by becoming elected as a female senator in Adamawa State, being a Yoruba from Ịkesa, Osun State
“As a Yoruba getting married to an Adamawa man was a Herculean task. My mother would have none of it but I stood my ground knowing that he (her husband) was destined to be her husband. On my wedding day, my mother was crying but today, she and my husband are best of friends.
“As a Yoruba woman, not having contested an election before, winning the Senatorial election in Adamawa was really challenging. Even after winning the PDP Primary, my husband was being pressurized to ask me to step down. I told them that they should defeat me in the field.”
According to her, she didn’t just go to the Senate to be a ‘bench warmer’ but that she was a game changer who brought so much positive change to the office and broke the glass ceiling.
On South East insecurity, she had this to say:
“How will Nigeria, the South East have the peace they yearn for? South East Governors must deliberately realize that it is the women that will make this peace they desire. A society that undermines women is dead on arrival, Nigeria cannot continue like this”
The role of home training by parents. Life doesn’t give you what you deserve, it gives you what you demand. Power is not given it is sought for.Zara, Pharez. Women should take their chance , they have the ability . Power is not for the giving but for the taking 35% . Nigerian women must arise and take their place in history.
In her own speech, Her Excellency, Iyom Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu urged Nigerian women to stand firm in defending their rights so as to change the narrative.
She also urged Igbo women to rally round and stand against traditional practices targeted against women such as widowhood practices.
“Women should rally round one another and stand against traditional practices targeted against women such as obnoxious widowhood practices.
According to her, when she lost her husband (Ojukwu), she was told that she had to shave her head with a razor blade which she stood against.
Prof. Chinwe Obaji, the first Nigerian female Minister of Education based her own talk on the topic; “Empowerment: Equipping women for success through education”
According to her, education was essential for women empowerment and success. She decried the present decadence in the Igbo society stating that such was not what the archetypal Ndigbo are known for.
“Education is not on the concurrent list, so nobody is stopping us from teaching our children who Ndigbo are. I get annoyed when Ndigbo keep complaining. Our Governors must resolve to have a subject in Primary School to teach who Ndigbo are”
Equally, she lamented the high level of moral decadence in Ala-Igbo, occasioned by Igbo youths engaging in Get-Rich-Quick schemes including organ trafficking.
“Today, so many of our young men sell one of their kidneys. What to do they do with the buy? They buy cars, luxury items. What of our girls? They now sell their ovum(eggs) to fertility clinics situated all over the place. What do they buy with the money? I Phones, Brazilian hair, etc. Consequently, they enter menopause prematurely, at times, at 35 years. They are also prone to cancer because of the hormones injected into them to boost abnormal egg production and harvesting”