The Niger Development Commission, NDDC, has stepped up its quest for gender balance in the fields of science and technology through the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science, GEMS, programme.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, who announced this at the final command performance of a stage play, “Little Drops”, in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, explained that the GEMS programme aims at encouraging young girls in the region to embrace science and technology, as well as to provide quality manpower that will enable them participate in the oil and gas sector.
Mrs. Semenitari said that the NDDC would also institute the Queen Kambasa Awards for Excellence to recognize and reward achievement of Niger Delta women in different spheres and in doing so, inspire women to excel in whatever they do. She said that the award would be in honour of the first known queen of the Niger Delta because it was important to create role models for our young women and girls by showing them the path to excellence.
The NDDC boss said that it was necessary to use the engaging platform of drama to re-introduce the issues confronting the Niger Delta to national consciousness, conscience and discourse, through the voice of women.
According to the Mrs. Semenitari, the “Little Drops”, rendered by Professor Yerima, achieved this eloquently. She said: “It provides us with startling and brilliant metaphor, a most enchanting pathway through which we can begin to resolve the twin inequities of gender and development, both infrastructural and human, which the Niger Delta has suffered for far too long. Told from the perspective of four women, caught in the crossfire of the armed conflict in the region, we come face to face with the tragedy of our beloved Niger Delta.”
“The Niger Delta torment, her needs, her sores and bruised spirit, some aspects which are so brilliantly captured in this play, must continue to remain an item in the national agenda, a constant narrative in national and international discourse, demanding and requiring healing. In doing that, we must also begin to think more on helping to rebuild the lives of women and children who are unscripted victims of the conflicts in the Niger Delta.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the burden of development was great, for which reason the Federal Government identified important stakeholders that must work together, as development partners, to move the region forward. “These partners, working with the NDDC, under the new standards of probity, due process, proper application of funds, clarity of vision and engagement, which President Muhammadu Buhari has ushered in, will help ensure greater synergy and accelerated growth,” Mrs. Semenitari said.
She further stated that the NDDC, in line with its mandate, facilitated the development of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan. She explained: “The Master Plan, in exploring 27 sectors, ranging from biodiversity to agriculture, from physical infrastructure to women issues, indeed, every aspect of human activity, provides an integrated and integrative action plan for true sustainable development. It is one we all must embrace, working together as partners.”
Speaking at the occasion, the wife of the Cross River State governor, Dr. Linda Ayade, charged women not to be deterred by retarding traditions that tended to hold them down. “We must resist the negative forces and forge ahead to be at par with the opposite gender. Whatever inspiration you get that will lead you to your purpose must be followed without distraction. You may fail, but failure is not a limitation. What matters is what you do to overcome your challenges,” she said.
Dr. Ayade charged women in privileged positions in the society to assist others who were at the fringes to rise to some reasonable level, advising women to always set their goals right. “Do not follow the crowd for any person that goes with the crowd will stop where the crowd stops. But the ones that follow their dreams soar to greater heights,” she said.
The governor’s wife said that women should not allow themselves to be made to feel inferior as that could only happen when they permit it. “It is what you permit that comes to you. Our women have been permissive for a very long time.”