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BOWFT 2023: Edo First Lady, other governors’ wives make case for girl-child, recommits to combating gender-based violence

30 Oct 2023

L-R: Former Delta State First Lady, HE Dame Edith Okowa; former Ogun State First Lady, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun; former Oyo State First Lady, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi; Edo State First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki; Chairman, Board of Trustees, Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) and wife of former Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; forer Akwa Ibom State First Lady, Mrs. Martha Emmanuel; Osun State First Lady, HE Mrs. Titilola Adeleke; former Abia State First Lady, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, and former Osun State First Lady, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola, during a seminar held as a sideline event for the third edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT) on Tuesday, in Benin City, on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.

The Edo State First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki and other members of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) have made the case for the grooming and empowerment of the girl-child, restating their commitment to ending the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

Mrs. Obaseki who spoke during her welcome address at a seminar held as a sideline event for the third edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT) on Tuesday, in Benin City, said the Edo State Government has over the past seven years prioritized policies to protect the girl-child and ensure their wellbeing.

She noted, “This is the third year of this tournament as we set out from the beginning not only to play football but to fight and address social vices that affect women and girls. We address issues that are prevalent in society.”

According to her, “The issue around GBV is a fight for all of us as the governors’ wives. We came together to fight and will continue to fight until there is zero tolerance for this issue in Nigeria.

“During our first outing, we got recognition from FIFA as they gave us an award for the initiative and for using the platform to empower our girls. We are trying year after year to maintain the height of professionalism and maintain world-class standards to get more FIFA recognition.

“BOWFT has been referred to as the foremost women's football tournament in Africa and we are proud. We aim to make Nigeria women's football known around the world. This year, the theme is ‘Stop Gender-Based Violence,’ and this is a focus of Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum, as this issue is taken seriously.”

She added, “A lot of GBV happens in schools, communities and other places and children are afraid to speak out but we are enlightening them on the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Law, encouraging them to speak up, make them bold to join us in this fight, ensuring that we fight the scourge and reduce it to the barest minimum or completely eradicating it.”

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, NGWF and wife of former Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, commended Mrs. Betsy Obaseki’s efforts in the fight against gender-based violence, noting that the efforts by the governors’ wives have continued to yield positive results.

She stated, “The issues of gender-based violence are important to us as members of the NGWF and we set up a support group in 2020 to fight against gender-based violence and 13 States bought into it and passed the VAP Law. As of today, 35 States in Nigeria have already passed the VAP law, addressing GBV as Kano State is the only State yet to pass the VAP law.

“We would encourage Betsy Obaseki to continue her good fight against GBV. GBV is a fight for all of us in our schools, churches, and workplaces as we have dedicated our lives to the fight against the scourge and ensure it is no more in the country.”

The United Nations (UN) Women’s Country Representative to Nigeria, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, said, “We also commend the NGWF and the NGF as their efforts have seen to the declaration of war against gender-based violence in Nigeria where 35 States as of today, have passed the VAP law. We need alliances to fight this scourge.”

The Edo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi commended the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration for the passage of the VAP law which has led to over 50 convictions while 200 more are undergoing persecution across the State.

He noted, “GBV should not be tolerated in the country and as a State, the Ministry of Justice is pursuing several GBV cases. Victims in Edo State are getting justice as a dedicated court has been set aside to hear GBV-related cases. Perpetrators in the State would not go unpunished as many are being prosecuted for their wrongdoing. We all need cooperation to ensure we fight the scourge to a standstill.”

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