* Campaigns for 40% gender inclusiveness for women
MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) Initiative has condemned Federal Government’s suspension of ‘Trader Moni’ scheme which has seen traders, mostly women fleeced off over N6billion as two million applicants paid N3,000 at the commercial banks without obtaining the loans.
The non-profit organization made this call at a press briefing while it marked the International Women’s Day with ‘Walk Woman, Think Equal’ road walk in Festac, Lagos last week, admonishing the government to restructure the scheme rather than jettison it.
The group argued that the sudden suspension of the much celebrated ‘Trader Moni’ loan initiative left ordinary Nigerians irked as to whether the initiative was a political strategy to get the endorsement of traders during the recent presidential elections or a poverty alleviation scheme.
The Executive Secretary of MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Mrs. Chioma Nwagbo who made this call during the press conference last week said; “The Presidency should be commended for introducing ‘Trader Moni’ scheme, an initiative intended to empower the Nigerian trader but this scheme has been engulfed in needless controversies. The reported payment of N3000 and more to stipulated commercial banks as ‘Trader Moni’ registration by over two million people makes mockery of the otherwise laudable scheme”.
Speaking further, she queried: “What can N10,000 do for a petty trader in the contemporary Nigerian society? The money is too small but the scheme shouldn’t be suspended. It’s restructuring and reorganization of the initiative and not suspension that is required. Was ‘Trader Moni’ a political scheme or an economic one?”.
Recall that the N3,000 fee collected at the commercial banks wasn’t captured in the publicized requirements of the ‘Trader Moni’ scheme as petty traders, market women, artisans and small scale business owners are made to pay the non-refundable fee without any guarantee of receiving the minimum N10,000 to cater for their businesses.
Meanwhile, Nwagbo noted that MMS WoFHoF Initiative was bent on empowering and training the next generation of women leaders in the maritime, oil and gas, finance, aviation as well as political leadership sectors.
As part of efforts to empower people, the Executive Secretary who led a rally also said that the Initiative had a five-year vision to empower 250,000 women titled: ‘Vision 5W-250,000 Project’.
According to her, the Initiative had started empowering women with quick cash to start-up or boost their businesses and the programme intends to touch the lives of 50,000 women annually to reach 250,000 in five years.
“In Africa, Nigeria to be precise, the cultural political background confines women to their homes, especially the kitchen and the other room. This does not allow them to come out to the limelight. As part of the efforts to correct this, MMS WoFHoF Initiative titled today’s walk, ‘Walk Woman, Think Equal’. This is to encourage a woman to believe in herself and believe in her abilities to go beyond the confines of her home. A woman should aim high to make significant achievements by impacting the society positively” she said.
Meanwhile, one of the MMS Hall of Famers and President of Women in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Hajia Bola Muse, commended Nigerian women for their amazing ability to multi-task and put in the best on all sides.
“A woman is at work, yet she is thinking of her kids in the school, thinking of making dinner back home. She cares for the homes and manages the home. She also takes charge at the office or her business. Women are amazing. Women are privileged to partner with God in bringing forth several generations. We house the baby and bring forth the baby in due time” she said.
Bola Muse who is also the President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA) Nigerian chapter, was represented by Mrs. Ruth Chukwukezirim. She advised women not to believe in the fallacy that certain trade was for men.
“When people say freight forwarding is men’s trade, I say: Really? Can you show me where it is written that it is men’s trade? Nobody has been able to show me. This means we can do anything as women and we have top women in the maritime sector. We have somebody like Hajia Bola Muse who has risen to the top in freight forwarding practice in Nigeria. There are also other maritime amazons like Barr. (Mrs.) Jean-Chiazor Anishere, Barr. (Mrs.) Margaret Orakwusi, among others. This means women can not only play a role in the shipping sector but also rise to the pinnacle” she added.
She stressed that there were enormous opportunities for women in the maritime sector. “A woman can find a place in maritime of the logistics value chain. Women can do clearing, shipping, ship-chandling, insurance, maritime law, etc. There are also opportunities for fishing, tourism and other aspects in the blue economy” she said.
Meanwhile, the Head of Department, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation at Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area, Mrs. Temitayo Dabiri-Raji commended the women who took part in the ‘Women’s Walk’ in Lagos as well as others all around the world.
Referring to women as the salt of life, she said; “I strongly believe that if you train a woman, you train a nation. I want to specially commend the Federal, State and Local governments in Nigeria for their efforts towards ensuring gender equality in governance. At the moment, women are encouraged to partake in decision making in all the three tiers of government. Several state governments and local governments have been keen to train women and empower them”
She revealed that at the Amuwo-Odofin LGA, there are skill acquisition centres which train women and young girls on various skills such as; bead making, snail farming, hat making, make-ups, among others, noting that the essence of the initiative was to enable women contribute to the growth and development of their immediate families.
Condemning the rate of domestic violent issues in the country, Dabiri-Raji urged women undergoing such turmoil to speak out.
“Those who have suffered domestic violence should go to the available portals to lodge their complaints and be assured that the complaints would be attended to. Women should also be very diligent in terms of child upbringing and not just trust family members to do the task” she said.
As part of the efforts to grow the feminine brand in Nigeria, the Founder of the MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke urged the Federal Government to reserve certain positions in government agencies for women.
Drawing an analogy with the federal character system in Nigeria, he said; “We have federal character in Nigeria, so we should be able to have gender character that should define inclusiveness of women in all sectors and capture the gender sensitivity of the nation. To help us bridge that gender gap, we should be able to reserve 40% of government recruitments across board. If we do this over a period of time, we would have more women participating in various sectors”.
He also stressed the need to have more women in politics, stating that the current administration should carry out the 35% Affirmative action that the former administration started.
“We should not look at party affiliation on these issues but look at the best interest of the nation. If a former administration had a good idea (35% Affirmative action) that it was unable to develop, why not copy the idea or continue from where they stopped?” he said.
In sync with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Maritime Day’s theme; ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’, MMS WoFHoF Initiative would organize a ceremony to mark its ‘Hall of Famer’s Day’ on Tuesday March 19th, at Golden Gate, Ikoyi, Lagos by 4pm.
The event is scheduled to recognize and celebrate some ‘Indomitable Maritime Amazons’ who have made modest contributions in the maritime industry. MMS WoFHoF Initiative calls on maritime professionals and noble organizations to deepen their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) impact by partnering the NGO to enable it execute Vision 5W-250,000.
MMS WoFHoF Initiative is a non- profit organization with the pre-occupation of empowering , training and producing the next generation of leaders in the maritime , oil and gas, finance, aviation as well as political leadership sectors.