In line with its core values of educational development, environmental sustainability, alternative conflict resolution among others, the Boss Friendship Club (BFC), a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) in conjunction with World Dynasty Pageant, has initiated the Pan-African Girl Child Education campaign.
At the flag off of the campaign in Abuja recently, District Governor of Boss Friendship Club in Nigeria, Dr Edet Ekpenyong, in his welcome address said the club through the campaign aims to support, contribute and sponsor over 10,000 girl children in Nigeria and other African countries, to ensure they achieve their educational pursuits which would enable them build their leadership potentials and contribute in the development of Africa.
Other activities lined up for the day were the presentation of architectural design of De-Boss Hall of Fame (De-Memoirs Dome), which was done by Architect Chibuike Opara, paper presentation by Dr Dan Mou, award presentation, etc.
Dr Edet recalled that in November 2013, the BFC board began its first strategic planning process to build a solid foundation for the club’s early growth, adding that the plan, with four strategic initiatives to guide the BFC’s development was reviewed by the club’s leadership, which led to the creation of a volunteer implementation team. “The initiatives guided the collective efforts of the BFC, staff, board and membership which resulted in the initiative of girl child empowerment in Africa and the De-Boss Legendary Award was imitated to serve as a platform where leaders are rewarded and encouraged for outstanding leadership or good governance,” Dr Edet explained.
With the challenge of transiting from monumental progress to transformative impact on the society which requires aligning and scaling up corporate sustainability efforts and partnerships on a massive scale, the Boss governor stated the Pan-African Girl Child Education campaign would put forward, “this new ideology and begin a process of engaging business participants and key stakeholders in human capital development in Africa.
The chairman of the event, who is also the Board chairman of BFC, HRH Shaban Audu, pointed out that educating a girl child has a transformational effect that changes communities and societies. He stressed that education empowers girls by introducing ways of thinking about traditions and challenges of traditionally-held gender roles.
Presenting his paper titled: “Girl Child Education, Democratic Governance, and Sustainable Development in Africa: A call for action,” Dr Dan Mou, a member of the Presidential Jobs Board in the Presidency, Abuja, urged Nigerians to stop lamenting over the nagging issue of girl child education.
Dr Mou examined critically girl child education, democratic governance, and sustainable development in Africa, and pointed out that in the last few decades, “it is no longer news that gender and women groups of all kinds have emerged across the world calling and demanding for equal rights and participation in all facets of political, social, educational and cultural life of their nations and societies.
He expressed dismay that despite this, “the girl child education problem has persisted.” He, therefore, suggested that to alleviate the issue of girl child education in the country, government must take basic steps to evolve legal, ideological and policy approach. It was Mou’s view that there should be mass campaigns to address the stark ignorance that even now relates to the problem of girl child education, stressing that these could be done by different media outlets, and on the flows of our national legislatures and board rooms.
He suggested among others that intensive research needs to be sponsored in the various countries and comparatively on the continent of Africa to come out with workable frameworks and policy options to address this problem. “Rural programmes for enlightening the parents on the advantages of treating the girl child and the boy child the same when it comes to making educational and other household or family decisions. Information is lacking on these matters, especially in rural Africa.
In addition, he said the level of poverty and massive unemployment in Africa is further compounding the girl child education problems. “When social, economic and other adverse conditions confront the family, the chances are that the girl child becomes the ultimate loser. While this is not right, governments in Africa must address the adverse social conditions in their nations and societies, he said.
“One way to tackle the girl child education is through legislation. Laws must be made that fully protect the children in our nations – male and female. The existing legislation must also be strictly enforced; there is need to make education free and compulsory in African nations at least up to secondary levels. This will ensure that all children are in school”.
“Government must set up effective structures for monitoring and evaluating all government policies when made. When this is not effectively done, the good intentions of public policies may never be realized as desired.
“There is need to involve the citizens and citizen groups in policy agenda formulation, making, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Citizens and citizen groups must be trusted and taken into confidence on these matters to promote ownership, cooperation and even the legitimacy of those policies and governments in Africa; and “policies must be designed to accommodate the different social cleavages in the nations of Africa. Policies, such as Federal Character, help to accomplish this. Africa cannot continue to waste resources and lives on internal conflicts and wars generated by the inability of leaders to manage the different social cleavages in their nations. The questions of “who gets what, when and how”, must be carefully addressed,” Dr Mou added.
High point of the occasion was the official flag-off of the Pan- African Girl Child Education campaign by HRH Shaban Audu, Board chairman of BFC and the presentation of writing materials to students of Great Heights Academy, Abuja. The students got five customized PAGCEC long notebooks and five pens each. There was also presentation of De-Boss Legendary awards to deserving personalities among who were the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, Wilson Inalegwu; Engr. Shamm Kolo, of Consumer Protection Council, Mr Emmanuel Njoku, etc.
First on the list of award recipients was HRH Shaban Audi, who was decorated as Life Member of BFC; Dr Edet Ekpenyong, also bagged the BFC prestigious Life Member award; FCT Police Commissioner Mr Wilson Inalegwu received the Boss Legendary award, while Dr Dan Mou bagged Honourary award.
In a goodwill message, the FCT Police Commissioner, represented at the event by Mr Tony Olafu, commended the Boss Friendship Club for its foresight in championing the cause of girl child education in Africa, explaining that “when you train a woman, it will go a long way to enhance security of a nation because women are basically one of the custodians of the family. Also speaking, Mr A. O Ibezim, who stood in for the Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, applauded the efforts of the BFC and called for cooperation between it and the FRSC.