Women and youths from different organizations yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration in support of the proposed N4 billion African First Ladies Peace Mission Secretariat in Abuja.
The groups, numbering over 3,000 carried placards with various inscriptions such as "Abuja has come to stay; FCT is Working; Nigerian Women Support African First Ladies Peace Mission; Young Women Entrepreneurs Support African Peace Mission."
The women embarked on a protest match from Women Development Centre, Abuja through Tafawa Balewa Way and later submitted a letter to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed for onward submission to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking at the occasion, Nancy Godwin Bulus, President National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), explained the rationale behind the protest, stressing that it was meant to drum support for the building of the African First Ladies Peace Mission Secretariat in Abuja. According to her, it is a "unique project, which all Nigerian women want. We are appealing to the National Assembly to approve the budget for the project. It is an honour to have the project situated in Nigeria and all Nigerian women and children stand to benefit a lot from it," she said.
In their separate remarks at the occasion, Mrs. Uchenna Adekunle, Mrs. Felicia Sani and Murtala Mohammed Tanko, Leaders of Hairdressers and Barbers Association of Nigeria, Market Women Association and Youths Association in Gwagwa, FCT, respectively, expressed support for the choice of Abuja as the host of the Peace Mission Secretariat, pointing out that the First Lady, Dame Jonathan will not take the building to Bayelsa after leaving office. "Anything that concerns women in this country is always treated with kid gloves, it is not fair. The Act that created FCDA mandates it to erect public buildings on behalf of the Federal Government for use by all ministries, departments and agencies. FCDA built Women Development Centre, National Hospital and others; so, why must African First Ladies Peace Mission House be different?" one of the leaders asked.
Addressing the protesters, FCT Minister Senator Bala Mohammed, who said that he had to be excused from the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Villa to receive the group, expressed appreciation for their orderly conduct, just as he assured them that the Jonathan administration was not working for the "egocentric, academic and other opposition politicians who used jargons to deceive and delude Nigerians."