Wife of the Oyo State Governor, Engineer Tamunominini Olufunke Makinde, says the government is about rolling out a programme to empower women across the 33 local governments and 35 Local Council Development Areas in the state.
The programme, Mrs. Makinde stated, is in sync with the commitment of the Oyo State government under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde, to empower women and give them a new lease of life.
Mrs Makinde, who stated this during separate meetings with women leaders from the 33 local governments and women from eight major markets in the state, declared that she would knock on every door to ensure that the women of Oyo state secure financial support and empowerment in a way that will not impose on them any financial constraint.
“I want you to know that the present administration has the interest of women at heart, because as I said, women play a vital role in the society.
“We have been talking to a number of financial institutions, very reputable ones. They promised to get back to us shortly with programmes that will be beneficial to our women. We are mindful of the harmful effects of loan schemes like ‘gbomule lantern,’ which place the livelihood of many women in jeopardy, so we are instituting programmes with human face,” she said.
Mrs Makinde further said: “Empowerment programmes will soon be rolled out by the government, which all women will benefit from. Also, we are working to collaborate with banks, corporate bodies, and other sponsors.”
She added that her Office will collaborate with the state government to make life better for the womenfolk, stating that meetings with the women groups, where the women leaders had the chance to express the challenges facing the women in general, and gave fruitful recommendations on how to surmount the problems, will help her familiarise with the challenges facing women in the state.
Mrs. Makinde noted that the Oyo State government and her Office will not let women down, as it will always be ready to listen to their needs.
She added that empowering and giving the women and the youth a better tomorrow remained paramount to the government.
Mrs. Makinde also used the opportunity to educate women more on how to continue to stay safe during this COVID-19 pandemic, stating that the “virus is real and still very much around.”
The First Lady urged the women to continue to abide by the laid down guidelines on how to prevent COVID-19 by washing their hands, maintaining that social distancing in the markets and everywhere as well as using nose masks, while also giving palliatives to the women leaders to share in the respective local governments.
Similarly, she rallied women in the state to become more alert to the menace of rape and gender-based violence and to rise against them and any form of abuse against children by “saying something when they see something.”
She said: “My staff members in the office can tell you, for the first few months of my assumption of office, I had almost all the banks in Nigeria flocking to my office, looking for how to partner with me. All they were saying bordered on how to give microfinance loans at a low rate. And I told them that I would not mortgage the future of our women by driving them to take loans. I told them that if I mortgage our women to come and borrow money, when are they going to pay back?
“So, I asked them to go look at their grants and come back and give whatever they can give to our women. I have already started talking on your behalf. I do not support microfinance, because I have motherly feelings for our children.
“We don’t want our children to be hungry. We don’t want them to go outside without clothes. We don’t want our house to be scattered. So, we will put our money in our homes. I have told some banks that came around that they should go and come back with the token they have for our women. I don’t even want it in my hands. They should just tell me how much. We will arrange it and give it to our women.
“I have started campaigning and I want you to know that I am working behind the scene to come out with strategy, to work with people, to partner with banks, and see what we can give to you without loans. I really don’t want any loan and I know that God will help us.”
She added: “I will be expecting the list of 20, if not 50 people that are really struggling, based on assessment, so that if I have the opportunity, we can start somewhere.
“For the empowerment programme for the widows and the road you suggested in some markets, by God’s grace, we will rub minds together, invite Iyaloja and market women, see what you have, and when something comes in, we will channel it to you.
“For the support you have given to your home, by the virtue of my office, I will give to you whatever that is due and I pray that God will make us move forward. My sisters and mothers, be rest assured that this government will not let you down.”
In their separate responses, the Ekerin Iyaloja of Ibadanland, Sango Market, Chief (Mrs.) Borode Omotayo and Iyaloja of Apata Market, Alhaja Wulemotu Olaosebikan, commended Mrs. Makinde and the state government on the distribution of palliatives to market women.
They added that market women and the womenfolk in the state were happy to hear of the planned empowerment programme and that they were looking forward to its commencement.