First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan on Wednesday lobbied Senators’ wives to encourage their spouses to pass bills concerning women issues.
Jonathan made the appeal in Abuja when a delegation of the wives of some senators, led by Mrs Helen Mark, the wife of the Senate President, paid her a courtesy visit at the State House.
“As wives of legislators, you have critical roles to play in lobbying your spouses to give legal cover to our collective desire for progress for the women of Nigeria.
“This is because the legal provisions that will guarantee protection for women and girls are not yet in place.
“This imposes a duty upon us to work together to ensure that our spouses present on the floor of the Senate, bills on 35 per cent affirmative action, Female Genital Mutilation, and Widowhood Rights.’’
She appealed to the women to redouble their efforts as advocates, and ensure that their husbands put the right laws in place for the growth and development of the country.
“As you pray for the success of your husbands, I urge you to also encourage them to put the country first in their legislative duties.
“This is because the nature of the laws we promote or do not promote, can affect the country, and perhaps the future of our own children,’’ she said.
Jonathan said the legislature must continue to pursue those matters that address the greatest interest of all Nigerians, irrespective of the state of things at other levels of society.
“In doing this, we must be mindful that attitude is crucial, such that a positive objective is not allowed to attract negative interpretations and thus mislead the public into wrong impressions.
“A case in point is the recent unnecessary controversy over the Secretariat project of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, generated on the floor of the Senate.
“Unfortunately, the entire process was taken out of context, and naturally resulted in misleading the public.
“I wish to state again, that the Mission is not my NGO, but an association of all First Ladies in Africa, out to promote the culture of peace and intervene on behalf of vulnerable groups in situations of violent conflict.
“Nigeria only happens to be the sitting President, as the Peace Mission has had as President in the past, countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea.
“It was at Nigeria’s election in Congo in February 2008 that the country accepted to host the permanent Secretariat of the Peace Mission.’’
Jonathan thanked the delegation for the donation of relief materials to victims of the violent conflicts in Mali, Guinea Bissau, Kenya and Sudan.
“In my capacity as the President of the Peace Mission, I wish to assure you of my single-minded devotion to the promotion of the culture of peace across Africa,’’ she said.
Earlier, Mark had lauded the First Lady’s activities in the promotion of women’s rights.
She announced the donation of bags of various foodstuff and rolls of wrappers.
“We hope that this modest donation will go a long way in alleviating the hunger and pain of the victims in those countries,’’ Mark said.