//Segun Ojo, Minna//
After years of dormancy, new Chairperson of Better Life Program for the African Rural Women (BLPARW), Hajiya Aisha Babangida has revamped the programme as she launched a new micro credit scheme to help some rural women.
The micro-credit would afford locals, most especially, women, the opportunity of accessing loans and health insurance scheme for better and healthy environment.
Hajiya Aisha Babangida is a daughter of a late Nigerian First Lady Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Badamasi Babangida, who had used the programme to impact women beyond Nigerian shores, the programme, which was founded in 1984 was later in 2004 renamed as Better Life Programme for the African Rural Woman (BLPARW).
It would be recalled that Late (Dr.) Mrs. Maryam Babangida, founded the programme after conceiving an idea based on the issues confronting women worldwide as stated in the United Nations Decade for Women (1976-85) Conference.
Recalled also that through its various advocacy programs, it increased social awareness, acceptance and widespread knowledge of issues confronting Nigerian women as well as empowering women socially, economically and politically, and has since achieved outstanding results.
Launching the programme in Minna, Niger State, North-central, Nigeria, Aisha Babangida told the gathering that African women are still lagging behind in accessing loan facilities that could help them plan better for their family.
According to her, “This is a project that started by my late mother, Hajiya Maryam Babangida to help the rural women. Mine is to continue where she stopped. That is why I am doing this project. We are starting this project here in Minna at Maryam Babangida Children Center, and also in Abuja for now. We will move to other state in the federation very soon by the grace of Almighty Allah.
“Our aim is to empower the women. We are using this opportunity to call on the women to come out and benefit from this project”, she appealed.
Elsewhere, one of beneficiaries of the programme, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, a former Local Government Council Chairman, Commissioner in Benue State, first Director-General, Women Affairs in Presidency and first Executive Secretary of National Commission for Women, described BLPARW as impactive and strategic plan that have moved women from the world of unknown to the know.
According to her, It is not surprising that the death of Maryam Ibrahim Babangida evoked deep grief and feelings of profound loss across the country. However, it is remarkable that tributes to her by Nigerians from diverse backgrounds had common strands, “she was a virtuous woman, a supportive wife, an exemplary mother, a role model and a visionary leader.”
She said, “evidently, her purposeful life
touched and inspired Nigerians. As we
mourn her, it is appropriate to reflect
upon the significance of her
contributions and to draw from the
lessons learned from her exemplary
“Understandably, commentaries about
Maryam as First Lady shall continue to
highlight her flagship initiative which is
Better Life for Rural Women Programme.
Yet, her efforts extended well beyond a
singular focus on rural women. Although
rural women were her focal point,
Nigerian women, as her primary
constituency, benefitted from her
“Every Nigerian administration makes
concerted efforts to address the low
status of women and girls in our society.
Yet, despite ratifying several
international conventions to address
gender inequalities, governments’
responses are generally slow and
hesitant. But the Babangida
administration was exceptional in this
regard because it substantially expanded political, social and economic
opportunities for Nigerian women.”
Giving evidence she further narrated that, “first, there was the quantum leap in the number of women appointed into key public institutions at all levels. For example, political reforms by Babangida administration mandated the appointment of at least one woman
into local government, state and federal
executive councils and the governing
boards of institutions. The impact of this public policy, which is now the norm,
“Secondly, this measure provided leadership training opportunities for women in male dominated domains. This was the era of ground-breaking appointments of Professor Grace Alele Williams as first woman Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian university, the late Maria Sokenu as managing director of Peoples Bank and Bola Kuforiji-Olubi as chair of the board of a major bank and many women, including this writer, as chairmen of local government councils.
“Thirdly, national development was boosted by women focused initiatives in education, health, and agriculture and micro – credit”.