Mrs Betsy Obaseki: Passionately Pursuing Humanitarian Projects That Impact The Life Of Women And The Girl Child


Her enthusiasm and passion for women and children rights, restoring the dignity and pride of place of the woman in society are remarkable. Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, wife of the Edo State governor is one of those well- rounded women who always see opportunities in uplifting humanity. For this woman of virtue, being the wife of the governor does not mean basking in the grandeur and trappings which come with that, but is rather an opportunity to channel her energy in working against those things in society that stifle the development of women and children.
She hit the ground running with a number of lofty humanitarian projects, one of which was to prioritize the issue of welfare of woman and children in Edo state. Mrs. Betsy Obaseki is also a strong advocate for programmes across the various Local Government Areas in Edo State to sensitize women of their rights, and in the effort, attracting the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) at efforts in helping women and children fight for their rights, seeking legislative reform to facilitate passing the bill on equal opportunity aimed at guaranteeing women elevation in political positions. She additionally appealed to the Edo State House of Assembly to pass two pending bills on gender violence elimination speedily. This appeal was timed to mark the International Women’s day celebration in Benin. The bills – Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill 2016 and Law to Eliminate Violence in Private and Public Place – have the potential to bridge the existing gap in gender issues. Mrs. Obaseki is a woman very passionate about the girl child and widows and that was the reason she and her husband adopted one hundred widows across the state.
Mrs. Obaseki believes an empowered woman makes the home and society better and happy and greatly frowns at violence against children and the vulnerable, always charging wealthy Nigerians to assist less privileged persons.
Over the past several months, Mrs. Obaseki has left indelible prints, not just on the sands of time but more so in the lives of many women, children and by extension families which she has touched with her humanitarian projects and benevolent nature.
Last month, 2,000 Edo women to got interest-free loans for business and according to the amiable lady with a heart of gold, the state government in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI), would soon commence the disbursement of interest-free loans to the two thousand women to grow their businesses in the state.
Mrs. Obaseki who said this while speaking on the activities of her pet project, Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise (EWAE), assured women leaders from the eighteen local government councils of the state, that the scope of the project has been expanded.
“The Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise initiative has been successful. We have recorded over 85 per cent success rate, and most of our women have done well. Due to this success, I have decided to expand the scope of the programme to include general enterprise that can grow the state’s economy and empower our people,” Mrs. Obaseki said.
She explained that there were several programmes in the bouquet of the Bank of Industry, designed to support the initiative, and grow the micro, small and medium enterprise sub-sectors. She added: “I am also working towards getting support and funding from outside the state and country as part of my contributions to the economy of the state.”
Saying the loan amount would be between fifty and one hundred thousand naira with a repayment period of six months, MrsObaseki said the criteria for qualifying for the loan facility includes membership of a registered cooperative that has serious and credible executives, whose members must be diligent traders who are ready to pay back the loans at the stipulated time.
Mrs. Obaseki intends to help the women in the state and her background in finance and economics is helping her do it in such a way that not only the women, but also the state’s exchequer can potentially benefit from it. She showed great initiative to realise that the economic and financial challenges of the women, especially the widows in the state, could not be remedied by monetary empowerment but by granting them access to a livelihood.
Using her influence as the Managing Director, MD, at the Bank of Industry Trust Company ,BOITC, she has been making moves to empower the women of Edo State, particularly the widows. In less than a month, she concluded plans to empower some 500 widows through animal husbandry, and carried this out during the recently concluded International Women’s Day celebration. This empowerment initiative was a huge statement from Mrs. Obaseki in more ways than one. Apart from the fact that it took those who had erstwhile accused her to the pillory and exposed them as myopic and ignorant, it also actualised part of the governor’s campaign promises during electioneering. During his campaign, Governor Obaseki promised to empower women even as he promised after the election that 35% of his political appointments would be women. He also promised to select some 100 widows and give them monthly stipend for the next four years, but she decided to take the plan a step further and develop the empowerment project for the widows by collaborating with Bank of Industry.
Added to the fact that the initiative would go in tandem with the governor’s plans for women empowerment, there is also the aspect of agriculture, which the empowerment programme has the potential to affect. In executing the programme, 40 chickens comprising 20 layers and 20 broilers of a special breed were given to each of the 500 widows. They will also be given the required feed for three months, and she assured them of a ready market for the produce from the chickens. Not to be forgotten is the potential this programme has to curb food shortage in the state. Basic things such as egg and chicken would flood the market and cause the prices of these items to drop in the market, while still serving as a steady source of revenue and food to these women and their children.
In a word, the First Lady has handed the 500 widows steady means to an income on a silver platter. They would not only have the means to an income, they would also have an employment to keep them busy and since it is animal husbandry, they could even combine it with another job if they wanted. She did not plan to leave them ignorant after giving them the money. Is it not often said that a fool and his gold are soon parted? She therefore organised a 1-day training programme on poultry production for the 500 widows in the state. The widows were trained on how to rear birds and that the empowerment would give them monthly stipends and boost the production of rural women, to tackle food shortages and poverty. Notably, she did not make it a partisan affair. Mrs .Obaseki revealed that the programme was for everybody, irrespective of whatever political leanings they may have. She later revealed that the programme would be extended to 1000 women in the future. Those who have benefitted from the programme so far are thoroughly grateful for it and see that it could offer them a new lease of life as far as their finances are concerned and have described the gesture as a good omen in their lives because it would make them self-sufficient as feeds were also given to them.
Mrs. Obaseki is not ignorant about the importance of health in a healthy society and progressive GDP. Recently, she also collaborated with the state chapter of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) to establish a special “Well Women’s Clinic’’.
Mrs. Obaseki who assured of the state’s government support to partner the association in the establishment of a youth friendly centre to handle the reproductive and other health issues of adolescents and youths, said this when she received officials of the association led by its President, DrAnthoniaNjoku, at the Government House in Benin, saying the goal of the present administration was to improve access to healthcare and to make the state a medical tourist destination.
Commending the association for being at the forefront in the promotion of improved healthcare services for women and adolescents, she pledged that her office will work more with the association.
“I am glad that you are up to the task; there is a lot of work to be done in the state.
“I will like to support the Well Women Clinic and youth friendly centre as my personal projects.
“I will like to institutionalise some of these projects and I will work with you, and by the grace of God, we will do a lot of things together in the state,’’ she said.
Already, there are on-going reforms in the state’s health system by the present administration in Edo State, including restrictions in schools of Nursing and Health Information, with a proposed establishment of clinics in market places.
Mrs. Obaseki is in the forefront of fighting against infant mortality in Edo State as well as the fight against malaria. She has been named Edo State Net Ambassador by the state committee on Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets campaign, 2017, thereby making her the face of the rollback malaria project in the state.
According to the committee, the choice of the first lady was deliberate given her role and untiring support in the fight against child and infant mortality across the state.
MrsObaseki has always expressed concern over the poor utilisation of mosquito nets in the state which she said was still below 30% coverage.
“I am concerned that our Communities are facing a high degree of malaria illnesses caused by the parasite transmitted by mosquito bite. This has caused us so many lives and made many of us to get sick in the past.
Malaria is still the cause of death of many pregnant women and children in our State.
Now, we can protect ourselves and our families from Malaria by hanging and sleeping inside the Long Lasting Insecticidal Net every night. She said.
Last year, she hosted about 1,000 Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, at the International Christian Centre, a camp in Uhogua in the outskirts of Benin, to an end of year feast, adding spark to the lives of the IDPs as they rejoiced in the spirit of the season. It is sure to be an annual ritual.
A vast population of Edo State believe Mrs. Obaseki is the next best thing to happen to Edo State.
Like her husband, MrsObaseki is a technocrat and financial expert who has had a very successful career. She is the Managing Director, BOI Investment and Trust Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Bank of Industry. As an Entrepreneur, she established Beeba Ventures Limited, a general merchandise company and grew the company’s operations in volume and earnings by developing a profitable and specialized line of product, involving fabrication of African heritage museum pieces in gold plated miniature sizes.
She holds a B.Sc and MSc. in Accounting from the University of Lagos and is an alumnus of the Kellog’s School of Business Executive Management Program, USA.
Her financial expertise is what many say would be very handy in addressing the challenges facing Edo women. During the campaign, Mrs. Obaseki bonded easily with Edo women and identified directly with their concerns. Furthermore, she knows exactly how to approach women issues to foster the advancement women inclusion and empowerment. As First Lady, with such professional background and strategic mindset, the agenda for women in business, women in politics, and women in governance is accorded the highest priority especially as the Godwin Obaseki administration is keen to enhance active women’s participation in governance and provide an enabling environment for Edo women to thrive.
Because of her excellent track record, sincerity of purpose and a golden heart to serve Edo women, they are assured there will be continuity, consolidation and Improvement of existing programmes aimed at women, which are critical to ensuring that Edo women are fully engaged to contribute their quota in governance, towards economic growth and development of the state.
They have great confidence in her to provide the platform to achieve the inclusion of women while at the same time addressing the challenges facing the girl child. Coupled with her husband’s managerial ingenuity, Edo State may soon come into an economic and agricultural boom, something the people have deserved for so long.
Undoubtedly, a new dawn for Edo women who see the first lady as a beacon of hope.

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