Hajiya Laraba M. Shua'ibu
2016 FIDA Africa Regional Congress Report
The FIDA Africa Regional Congress held from 26th – 30th, November 2016 at Abuja – Nigeria. The Theme of the Congress was “Gender Parity in Africa: Challenges and the Journey So Far.” The Congress, organised to represent a wholesome experience touching on the various facets of FIDA’s work across Africa and drawing on the rich African culture, intellect and strength as well as traditional values of generosity and compassion, began with arrival of delegates from Friday, 25th November, 2016.
Day One – Outreach to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp at Sabo Kuchigoro, Abuja – Nigeria.
On Saturday, 26th FIDANs donning branded T-Shirts and Jeans with FIDA hats or face caps and in the company of the FIDA International President – Jethlyn Burrows, went for an Outreach at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp at Sabon Kuchigoro – Abuja. Leveraging on FIDA (Nigeria) Abuja Branch’s partnership with the Abuja Branch of Women Optometrists in Nigeria, eye care services were provided at the Outreach for the IDPs. The Optometrists taught participants about caring for the eyes, they consulted and gave out free medicated glasses to people who required them.
An Abuja-based NGO – Health Aid for All Initiative also partnered with FIDA and taught them how to care for themselves during their monthly cycle. This NGO produces sanitary wear made from locally sourced clothing materials and each pack of sanitary wear has a life span of three years. The use of the product was demonstrated to the residents of the Camp and one of the IDP women volunteered and re-demonstrated what had been taught to the admiration of all. One hundred packs of sanitary wear were distributed to the women.
FIDANs donated several items including food, educational materials, clothings for the IDPs. A total of 300 packaged bags containing rice, maize, millet, salt, detergent, toilet soap and washing soap as well as clothing items were distributed to the adult members of the IDP Community. Everyone was also given a pack of cooked food and water. Some educational resources were also donated to the IDP’s School. A disc jockey was on hand to entertain the audience with music and jokes.
Day Two- Cultural Extravaganza
The beauty of the host Country – Nigeria, her culture and food were beautifully showcased from 6:00pm on Sunday 27th November during an even tagged Cultural Extravaganza at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja. FIDANs were gaily dressed in various traditional attires and the foreign delegates – FIDA International President – Jethlyn Burrows, Country Vice President (FIDA Cameroon) – Gladys Luku Mbuya and Country Vice President (FIDA United Kingdom) – Jessi Nwabueze were not left out. FIDANs showcased their regional attires by explaining the cultural value and significance behind various pieces of fabrics and items worn. The fun began when, led by the Country Vice President (FIDA Nigeria) – Inime Aguma, all local Branch Chairpersons of FIDA Nigeria present came to the podium to welcome delegates in their local dialects. The evening was anchored by Ngozi Okogbue, Alternate Chair of the Regional Congress Planning Committee and Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, the Public Relations Officer of FIDA (Nigeria) Abuja Branch. There was cultural troupe display of various traditional Nigerian dances and for the evening’s meal, delegates and participants were treated to a cross section of delicacies across Nigeria’s three major tribes – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. It was indeed a rich experience which was a delight to the palate and a true African culinary statement!
Day Three – Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony began at 6:00pm on Monday 28th November, 2016 at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja. Dignitaries present included the FIDA International President – Jethlyn Burrows, Regional Vice President (Africa) Laraba M. Shuaibu, Country Vice President (Nigeria) Inime Aguma, Presidemt, Nigeria Bar Association – Mr. A. B. Mahmoud SAN, Hon. Justice K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun (JSC) representing the Chief Justice of Nigeria – Mohammed Mahmud (JSC), Chief Judge of the F.C.T. – Hon. Justice Ishaq U. Bello, Mr. Y. H. Wodi – Solicitor-General F.C.T. representing the Hon. Minister, F.C.T., Mrs. Mary Ekpere representing Nigeria’s First Lady – Mrs. Aisha Buhari. The Chairman of the occasion was Asiwaju Adegboyega S. Awomolo SAN. Ace broadcaster, Inya Ode introduced the Keynote Speaker – Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu. The paper topic was – Gender Parity in Africa: Challenges and the Journey so far. The full text of the paper is featured in this Report. The event was anchored by the talented and vivacious Mrs. Dayp Benjamins-Laniyi. The evening was rounded up with the Convener and Jethlyn Burrows presenting FIDA Crystal Plaques to honour the partnership and support of the Keynote Speaker, President, Court of Appeal – Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa (PCA) and the Chairman of the Occasion. A photo session and the Opening Cocktail followed to close the day’s activities.
Day Four – Plenary Sessions and Congress Dinner
The activities of Tuesday 29th November, 2016 began at 10:26am. Following the recognition of special guests at the occasion, the students of Junior Secondary School, Area 1, Garki, Abuja presented a Playlet titled “Benefits of Gender Parity” and a debate session on the theme of the Congress which set the theme for the discussions in the plenary sessions that followed.
Moderated by Mrs. Amina Salihu an expert in gender, the first Plenary Session featured a Panel discussion on gender parity from different perspectives – Politics, Governance and Decision Making, Law and the Legal Profession, Economic and Social Rights and the Perspectives from Development Partners. The Panelists were Dr. Ejiro Otive-Igbuzor, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Prof. Dakas C.J. Dakas SAN and Dr. Elizabeth Ama Oji. The Moderator invited the audience to engage the panelists in a conversation in order to ensure a rich discourse.