By Debo Akinbami
In another letter titled ‘A woman’s worth in Betty’s words’, there was the delibrate underlining of the concrete feminine concern of the wife of Ondo State governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, so that her zealous attention to matters of women should be well countenanced and her pace taken seriously by many. This is because records show that she has done plethora good in the various fronts to make the female population better in her state. Betty, by popular reckoning, has done something for every category of women since the Akeredolu-led government began in 2017.
She did not come entirely for women, but her heart beats differently for a woman, particularly the weak and impregnable. This has been proven, through her motley of creative interventions, for the umpteenth time, and with undisguised fervour. The notion becomes even more believable when one finds the rare strength to lift heavy political veil, when one weighs carefully her thoughts and works for womenfolk. Meanwhile, far ahead of her taking the tag of a governor’s wife, she has her route well taken. Being a governor’s spouse has only placed her on a peculiar tribune and now confronts her with the enormity of the challenges, the constraints limiting women from reaching their best.
But there are doubts. Such ubiquitous disbeliefs that have almost thrown many among us up as circumstantial ingrates, as ready pessimists who would draw insatiable pleasure from being suspicious of government’s intents and actions. And sadly, this has reached a point where it has turned a convenient culture since successive governments have repeatedly reneged on promises and throw commitments to the winds. Now as a hardened habit, we now have grown so untrusting that even blatantly beneficial interventions, so long it bears political insignia, are swiftly scorned.
The doubts, dangerously, have snowballed to threats, mocking government’s well- meaning intents. But for this morbid mindset that we have in our hands to heal, certain governmental actions should take astounding applause. I refer to those exceptional actions that are critically purposed to enhance the quality of lives of the underdogs; those programmes particularly targeted at bettering the lots of the malleable class, as exampled by the sterling strides Betty has since wrought in her capacity as the First Lady in Ondo State.
When she came, queens of monarchs became more visible. Regents gained more influence within and beyond their domains, widows received significant support and expectant mothers got solid succor. Cancer- carrying women found ready and consistent prop. Her coming has also markedly reduced the ravaging rate of sexual and gender abuses in the state. She came and swelled the percentage of female functionaries in government while she encouraged more women into both elective and appointive positions, doing all so that a woman could matter more.
These manifest commitments, notwithstanding, she wanted more for the womenfolk. She holds dear to heart the dream to make more Nigerian women feel secured and better by laying lasting socioeconomic bricks for them, and quite successfully, she found in ‘BEMORE’ excellent expression for her dream of building self-dependent girls who would in the near future change the conservative narratives and redefine the worth of women.
And that is what she has done, and still does. One only needs to meet any of the summer school graduates to appreciate the difference they have become through BEMORE. The success stories are gratifying. Ehinmosan Tolu, who on holding a soldering iron for the first time during BEMORE’s bootcamp was rudely scared is now a brilliantly burgeoning engineer who, by performance, is changing the stereotypical worldview that engineering is exclusively for boys. Christianah Madu Feechi, built by BEMORE, is now a certified Solar engineer making waves to the wow of many. This list is now long, including that of Abimbola who during the closure of schools due to pandemic designed a website on the strength of programming skills she learned at the BEMORE Summer boot Camp.
BEMORE offers the girls invaluable preparations. It is one superlative intervention of its large-hearted author that should command the commitment of every right- thinking citizen. The annual bootcamp that has since been yeilding exceptional results has brought evident difference to the girls’ outlook on life through delibrate trainings in leadership skills, Solar Technology, Digital marketing and other enabling skills, personal hygiene, among other life-enabling skills should attract all and sundry to itself for success.
Enthused by her products, Betty said, “BEMORE girls are empowered to become future technology leaders in ICT and Solar Technology, mentored to be innovative, bold and self aware that girls matter in the society. They have been exposed to various apprenticeship and trainings (even in self defence such as takwendo) that now arm them to be self-reliant and cope with life’s challenges. With them, such nasty experiences where bestial men take advantage of a girl’s vulnerability is over. We are deliberately modeling these young girls to stave off the cultural and religious ill tides around the womenfolk thereby changing the narrative about women.”
Even now, with more than a thousand girls already exposed and empowered through what she dubbed ‘A university of life’, there is no doubting that the First Lady is fast succeeding. The last being the 2019 edition which brought the number of beneficiaries to a thousand, more harvests of champions would have been made but for the Covid-19 ravaged year 2020. And barring any fortuitous hitch, in few weeks from today, a new set of girls, in their hundreds, would commence the two-week life-changing trainings at the 2021 BEMORE Summer Bootcamp.
With a woman, every page counts for Mrs. Akeredolu. She’s firm and unpretentious about what she stands for, irrespective. She has beaten the path so well she now knows the limiting factors and can deal with them creatively. And in fact, she has, successfully and significantly dealt with the concerns by raising different women who now can break hitherto impossible barriers. Answering why women? The First Lady said: “Women are very important to any society. As a matter of fact, any society that wishes to truly evolve must place primacy on the development of women.” This is what Betty does with BEMORE.