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Handmaidens WILS 2019: A gathering Nigeria needs

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The intimidating crowd that surged into the Convention Center of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Tuesday June 25, 2019, to celebrate the 2019 edition of Handmaidens Women in Leadership Series, WILS, with the theme, Leading Women Building Legacies, was a testimony to the quality of Nigerian women that ply their high profile trade within and beyond the shores of Nigeria.

This was a day that a staggering 4,000 Nigerian women were empowered after a complex skill acquisition training, a glowing day that hope became reality for many a woman even as their health and future well being became the subject of incisive intellectual discourse.

Coordinating the avalanche of events on the day, Mrs Morin Desalu, paid due respect to many revered dignitaries that covered the length and breadth of the hall, with a special and deserving attention to the Chief Host, a rare humanitarian, a lawyer with over 30 years post bar experience, and holder of Doctor of Laws, Siju Iluyomade.

Kicking off with splendid praise and worship session, which was supervised by the Voices of Zion, the event paused for the recitation of the two stanzas of the national anthem. The rendition was a beauty to behold as almost every soul in the centre participated, singing with fresh and renewed patriotic spirit. The atmosphere was simply a renaissance of love and unity among Nigerians.

Then came time for the Special Guests of Honour to give their addresses, and the First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, set the ball rolling.

In her speech, she encouraged Nigerians, especially women, to put in their best in developing Nigeria, prophesying that “soon, foreigners will be rushing to Nigeria the same way Nigerians are rushing to other countries”, adding that ‘it will happen in our time’

In her contribution, the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun encouraged the women on the need to be self-reliant and striving to academically and otherwise develop and invest in themselves through reading among other things.

She said: “I learnt everything I know, especially during childbirth and afterwards from reading books.”

She told women to make reading a habit, and endeavour to be a total mother.

In her short speech, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs Gbajabiamila stressed that “women and anything about women is my passion”.

At this stage, the hall was enlivened with the sonorous voice of Enitan Adaba, who led all through a session of high worship. The session gave way to the inspirational speech of Mrs Sanwo-Olu, the First Lady of Lagos State.

Sanwo-Olu, who brought glad tidings from the state governor on his 54th birthday, affirmed that Lagos is committed to the welfare of the citizens, especially women.

With the representative of the first families of represented states done with their speeches, Pastor Iluyomade, the founder and convener of much talked about Arise Women’s Conference heartily delivered a welcome message where she cautioned that “greed can bring your legacy down”, drawing inference from Proverbs 31, the women’s rights and gender equality advocate spoke without equivocation on the need for gender equality.

The highlight of the event was the keynote address delivered by the very respected Oncology Haematologist and Cancer Geneticist, at the University of Chicago, Prof, Mrs, Olufunmilayo Olopade.

Olapade, among many of her admonitions, urged the government of Nigeria to provide the required amenities and enabling environment for doctors to perform optimally.

She also charged the First Ladies to take up the banner of ensuring that drugs are made available in various hospitals to make it easy for patients to get at affordable prices.

The address was followed with the presentation of Born to Aspire awards to three deserving women, that included veteran actress, Joke Sylva, Osayi Alile and Morin Desalu. The Chief Host and indeed Founder and Promoter of WILS, Pastor Iluyomade was also presented with the Original Born to Aspire award.

The event was rounded off with a panel discussion. The panel comprising 10 accomplished professionals and anchored by Osayi Alile, CEO, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, deliberated on How to Build Legacies to Last.

Other members of the panel were Bolanle Austen-Peters, TY Bello, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Prof. Sade Ogunsola, Prof. Enase Okonedo, Funke Bucknor Obruthe, Cecilia Akintomide, Kofo Akinkugbe, Dorothy Atake, and Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro.

Other dignitaries that attended the event included Mrs Bolaji Momodu, Mrs Quincy Akindele and a host of others.

WILS 2019 was undoubtedly a statement in intellectual discourse, in highbrow quality attendance and spelt class in event concept and flawless execution. The organisational power of the event managers evidently guided by Dr Siju was palpable with the excellence in precision and tempo as the event moved from one agendum in the programme to the other. It was simply a day of bliss and glamour amidst deep intellectual discourse on societal issues, prognosis and diagnosis.


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