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Compulsory education for out-of-school children’ll curb violence – FCT traditional ruler’s wife

Gimbiya Hannatu Usman is the wife of a traditional ruler in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. As the chief coordinator of the Association of Traditional Leaders’ Wives in 17 chiefdoms, she leads a campaign against illiteracy, sexual and gender-based violence through her NGO, Hikmah Foundation.
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She told Daily Sun, recently that there was the need for government to take education to the doorsteps of out-of-school children while making it compulsory, with provide better pay for the facilitators of non-formal education, as increased levels of literacy and economic opportunities would keep youths out of thuggery and other unwholesome acts.

What gave birth to your NGO?

The NGO was founded to assist our husbands, the emirs. We resolved to come together to address the issues of gender-based violence in our communities, particularly among original inhabitant women.

We educate our people in our native languages while advocating for assistance for indigenous women who are victims of SGBV.

Considering the literacy level of FCT’s indigenous women, consequently there was nowhere victims could complain but during the COVID-19 pandemic, our indigenous women faced increased violence.

To start this organization, we had to rely on our husbands to achieve some milestones.

How many children have you been able to pull out of the illiteracy net?

Prior to establishing the association, I worked for my NGO, Hikmah Foundation, which is dedicated to providing educational chances for underprivileged children in our society. I have developed adult education centres in Kogi, Nasarawa, Taraba and the FCT since 2019. And our centres have graduated over 3,452 learners.

We raised the number of learners we had paid their WEAC and NECO fees to 1,640 over the years,

We hope to get our children who roam the streets daily off the streets to become literate and eventually enroll in formal education.

Do you also aspire to pull out the aged/ adults from the illiteracy net?

Our motivation is that education is for all. So, regardless of age, everyone should have access to a formal learning. The non-formal education curriculum and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education guide us in facilitating learning among aged people.

As a result, our work is applicable to people of all classes. Approximately 64 per cent of our graduates are elderly or senior citizens in our communities who require basic literacy for day-to-day tasks. For example, some of our courses will teach our senior citizens how to count, how to use cheque books in banks and other fundamental skills.

What would you say you have added as value to the system with your experience?

Since inception, the association has accomplished a great deal in areas such as advocacy against all forms of violence against women and girls, skill acquisition programmes for vulnerable women and youths, and having adult and non-formal education centres across the 17 chiefdoms of the FCT to provide a second-chance opportunity for women to have access to education, which is in line with the National Policy on Education for a country of equal opportunities. I also make efforts to mediate and provide survivor-centred services to SGBV victims.

As the coordinator of the association, what impact has your group made in building responsible society?

We have conducted school sensitization in the Federal Capital Territory to raise consciousness and understanding of gender discrimination, sexual and gender-based violence among indigenous peoples in six FCT area councils.

We arranged a town hall gathering to increase dialogue between old citizens and political representatives about gender discrimination, early marriage of girls, and sexual violence against women. We are conducting radio programmes in both the local and English languages on women’s access to justice, as well as assisting in the creation of the first code of standards for the administration of issues to do with SGBV within traditional institutions. So, as women, I think we have tried and are still counting on more activities in the coming days.

With the level of moral decadence, thuggery and youth restiveness in Nigeria, what is the way out?

Our people need to be sensitized to adjust their moral compass. The chiefs are trying; when cases come to the palace, the chief will try to advise the people on the right way to go, in accordance with norms, values and traditions of our people. Education is key.

Government should make it compulsory and take it to the residences of the out-of-school children and provide better pay for the facilitators of non-formal education. With increased level of literacy and economic opportunities, the youth will not be idle to go into in thuggery and other unwholesome acts.

How would you describe women participation in 2023 politics, were they given their rightful place to play politics? We are looking forward to hear the declaration of a woman as governor, maybe Adamawa State would be the first. This year’s election in FCT has swept up a woman to the commanding height of the Nigerian National Assembly.

The place for women in politics is improving and that a good reason to be excited. With all these good wins for women in this year’s elections, we hope that women see hope in contesting for election and consequently improve on them on participation.

Personally, I think a woman might be a better actor in addressing the issues of SGBV within the capital territory. For INEC, I believe they did their best but there is definitely room for improvement in certain areas.

Where did parents, especially mothers, miss it in raising godly and responsible children?

Our goal as parents is to raise responsible children. While many people do not know how to do this, there is no need for us to be ignorant. Poor parenting can make the child more prone to criminal behaviours and this will then affect the larger community. So, parents should be open to learning how not to be abusive to your child. Mothers should pay close attention to the children and not be dismissive of their emotions or opinions. Watch the kinds of friends the child keeps and gradually guide him or her to be a responsible citizen of the community.

If you were to be in National Assembly, what would you do differently?

This will be in the realm of wishful thinking, but, to play along with you, if I was a member of the National Assembly, all gender-related bills on the floor would have my full support. For example, the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, because it will reduce the under-representation of women in politics.

Joining my other female colleagues, we can jointly increase women participation in Nigerian National Assembly matters. Consequently, our Women should be able to leave the sidelines of politics, if we encourage women to take interest in legislative matters. Certainly, as wives of the chiefs, we are mothers to all, regardless of your interest or opinion on various issues.

If you were to be your state governor, what would you do differently?

It is just regrettable that there are no elected governors in the FCT, unlike in other states in Nigeria. Again, as a governor in Nigeria, I will condemn and support effort to combat SGBV and commit to ensuring the offenders bear the full force of the law. Yes!

I will increase protection for women and children by seeing to it that the Child Rights and Violence Against Persons acts are domesticated. Additionally, I will put more funding to support NGOs like the Association of Wives of Traditional Rulers for speedy fight against SGBV.

The Sun

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