In strengthening the support of the United Nations system to the Nigerian Government for a violence-free elections, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in partnership with Media Awareness and Information for All Network (MAIN) and West African Women Association (WAWA) has organised a women sensitisation and interactive forum titled, ‘Mothers Speak – 2015 Elections: Say No to violence’.
Speaking on the occasion, the UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, charged the women to speak out against electoral violence. ‘In a situation of violence’, he continued, ‘women and children are the worst hit, therefore, women should raise their voices to say ‘No’ to violence and demand for peace before, during and after the general elections.’
The National Information Officer added that no nation could thrive and develop in an atmosphere of violence and conflict. He called on mothers to caution their children and discourage their husbands from getting involved in acts of violence.
Delivering a keynote message on the occasion, the Executive Director of Women in Politics and Government (WINPOGOV), Barrister (Ms) Obiageli Obi, called on women to join hands to promote peace and tolerance, love and respect in homes, work places, in the media and everywhere. ‘Let us openly condemn violence wherever we see it perpetrated regardless of who is doing so. We have nothing to lose by so doing, but everything to lose by keeping silent, she added.
Explaining the rationale behind the programme, the Team Leader of Media Awareness and Information for All Network (MAIN), Mr Wole Aboyade, acknowledged the critical role of women in the society and the urgent need for their voices to be heard in the call for violence-free elections. He reiterated that women had the power to douse the political tension if they spoke out. ‘A mother’s voice is powerful and tingling in the ears of her children and pleasing in the hearts of her husband.’ Aboyade added.
In her message, the Focal Person of West African Women Association (WAWA), Mrs Beatrice Ubeku, noted that there was something special about women’s voices and actions. She continued that ‘dropping our voice at this moment is not doing us good. Let us make a clear statement about our thoughts and what we want. Let us raise our voice in one accord to say mothers stand for violence-free and free and fair elections’
Earlier, the ‘Mothers Speak’ advocate, Mr Louis Obasi, had explained that ‘Mothers Speak’ was not a one day programme that ends today, but a beginning of a process towards problem solving, with the voices of women as mothers making a difference in the sustenance of an enduring and peaceful democracy.
Seventy-nine women and eight men from ten Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the media attended the programme held at the Library Auditorium of the United Nations Information Centre, (UNIC) Lagos.