By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has flayed the perceived nonchalance of some critical stakeholders in the efforts to end the menace of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the country
Mrs Buhari, who spoke at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum, in Abuja, accused the authorities of paying lip service to the pursuit of justice for survivors of SGBV.
She noted that justice delayed was justice denied, and called for the establishment of special courts to expedite action against cases of GBV as well as decimate all obstacles against the education of the girl-child.
According to her, “Efforts need to be ramped up to provide adequate shelter and care for victims of gender-based violence. Every State should have a shelter, ideally, every local government or at least a Senatorial district should have one.
“It is also very important to have Sexual Assault Referral Centers or Safe Spaces where victims can receive the required immediate and long-term support.
“We need special courts where applicable, for speedy and effective handling of rape and GBV cases. Justice delayed is justice denied. If victims do not get the justice they deserve, they will never have closure and we would like for them to be known as Survivors and not just victims.
“The Girl-Child in Nigeria will continue to be a victim of exploitation and missed opportunities if we do not remove all obstacles they face in getting a decent education, and becoming productive members of society. An educated girl will become a wife who is in a position to add value to her family.
“State Governments and the donor community need to ensure that there is adequate funding for GBV interventions. Without this, the lofty laws, we are trying to put in place will not be implemented.
“We all have a role to play in ensuring that we address this menace. We have an obligation to use whatever platforms we have to make a difference. Policy makers, elected officials, religious leaders, traditional rulers, academics, family members, we all have a role to play. Let us synergise our efforts for maximum effectiveness.”
In his remarks, the Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the Forum was committed to the drive by their wives to curb the menace of SGBV; hence, the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act in 31 states including the FCT
He added that the remaining six states yet to assent to the VAPP law “will gradually do so.”
“Governors are resolutely committed to what the governors’ wives forum is doing. It makes economic, political and common sense to line up behind you in order to be able to deliver all the promises that have been made to the people,” the Ekiti Governor said.
Speaking on the theme of the conference: ‘Sustaining Action on the State of Emergency against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’, Ekiti First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, who incidentally chairs the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum, called for urgent action.
“We need to ensure adequate funding of all interventions, respond effectively to the needs of survivors, intensify strategies for prevention of GBV and collect relevant data for analysis and planning,” she said.