By Samuel Ayara

At the advent of the Udom Emmanuel administration, so much had already headed south in our social values; everyone agrees that the launch of the DAKKADA philosophy was an ethical and moral rebirth the state was in dire need of, as it prompted the citizenry to the possibility of their dreams; once the passion is right. Succeeding weeks witnessed a remarkable shift from the regular and the blind needed no prompting to realize a new order had been enshrined.

Iban inno uyioooo! This salutation effortlessly got women yelling their lives out to affirm they were on ground. This practice nearly robbed our society of the possibility of a future that positioned women for leadership, beyond the court jester roles of inflating egos of people who thought them species eternally condemned to servitude. The darkness that came with this practice held no end in sight as it grew from bad to worse, up to the sad recurrence of women abandonment at events by men who saw them as items of ostensible trade.

Until last four years, feminine engagement on political and social fronts struggled with little success and employed the beggarly patronage of the much-touted “Affirmative action”; this meant the women were condemned to only getting what the men were ready to part with. The pre-2015 era saw women either pitied or reminded of restrictions our gender-sensitive society foisted on them; which painted a terribly bleak picture of their capabilities and competencies.

Sad and determined to initiate an action that will permanently change the narrative, the Governor’s wife, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel, like a caterpillar, burrowed through the difficult trenches of despair with the launch of her Globally renowned pet project, the Family Empowerment and Youths Reorientation Programme (FEYReP). Through which she confronted the monster of negative gender biases by advocating safe spaces for the women, believing they could thrive and favourably compete if spared the prejudices of gender discrimination.

A movement that began like a political front, like those before it, veered into an advocacy that took no consideration of ethnic leaning, social inclination and political bent. While others before FEYReP only extended its net as far as politics could permit, Martha Emmanuel in the making of an upwardly bound productive women front abhorred every perspective that could have relegate her vision for the women to politics alone and invested every strand of humanity in her, to see it work.

Rather than begin with the polling units, she saw secondary school outreaches as the brooding ground for her vision, in doing so, she fought bravely to preserve girl children who are yet to be caught in the web that made women settle for less. Felting morality and commend ethical values in the girl child, she has done more than catching them young, and has built a perceivably valuable future from the rubbles of the past.

Emphasizing the virtues of self preservation, contentment, honesty, entrepreneurship, hard work and chastity the Governor’s wife has severally extended her motherly touch beyond advising the girl child, to providing them listening ears and waiting arms to bear their concerns, through the provision of school items and other gifts geared towards making their adolescent lives less stressful. These interventions have built the girl child to resist the temptations unfavourable economic situations could throw at them.

Wild prevalence of sexual molestations, rape and defilement of young girls had become the order of the day for a time known only to God; leaving the victims to the mercies of the daredevil threats dished them by their molesters. Had Mother Martha restricted her reach to the polling units, these anomalies would have likely gone on without a voice to challenge it. Her tender heart and compassionate disposition has helped several victims who today have found the strength in Martha’s voice to speak up and seek help.

In this regard, FEYRep’s partnership with the Federation of Female Lawyers has thrown up more revelations than could ever have been thought of, errant parents, relations and adults who indulge such despicable vice of sexually abusing girl children are having their days in court, with some already convicted and serving their jail terms. The most startling of Martha’s advocacy at creating a safe space for the women, is the consideration of how broken and desolate these abused children could have grown into the future.

The bitterness and cruelty of sexual exploitation is better imagined than experienced, and living through such memories could be terribly traumatizing for victims who may take to vendetta if justice is not considered served on those who exploited them. This realization rightly should stir us to appreciating how much the Governor’s wife has saved the future from bearing the angst of a few misguided elements. Not only focusing on the girl child, her interest in the wellbeing of the boy child has been faultless, as the society cannot afford the risk of raising a morally and ethically adequate female populace for a morally and ethically bankrupt male society.

Standing twice taller at deploying globally renowned reintegration approach for victims to come through as champions, Dr. Martha Emmanuel has adopted more children than anyone in our clime ever attempted, all in a bid to ensuring they never return to environments where vestiges of their terrible pasts could hurt their strive to a fulfilled livelihood. For her, getting it right from the basic is all that matters in raising a society where gender parity is not robed in beggarly attires, but everyone without prejudice allowed equal opportunities and a level playground.

In lifting economically vulnerable families from obscurity to the light of financial independence Dr. Martha Emmanuel is not called “Eka Unwana” for the fun of it, tales of her charity inundates our clime. It is no news that she is also actively looking out for men who are unable to meet up with family responsibilities. Through this leg of her interventions, scores have become house owners, thousands trained and empowered in various trades and vocations, while countless small and medium enterprises keep springing up to add verve to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s industrialization policy.

Political inclusion for women has never been more energized; coming from an era of the infamous “Chibok girls” where women were treated far less than a bargain could consider, because they were viewed as inexperienced and not capable of holding an opinion. With Martha Emmanuel, the hallway of women political fame is paved with grandeur and respect that betrays any powerbroker who would seek to exploit Akwa Ibom women. Events of recent past have shown that women could attend to very critical issues from their homes like their male counterparts and their judgments equally considered as valid.

Attempting a mention of the number of women that have been politically empowered through appointments and elective positions would amount to emphasizing the obvious, which culminates in the numerous accolades the current State administration has earned, even as it sustains the deliberate effort of scaling up the already impressive quota of women engagement in leadership.

Without sounding immodest, it is a widely held opinion, that Martha Udom’s FEYReP is the deepest of social interventions by a Governor’s wife in this part of the globe. It stretches past women politicians as its dragnet encapsulates young and old people of both genders, regardless of their orientation, even as the deep-rooted entrepreneurial slant it leans towards has dealt our polity a positive socioeconomic shift.

Deserving of every global, national and local honours and recognitions in her kitty it is pertinent to note as the curtain falls on the penultimate year of the twenty-first century’s second decade that providence landed us the rare fortune of having an Angel whose caste has been repositioning, strengthening and empowering the family front – the core of every society.

Beyond Governor Udom Emmanuel’s tenure, future generations will find a faultless consensus that when it mattered most, MARTHA UDOM EMMANUEL gave her all.

Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak Local Government Area

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