An Address Delivered by Her Excellency, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu at the Award Ceremony and Programme Organized by Imo Newspaper Publishers Association (INPA) 20th of September, 2019.
I feel truly honored to be considered for such a prestigious award from the Imo Newspaper Publishers Association, a well-respected association with high standing reputation in unbiased news reporting. Knowing the association’s reputation, I am humbled by this award and equally encouraged to never stop impacting lives for a sustainable society. Not that my will to give to the society is steered by appreciation and kind words from recipients, in fact if it was, I will probably be inactive in community service and philanthropy by now, because the society we live in hardly see any good in whatever kind act one does. Quite a number of Nigerians are quick to believe there is an ulterior motive to every philanthropic act.
This mindset is by far the greatest distraction to everyone looking to impact the society in one or the other. The reason we are yet to achieve significant progress in our quest for a developed and sustainable nation is to a large extent a result of our negative response to kind acts. For me, I believe if you will do good, you must shut your eyes to whatever accolades you think your good deserves. All the developmental project I have initiated and implemented are driven by passion and are a result of all I have experienced from childhood. As a child I noticed how the girl-children were systematically raised to be of little or no value to the society.
Well-constructed in our culture are practices that clip the wings of the girl-child, shut the mouths of the women folk and blind the eyes of the society to this injustice. After traveling far and wide to see what obtains in the more developed world, I realized we have done ourselves a great disservice as a race to limit the women folk and offer them little or no opportunity when compared to their male counterpart. I saw how women have significantly contributed to development in other climes and I knew even if it means my life, I will stop at nothing to see the emancipation of African women.
It is in my quest to fulfilling this mission that I initiated the BEMORE Emporwerment Programme through my foundation, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation. The programme which runs as a two weeks summer boot camp, is aimed at bridging the gender gap in STEM and empowering girls to become complete leaders who are able pilot the affairs of our nation effectively. So far, we have trained more than a thousand girls in ICT, solar technology and all sort of life enhancing skills. Central to my heart also is women’s health and wellbeing.
I am particularly concerned about the alarming rate at which women are dying from breast and cervical cancer. Having experienced breast cancer 22 years ago, I know the pain every family goes through when a member is diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t stand aside and watch thousands of women in Nigeria lose their lives to breast cancer yearly. Their pain is my pain, their suffering is my suffering, I feel every bit of it and so I must be their voice, I must get the message out there and get everyone to act to improve cancer control and care in this country.
Many achievements have been made since I and my team at the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria began to invest in awareness and advocacy in 1997. One achievement I am very proud of is the decision of the Ondo State government to build a context-appropriate comprehensive cancer treatment center in Ondo state. This became possible after a series of advocacy visit to both the legislative and executive arms of the state government.
With this commitment, we have been able to attract the highest ranking universities in the World to partner with us in the establishment of this world class center. Dana-Farber Cancer Center of Harvard University already signed an MoU with the state government in this regard and Heidelberg University of Germany is about to follow suit. Once again, my sincere appreciation goes to Imo Newspaper Publishers Association for considering me worthy of this award.
I want to use this platform to speak to all publishers and journalists in Nigeria to continue to strive for high level professionalism in their journalism. Journalists have a critical role to play in development. You shape our appearance and make us either attractive or unattractive on criminal s and corrupt ion at the international space. Not to say that you stories, but should you must equally pay much attention to pedal down good news. Let the world see more of our good than our bad. We are already experiencing what Chimam Adichie termed “The danger of a single story”.
People from an da more developed countries who have never been to Niger ia have the belie f that Nigeria is a country where virtually everyone is fraudulent, lives in mud houses and does no good. This is not true and you are in the best position to make them know that we have people doing amazing things both home and abroad.