The Women Association of Federal University Otuoke held the 4th Anniversary of her association and End –of – the year party with the theme “Together We Win” on the 13th of December, 2023 at the Post Graduate School Auditorium amidst pomp and pageantry. The beautiful WAFUO members turned up clad in their attires with the colours of the day which was White or Red T-shirt on jeans. It was clear that the women were ready for the festive season as they swayed to the melodious music from the DJ of the day trooping to the auditorium in their numbers for the occasion.
After the opening prayers and both the national anthem and university anthem were observed, the Public Relations Officer of WAFUO, Ms Mercy Ekott, welcomed formally the members of the high table which included the Vice Chancellor, Professor Teddy Charles Adias, who was also the Chief Host, His Wife and President of WAFUO, Dr. (Mrs) Lolo Adias, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Chris Onyema , the Ag. Registrar, Mr. Kenneth Sorandein , the Chairman of the occasion and Vice President of WAFUO, Professor Felicia Edu-Uwem Etim, and the speakers for the day, Dr. (Mrs) Christabel Onyema and Dr. (Mrs) Franca Okobo.
In his opening remarks, the Chief Host of the day, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Teddy Charles Adias , welcomed all present to the occasion describing them as “partners in progress” who had gathered to celebrate the success of a good year. He praised the association for its commitment to the welfare of the women and acknowledged that most of the women of the association have risen to leadership positions in the University. He assured the audience that WAFUO remains a beacon of hope, strength and unity for the University. He prayed that the women should while celebrating, take out a moment to reflect on the challenges in the society which include; the fight against gender discrimination and the fight against gender inequality. He thanked the WAFUO President for her role in keeping the fire burning in the association and promised that before the next International Women’s Day celebration, 2024, WAFUO would be sitting in the comfort of their new secretariat with a brand new crèche.
In her remarks, the Wife of the Vice Chancellor and President of WAFUO, Dr. (Mrs) Lolo Adias , expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the women for their contribution, dedication, commitment and unwavering support for the association throughout the year. She harped on the theme “Together We Win”, saying “it encapsulates the spirit of unity, collaboration and empowerment that we have fostered within the association”. According to her, the association had overcome challenges, celebrated accomplishments, individually and as a body throughout the years, and organized events like the International Women’s Day celebration and the maiden WAFUO Convention etc. In her speech, The President of WAFUO said “as we reflect on our progress and achievements we have made, it is important to acknowledge the collective efforts that has brought us here today. It is through our unity and collaboration that we have been able to make lasting impact on the life of our members”. She enjoined the women to continue uplifting and supporting one another, recognizing that we can only be stronger together.
She noted that in the coming year, WAFUO would expand its reach, engage with more women within our University community and further strengthen the association. She promised that the association will provide opportunity for personal and professional growth, advocate for gender equality and foster a supportive environment where every woman will feel valued and heard.
The Chairman of the occasion and Vice President of WAFUO, Professor Felicia Etim in her welcome speech , expressed happiness to chair the event, pointing out that in its four (4) years of existence, WAFUO has established herself as a registered entity with a constitution and determination to stay stronger together. She noted that WAFUO has been consistent in women and gender equality programmes, by participating in annual women’s day celebrations. She stated that “WAFUO initiated a crèche to support our young mothers and has empathized with one another during floods and the pandemic, thus creating an environment of inclusiveness even in diversity of societal backgrounds and vocations within us”. “We should strive to add value to WAFUO women around us by converting our merits to potentials and resources to active products in others’, she added.
The Vice President of WAFUO appreciated the President, praising her for her ‘dynamic ideas for leadership and innovations whose lofty ideas aided in pushing the modest welfare package through’. She also recognized the support from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Teddy Charles Adias who according to her, is a ‘pillar of strength to WAFUO’. She concluded by wishing everyone a very merry Christmas.
The first speaker for the day, Dr. (Mrs) Christabel Onyema of the English and Communications Department, FUO, in her presentation, drew from the theme of the occasion which was “Together We Win”. She started with a story as an analogy to illustrate oneness and togetherness. The story about how a dying man asked the son to break a single broomstick versus a bunch of broom sticks. The story according to her proved that when we stand together in unity, it is difficult to break us but when we are alone, we can easily be broken.
Dr. (Mrs) Onyema noted that there hasn’t been a time that women came together for a cause and failed to succeed and cited examples like the “ Bring Back Our Children” campaign and the Aba Women’s riot of 1924. She highlighted on a proverb which says “when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’, even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness”. Drawing inspiration from the bible, she said, God said “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a help meet for him”. And so it was a good thing for women to assist in home building. She concluded by calling on the men and the management to continue to support WAFUO.
The second speaker Dr. (Mrs) Franca Okumo of the Linguistics Department of FUO started her presentation in a very dramatic way by asking why the men were not dressed in the colours of the day which was red and white. In her topic which was “Break the Stereotypes!”, she dealt with the questions, ‘How can we as women break Stereotypes?’ and ‘Breaking Stereotypes and Overcoming Challenges Through Advocacy’. She said women need to come together and be a united force to be able to create a change. She cited examples of where society places women only in the kitchen and the “other room” whereas the men stays in the living room reading newspapers and watching TV. Also, colours are attributed to a child according to sex. For a male, the colour is blue while females go with pink. The Question she asked is ,who made it so?
Dr. Okumo noted that society still calls the woman the weaker sex and second class citizens only good in ‘other room’ affairs whereas, every woman is wired to multi task in the home between home management, kitchen affairs and taking care of the man. She stressed on the fact that there is also gender bias at the work place. Certain responsibilities are usually associated with the men, or certain positions of authority.
She enjoined that we stop the stereotyping, advising that women sometimes have to balance career and motherhood. According to her, most women juggle this effectively, citing herself as an example who had to handle motherhood and education at the same time. This, she stressed, made her stronger and definitely not the weaker sex. She advised that women do mental detoxification once in a while to sieve out the positives in their lives and run with it. This way, the women can keep their mental health so all the stereotypes will not affect their thoughts and psyche negatively.
The anniversary celebration featured dance drama, led by the Chief Security Officer, Madam Rosalyn Biobara Makalebh and her group, games, cake cutting, goodwill messages and dance.
The University Public Relations Officer Ms Mercy Ekott and a rising student comedian Ckukwuma Desmond aka ‘Talented’, anchored the programme.
Highpoint of the celebration was the distribution of welfare packages to financial members of the association.
From the Publications Unit