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Uju Kennedy: N64bn Needed By Women Affairs Ministry For Skill Acquisition, Other Plans 

She said Nigerian women need empowerment not handouts, and advocated for children to learn vocational skills.

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Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, has come out to clarify statements she made concerning her plans to bring empowerment to not only the women, but also children of Nigeria, especially though vocational empowerment.

At the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, she expatiated on how the Tinubu administration is committed to ending child marriage as well as  many gender-based societal ills through the use of data in partial fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

She highlighted the Child Right Act enacted in 35 states and FCT adding that amendments are needed for defaulters.

In an ARISE NEWS Interview on Tuesday, Ohanenye stated that a misunderstanding arose after her statement about ensuring that Nigerian students are compulsorily equipped with vocational skills to aid in alleviating poverty. This statement raised controversies after several person tagged it as a misplaced priority to turn children away from education.

According to the Minister, “I want my women empowered, I don’t want handouts any more. There’s been so much handouts  and at the end of the day, the women end up with nothing. 

“Poverty is increasing. Even everything we have been fighting, including female genital mutilation has increased from 5 states to 9 states.

“What I said is, even for the out of school children, if you want it to come down seriously rather than empowering their mothers, equally teach these children skills, which will get them ready to face the world and have a voice.”

She explained with an example saying that children can use Fridays to learn to produce hand-made goods that not not only they can use but also society too. She stated that her focus is on buying Nigerian made machines to establish functional factories for production to help in ensuring skill acquisition before students graduate. 

This implementation will apply to women and children in communities alike.

The minister approximated a budget of N64 billion to produce export worthy goods and enhance equipment in already established skill acquisition centres all over Nigeria amongst other things. 

She has promised to have a closed-door meeting with President Bola Tinubu and the Minister of Education to see that these steps are taken.  

The Minister also used the medium to address statements about her concerning a phone call she made about the UNICAL Sex-For-Grades scandal that took place within the year, where she contacted school officials but was allegedly said to place the blame on the students. Other news stated that she came out to deny the calls before latter retracting her statements and issuing an apology.

“I have never denied the call. I even came out on a video to repeat the same thing and for the interest of the girls, I needed to talk to them. I actually wanted to invite them over.

“And the issue of apologies, I did not apologize for standing by justice. I want justice to be done. I’ve even gone further. This is my exact word, ‘I stand with my women, I stand with justice.’ And if anybody has misunderstood me, I am sorry, but I still maintain that I stand with justice.”

On the the UNGA conference, Ohanenye stated her plans to promote trade facilitation where she promised Nigerian women access to the US market, and also shed light on the violation of the Child Rights Act through empowerment, the rule of law, and sensitization of the people.

“The sensitization involves following each area in the manner that they will understand,” the Minister stated. “Can you do this without rule of law? No. Can we do this without empowering them? No. Because if these three things are not there, how do you achieve that?”

Glamour Adah