By Patrick Ochei
The memories of the quintessential First of the First Ladies of Nigeria, Late Dr. Mrs. Maryam Ndidi Babangida would be resonated soon through a Memorial Lecture.
Mrs. Babangida was born into the Okogwu’s family of Asaba on November 1, 1948. She died on December 27, 2009 after battling Ovarian Cancer for years.
Today’s glamour and pomp that characterize the office of the First Lady of Nigeria started with her. She activated the office, gave it visibility and changed the history of the Nigerian Woman through her pet project – The Better Life Programme for Rural Women.
Though it is a sad narrative that after eight years of her demise, the recollection of her existence and essence is just manifesting in the form of this initiative for an Annual Lecture series. Well, it is better late than never; the Maiden Memorial Lecture has finally been billed to hold on November 4th, 2017, to commemorate her birthday some seventy years ago and crystalize her indelible memoir.
One man who has been working tirelessly to get this legacy initiative inaugurated is the Late Maryam Babangida’s elder brother, Amb. Leo Okogwu.
Briefing the Press, the former Special Envoy to Bulgaria posited that Maryam Ndidi Babangida was a complete human being who by passion and hard-work brought succour to the Nigerian women through her Better Life Programme for Rural Women, which she unveiled in 1987. And based on this initiative, over 300,000 cottage industries were recorded in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
According to Chief Okogwu, “Observing the trends in this country, one notes that few, comparatively very few Nigerians appear to remember this icon whose good works appear to be receding with the ever retreating horizon. This is very unfair. It is to arrest this trend that it was conceived, after due consultations, to set up an Initiative called “Maryam Ndidi Babangida Annual Memorial Lecture”, which will hold annually to remember her life and times of joys and pains serving the Nigerian women and indeed mankind”.
For the event which will be chaired by HRM Obi Martha Dunkwu, Omu Anioma; the First Lady of Nigeria, Hajia Aisha Buhari had been invited as the Special Guest of Honour while Dr. Fati E. Ibrahim will be Guest Speaker.
Others invited are First Lady of Delta State, Dame Edith Okowa as Guest of Honour, Chief Mrs. Folorunso Alakija as Distinguished Guest of Honour, and His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State is the Chief Host.
Moreover, the venue for the occasion is the Unity Hall of Government House, Asaba, due to the fact that the Maryam Babangida Women Development Centre, being built by the Delta State Government has not yet been commissioned.