With deep passion and commitment towards rapidly turning around the fortunes of the vulnerable segment of the country, the Wife of Nigeria’s President, Her Excellency Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has in the last one year made appreciable progress in this regard.
The vulnerable groups in the country comprising women, children, and persons with disability, constitute about 70% of Nigeria’s population and are an integral part of the society.
Available statistics reveals that about one in every six child die before the age of five in the country. While available evidence suggests that improved access to adequate healthcare holds great potential for improved child survival, previous studies indicate that there are substantial barriers to accessing healthcare in Nigeria.
It is in the light of this discovery that the Future Assured Initiative, which is a program of the Wife of the President, was conceived. The Initiative which is also partly borne out of her age-long concern for the well-being of the Citizens of Nigeria, particularly women, children and other vulnerable members of the society is part of her strategy of complementing the present administration’s goals of improving the health of the citizens of the country in so many ways.
Prompted by the need to quickly achieve her set goals, and improve the current poor health outcomes of the vulnerable groups of the Nigerian population, the Wife of the President, weeks after the inauguration of the present administration, committed to being an Advocacy Champion to galvanize the support of women, women groups and other stakeholders towards a coordinated and result-driven action plan on maternal and child healthcare.
Her Excellency, Mr. Buhari reaffirmed her commitment to consistently working towards achieving the desired objective of improving the health and well-being of the citizens of Nigeria at a stakeholders meeting held at the presidential Villa and a Public launch of Her Future Assured programme at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York on the 30th of September 2015.
Since the launch of the Future Assured Program, Mrs. Buhari has pursued the actualization of its objective with equal, if not, greater zest, than she has employed in the last ten years, in pursuit of her passion for Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology. A seasoned administrator, Mrs. Buhari, has a Masters Degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies, MIASS, from the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, Kaduna, and a Bachelor of Arts, BA Degree in Public Administration from Ambrose Ali University, AAU, Ekpoma.
She has, however, made a success of her passion in Beauty Therapy, as the Founder and Managing Director of Hanzy Spa and Principal of Hanzy Beauty Institute, Kaduna, and Abuja, Nigeria, having bagged a diploma in Beauty Therapy from the Carlton Institute of Beauty Therapy, Windsor, United Kingdom. She is currently undertaking a Counseling Course on Co-Dependency in the United Kingdom.
And In her role as the wife of Nigeria’s president, Mrs. Buhari, has not put her passion aside, even when pursuing and assuming a greater purpose of adding beauty and color to the lives of the vulnerable segment of the society through her program.
Some of the achievements of the program in the last one year are summarized as follows:
Few days after the inauguration of the present administration, Her Excellency, Mrs. Buhari embarked on a journey to improve the health of 2,000 women in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country by providing them with basic and effective medical interventions. Through Her Excellency’s “women Health Initiative” medical outreach programme, Ten thousand one hundred and seventy-eight (10,178) women particularly those in hard to reach areas have been screened for different ailments including Breast cancer, cervical cancer, hypertension, diabetes, eye and dental checks in three of the six geopolitical zones in the country. The plan is to extend these services to the remaining three geopolitical zones with an eventual transition to all the states and local governments in the country.
Similar outreach medical screening programmes were also conducted in Katsina and Ogun State through H.Es FUTURE ASSURED programme, where about 962 school children were screened for sickle cell disease in Katsina State for the purpose of knowing their genotype. The objective is to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and provide the children with the opportunity to know their genotype so they can make informed premarital decisions regarding choice of their future partners. About 5,000 individuals were also offered free eye screening tests, blood sugar, and blood pressure checks in Abeokuta on the 25th of March 2015. The objective is to raise awareness about the importance of having good eyesight and the need for regular eye screening. Individuals were also treated for treatable eye conditions and those requiring eyeglasses were also offered free glasses to enhance their visions. It is also hoped that the initiative will also contribute to the realisation of the WHO vision 2020 global initiative of eliminating avoidable causes of blindness by the year 2020.
As a way of improving the nutritional status of pregnant women and also encouraging them to come to health facilities for medical care, Her Excellency has initiated a nutritional programme of support by providing pregnant women with fortified formula milk in major government hospitals accross the country, most especially in the northern part where hospital attendance among pregnant women has always been low. So far over one hundred thousand (100,000) women have benefitted from this programme. This initiative has had a positive impact on the nutritional status of pregnant women and their health seeking behaviour during the implementing period.
Improving the Health and well being of Internally Displaced Population and other vulnerable groups.
Other disadvantaged and vulnerable groups close to H.E’s heart are women and children in IDPs and orphans. In the last few months, her Excellency has significantly contributed towards the improvement of health and well-being of these groups through the donation of food materials, commodities such as soaps, detergents, sanitary towels for women, and essential medicines to IDP camps and orphanages across the country. A total of about 15 trucks of relief materials has so been donated by Her Excellency in different IDP camps across the country. During a recent visit to one of the orphanages in the federal capital territory, H.E also advocated for recognition of the importance of caregiving and educational pursuit for the children. As a way of improving the well-being and sanitary conditions of the IDPs, Her Excellency recently constructed a bore hole at Wasa community and 2 boreholes at two different IDP camps within the FCT. These laudable efforts of providing clean and safe drinking water would no doubt have a positive impact on the incidence of water-related infections and diseases within the localities.
Participation at International meetings and conferences
In recognition of the fact that Nigeria is part of the global community and based on the premise that global problems are shared problems requiring a global approach to resolving most of them, Her Excellency participated in some key international meetings and conferences that have both National and Global significance.
One of such conferences was on transnational crime in Geneva, Switzerland. She was accompanied by a powerful delegation of women from diverse backgrounds; amongst them were wives of Governors including those from states ravaged by insurgency, women legislators, and other stakeholders relevant to the conference. The theme of the conference was centred around preventing extremism and terrorism, the roles of the state, community, family, and women. Her Excellency presented a paper and was able to make meaningful contributions to high-level discussions on the subject matter. The country-specific experiences shared and the lessons learnt from the meeting will no doubt be useful in developing and formulating community-based intervention strategies against extremism and terrorism. Her Excellency was also at the Head Quarters of the Global Fund, where she advocated for enhanced collaborations and multi-lateral co-operations on issues affecting women in the developing world. Additionally, Her Excellency also reassured them of the commitment of the present administration to fight corruption and improve accountability in the Public sector.
Her Excellency also played one of her traditional roles as the wife of the President of the Federal Republic when invited to name one of the Ships in the fleet of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas procured in South Korea. In addition to naming the ship, Her Excellency also met with the leadership of KOICA. KOICA is the Korean international Cooperation Agency which provides development support to countries across the world. During the meeting, Her Excellency expressed optimism of improved relations and collaborations in her priority areas vulnerable women and children.
Other International meetings attended by Her Excellency and her delegates include international conference on Women rights and affirmative action, and Women empowerment summit held in Argentina and Dubai respectively. Her Excellency actively participated and contributed immensely to the discussions on some of the issues she has always been passionate and concerned about – women.
Mrs. Buhari also recently launched her book, “The Essentials of Beauty Therapy” and had the proceeds from the launch donated entirely to the parents of the Chibok Girls, in commemoration of their two years in captivity.
Reprieve no doubt seems to have come the way of Nigerian Women, Children and other vulnerable segments of the country, with Mrs. Buhari in the saddle and her unalloyed commitment to the advancement of their causes. Like the local proverb which holds that the shade of the day can be determined by the happenings of the morning, it is safe to assert that, Mrs. Buhari’s achievement in the last one year, presents a glimpse of greater things to come in the years ahead, for these group of people, who often are left with the crumbs of Nigeria’s collective patrimony.