NCWD DG, Asabe Bashir, and her vision for Nigerian women

Earlier this week, Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir took over the helms of power as Director General and CEO, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD). Asabe, a former member of Borno House of Assembly and the House of Representatives, unveiled her vision for the Nigeria women. In this report, CHIZOBA OGBECHE examines her vision to re-structure, re-position and re-brand towards empowering the Nigerian women.

President Muhammadu Buhari on February 15, 2021, approved the appointment of Dr Asabe Vilita-Bashir as the new Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD).

The appointment was made known in a statement signed by the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen.

According to the statement, Vilita-Bashir will take over the mantle of leadership of NCWD on April 12, from Mrs Mary Ekpere-Ita, who had completed her term in office.

“Vilita-Bashir is a celebrated academic, a woman of substance and of course, a mother to many. The passion and burning desire to enlarge the frontiers of women development, inclusion in social affairs and amplifying their voices on issues did not suddenly emanate from the blues,” the statement said.

The woman, her passion

For Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir a celebrated academic, a woman of substance and of course, a mother to many. Her passion and burning desire to enlarge the frontiers of women development, inclusion in social affairs and amplifying their voices on issues did not suddenly emanate from the blues.

Growing up in the late 60s, from a humble background, like millions of other Nigerian girls in her Limankara

Community, Gwoza local government area of Borno state, her innocuous mind was directed to the fact that women deserved much more than they were getting in her immediate environment in terms of education, equal opportunity at workplace and indeed in the table of decision-making.

Determined to make a difference, shatter the glass ceiling and bring succour to the helpless and vulnerable in the society, after her primary and secondary education in 1979 and 1984 respectively, with the necessary assistance and support from her

family, she proceeded to the University of Maiduguri where she obtained her First Degree in Chemistry and Mathematics in 1988.

A kind-hearted soul, a woman of candour and unpretentious humility, she knew a tree couldn’t make a forest and this influenced her decision to mentor others when in 1989 she decided to take up a career as a lecturer in the Department of Education of her alma mater, a fulfilling experience that lasted till 2003.

The dream of obtaining a PhD in Educational Philosophy came to fruition in the year 2002 shortly before she left the classroom.

Understanding that the political space would be a more virile platform to positively impact a larger number of people and bring to bear her years of experience in the nation’s developmental discourse, she joined partisan politics and was in 1997 elected into the Borno State House of Assembly. And this feat was repeated in 2003.

Her outstanding performance which hinged on the welfare, growth, and development of her people while in the Assembly did not go unnoticed as she was pencilled down for an assignment in the Borno State Executive Council when she was in 2005 appointed a commissioner in 2005.

Her administrative dexterity saw her in the council, for nearly a decade, traversing across various ministries as commissioner.

After the milestone in the council, she heeded her people’s call to represent them at the National Assembly as House of Representatives members Gwoza, Damboa and Chibok Federal Constituency of Borno state in 2015.

While in the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019, she was the Deputy Chairman, Women in Parliament.

She also sponsored a Bill to ensure that all girl-children are taken from street to schools in the North, particularly her North-east zone where insurgency has further exacerbated the challenge of out-of-school children.

Aside the area of education, she deployed a robust advocacy mechanism in ensuring that the vulnerable group in Borno, particularly women and children, were given adequate care and attention.

Blessed with heart of gold, this dogged and relentless activist leads at the forefront in efforts to lift the burden of those under the weight of insurgency.

Aside numerous intervention projects she initiated and completed, she made numerous cash donations to cushion the effects of hardship on her people of Gwoza, Damboa and Chibok Federal Constituency. With the Vilita Bashir Foundation, which was officially launched in 2000 with the cardinal aim of touching lives, Dr. Aisha has over 100 students and widows on monthly stipends to assist them in their studies and cushion the effects of economic downturn.

A highly detribalised and cosmopolitan goal getter, she enjoys the support and buy-in of critical stakeholders within and outside the shores of our great country.

There appears to be a consensus that with Dr. Asabe at the helms of affairs in the NCWD it is indeed a new dawn and the beginning of a better bargain for Nigerian women.

Unveiling her vision

Speaking at the formal take-over, Monday in Abuja, the new DG and CEO unveiled her vision for Nigerian women to “re-structure, re-position and re-brand.”

The new NCWD boss said: “I make bold, to say that I will bring my wealth of experience to bear, so that this monumental Resource Centre can further gain both wider national and international recognitions.

“In this vein, we shall re-structure, re-position and re-brand the Centre, for optimum results, towards empowering the Nigerian women; and for overall national development.”

According to her, “I stand before you today, to declare that the NCWD is now a “New Born Baby”, therefore, we must nurture it together. In this regard, let us stand up as patriots, to further nurture her; to further protect her; and to further develop her together.

“As joint stakeholders, the Centre is one of our own avenues of contributing directly to Nigeria’s development, and the development of Nigerian women in particular.

“Being a strong advocate of gender equality and women’s rights; under my leadership, the Centre will further synergize and continue to collaborate with all relevant women organisations and stakeholders, both nationally and internationally, to ensure that the challenges hindering women emancipation and development are drastically combated.”

Challenging the workforce at the Centre, she noted that, “To achieve these goals, all hands must be on deck. We all need to continue to remain diligent and passionate with the jobs we are all employed to do. We are all here, because government believed that we have something to offer; first, for the progress of the Centre, as well as overall national development.

“On my part, I will strive as much as possible, to tap all the required resources and ensure that a very friendly and progressive working environment is provided for the teeming work-force, for optimum productivity and greater results to be achieved; particularly, in the area of Internal Revenue Generation (IGR).”

The new NCWD boss pledged that she would “work towards consensus with all segments of society including relevant government agencies, financial institutions of which the Central Bank is key, international organisations such as the UN-Women, European Union, ECOWAS, and civil society amongst others.

“We will work towards deepening women engagement in politics especially as we head towards 2023 general elections,” she added.

African women conference hails appointment

Co-conveners of African Women Conference, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, in a press statement in Abuja, hailed the appointment of Dr. Asabe as NCWD DG.

The co-convener, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari over the appointment, said described the DG as a woman of profound character, integrity, hard work and dedicated to the services of humanity.

She pledged the group’s readiness to support any programme or policy that would contribute to nation building especially addressing challenges of women, children and education in the country.

The group, however, urged the DG to use her present position to focus more on bottom top approach on the development of women, stressing that rural women are more vulnerable.

“We are very delighted over the appointment of Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir, as the director-general of the National Centre for Women Development by President Muhammadu Buhari. It is a well-deserved appointment.

“Going by her pedigree as a lawmaker and astute politician, she is a woman who has contributed immensely to nation building especially on issues that affect women and children. Also, at the regional and continental levels, she has been a voice to the voiceless.

“We, therefore, call on her to use her present position to focus more on the development of rural women who are more vulnerable in the present economic realities, and we are ready to support her in the implementation of programmes and policies gear towards the development of women and children in the country,” the statement read in part.

….Women living with disability too

The Network of Disabled Women (NDW) has lauded the appointment of the NCWD DG and called on her to prioritise the growth and development of women especially those living with disabilities.

President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the network, Lois Auta-Udonkanta, in a press statement noted that women with disabilities were not being adequately carried along in trainings by the centre.

She also noted the increasing number of unemployed people living with disabilities in the country, stating that the lack of inclusion remained the bane to their economic empowerment and development.

“One of the reasons persons with disabilities are excluded from employment is that they encounter barriers to participation in education and training, so they are denied access to the skills they need to find jobs or set up their own businesses.

“Traditionally, when persons with disabilities have been offered vocational skills training, it has been in sheltered, segregated settings where persons with disabilities are congregated and supervised or trained by persons outside those groups.

“These are often the main vocational skill building opportunities open to them, but they contain inherent challenges for those interested in educating themselves to enter the open labour market.

“Persons with disabilities do not learn the social and soft skills that are needed in an open, competitive job market as they miss the necessary exposure to that market.

“Skills taught are often segregated by type of impairment or chosen based on what is considered appropriate for a certain type of impairment rather than on the students’ own interests or abilities,” she added.

The CEO stressed the need for sheltered training programmes for women with disabilities, saying this would enable a significant number of disabled women to gain employment and therefore become economically empowered.

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