The Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, (MAN), Oron in Akwa Ibom state; Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua (rtd) has mobilized the Girl Child students and their teachers in private and public schools for enlightenment on the endless opportunities and possibilities that await them if they do not succumb to traditions and beliefs that stall their aspirations.
Beginning with a seminar for teenage girls in public/private secondary schools within the host communities of the Academy and beyond, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, over 500 female students and their teachers attended a seminar at the Academy’s new Auditorium.
With the theme “Empowering the Girl Child for the 21st Century Nigeria”, the Rector led other members of his management team, staffs and Cadets of the Academy to participate in the seminar for the teenage girls drawn from secondary schools within and outside Oron.
In his opening remarks, Commodore Duja Effedua stated that the exercise became necessary in order to expose the girl child to certain contemporary and prevalent issues in the Nigerian society which have adversely affected the personality, dreams, growth and development of young women in our society.
The Rector also condemned retrogressive traditions and tendencies by parents/guardians and those who were supposed to be role models who have deliberately or ignorantly neglected, marginalized and discriminated against the girl child in preference for male children, just to gratify some societal customs, one of which was the belief that the life of the girl child should either end in the kitchen or some menial vocation.
Describing such attitude as illogical, unforgivable, bigoted and barbaric in a modern society, Commodore Effedua stressed that the seminar was also aimed at protecting young girls from falling victims to the dangers associated with certain customs/beliefs, bad decision-making, bad company and other untoward behavior/attitudes that can destroy their dreams and future.
According to him “The Academy decided to engage experts to talk about the girl child in view of what has been observed to be the case previously even within the Academy community. We do not want any irresponsible person to hijack or mortgage the future of these young minds. No, that cannot happen under my watch
“They are our children and the future of this country. We have a responsibility to create a conducive environment and opportunities for them to realize their dreams without the slightest hindrance. The girl child must never be seen as inferior to their male counterparts”.
Also speaking a two-time Commissioner for Education and Women Affairs in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Eunice Thomas, a prominent advocate of the rights and fair treatment of the girl child, presented a paper titled “Self Discovery for Increased Productivity”.
The paper focused mainly on what goals are and how to achieve them. It exposed members of the audience to reasons why some people succeed while others fail in life as well as gave tips on how best results could be derived from vision, dreams and action.
In her presentation, Editor of The Nigerian Maritime News, Mrs. Ezinne Chinwe Azunna, challenged the girls to know that irrespective of where they were born or the circumstances they presently may find themselves, they have no excuses not to become who/what they want to be.
Ezinne’s paper stressed that excellence is not the exclusive blessing for any gender, but a common gift imbued in everyone by Nature. She made reference to Goal Number Five of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which, in part, is “to foster gender equality and women empowerment, to know their rights and have confidence to claim them”.
She gave examples of those who against all odds excelled in life and she encouraged the students to have extra confidence to dare to dream above their limitations.
The visiting student and teachers were taken on a facility tour of the Academy to behold the beauty and serenity which ongoing restructuring has brought to bear at the Academy.