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Senator (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu

UNGA 78: First Lady, governors’ wives move to address ‘Japa’ syndrome

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Sept. 19, 2023

Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady of Nigeria, has called on the diasporas to contribute their quota to the “Renewed Hope Agenda” of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

She also called on Nigerian youths to have hope in the efforts of the current administration to deliver on the dividends of democracy and provide for their basic needs.

According to the UN, in 2022, 26,400 Nigerian citizens requested asylum abroad while 27,000 Nigerian citizens were recognised as refuges and granted protection in 2022.

Mrs. Tinubu made the call on Monday at the New York 2023 Nigeria Economic Growth and Trade Summit with the theme “Stemming Migration Flows by Providing Basic Needs’’ at Nigeria House in New York.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the summit was organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) .

The first lady said while migration could offer new opportunities and experiences, it also presented risks and challenges that could manifest in brain drain.

“The brain drain phenomenon where highly skilled individuals leave their home country for supposedly better prospects abroad, is a concern for many African nations, depriving them of their expertise and talents needed for sustainable growth.

“In our various communities, we must work towards creating conditions and providing basic needs that allow people to thrive by providing access to qualitative education and an enabling environment for job creation.

“And the development of local industries that will create viable economic opportunities.

“We must revamp our healthcare sector to ensure basic health care services are accessible to all.

“Improve health care conditions and stronger social support system that discourage migration driven by health concerns.

“Also, combating food security by investing in sustainable agricultural programs, especially in rural areas, can reduce the pressure of rural urban migration.

“I can’t over emphasise the need for conflict resolution and promotion of  peace and stability in regions prone to violence,’’ she said.

Mrs. Tinubu, however, commended the first ladies for their initiative, noting that complementing the efforts of their husbands would enhance economic empowerment in their respective states.

She said by fostering collaboration and unity amongst  themselves, they had been able to achieve a lot more by learning from one another.

“The Renewed Hope Initiative is an initiative that we just started, aimed at creating a better life for families.

“Our scope covers agriculture, education, economic empowerment, health and social investment, focusing on women and the youth, who are the bedrock of the society.

“As youths account for 70 per cent of our population and women represent 49.6 per cent of the population, I believe that schemes which focus on empowering this demographic, coupled with an enabling environment, will gradually begin to reverse the negative trend of migration.’’

She told the wives of the governors that as first ladies, their roles as leaders, were critical to driving sustainable change within their communities.

“You must work together with government agencies to complement and support the establishment of laws that protect human rights and provide equal opportunities.

“Policy reforms that encourage skilled individuals to return home after obtaining educational experience abroad, can help reverse the dream.

“We must continue to acknowledge the good work that international agencies, well-meaning individuals in the diaspora and in the private sector, are doing in our nation.

“Through fora like this, we can encourage diaspora engagement and establish avenues for Nigerians living abroad to contribute to the country’s development through investment, knowledge sharing, and collaborations which can help mitigate the negative effects of brain drain.’’

The first lady urged Nigerians to foster a positive narrative, celebrate their cultural heritage, national achievements and promote a sense of pride in Nigeria.

According to her, Nigeria is on the brink of a major economic recovery of buoyancy.

She charged Nigerian youths to learn the virtues of patience and resilience as everyone continued to work as a collective  to help build a greater and better Nigeria.

Also speaking, Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum Chairperson, Mrs. Olufolake AbdulRazaq, the wife of Kwara State Governor, called for support to provide basic needs for the citizens to stem migration flows.

AbdulRazaq expressed hope that the deliberations and outcome of the summit would further create stronger partnerships and credible responses with lasting effects that would assuage the emigration concerns as well as aid shared prosperity.

“We hope everyone will support the forum in all her programmes for New York in 2024 as we look forward to participating in Women’s  month in March  2024 and UNGA.

“We hope to deepen all engagements formed in realising our common goals to the benefit of our country and the glory of God,’’ she said.

NAN reports that no fewer than 12 wives of the governors were at the event.

They included the first ladies of Oyo State, Mrs. Tamunominini Makinde; Ogun, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun; Imo, Mrs. Chioma Uzodimma; and Gombe, Hajiya Asma’u Yahaya.

Also in attendance were the first Ladies of Lagos State, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu;   Borno, Mrs. Falmata Zulum and Kogi, Hajiya Rashidat Yahaya Bello.

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