On behalf of the government and people of Imo State, I am indeed, honoured to bring you our sincere felicitations on the occasion of this year’s Imo Women’s Day Celebration. An event,such as this, where women come together to pray, praise God and celebrate, demonstrates the profound sisterhood among our women. In addition, it affords us the opportunity to pay tributes to our wives, mothers and sisters for their countless contributions to the “Rebuild Imo Agenda.”

2. Here, in Igbo-land, your contributions have been legendary. Your sacrifices resonate in the family, community, State and the nation in general. Right from the colonial days, our women have always stood in the gap. When it was time to resist oppression, they were not found wanting. They confronted the colonial masters in the now famous Aba Women Revolution. Indeed, a revolution it was, because it brought change and stopped the move by the colonial masters to tax our women. Up until today, whether as Umuada, Aladinma or other community women groups,you have been watchdogs, pillars of support, and strong forces for community good. You are the hands that rock the cradle, which rules the world.

3. I am most delighted to note that major highlights of today’s programme include prayers, praise and worship to Almighty God for his power, provisions and protection over Imo State. Indeed, we have every cause to be grateful to God for delivering Imo State from the hands of selfish leaders, whose only mission in power, is primitive accumulation of wealth. There are yet others, who want to achieve power by subverting the sovereign will of the people. God has delivered us from them all. We, therefore, look forward to a refreshing Christmas season and to thank God for his mercies in keeping us alive to see the end of the year. Furthermore, we beseech Him to grant us good health, security, prosperity and wisdom in the coming New Year.

4. This government esteems our women highly. As a result, we have achieved significant participation of women in all our programmes. In addition, there are special packages targeting women. Recently, we trained 250 women in partnership with Microsoft on Computer Coding and Web development. Most of them have already gained employment. Similarly, over 550 Imo youths, including a substantial number of young women, benefitted from our Youth-in-Agriculture capacity-building programme.

5. I am indeed, very pleased with the theme you have chosen for this convention: “Unlocking the potentials of our children with good nutrition.” This is very timely as its comes against the background of the UNICEF report which placed Imo last, among South East states, in the incidence of stunted growth among Under-5 children. This situation is very unacceptable given the high literacy rate of our women. However, I am aware that this is the result of poor policies of the immediate past government. I am delighted to assure you that the present Imo State Government is set to reverse this negative trend.

6. Consequently, in the 2020 Budget, adequate provisions have been made towards improving the health of all Imolites, especially infants and women of child-bearing age. Our emphases include stemming childhood malnutrition, reduction of maternal mortality rate to its barest minimum and zero tolerance to the prevalence of out-of-school children, especially girls. I have directed the Ministries of health and education to work out an effective programme of ensuring healthy nutrition for children especially the Under-5s, promoting sanitation, personal hygiene and carrying out routine immunization.

7. In the same vein, the Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Group Affairs has been charged to redouble its efforts to combat traditions, attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate gender discrimination. On this score, we are giving a renewed emphasis towards the realization of the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), especially goals numbers 3, 4, 5, and 7, which deal with Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality as well as Affordable and Clean Energy, respectively.

8. On this note, our beloved wives, devoted mothers and esteemed sisters, I urge you all to continue to support the “Rebuild Imo Project.” When Imo works, it is for our good and the good of our children. Imo bu nke anyi.It is the sacrifices we make today that would yield tomorrow’s harvest. So let us work together, pray together, keep our communities clean, take adequate care of our children and keep the charge wherever you are working. In all these, as we show faith in this collective enterprise, Almighty God, is sure to reward our efforts with peace and prosperity.

9. I hope you would really have a splendid outing as I wish you all a Merry Christmas ahead and, indeed, a prosperous New Year.