Ladies and gentlemen, today is not the end, it is the beginning of a new life for the three hundred and sixty eight girls who have just been drilled, reformed and polished during the course of the 2-weeks summer boot camp. I am definitely the happiest person on earth today, because although I am committed to reshaping the future of young girls through the BEMORE Summer Boot Camp, I had serious doubt as to the possibility of holding this year’s summer boot camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant effect on funds. However, our commitment to transform the nation through girl-child education was obviously stronger than our fears, and because of our doggedness and the support of well-meaning Nigerians, today we are glad to induct these beautiful and strong-willed young girls into the BEMORE Girls Army.
Of course the technical and financial challenges that were a result of the Covid-19 pandemic could not deter me from fulfilling the BEMORE cause because I am aware of how bad our country continues to deteriorate as a result of high level gender inequality that pervades virtually all socio-economic spaces. To turn a blind eye to this injustice and ignominy is foolishness at its core and I will surely not be a part of such. Hillary Clinton detached herself from this foolishness when she noted that “the subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world”. According to The Economist report, after America toppled the Taliban-led Afgan government in 2001 and female education rose from 0% to 80%, there was a remarkable 50% reduction in infant mortality.
Now we are wondering why insecurity is becoming more popular in Nigeria by the day; it’s simple! A country that allows proliferation of sexist family laws, unequal property rights, early marriage for girls, patrilocal marriage, polygamy, son preference, violence against women and legal indulgence of it; such country is almost certain to experience violent instability. If indeed we are concerned about the prosperity and security of this country called Nigeria, we must begin to invest in our girls. As I once said, our greatest error as a nation has been and continues to be; denying the girl child equal access to quality education by upholding cultural norms and traditions that discriminate against them. It is not too late to turn the tides and right the wrong. Join me to empower the girl children for a prosperous Nation.
I am building an army of female technology leaders to serve Nigeria and solve Nigerian problems. They will not become professionals for export, good only for sending back dollars to parents and relatives “tufiakwa”. We have instilled a sense of patriotism. They will become “a breed without greed” in words and deeds. They will use their talents, knowledge and skills to serve Nigeria not the Western world.
My girls, two weeks have come and gone but many more weeks lie ahead of you. Take all you have learned to heart and work so hard to make Grandma proud. I believe in you so believe in yourself. Never let anyone tell you “you can’t”. I can assure you that you now have the required skill to conquer the world. Go to your communities and mentor more girls. They are your comrades and together you all shall rise. Rise for a better Nigeria; rise for a better Africa.
I truly appreciate everyone who has devoted their time and resources to empowering these beautiful girls. I thank the BEMORE Team (including the matrons). Ashdam, Matrix Lab and all other technical partners, you are amazing, thank you. I will also like to express my gratitude to everyone who donated to sponsor these girls.