BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Women, a hidden force for community development

...As Mbaise elite women float league in PH

Women, through top education and economic emancipation, have broken from being home attendants to manager and have finally emerged as a force for community development.

Now, while men form groups to pool resources together to develop their communities and support worthy causes, women have joined in creating community development groups.

One such group in Port Harcourt is the Mbaise Women League (MWL) which is a constellation of top and active wives, mostly professionals married to Mbaise men who live in Port Harcourt.

As the league clocks 37 years, the women chose their 2022 cultural day to recount what they have executed over the years as well as launch a bigger venture. They also gave out awards to deserving members and some pillars around them.

The league has stoop up now to build a civic centre back home in Mbaise. Such centres not only serve the socio-cultural role of event centres but also earn steady revenue and employ some hands as labour. The 2022 event was organized to trap funding to execute the worthy project.

The president of MWL, Stella Anyanka-Ufomaduh, in her welcome address, recounted past community and social ventures successfully executed.

She stated thus: “The Mbaise Women League is not new to community development and has been involved in diverse ways including: Donations to the launching of Imo State Airport, Motherless Baby homes, Compasionate Homes, and homes of the elderly;

“Donations to assist the sick through the then commissioner of health, Denmi Fibersima;

“Yearly scholarships in all the LGAs at the New Yam Festival to total of 15 secondary schools and technical schools;

“League members’ children scholarships through the “Dr. Dominic Akpalabas’ Endowment Fund (in memory) by Mrs. Stella Akpalaba;

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“The league also commits to assisting members in need within our capacity.”

She situated the special cultural day, saying; “To contribute her quota to the development of the Mbaise nation by giving awards to members and other reputable members of the society towards the initiative of building a civic centre back home in Mbaise. It is our prayer and hope that by your support and encouragement it would become a reality.”

Outlining the place of the league in time and space, Anyanka-Ufomaduh reiterated the role of women, saying the main reason behind the formation of the association (MWL) is to unite the Mbaise wives because wives are the backbone of their husbands. She explained the eligibility clause, saying membership includes women legally married to an Mbaise son, irrespective of her ethnicity or tribe.

Mbaise is made up of the five old clans: Agbaja, Ahiara, Ekwereazu, Ezinihitte, and Oke-Ovuru. Today, these clans are lumped in three administrative units in the form of local councils: Aboh-Mbaise, Ahia-Azu, and Ezinihite LGAs.

“A society or people without a culture would be like a tree without a root, permit me to say that Mbaise has very rich cultural heritage irrespective of different beliefs and thoughts,” she said.

The event attracted presence or grace of top monarchs and dignitaries including the chairman, an Okenze, Felix Amadi (Whekubi), royal father of the day, his royal highness, J.C. Ebii Ntuala Nnamoha V Umunama, Ezinihitte Mbaise, the father of day, a Barrister, Cyril Anyanwu (who is the President General of Ezuruezu Mbaise), and the mother of the day, the retired justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Odili.

The president explained that at 37 years, the MWL appreciated all their members by giving awards to various categories viz: pioneer Members (those that are 37 years as members); pillars of the league (those that are 30 years as members); and stars of league (those that are 25 years as members).

The president said MWL comprises of the young and old wise women of different calibers. “I cannot end without mentioning the immediate past president, Caro Ngozi, whom I took over from, for keeping MWL running in spite of the deadly virus that quieted the world.

“And to all the members of MWL
especially Mummy Anthonia Ibekweour (Matron), the zonal leaders, planning committee, the Vice President and entire EXCO who I am privileged to work with in this great association.”

The women paid huge respects to their founding president, a lolo, Celestina Nworgu, who was said to have worked hard to nurture the idea and move the women stars forward into a formidable community development group.

Some of the women that received the highest membership legacy award of being 37 years is a lolo, Charity Ohaegbule, wife of a high chief, George Ohaegbule from Mbutu-Nweorie autonomous community of Aboah-Mbaise LGA. She is a retired secretary and administrative giant.

Also decorated as Adaugo One of Mbaise Women League is Lucy Ubah Onyechere, a philanthropist who has been giving scholarships to many.

She is regarded as a woman of peace whose desire and aim is never to hurt anyone and who is known to always seek the co-existence of all irrespective of economic, educational, social, spiritual, and political status.

She is a hard working woman, a mother of eight, who is proud to perform her matrimonial duties as well as church, office, and business responsibilities excellently.

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