John Cardinal Onaiyekan on Tuesday urged Nigerians to defend and safeguard their communities to promote integrity and security in the country.
Onaiyekan made the call at a four-day National Workshop organised by Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP), in collaboration with Lux Terra Leadership Foundation in Abuja.
Theme of the workshop is: “The Role of Women and Women Organisations in Promoting Integrity and Security in Nigeria.’’
He said that the workshop reflect on corruption and security which was a burning issues from the point of view of the role of women and women organisations.
Cardinal said integrity and security were basic conditions for peace and prosperity in any nation, adding that Nigerians were expected to be promoters of integrity and security in communities.
According to him, beyond political class, it is the responsibility of all citizens to be honest with their neighbours and to be one another`s keeper.
We are all, therefore, expected to be promoters of integrity and security in our communities.
We should stop eulogising our village people of dubious wealth. We should be ready to defend and safeguard our communities.
“In all this, there is much role for women and their organisations. A lot can be achieved without making much noise.
“Our nation is very much in need of their specific feminine contributions in our present dysfunctional society,’’ he said.
Onaiyekan said the system offers little opportunity for women to perform, in an often violent and rough contest, adding that the role of women had been marginal and minimal in political landscape.
He said that the few, who had managed to emerge, seem to have been swallowed up by the sea of menfolk.
The cleric said that the agitation to change the rules to create more space for women had made very little progress.
The struggle must continue, well beyond the first lady syndrome,’’ he said.
Also, Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs, said that in the midst of insecurity, women and children were particularly endangered and vulnerable.
Tallen said that various organisations, both international and national, have been advocating the need to addressing the role of women in promoting integrity and security in the country.
“The sensitisation has started from the federal to states up to the local levels; we all know that the role of women is very important, and we cannot continue to accepting that we are of a lower standard.
“Some of our women have stopped their girl-child from going to school, education of our girl-child is very important; it is only when they are educated that they can come up for political position.
“I am appealing to all parents to educate their girl-child, it is very important; it will enable them to fight for their right as such will help eliminate marginalisation among women,’’ she said.
The minister, however, urged women to always pray for protection of their children as well as the nation at large.
Earlier, Rev. Sr. Agatha Chikelue, Executive Director, COFP, said that the workshop was a sign of passion and commitment to promote good governance and security.
Chikelue said that women and children bear the brunt of violent extremism in the country, as most of them have been kidnapped, raped, battered, subjected to sexual slavery and sometimes used as suicide bombers.
“The trauma of losing spouses and children during conflicts further leaves unforgettable memories for many of us,’’ she said.
Chikelue called on the governments to effectively address some key structural elements which often serve as drivers and triggers to insecurity and violence in the country.
She appreciated the Lux Terra Leadership Foundation for collaborating with COFP, and thanked MacArthur Foundation for providing financial support in executing the project.
Commenting, CP Bala Ciroma, Commissioner of Police in FCT, said the workshop was a welcome idea, adding that the efforts would not only promote integrity and security, but would as well address peace and unity.
Ciroma, represented by CSP Funmi Kolawole, Gender Unit, FCT Command, Abuja, however, assured Nigerians, especially women and children of adequate security and protection of lives and property.