By Bianca Iboma-Emefu
Princess Ada Okeke-Amam is the managing director of Audit Nigeria Limited. For her efforts in curbing drug abuse, she has been recognized by the United Nations and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Her love for mankind motivated her to establish a non-governmental organisation through which she caters for the less privileged, ensuring that women receive, especially, support, training and empowerment.
She spoke to Daily Sun recently.
A brief background about yourself…
We were three children but two of my siblings died and I became an only child. It was so tough and rough coping with the situation. At a point, the experience became devastating but my father was able to help, through his soothing words.
What informed your decision to set up an NGO?
It was to provide support for women through a platform. I actually started with the club, Adorable Social Club of Nigeria, over a decade ago, then changed the name, six years ago, to the Adorable Foundation International.
My aim was to help give voice to women who were marginalized and equally suffered a great level of subjection. We have been able to empower widows and other vulnerable group, orphans and less privileged persons in the society.
The foundation is equally engaged in combating drug abuse and trafficking.
What are the activities of the NGO and how have you fared?
The foundation’s activities include teens and youth empowerment. We do a lot of advocacy, which has created awareness on culture-related issues affecting the girl-child, among others.
We have equally reached out to widows and victims of domestic violence through our empowerment scheme and counsel for women who have been deprived. The issue with drugs needed a strategic approach, so I decided to use something they were attracted to, which was entertainment. I had to swing into action by understudying, and the findings were indeed alarming. I had to partner with other agencies to ensure it had a huge impact.
Recently, we had a programme in Abuja, where a pageant was held among tertiary institutions and the queen for the drug war initiative emerged from the University of Jos.
Many youths are dying due to intake of hard drugs so we had to partner with the relevant agencies to fight the scourge.
We were able to recruit 30,000 youths for the campaign.
The lives of many Nigerian youths were on the line due to the intake of hard drugs. The abuse of drugs has ruined many promising young minds.
This unfortunate development gave birth to the baby six years ago. This year, we decided to intensify the fight against drug abuse using this platform Societal Awareness Campaign Against Drug Abuse (ASACADA). We needed to assist the government in reducing the scourge.
What strategic approach did you embark on to curb the menace?
Many brilliant youths have been ruined due to the intake of hard substances. Some as a result of depression, some as a result of peer group pressure and others just want to “high” themselves and they begin to engage in these habits and they become addicted.
Prior to this campaign, we had a roadshow at Abuja in 2015. In 2016, we observed the first International World Drug Day on June 26, being a day set aside for the commemoration of World Drug Day. We formally held a roadshow throughout the Lagos metropolis. Also, in 2017, we held a talk show with youths drawn from 20 different schools and youths from other organizations across Lagos State. In 2018, on June 26, our foundation embarked on what we tagged “The Market Storms” with a flag-off at the Police College, Ikeja.
In 2019, June 26, we commemorated the day. On June 26, 2020, we visited Makoko Inner City (slum area of Lagos State) with the high number of people living with drugs and addition.
This year, we have made huge impact fighting drug abuse using the strategic approach of pageantry. The foundation collaborates with the relevant agencies and secondary schools.
What significant roles can women and girls play in society?
Women are nation builders and have significant roles they play in a given society. Women have always fought outstanding fight for justice. A paramount ruler oppressed women when civilization was not pronounced and we saw them take to the streets to demonstrate. The Aba Women’s Riot was won by the women. Once women set to change something, it is affected.
How do we provide support for girls and women in crisis?
Many girls are subjected to abuse, child labour, trafficking, child marriage and other offenses, but protecting girls and women from these abuses can only be achieved by equipping them with skills, education, counselling, medical care, small business loans and other programmes that reach out to women and girls.
Most girls growing up in Africa are held back by poverty, poor-performing schools and teen violence. But we can actually reach out and influence the life of girls in their own community by impacting their lives through mentorship and empowerment initiative.
We need to help every girl and woman feel valued. Invest in small businesses by giving them micro loans, and create a platform for them to realize their dreams. The pathway to reduce poverty is women empowerment.
When girls stay in school and finish their secondary education, a lot of good things happen for them and their families. They enjoy better health and can take care of themselves and their children. They live longer, marry later, earn higher wages and are more active and useful in their community.
Politically, women have not been well represented in Nigeria; what should women do to have greater representation at the helm?
Women are the most reliable people in politics and it has been proven with women breaking the glass ceiling to make history.
Over 51 per cent of women are involved in voting during election. Despite this, women are under-represented in government.
We need to identify the problem that relegates women to the background in the society. Though there are some socio-cultural and political biases that have denied women equal rights to hold key political positions as well as some laws culturally that forbid women from being involved in some activitied, women need to change the narrative by taking up leadership positions.
Women should established institutions and collaborate with other interest groups to make a difference. We need to encourage every woman who decides to run for elective position and equip them with the right skills in order to enable them win. This is not a movement against men but a movement to give the women a chance in the political climate to contribute their potential in nation building.
How do you intend to achieve this, considering the age-long political tradition where women are just given the slot of ‘women leader’?
I would suggest massive advocacy and education in impacting the society. Government and other relevant bodies should support women. They would achieve this with the men’s support.