Former Nigerian military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), has concluded plans to establish a scholarship programme at all levels of the Nigerian school system in memory of his late
wife, Maryam Babangida.
Babangida made the disclosure in his address at the inaugural annual memorial lecture in honour of the former first lady who died from Ovarian cancer on December 27, 2009 in California, USA.
Babangida, who was represented by Chief Emmanuel Eboh, poured encomiums on late Maryam, who he described as a faithful wife, role model and supportive partner dedicated to the emancipation of Nigerian women.
He said that late Maryam worked with passion and commitment towards alleviating the poor living condition of Nigerian families, through her pet project, the ‘Better Life for Rural Women’, which she initiated to empower the women.
According to him, the late Maryam made her mark in her lifetime and would ever be remembered as a good wife, sweet mother and role model by the Babangida family and the Nigerian women.
Babangida said, “The late Maryam Babangida, whom we are honouring today is a great woman of value. She is a supportive wife, a caring mother and a role model who brought out the true colour of the Nigerian woman.
“She is a woman of colours in every aspect of her life. It is in view of her contribution to the emancipation of the Nigerian woman, that as a family, we want this annual event to embody scholarship awards.
“The scholarship award programme will be part of our contribution to the preservation of the memory of this great Nigerian woman. The scholarship will cut across all levels of the Nigerian school system”.
Earlier, Chief Leo Okogwu, late Maryam’s elder brother and the convener of the inaugural Lecture, eulogized the late first lady for her efforts in advocacy for a better life for Nigerian families.
He said the Better Life programme for rural women initiated by the late Maryam Babangida was an innovation that lifted the prestige of Nigerian women and also empowered them to live an improved life.
Okogwu listed the likes of late Margaret Ekpo, and Mrs. Ransome Kuti, as some of the prominent women leaders and activists who did so much for the promotion of women empowerment in the Nigerian society.
“The late Margaret Ekpo and Mrs. Ransome Kuti’s memories appear to have disappeared with ever-retreating horizon as they question the gratitude of Nigerians for the bravery of these departed golden women”, Okogwu noted.
He, however, appealed to Nigerians not to allow the memory of late Maryam Babangida waste away, but rather continue to eulogise and appreciate the efforts and contributions of the late former first lady in nation building.