By Mbah Green Okem
The coming together of Royal Queens from the nine states of the Niger Delta for the maiden edition of a peace building summit May 1-4, 2018 in Yenagoa has ushered in a new era of massive advocacy for promotion of peace and economic prosperity in the traditional jurisdictions of the region.
The summit which was convened and hosted by Her Majesty Queen (Dr) Josephine Diete-Spiff, Queen of Twon-Brass Kingdom as chairperson, Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Wives Association, was attended by royal queens from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States.
The event was declared open by the archbishop of the Niger Delta Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Ignatius Kattey and chaired by His Royal Majesty King Alfred Diete-Spiff, chairman Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers while Dr. (Mrs.) Rachael Seriake Dickson, first lady Bayelsa State was the chief hostess.
The initiative was laudable and timely especially at this point in time when poverty and insecurity has become major challenges in the country and the world at large.
The Niger Delta is not an exception considering the fact that the oil rich region has had a fair share of these two monsters called poverty and insecurity and efforts by successive governments to restore peace in the Niger Delta has proven otherwise.
With the theme, “An Enlightened Queen is an Enlightened Community”, the summit provided a platform for the female monarchs to be equipped with techniques to positively change the narrative in their fundamental roles as wives of traditional rulers in the overall promotion of peace and development in their respective domains.
According to HM Queen Josephine Diete-Spiff, her 24 years of being a queen informed her decision to use her position to benefit others, touch lives, better the lot of the community, attract progress to the people and add value to their lives.
She said the focus of the gathering was to train, empower and enlighten the Royal Queens on how to fulfill their “help ministry”, promote peace and unity, protect and empower the girl child, attract social and welfare packages to the less privilege and to encourage productivity within the women folk in their respective domains with entrepreneurship skills.
“Necessity is therefore laid on us to play supportive and complementary roles to our husbands in the fulfillment of our help ministry and in the overall interest of our respective domains. However, this fundamental and God-given role cannot be achieved without the requisite mental, social and economic capacity.
“There is therefore no doubt that this meeting will give expression to the important role and impact of Royal Queens in the promotion of peace and development in our respective community”, she noted.
In her remark, the first lady of Bayelsa State, Dr. Mrs. Racheal Dickson besieged the royal queens to use the position God has placed them in to improve their communities. She urged them to educate women in their domains on the need to ensure the girl child takes advantage of the free education policy of the state government rather than allowing them stay at home.
She said, “We all know what it means to be wife of a traditional ruler. We all know what it means to be a queen in a domain and at this point in time in Nigeria and the world at large where there are too much crisis all over, queens have a lot of work to do.
“As a queen, you must know that you must have a large heart. Wherever there is dispute, whenever there is a communal crisis, you must come in to say there must be peace”.
The queens where led into a technical session after a breakfast meeting with Apostle Zilly Aggrey, Overseer Royal House of Grace International Church. Resource persons and facilitators made presentations on Peace Building/Conflict Resolution, Etiquette/Value System, Entrepreneurship, Stress Management and Educating and Protecting the Girl Child a Panacea for Developing the Community.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the summit, the wife of Obong of Calabar, HRM Queen Ansa Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu commended Queen Josephine Diete-Spiff for her effort in bringing queens of the Niger Delta together to enlighten them and remind them of their duty as mothers in their various domains.
She said, “As mothers, we must sacrifice time, money and talent and from what we have learnt today, we’ll go home and implement it and we’ll educate our women in the grassroots to train their children because the insecurity we are having in our country today comes from home and it is in our different homes”.
Also, HM Dr. (Mrs.) Felicia Funmilayo Robinson, wife of Eze Ekpeye Logbo, Rivers State, said every queen that took part in the summit will go back home and do most of the things they have heard, advice and talk to their women on the problem of rape affecting the girl child and also let them know their rights.
A communiqué adopted after deliberations by the royal queens declared the resolve of the royal mothers to form an association called Niger Delta Royal Queens Forum to be chaired by HM Queen Josephine Diete-Spiff where issues affecting the Niger Delta will hence forth be addressed.
They appealed to the government at all levels to intensify effort to protect women, the girl child and children from abuses and deprivation, calling for an end to all forms of gender based violence.
The forum advocated for the education of the girl child as well as adult and functional education to change the status of women and girls in the region.