- Debo Akinbami
“The mention of a girl child strikes a chord with me. It is, for me, a subject of special touch and significance. And of the many duties that I find delight in doing, I derive especial pleasure in labouring for the girl child.” – Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu
The prologue was extracted from the inspiring commentary recently rendered by the wife of Ondo State Governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, at the conferment of Role Model Award for Girl Child Development on her by Ondo State’s Chapter of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN. The prize came, coincidentally, at a point when works for the 2022 edition of Bemore annual boot camp are in offing.
Bemore Empowered Initiative, founded by Mrs Akeredolu, is the largest girls-only STEM+E boot camp in Africa. The scheme bridges the broadening gender gap in STEM + E (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics & Entrepreneurship) in Nigeria. It trains secondary school girls in Solar Energy technology, ICT and competencies in other pivotal, life-enhancing apprenticeship.
Other things being equal, Ondo State, Southwest, Nigeria, from August, will be in the news for new mentions as the annual Bemore boot camp, organised by Bemore Empowered Foundation, will hold its 2022 edition of Summer Bootcamp, from 28th August to 10th September, 2022, at
Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State.
Established in 2017, Bemore has trained more than 2000 Nigerian girls from different parts of the country in Solar Energy technology, ICT and has also imbue participants with essential skills, enabling the attainment of maximum potentials and self-reliance.
Bemore is also driven by the need to achieve gender mainstreaming in policy making in renewable energy and information communication technology so that opportunities are created for youth , women and children to improve their lives and contribute to the socio-economic development of their various communities.
This is one purpose that Mrs Akeredolu has rigorously pursued as a life long commitment and for which she deserves huge applause when gauged by performance rating scale vis-a-vis her credentials on this theme. It is common knowledge after all that she has never ceased to be passionate about this compelling cause that she daily rededicates herself to.
Bemore glaringly mirrors what Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu stands for. It speaks to what she has done and still do for the emancipation of the girl child. It is one delibrate intervention that has largely rewritten the narrative around Nigerian girls, particularly in Ondo and Imo States where the boot camp has repeatedly been held with astonishing feedbacks.
Through Bemore, Betty’s innermost thoughts for the girl child are revealed. Through it, the persuasion that science and technology aren’t the exclusive preserve of male children is actuated, and she continues to prove true the stance with dumbfounding results. Scattered all over the country, the ‘special breed without greed’, are evidently doing great in the solar technology and ICT space and winning as worthy entrepreneurs.
Bemore’s bounty harvest goes beyond the fine skills acquired. The fact that each Bemore girl goes home with a brand new laptop after boot camp says more, and the complete solar home system that each girl takes home has been a huge relief to many homes, especially those in the region that has been disconnected from the national grid for several years.
Even as the process of making another set begins with girls from all parts of the country jostling for space, one is persuaded to believe that the strategic rebuilding of a new generation of women is already afoot through Bemore, and that is how the scheme deserves all the support it can get in its earnest efforts to give women of this clime a new name.
If we rethink the First Lady’s words, that: “The girl child represents the lense for seeing the true stature and status of a nation, the gauge for gaging its successes or failures; and that a country is adjudged as crude or civilised to the extent it cares for her children, particularly the girl child,” we can therefore appreciate the big deal that Before has become.
***Debo Akinbami is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Ondo State on New Media & Archives.