We want to encourage child adoption – Hadfiza Isma el-Rufai
How did you find the
state of your office
when you came?
Well, the state of the office is such that it is not formal, since there was no official handling over from the previous predecessor.
Do you have a pet project for the upliftement of women and children of Abuja?
It is the trend now for first ladies to have pet projects, but I don’t have one as such, though I am trying to consolidate the programmes of women affairs sector of the FCT administration. What that department does is mobilisation and sensitisation of women in-forming cooperative societies to enable them benefit from opportunities created by FCT administration.
This is especially in the form of micro-credit scheme loans for the womenfolk and possibly the youth in areas of self-employment. This is imperative, owing to the number of skillful women who are in poultry production, tie and dye, farming and cottage industries.
We have many skills acquisition centers, for example the one in Zuba where women are trained in capacity building in areas of knitting, sewing, catering etc. There is also a bakery centre in Gwagwalada where women learn bread baking and other confectionaries.
What about the children apart from the youth?
It is a great source of worry to me that children are begging and hawking during school hours. Infact the social services secretariat is working out a modality towards gradual phasing out of street begging and hawking.
We realise that we cannot stop these abruptly, we need the support of parents and guardians and they are counselled on the impor-tance of education, so that these children will have a brighter future.
We are also trying to forestall child abuse by using girls as house help, while the girls should be in school too.
What are the challenges of your office?
The challenges are that there is a lot of demand on my time. People think I should do more than I can, but one has to prioritise, because if you think you have to sort our everything at the same time, you can’t do it.
What about the controversy surrounding the Abuja children’s home, has it been resolved?
There is no longer any controversy. The children’s home is run by a board of trustees. And I as the chairperson of Abuja am looking for every avenue to see that they are well catered for in terms of socio-educational needs. Espe-cially issues arising from their being adopted.
As a Capital Territory, Abuja attracts all manners of people, but rather unfortunately a lot of women come here to engage in prostitution. Do you have plans to curb prostitution and rehabilitate them?
The question of prostitution is a very big one. But it is not easy. Prostitution is an old, social problem mainly as a result of lack of self consciousness among some women. And it has become doubly so, with diseases like HIV/AIDS.
So in order to curtail it, we have embarked upon awareness campaign to sensitise them about the dangers of prostitution under whatever guise, be it in the homes, offices, schools, or streets.
To rehabilitate them we try to engage them constru-ctively by encouraging them to enrol into skills acqui-sition centres where training is given free.
And also, we encourage good athletes among them and other youth to engage in sport. We hope that by being engaged in other things the menace of prostitution will be tackled head on.
What are your priorities and how are you going to tackle them?
My priorities first have to do with the orphans, in as much as we have two orphanages in FCT. We also have to register the children by addressing the issue of adoption in encouraging people, especially childless couples to adopt them. So that they will have a sense of belonging into a real family life.
Did you experience set backs in implementing your programmes? If yes, what are they?
Things don’t usually turn out as you plan, resources are scarce. But if I had a lot of money, I would do a lot of things. These are the setbacks which to me are nothing but challenges of leader in running an outfit that is public oriented.
Do you have a specific set goal to achieve before you leave office?
Well, by the time I leave office I want to make sure that I achieve all the things I set in motion hoping that people benefit from the programmes, for example in skill acquisitions and so on.
As a wife and a mother, how do you combine the running of this office and your family?
It is difficult, it has not been easy, because whatever you do you have to be at the homefront, but luckily for me, my children are in boarding school. So I don’t feel pulled both ways all the time.