It was an American author, speaker and pastor, John Maxwell who said, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
Nothing could be truer of the woman, Asabe Vilita Bashir who is not only a personification of passion for the emancipation and inclusion of women in the country’s mainstream socio-economic and political discourse but a quintessential administrator, celebrated academic and lawmaker wielding an enviable wealth of experience garnered from her decades of fruitful service to her fatherland.
Green with vision on how to turn around the fortunes of National Centre for Women Development, NCWD where she has spent about 100 days since appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, this virtuous woman, perfect specimen of humility and mother to multitude sees solution where there is a challenge. Where others see a mountainous obstacle, she sees a reason to surge on, having her eye on the goal.
Taking over the monumental resource centre at the end of 2020 fiscal year, she met an empty treasury, leaving her to think out of the box how to translate her visions into reality with no financial war chest. She wasn’t deterred because she has a confidence, a hope and a trust from millions of stakeholders who exploded in unparalleled joy upon her appointment to protect. Her vision is to “re-structure”, “re-position” and “re-brand” the Centre for optimum performance and like a moving train, nothing can stop her.
Realizing that goodwill of the workforce and all staff of the Centre is topmost in assisting her drive NCWD of her dream, she immediately rolled out an open-door policy that encourages dialogue between the management and the staff team as the only veritable platform to resolve issues.
Little wonder the labour relations in the Centre has remained very healthy. Dr. Bashir without any shadow of doubt is a firm believer that a happier workforce is the gateway to reaching utmost productivity.
The eloquent testimony of this is manifestly seen in how the faces of the staff members are beaming with smile and unpretentious satisfaction while carrying out their jobs. You won’t be wrong if you say the harmonious work environment is a reinforcement of her assurance when she on 12th April, 2021 day of her inauguration said, “On my part, I will strive as much as possible, to tap all the required resources and ensure that a very friendly and progressive working environment is provided for the teeming work-force, for optimum productivity and greater results to be achieved; particularly in the area of Internal Revenue Generation (IGR)”.
True to her assurance of consolidating on the achievements of her predecessors, defying all odds, she hit the ground running by commencing an aggressive revitalization process of all comatose infrastructure in the Centre, giving them entirely new look while also initiating new ones with the focal aim of serving the Nigerian people, with a particular focus on women better.
At the occasion of Dr. Bashir’s 100 days in office, she can with all sense of honour thumb her chest that through her efforts, the NCWD now has a functional crèche where women can keep their children with a restful mind while attending their programmes and functions especially when they come into Abuja from the states. In addition, the once dilapidated and unhygienic hostel of the Centre has been totally transformed to a state-of-the-art facility that can house the big and mighty.
The Centre’s guest house is not left out of this renewal campaign. The Director General is not oblivious of the fact that these facilities speak volume to the perception visitors will have about the Centre. As the number one image maker, she is taking no chances to spearhead a healthy public perception of the Centre.
Again, she is not taking lightly issues surrounding the empowerment of women. In her words, women empowerment is the bedrock of peaceful and harmonious co-existence in the home. Implicatively, the tendency for domestic crisis to erupt is fuelled when the man nurses the feeling that the wife doesn’t make much contribution in terms of finances in keeping the home running.
To mitigate further the question of domestic violence already at rooftop, in the last 100 days, Hon. Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir has toured no fewer than 18 states of the federation, breaking new frontiers that will grant women access to economic opportunities.
With the vigour she has exhibited towards this drive, suffice to say we are journeying our way towards a society where the twin problem of hunger and domestic violence will be reduced to the barest minimum. These are all components of her desire to “re-structure”, “re-position” and “re-brand”.
Overwhelmed by massive support she receives from the mother-body, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development under the able supervision of Her Excellency, Dame Paulin Tallen, Dr. Bashir lacks words to express her depth of gratitude to the Minister, women-based NGOs as well as other women ministers who have indicated willingness to offer their support in raising the bar of NCDW’s performance to greater heights.
Hear her, “When I came to NCWD to head this very important institution, I received and still receiving the support of Ministry of Women Affairs. Of course NCWD is a baby of the Ministry. Apart from that, we work closely with all the women NGOs in the country and without the NGOs, there won’t be Ministry of Women Affairs and there won’t be NCWD. Since I came, it has been one programme or the other about women.”
As a die-hard believer in gender equality, Dr. Bashir is engaging with various stakeholders, especially the National Assembly members, state Chief Executive Officers and political parties for a legislative framework that will clear the legion of impediments holding women back from taking active steps to participate in the country’s political firmament.
Apart from the 35 percent affirmative action yet to be fully implemented in the country, she advocates amendment of constitutions of the parties to create room for exclusive reservation of some seats for women. This is not too much to ask. When this happens, it will serve as a quantum leap to efforts already being made by other women in their personal capacity to have their voices heard in the country’s political calculations.
As I bring this piece to a close, it is worthy of note that in just about three months, the most dogged, focused and goal-oriented DG has demonstrated that she is armed with lofty ideas coupled with her rich public administrative experience that will no doubt accelerate her target of “re-structuring”, “re-positioning” and “re-branding” the Centre.
It will be to her utmost satisfaction to at the end of the day leave an NCWD that will not only be a place of succour for every Nigerian woman but one for which the founding fathers, late or alive will derive pride in. This is the journey Hon. (Dr) Asabe Vilita Bashir has started on a cheery footing.
Enemanna, an Abuja-based journalist