Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honored to be here today, and to share this special moment and high point of Rt. Honourable Dr. Ali Ahmed’s career, and to share my admiration of his achievement, as a former classmate of the Nigeria Council of Legal Education's Law School Class of 1989.
As a lawyer, I have always looked upon our judiciary system as the highest point of office and accountability in our country. I believe that, as we look around the world, democracy is being challenged, and it is for us as informed and engaged citizens to protect our legal system and judiciary, for they are the cornerstones of our democracy and collective humanity.
As a maternal health and human rights advocate, I have long championed the rights of citizens, especially the vulnerable, in Nigeria, and around the world. That is the reason why, in 2004, I collaborated with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the Child Rights Act (CRA) was domesticated and passed in Kwara State, and making her the first of the nineteen northern States in Nigeria to achieve that feat. I believe that the fair treatment of all women, children and men, regardless of their social standing, circumstances or birth location is a human right, and should be upheld in our country.
I also believe that health equality is a human right. In Nigeria, there are thousands who have no medical access to healthcare facilities. There are thousands whose nearest primary healthcare centre does not have the right medicine or qualified medical professionals; this must change! We can and must rebuild our primary healthcare systems. We can and must ensure everyone has the same access to high quality treatment and care, in our country.
In Nigeria, and many other parts of the world, marginalised communities are often forgotten by the society and, many times, by public budgetary systems, public accountability systems and the legal system as well. This is why I have started to intensify my advocacy for incarcerated women and their babies, to be given the right care and treatment, at the right time. My Foundation has since expanded its MamaCare Antenatal and Postnatal care to the Kwara Prison Service, to fill this desperate need for medical care. As a country, we protect all our citizens, including the vulnerable. It is our duty as citizen-advocates to insist that our three arms of government fulfill their mandated responsibilities to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Today, my call to action is that we must ensure every death and every birth is accounted for in Nigeria. We must ensure that every child that is born in our country is registered. And that every death is registered. We can and must as a matter of essential accountability, investigate every death that occurs during childbirth formally, and entrench a policy of culpability, and sanction, for every negligent preventable death. We must ensure that all displaced persons, whether adults or minors, in our country, and whether they reside in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps or are incarcerated within our penal systems and penitentiaries at the behest of our justice systems are registered, and are accounted for in our country. This needs to be enforced and implemented rapidly. As without birth and death registration and investigation, we cannot protect or provide for progress in our country, let alone deliver a demographic dividend. Once we account for every birth and death, we will become a fairer and equal society, that delivers for good, for every citizen.