Chiemelie Ezeobi writes on the change of guard at the Naval Officers’ Wives Association as its 21st National President, Hajiya Nana Amina Gambo assumed office with the pledge to build a better society for women as well as provide educational development through capacity building
Undoubtedly, the Naval Officers’ Wives Association (NOWA) is the engine room that drives the Nigerian Navy. From a small tea group that began in 1965, these women have become stronger and much more formidable over five decades later, becoming pillars of their communities through various empowerment schemes and outreach to naval widows and the less privileged in general.
NOWA came into being on November 30, 1965 under the leadership of Mrs. Anne Wey, wife of the first indigenous Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey of blessed memory.
According to Wikipedia, It started as a small ‘Tea Group’ for light-hearted discussion by wives of naval officers to kill boredom because of the regular absence of their husbands to sea, also as a forum of rendering assistance to wives of naval ratings in and out of the barracks. It was and still is a forum where social problems relating to the less privileged in the society are discussed and where contributions are made to assist the needy.
Now NOWA has provided the opportunity for social interaction which facilitated the promotion of love, harmony and co-operation among naval officers’ wives and their families. These noble principles have guided the activities of the association with various degrees of emphasis.
In the last five decades, NOWA has recorded a number of achievements in its efforts to complement the efforts of the NN in welfare-related projects in the barracks. They are in the areas of education, charitable ventures, economic empowerment, health and social services as well as sporting activities.
Past presidents of the body include Mrs. Ann Wey, Mrs. B Boroh, Mrs. Bisi Adelanwa, Mrs. Bekky Aduwo, Mrs. Rebecca Aikhomu, Mrs. Margret Koshoni, Mrs. Zainab Nyako, Mrs. Apollonian Omatsola, Mrs. Lola Saidu, Mrs. Uche Madueke, Dr. Josephine Akhigbe, Mrs. Jemilat Ayinla, Mrs. Betty Ombu, Mrs. Treasure Sam-Afolayan, Chief Mrs. Fatimat Adekeye, Mrs. Grace Ibrahim, Hajia Aminat Modupe Ibrahim, Mrs. Vivian Ezeoba, Mrs. Lami Jibrin and now Barr Theresa Ibas.
The set up of the association entails that the wife of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) automatically becomes the national president of the body. So, while Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo is the incumbent CNS, it automatically means his wife, Hajiya Nana Amina Gambo assumes leadership as the national president of the body.
Recently, the official handing and taking over ceremony was held to signify the change of guard of NOWA leadership.
To commemorate the handing and taking over ceremony of the change of guard, the 20th NOWA President, Mrs Theresa Ibas recently handed over to her successor, Hajiya Nana Amina Gambo.
In her valedictory remarks, Ibas said it was a great honour and privilege to have served as the national president in the past five years and six months.
She said: ” I am pleased to state that today; the activities of NOWA have gone beyond the confines of the naval community. It has included participation in finding solutions to the problems of women in society and our roles as mothers, wives, and participants in nation-building. NOWA under different leadership have made enormous contribution in complementing the efforts of the Nigerian Navy in welfare-related projects in the barracks such as in Education, Charitable ventures, Economic empowerment, Health, and Social Services.
” As I hand over the mantle of NOWA leadership to my successor, I trust and urge her to continue with the good works and also carry the members along in all activities. They have been very supportive of me. I also want to urge all the NOWA members to extend the same level of co-operation and sisterly love shown to me to the new NOWA National President.
” Once again, I thank the Almighty God for making me the 20th National President of NOWA. I am highly fulfilled for the rare privilege of leading this dynamic and result-oriented association of elegant ladies who are committed to improving the lots of naval families. I congratulate Hajiya Nana Aisha Gambo once again for assuming the mantle of leadership of NOWA. I am proud to state that I am handing over a very robust and well-focused association to her believing that she will take NOWA to the next level.
” I wish her the very best of luck and most importantly God’s guidance in the task ahead. As I bow out, I want to wish you all the best in life and do pray that you all should have fair wings and smooth sail in all future endeavours.”
In her handing and taking over speech as the 21st NOWA President, Hajiya Nana Aisha Gambo, said the new order would be to continue to make strides towards building a better society for women and educational development through capacity building. She noted that she hopes to achieve this by empowering women through skill acquisition and provisions of support material to enable them add value to the country.
She said: “ Today we witness the handing over of the mantle of leadership of this association by our darling mummy. She has been the NOWA National President for more than five years. Mummy, I cannot imagine how difficult it could be to leave this association. A position you have committed more than five years to, and achieved so many milestones during your watch. An appointment that requires such immense effort, time and dedication to keep afloat. However, you have handled it with grace, ease and empathy towards us. I salute your courage and tenacity not to even mention the love you have shown to us.
“This is a big shoe to occupy. But God willing, with the support of the NOWA Executives and NOWA Members, we would continue to keep your aspirations alive. On behalf of all the NOWA members, I say thank you and we will miss you dearly, Ma. Bravo Zulu.
“With humility and gratitude, I stand here before you and honoured to be the 21st NOWA National President. It is pertinent to state that, this great association has a proud past and an exciting future. Thus, it is known for making strides towards building a better society for women and educational development through capacity building. This is achieved by empowering women through skill acquisition and provisions of support material to enable them add value to the country. However, we shall be embarking upon innovative activities, events and projects that would continue to enhance and develop these wonderful women’s capacity.
“ To my fellow NOWA members, the office of the NOWA National President is always open for pioneering positive ideas that can drive this association forward. Additionally, our NOWA Schools must continue to remain among the best in Nigeria. This can be achieved by enhancing our efficiency in rendering a higher academic standard coupled with a befitting learning environment. Kindly note that the strides we are about to embark upon takes the effort of all members to play their roles effectively to achieve our objectives.”