It is expected to be an edifice for peace and conflict resolution in 12 months when it is projected to be completed.
However, the foundation for the African First Ladies Peace Centre was laid in the midst of intense security measures and controversy in Abuja on Wednesday by President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience.
The atmosphere was enlivened by songs in praise of the President’s wife by scores of women dressed in resplendent white as well as traditional dancers from different parts of the country.
The venue of the foundation laying ceremony was the prime land situated between the Federal Secretariat and Izon Wari, the Bayelsa State House, which had originally been allocated to non-governmental organisation, the Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation, belonging to former First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua.
The Board of Trustees of WYEF had approached an Abuja court to challenge the revocation of the 18,000 square metre land and reallocation of the same to African First Ladies Peace Mission chaired by Mrs. Jonathan.
Although, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had requested for out-of-court settlement of the dispute, the conflict was yet to be settled before the foundation for the seven-storey edifice was laid on Wednesday.
As the first ladies approached the venue of the programme, Abuja Market Women led by Chief Felicia Sani, burst into Igbo songs in praise of the First Lady: Ahia oma n’ere onwe ya; Mama Patience, Ahia oma n’ere onwe ya; Anaghi ekwe ya onu (meaning: Good product that sells itself; Mother Patience, good product that sells itself; The price is not subject to negotiation).
As Patience made her way to the podium, the market women greeted her with two more songs: Patience, na you we know; Patience, na you we know; any other president, na them sabi; any other president, na them sabi.
In her short speech, the Nigeria’s First Lady said African ladies received with shock and sadness the death of the President of Ghana and the husband of one of their colleagues (Mrs. Ernestina Mills), Mr. John Mills.
She thanked the government and people of Nigeria for their generosity in allocating the land for the construction of the headquarters of the African First Ladies Peace Mission.
She said, “This foundation laying ceremony is a follow up to our commitment to lay solid foundation for our organisation.
“We have demonstrated that we are committed to achieving lasting peace in our continent. We shall build a befitting structure for our mission.”