– Damilola Hammed
By tradition, the responsibility of leading and superintending over the affairs of the Naval Officers’ Wives Association (NOWA) in Nigeria automatically falls on the shoulders of the wife of the incumbent Chief of Naval Staff, thus Hajia Nana Aisha Gambo wife of Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, the incumbent Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) took over as the 21st National President of NOWA on 27th February 2021.
Although, NOWA started on November 30th 1965 under the leadership of Mrs. Anne Wey, wife of the first indigenous CNS, Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey of blessed memory, 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.
It has over the years blossomed into a catalytic forum that has continued to facilitate the promotion of love, harmony and cooperation among naval officers’ wives and their families as well as championing various degrees of charitable ventures, economic empowerment, health and social services to naval widows and the less privileged in general.
The fact that the association has in no small measure continued to positively impact the lives wives of naval officers and ratings in and out of the barracks cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, the fact that Hajia Nana Aisha Gambo within her six months in office as the President of NOWA has taken the ‘bull by the horn’ and has continued to take very giant strides to fulfil the lofty promises she made on resumption to office, is worthy of note. She pledged the dedication and commitment of NOWA members to contribute to development even beyond the borders and confines of the Nigerian Navy formation and barracks.
Her first day in office was marked by providing potable drinking water for two communities that had suffered from the lack of drinking water for years. She flagged off what she has christened ‘The Clean Water’ projects’ which she said is borne out of the fact that she knows that there are still so many communities in Nigeria that do not have access to clean water and since the government cannot do everything for us she believes that NOWA should contribute its own quota towards supporting government efforts at providing access to clean water across rural areas in the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
On the last count, NOWA, under the presidency of Hajia Gambo with the clean water projects, have built over 50 boreholes across the country. One each in some states, while Kano State has 9, Rivers State 4, Bauchi State 3, Plateau and Edo State 2 each.
According to Haija Gambo, the clean water project is meant to also ease the burden of women who are mostly saddled with the burden of ensuring that the household get sufficient water for domestic use. Every day a lot Nigerian girls and women particularly in the rural areas trek long distances only to return with dirty water. The Clean Water project, in the words of Hajia Gambo, will mean that women no longer have to undergo the risks of serious injuries, attacks and assault along the paths they take to search for water in places far away from home. The fact that they will no longer need to carry heavy containers of water on their heads will help to reduce the effect on their neck, back and spine, a common injury in rural communities.
During the last six months, Hajia Gambo has gone ahead to increase the salary of NOWA staff. She commissioned NOWA Secretariat and the foundation laying of NOWA shopping mall both in Oghara, a town located in Ethiope West local government area of Delta state, Nigeria. She facilitated the distribution of relief materials to the City of David Orphanage in Asaba also in Delta State.
The NOWA National Secretariat in Abuja has just being renovated under her leadership. Food items were distributed to the less privileged during the Eid al Fitr festival which was celebrated in May and during the Chief of Naval Staff Annual Conference (CONSAC) 2021. Very sizable number of books was also donated to primary school and secondary schools in Kano, recently. Also, Hajia Gambo was recently hounored with the prestigious Ambassador of Peace and Security Award 2021
NOWA Past Presidents:
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, Barr Theresa Ibas and now Hajia Nana Aisha Gambo.