By Kelvin Obambon
The Orange Fellowship, an offshoot of Hit FM’s Orange Show, has produced 20 graduands in the 2023 cohort. The all-female fellowship that started in 2020 spotlights issues of violence against women and girls, gender inequality, patriarchy and advocacy for women inclusion in leadership at all levels of human endeavour.
Speaking during the close out ceremony for the 2023 fellows, held at the American Corner, Parliamentary in Calabar on Friday, the Chief Executive Officer of Hit FM, Mr Patrick Ugbe, said the Orange Fellowship has grown bigger this year than it was last year.
According to him, “The Orange Show runs on radio – Hit 95.9FM. At Hit FM we have a philosophy. We have a belief. We have this maxim: ‘Radio You Can Feel and Touch’. We are a lifestyle station. So we try as much as possible to take whatever programme we have to the community. I encourage my presenters, my on air personalities, my producers to come up with events that they can do within the ambit of their shows. That gave rise to the Orange Fellowship Programme as a spin-off from the Orange Show.”
Mr Ugbe said what the fellows have learned within the three month duration of the programme would transform them into becoming better citizens and to also continually develop themselves, declaring that “this is what will stand them out in the society.”
The keynote speaker at the event, Rt. Hon. (Dr) Itam Abang, who spoke on leadership, said women have great leadership potential more than the men, as they are more likely to produce results whenever given responsibility.
She said that for them to rise to the challenge of leadership they must educate themselves and have a better grasp of contemporary issues and opportunities that exist in the society.
Hon. Abang stressed the need for young girls to seek mentorship and inculcate in themselves worthwhile values from their various homes. While charging them to be ambitious, the keynote speaker equally urged them to discharge their civic responsibility, especially by taking part in the electoral process, as through this they can make their voices heard and aspire to various leadership positions.
The former lawmaker said that leadership entails hard work and integrity, and that there is no shortcut to success, adding that the success that comes through cutting corners is only but ephemeral. She admonished the graduands to see sacrifices as part of the process towards becoming a successful leader, and that the graduands should be ready and willing to embrace it.
She then urged graduands of the Orange Fellowship to replicate the knowledge gained throughout their training by impacting positively on their immediate environment. This way, she maintained, people can see the beautiful side of the Fellowship in them and seek to participate.
On her part, the convener of the Fellowship and presenter of the Hit FM’s Orange Show, Mrs Abenmire Adi, said initially participants of the fellowship were drawn from tertiary institutions within Cross River, but now girls in tertiary institutions from across the country can take part in the fellowship.
“Response to the fellowship has been massive. We have hundreds of applications coming in every year but we have to pick out just 20 fellows to be part of the programme so we can focus and give them the best. They go through 3 months fellowship programme, and in this 3 months they are taken through courses on data driven advocacy, ICT, leadership, sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexual and gender based violence, and basically issues around Sustainable Development Goals, but particularly Goal 5. We hit more on Goal 5 which is gender equality.
“We also try to bring them up to speed with what is happening across the world in these spaces so that they have the skills and expertise to go into the world and explore just like their male counterparts across the globe are doing. We want to see more girls in the campuses take up more positions, not just as vice but the number one position.”
She said that the graduands must achieve 95 percent attendance, take all the assessments for each course and then write an e-book on feminism, personal development and leadership before they could graduate from the fellowship.
The event climaxed with the presentation of certificates to the graduands and awards to outstanding peer educators.