The president gave the challenge when he hosted representatives of Nigerian women at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday.

While describing Nigerian women as stabilisers, Buhari said that the youths were the nation’s most treasured assets, adding that it was the collective responsibility of all well-meaning citizens to present to them a pathway to realising their huge potential.

He said: “Your visit here today comes in the wake of growing youth restiveness which engulfed parts of the country in the last few weeks.

“As mothers of Nigeria, you play a critical role in bringing about lasting peace. We very much regret the loss of lives during the protests, and damages to businesses including medium and small-scale enterprises.

“I urge you to engage our children and youth on the need for dialogue that will yield better understanding going forward.

“Our youths remain our most treasured asset and it is our collective responsibility to present to them a pathway to realising their huge potential.

“I wish to recognise the value Nigerian women bring to our society, especially when they are supported and given a voice.

“This administration is a beneficiary of the strong support of Nigerian women and I truly thank you all for the display of resilience throughout our journey.”

The president reiterated the commitment to end violence against women and girls by supporting the Chairman of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa’s call for a treaty to end the menace at the African Union Summit in February next year.

Buhari spoke further: “Although the country has not achieved the 35 percent affirmation on the participation of women in governance, the current administration intends to exceed the benchmark.

“We have not reached the 35 percent benchmark for women’s participation in governance as recommended in the National Gender Policy, but the current female appointees represent the first step in a strategic intervention for the inclusion of women in the affairs of this administration.

“I truly understand that when equity becomes the guiding principle and women hold strategic leadership positions, not only will our development be accelerated but also the diversity in richness in the quality of our policy design engagement and execution will be improved.

“I want to assure you that this administration remains resolute to not only meet the 35 percent National Gender Policy, but to exceed it across key decision-making roles in government,” he added.

He also reaffirmed his readiness to end child marriage and also boost girl child education in all parts of the country.

Earlier, Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Talen, who led the delegation, thanked the president for always supporting Nigerian women, especially in the fight against rape and gender violence.

“This support that you have given by lending your voice and declaring Nigeria’s zero tolerance against rape and gender violence has clearly placed Nigeria on the global map to harvesting best practices around such issues as was spotlighted at the UN General Assembly in September 2020,” she said.

She also appealed to the president, on behalf of all Nigerian mothers, to ensure the reopening of the nation’s universities by finding lasting solutions to problems facing them.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the women later decorated the president with an award of excellence tagged: “He-for-She award’’.

The award by the National Council for Women Affairs was a recognition to Buhari “for being a special champion for Nigerian women, children and the vulnerable”.

The women said that the award was also in recognition of Buhari’s “overwhelming commitment toward moving women into the mainstream of governance”