…As Nigerian lawmaker keeps mum over alleged lackadaisical attitude
By: Victoria Ojeme
Members of the Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) have called for the immediate resignation of their Chairperson, Senator Stella Oduah, over her continuous absence from the programmes and activities of the association.
ECOFEPA, an arm of the ECOWAS Parliament, is a network of female parliamentarians who are representing member countries in the sub-regional parliament. Out of the 115 parliamentarians in the ECOWAS Parliament, 25 of them are female lawmakers.
The association, which came into being in 2002, is aimed at supporting and encouraging ECOWAS Community programmes that promote social, economic and cultural development of the peoples of West Africa, bringing a parliamentary and political approach to the ECOWAS gender mainstreaming and towards the execution of the ECOWAS gender policy.
Senator Oduah, a lawmaker in the Nigeria’s National Assembly, who is the current Chairperson of ECOFEPA, was however asked to step down, following her inability to attend events of the group.
The call was made known at the 1st ECOFEPA Townhall Meeting held in Abuja on boosting women’s participation in politics. Other participants, who were young women and girls, were drawn from different fields of work, including the media.
Speaking at the meeting, a female member of ECOWAS Parliament from Cote d’ Ivoire, Hon. Adjaratou Traore, who was visibly angry about the attitude of the chairperson of the ECOFEPA, said it was high time Senator Oduah resigned so that a serious member could takeover the group’s leadership.
Hon Traore condemned what she described as the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian lawmaker, which she noted might impaired on the association’s goals and objectives.
Some members of the ECOFEPA were seeing murmuring in support of their colleagues’ observation.
The Secretary General of the association, Hon Fatimata Niambali, who chaired the meeting, called for calm among members.
Niambali, who said it was not right to wash their dirty linen in public, promised that the matter would be looked into at appropriate time.
She said the townhall meeting was designed to enable ECOFEPA members share their wealth of experiences in politics, the challenges they faced in their careers and the strategies put in place to boost the participation of women and girls in politics to the invited young women.
She said what the group is doing is an humanitarian work.
“We have also intervened on provision of relief materials to flood victims in the subregion, we supported victims of Ebola and in Nigeria, we have met the 84 Chibok girls that were freed recently and we gave them gifts. So it is all about humanitarian needs.
“We also organised donor conferences to raise fund for our activities. ECOWAS Parliament also supports us with fund. So whatever we do is from direct support from the Parliament, ” she said.
Some of the members, who spoke in the course of the meeting, called on the need for more women’s participation in politics.
However, all efforts made to get the reaction of the ECOFEPA chair, Senator Oduah, were unsuccessful.
At a meeting organised by the ECOWAS Parliament in conjunction with the Oxfam and International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), over the weekend, on Promoting Gender Equality in Agricultural Investment in Land in Africa, in the ongoing 2017 2nd Ordinary Session of the 4th Legislature of the parliament, in Abuja, Senator Oduah was sighted.
But when the journalists approached her to get her comment on the recent call for her resignation, she told the newsmen that she was coming as she walked towards the elevator at the parliament’s secretariat.