By Dapo Akinrefon
A social reformer and former governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti, has faulted the award conferred on Governor Yahaya Bello by the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS).
The NCWS in collaboration with Global Gold Consult had, on January 16, conferred the most gender-sensitive governor in Nigeria award on Governor Bello.
The Kogi governor was decorated as a “HE 4 SHE” of Nigerian women, which bestowed on him the honour of a Goodwill Ambassador.
The nomination, according to the organisers, is “in recognition of the purposeful and conscious effort of his government to place women in sensitive and strategic positions in the governance structure of Kogi State.”
However, Mrs Akpoti, in a statement on Sunday, said the award does not take into cognisance the bloody events of the 2019 elections “where the state government perpetrated violent actions against her and other female opposition voices in the state.”
“NCWS can’t be ignorant of the reportage by the many national and international observers where I was an observee.
“Kogi under Yahaya Bello is the most female-unfriendly state in Nigeria as there is no female elected local government chairman, House of Assembly, and National Assembly member.
“All levels of elective positions are occupied by men. How has Bello advanced the interests of women of Kogi State and Nigeria that got him a ‘He 4 She’ recognition?
“The He4She is a solidarity movement started by the United Nations to recognise men who promote the principles of gender equality politically, socially and economically.
“With no female chairing any of the 21 local governments, no female member of the state House of Assembly, no female Representative or Senator from Kogi State.
“Such a sickening unprecedented achievement in the history of Kogi State and Mrs Laraba Shoda deemed him fit to wear the He4She crown?
“We have an all-male House of Assembly in the state. I am talking about an elective position in the state. So what made him deserve that award?” Mrs Akpoti queried.
She lambasted the NCWS for giving the award to the governor, wondering why the women’s council did not intervene when there were alleged cases of violation of female rights in Kogi State, including the alleged rape of Elizabeth Oyeniyi, among others.
“Why were they silent during the numerous attacks on me and other female politicians in In Kogi state?
“A direct question to the President of NCWS: what steps has she taken to aid justice for the PDP woman leader in Kogi who was burnt alive?
“Did Dr. Laraba Shoda ever pay a courtesy visit to the family of late Mrs Salome Abuh? As a mother, has she tried soothing the pains of late Salome’s children?
“Dr. Laraba Shoda should open her ears to the cries and concerns of women of Nigeria and champion issues that concern them.
“Issues that should promote a fairer ecosystem for political and social growth for women and a healthy environment for young girls to thrive should be NCWS’s watchword.
“I say categorically that recognising Yahaya Bello as a HeForShe and awarding him the ‘Most Gender-Sensitive Governor in Nigeria’ goes against the good conscience of what NCWS stands for and is a great insult to the women of Kogi State and Nigeria at large.
“For this, I call on NCWS to either convince the good public on proven reasons for such an award or strip Yahaya Bello of it.”