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 award on Governor Bello as the most gender-sensitive governor in Nigeria.
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.
But Mrs Akpoti, in a statement on Sunday, said the award does not take into cognisance the bloody events of the 2019 elections where the governor and his administrators alleged 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.
She said in all leadership ramifications, 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? How have Bello’s actions inspired young girls to become leaders and patriotic citizens? Let’s not forget too easily that Bello’s currently serving commissioner for water resources Abdulmumin Danga is facing prosecution charges on rape and assault on Elizabeth Oyeniyi while Bello refused to suspend the commissioner pending the determination of the criminal case against him. Instead, Bello’s goons have unleashed several attacks against Elizabeth’s family in a bid to frighten them to withdraw the case from the police.”
The HeForShe 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 HeForShe crown? “
“We have an all-male House of Assembly in the state, no single female. 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 the women’s council did not intervene when there were alleged cases of violation of female rights in Kogi State, including the rape of Elizabeth Oyeniyi, among others.
“The National Council for Women Societies should bury their heads in shame. I am asking the National Council of Women, why were they silent on the rape case of Elizabeth Oyeniyi in Kogi State and other cases of women violence in the state.
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 in the wake of Yahaya Bello’s political interest? 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”.
Finally, if NCWS should know that any action in any direction by the leadership is deemed an affirmation of all Nigerian women. I say categorically that recognising Yahaya Bello as a HeForShe and awarding him as 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 off it.