By Dayo Johnson, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi, Gabriel Ewepu, Rotimi Ojomoyela & Shina Abubakar
•I stand “Gidigba” with women —Akeredolu
•As ActionAid calls on NASS to reconsider rejected Gender Bills
•Akeredolu’s wife calls for constitution that is fair to women
•Don’t take your femininity for granted, Oyetola charges women
•SDP governorship flag bearer urges women to desist from vote buying
•Nigeria can’t progress by shutting women out, says Akpoti-Uduaghan
WIVES of the thirty- six State Governors have vowed to occupy the National Assembly to express their disdain and disappointment over last week’s rejection of women-related bills at plenary session.
In a statement signed Tuesday by the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum, NGWF and first Lady of Ekiti State, Bisi Fayemi, to mark the International Women’s Day, they condemned in very strong terms, what they described as brazen discrimination against Nigerian women.
According to the wives of the Governors, as those who form half of the population of the country, their voices and lives matter, stressing that there can be no development without the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life, adding that any country that continues to deliberately undermine the advancement of women was simply stifling its own advancement.
Fayemi promised that the wives of the Governors will continue with ongoing engagement with a broad range of stakeholders to support the proposed Constitutional Amendments that will give them a gender-friendly constitution in Nigeria.
According to her, “As wives of State Executives, we would mount pressure on Federal and State lawmakers for them to do the right thing and be true representatives of the people, with women constituting at least 50percent.
Fayemi vowed that they would urge their husbands, the Governors for them to increase opportunities for women in politics and decision-making as well as form advocacy with political party leaders to ensure that women in political parties can enjoy a level playing field.
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has described the rejection of the bill by the Senate to create the required leverage for our Women as a great disincentive.
“Without prejudice to the sense of judgement of the Senate, we have, as a Nation, embarked on an insidious self-denying trip.
“It is a great set-back because we have derobed ourselves of an ample opportunity for progress and development. The World is watching!
“We have taken a painful decision that seeks to insulate and detach our dear nation from modernity.
“The Green Chambers, by the decision to revisit the Bill clearly shows that all hope is not lost, after all. I, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN shall, alongside persons of like mind, leverage on this window of hope to break the yokes of oppression against Women.
“Proudly, I stand ‘Gidigba’ with women on this course and many others to liberate women from the artificial barricades and shackles constructed by men and the society at large.
Actionaid Nigeria, AAN, called on National Assembly to reconsider the five proposed Gender Bills.
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, expressed sadness at the rejectiion of the bills following the impact women had made in national development.
Obi said: “In line with this year’s theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, we had looked forward to really celebrating International Women’s Day 2022 because we thought it would mark a turnaround for Nigerian woman in politics, and a historic win in the struggle for women inclusion in decision making spaces, as the 2023 general elections draw closer.
“Sadly, the decision of the 9th National Assembly has threatened the achievement of adequate women representation in governance, as they have outrightly demonstrated by their votes, that they do not want women inclusion in decision making. If, in 2022, we still have to argue for or against the pivotal role of women in governance, it means our leaders are deliberately resistant to change and still have a lot of learning to do.
Meanwhile, wife of Ondo State governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu also called for a constitution that is fair to the womenfolk.
Anyanwu-Akeredolu who distributed ‘Solayo kits” to 60 pregnant women to commemorate the day in Akure, said there is no better time for women to rise and raise collective voices than now.
“Women who enjoy equal freedom as men in other parts of the world did not just sit by and lament. They did not get it by wishful thinking but by the courage of conviction and consistent struggle.”
She charged Nigerian women to rise up and stand as one body with one voice to collectively break the bias against womenfolk for the sake of generations yet unborn.
She emphasised on the need for Nigerian women to break the bias, saying there is a need to reshape the entrenched attitudes and a culture that tends to devalue women.
Speaking on the solayo Kit” to expectant mothers, Akeredolu said it was designed to ensure that vulnerable women are not left to bear the harsh economic burden of the moment alone.
“The Solayo Kit contains a complete maternity delivery kit for the needy but expectant mothers and it is distributed annually to women across the 18 local government areas of our dear state.
In Osogbo, the Wife of Osun State Governor, Kafayat Oyetola challenged the female folk not to take their gender for granted but strive to fight for leadership roles.
Speaking at the launching of State Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) to commemorate the 2022 International Women’s Day at the Atlantis event centre, West bye pass Osogbo, she urged women to take it as a matter of necessity to participate in taking leadership roles in society.
She also urged women in the state to join forces with her to break every bias, stereotype and discrimination meted out by the society against the women in Nigeria.
“This is the time to break every form of bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women. If we are to evolve a State that guarantees sustainable development and a better tomorrow, we must break the bias and make our women active stakeholders in political, economic and social decision-making processes. This need is no longer debatable. Countries that are making progress have taken this for granted.
In his remark, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola said the country and by extension, the world is in crisis because women have not be given adequate role to play globally
“If today, the world is in crisis, if today, our democracy is crying for help, it is because there is a gap you have yet to fill in the larger society as our mothers. We are confident that, as the bias is broken, the world shall begin to know and enjoy peace”, he said.
Earlier, the wife of former Governor of Oyo State, Florence Ajimobi warned women to desist from character assassination but speak with one voice to win any struggle.
Also, in Ado-Ekiti, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governorship Candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State, Segun Oni, showered encomiums on Ekiti women, describing them as humane, ingenious and witty in their approach to the society.
While cautioning them to desist from vote selling, noting that the power to usher a new dawn lies solely on what they decide at the polls, he said, “If you sell your vote, you have retarded the progress of your state, damaged the future of your children. Never give your voter’s card to anybody, join the struggle for a new dawn in Ekiti on June 18, 2022.”
In his words, “If you say you like Segun Oni, and you want him again as your governor, you can’t actualize it with your mouth; you can only do it with your voter’s cards. This is why you should obtain a voter’s card today before it closes..
“Ekiti Women are averse to corruption, kind-hearted, humble and supportive to their husbands. I pray that the Almighty God continues to protect them to reap the fruits of their labour.”
Philanthropist and politician, Chief Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan has advocated deliberate legislative efforts and policy instruments to guarantee gender mainstreaming in governance, saying Nigeria cannot progress by shutting out women.
Speaking with WO, the finer gubernatorial candidate in Kogi state lamented that “while most countries are progressing towards a fairer and more liberal world for women with a handful producing their first female presidents and Prime Ministers, Nigeria is retrogressing”.
“Just last week, the parliament discarded five bills that would have accorded women some level of equity especially – that which would enable Nigerian women married to foreign-born husbands grant their spouses Nigerian citizenship as it is with the Nigerian men married to foreign wives. And, the bill to assign 35 percent of legislative seats to women, as well as reserve 35 percent of political party leadership, for women, amongst others.
“May I remind Nigerians of the Composition of the present Nigeria Senate; Out of 109 Senators, Men are 102 and Women are seven. Out of 360 members in the House of Representatives, Men are 347 and Women are 13.
“In the states Houses of Assembly; out of 999 members, only 45 are women. There are in fact, 15 states with no women in the Houses of Assembly. These states are; Kogi, Yobe, Sokoto, Abia, Bauchi, Edo, Jigawa, Kwara, Taraba, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Nasarawa, Yobe and Borno.
“Sickening it is to have anyone think Nigeria can progress by shutting the doors of opportunity to women who can offer socioeconomic, political and corporate growth to nation building.
Until we forge a formidable force ahead and break these chains of bias, it is a long way for us all as a country”, she stated.