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Pushing frontiers of gender, equal opportunity through legislation

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Pushing frontiers of gender, equal opportunity through legislation

• NGOs drum support for bill to sail through

By John Akubo

The sponsor of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, 2019, Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South, PDP) has challenged Nigerian women to own the law and have their voices heard loud and clear. Senator Olujimi explained why she has remained consistent despite the many hiccups to the passage of the bill.
Olujimi said, “The women are the owners of the law when enacted. So, they must own it and have their voices heard.”
The bill was first rejected in March 2016 when some male lawmakers argued that the Nigerian Constitution was clear on the rights of citizens, including women.
“It (the bill) has been re-engineered to suit everyone,” Sen. Olujimi recently assured her male colleagues when the bill came again up for consideration.
Mrs. Olujimi said she reworked the bill and has thus represented it to the Senate. She said the bill seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and would guarantee equal opportunity, development, and advancement for all Nigerian citizens irrespective of gender.
According to her, “The bill has been trending a long time now. It’s a result of the treaties and conventions signed by the government of Nigeria after the Beijing Conference 25 years ago, among others.”

On what changes she has brought to bear in the reintroduced bill to address the criticisms against it in the past, she said, “In a bid to domesticate and effect necessary changes, the National Assembly has been struggling to get the bill passed,” saying the challenges border on some contentious issues concerning inheritance, widowhood, child marriage, especially where religion is concerned.
“We have tried to reduce and or remove some of these items to ensure easy passage.”
On women’s health and how she would address it in the new bill, she said, “Health of women is captured in the overall sense of equal and prompt attention to women, especially those with special needs, maternal health, and the elderly, etc.”
She said she has worked with some men and women groups like the United Nations, European Union, Africa Union, the German government, The Netherlands, and others, who assisted in arranging several fora with NGOs and funding partners. Although she said she could not remember the number of women groups she worked with, she estimated them to be up to 40
The legislation is seeking to guarantee the rights of women to equal opportunities in employment, equal right to inheritance for both male and female children, equal right for women in marriage and divorce, and equal access to education, and property and land ownership. It also seeks to protect the right of widows, guarantee appropriate measures against gender discrimination in political and public life and ensure the prohibition of violence towards women.

The proposed law also seeks equal opportunity, development, and advancement for all Nigerian citizens irrespective of gender as well as promote girls’ access to education, freedom for women to participate in any economic activity and their right to be free from violence.
Also responding to the recent outburst by the Northern Elders’ Forum when they dismissed the new move by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, to amend the constitution, which they said would be another jamboree, Olujimi said if the National Assembly could make small strides, the alterations would be almost done.
“I believe that even little, if we can achieve gender equality alteration and 35 per cent affirmative action in the alteration this time around, can anybody say we have not achieved anything?” she asked. “We would have achieved a lot, because women, children and youth make up almost 60 per cent of our population and if you work for those people then you have worked for Nigeria.
“So, I believe we should keep striving to do these small things with the hope that we will be allowed to do them as legislators.”
The Director of an Abuja​-based Think-Tank, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, said the bill had been cleaned up and re-presented by Senator Olujimi of Ekiti State, noting, “We do hope it doesn’t suffer the same defeat it had previously for almost the same reason. This bill will be highly beneficial to improving women’s political participation; it will also give voice to the girl-child. Importantly, it will back the National Gender Policy.

“At CDD, we amplify the voices of women in politics. We also provide evidence in support of Affirmative Action (AA) principles in governance. Our Women Political Platform radio show was the only national radio programme that advocated and brought to the fore the impact of women in politics and the potential impact of AA.
“In the Northeast, we have been working on sexual and gender-based violence for years, even supporting the National Human Rights Commission to take action in Borno State.”
She also observed that the challenges facing women were legion, adding that education is one of the ways to adequately address them.
“We need our girls in school and women in political offices to make gender-friendly laws,” Hassan said.
Beyond Olujimi’s bill, she said women were taking advantage of the opening for the constitutional review by the National Assembly to infuse AA principles like the Gender Commission in Uganda’s constitution.
Also, Director, Women Rights Programmer, ActionAid Nigeria, Nkechi Ilochi-
Omekedo, said, “It is so appalling that the bill was thrown away earlier even at a time like this where we know that it is so relevant and important in our national life.
“The GEO bill, if passed, would have responded to many issues that women groups have been agitating for and contributed to our achievement of gender equality in Nigeria.”

The Executive Director of Ladi Memorial Foundation, Rosemary Ojochenemi Osikoya, said the impact of the denial of equal opportunities to women is evident in the poor economic development of Nigeria compared to her peers both in Africa and across the world.
“The many pressing challenges confronting Nigeria in 2020: insecurity, high illiteracy, injustice, social vices, youth unemployment, corruption, and many more, against the backdrop of the age-long discrimination against women and the poor involvement of women in public governance is not surprising,” she said. “No nation can prosper, where a critical mass of its composite fraction (women) is ill-treated, oppressed and considered subservient.
“The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill 2019 presents an opportunity for the 9th National Assembly to revisit the needed building stones for a robust Nigerian economy, one which embraces all contributors and needed assets to nation building, one which, rather than misunderstand the strengths of the Nigerian woman, embraces her resilience, passion and unique peculiarities, which complement those of her male counterpart.
“We join other NGOs, civil societies and well-meaning Nigerians and international stakeholders to call on the National Assembly to do the needful, pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill 2019 as a well thought-out action in recognition of the Nigerian woman’s right as a free-born and full citizen of Nigeria.”

Osikoya said woman, as a necessary asset and treasured partner with fundamental human rights, should have equal opportunities in employment, equal right in marriage/divorce, equal access to education, property/land ownership and inheritance and right to life and protection as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She reiterated the fact that the Nigerian woman is a strong pillar in her family, resourceful, passionate, intelligent, diligent, dependable, and the centre of her family/community and in many cases the unacknowledged bread-winner for the family.
“Nigerian history acknowledges the strong contributions of women to the economy and in shaping the history of their communities,” Osikoya said. “Such women as Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Kuti, Queen Amina, etc, were simply a few privileged women, who were opportune to rise up to the occasion when their societies needed them.
“Our experience, working with women in various communities across Nigeria, has shown that the average Nigerian woman, irrespective of her education accomplishment, is shackled with age-long discrimination, various forms of abuse and sadly, oppressive silence. The burden of Nigeria’s under-development is borne mostly by women, most of whom are poorly educated and victims of various forms of abuses.”

Culled from the Guardian

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2023 Presidency: Bello tells oldies to cool their heels, as their time is up

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2023 Presidency:  Bello tells oldies to cool their heels, as their time is up

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State may have signaled to all the older persons jostling for the Presidency to jettison their ambitions as the time is for the younger generation
He said, the nation is bedevilled by leadership crises due to the absence of succession plan.
He spoke in Abuja on Saturday when he received a team of ex-Nigerian football internationals, led by a former Super Eagles player and coach, Augustine Eguavoen.
He said Nigerians should focus on competence of aspirants seeking for the presidency of the country as against the clamour for zoning.
The Gover had since thrown his hat in the ring backed with vigorous campaigns for the topmost job.
Bello expressed confidence that come 2023, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will provide the next generation of leaders who will fix the country.

He added that the earlier the seniors know that the time is up, the better for them.

Bello said competence should be the basis for the emergence of Nigeria’s next President instead of ethno-religious considerations.

Using the example of the new leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Governor Bello said it was time the old left the political stage for the younger generation. “Mr President who listens to the calls and yearnings of the youths appointed one of us to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and you are going to see the magic wand in the fight against corruption because Mr Bawa knows that the future lies squarely on the shoulders of the young generations.

So, we will do everything possible to assist Mr Bawa to succeed on the job. “No matter the energy or talent that you had put in building the Super Eagles of those days, if you don’t have successors, younger ones who will take over from you, we would not have still had some brilliant people on the pitch today.  “Both north and south do not know boundaries when it comes to football and other sports. So, we are appealing to Nigerians to look beyond religion and ethnicity. For once, let us get one person who will fix this country irrespective of where he comes from and then the rest shall follow. “I pray that good reasons will prevail on our seniors to know that the time is up for them because I have been charged with the responsibility of educating, sensitizing, mobilizing strong, energetic, committed and patriotic new generation of men and women. I will not fail in that responsibility. “I know that the youths and students are listening to me. We have spoken. We have communicated a nd we understand ourselves. We are ready to take leadership. We are not waiting to be simply called upon. We are saying, here we are. We are taking charge. “By the special grace of God, I can assure you that come 2023, our party under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will provide the next generation of leaders who will fix this country. There will be Judases. No doubt about it. There will be gang ups. There will be landmines but we will overcome them. There will be obstacles. There will be hurdles but we will cross them. I think the elders, the earlier the seniors know that the time is up, the better for them. I want to finally urge our seniors and the federal and state governments to give every necessary support to those who made us proud at one time or the other,” he said.

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2023 election: Group asks Tinubu to declare his presidential interest

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2023 election: Group asks Tinubu to declare his presidential interest

***offers N10M to support purchase of Tinubu nomination form

By Doris Ferdinand

A group under the aegis of Tinubulate Nigeria Agenda (TINA) is urging Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to as a matter of urgency declare for 2023 presidential election.

Director General -TINA, Alamoh Kehinde Samuel disclosed this in an inaugural world press conference held at Tinubu Support Group Office in Abuja on Saturday.

Kehinde said after much consultation, the group decided to throw their weight behind Bola Ahmed Tinubu and give their unrelenting support to him because they are convinced that he is competent to actualize the Nigeria of their dream.

The group further offered a dummy cheque of N10,000,000 to support Asiwaju’s purchase of presidential nomination form.

“Our group has concluded plans to present a cheque to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as support for the purchase of the expression of interest and nomination forms to run for the presidency, when the party commences the sales of form.”Kehinde said.

“As a show of our commitment, we wish to present to Nigerians, a dummy cheque of N10,000,000 as support in the purchase of Asiwaju presidential nomination form immediately the APC commences sale of forms, this is to demonstrate our commitment to this course which is critical to the development and progress of our dear country.

“Again, we are convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu possesses all the qualities, competence, capability, capacity and experience needed to actualize the Nigeria of our dream.” Kehinde added.

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INEC schedules Aba North/South Federal Constituency for Saturday 27th March 2021

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INEC schedules Aba North/South Federal Constituency for Saturday 27th March 2021

By Janet Samuel

The Independent National Electoral Commission has fixed Saturday 27th March 2021 for the conduct of the bye-election to fill the vacant seat for the Aba North/South Federal Constituency of Abia State.
Thia was contained in a statement that was issued by National Commissioner & Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
The vacancy he said arose as a result of the death of Hon. Ossy Prestige, member representing Aba North/South Federal Constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives and the subsequent declaration of vacancy for the Federal Constituency by the National Assembly.

He pointed out that the official notification for the election the commission said will be published on Monday 1st March 2021.
“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between 4th and 10th March 2021 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is at 6pm on the 16th March 2021.

“Political Parties shall submit the names of their Polling Agents for the election to the Electoral Officers of the respective Local Governments on or before 19th March 2021 and campaigns by political parties shall stop on 25th March 2021.

“The Access Code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from 10th March 2021 at the Commission’s headquarters.

“Political parties fielding candidates for the bye-election should pay close attention to the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the conduct of the bye-election and conduct transparent and valid party primaries in line with the dictates of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As amended).

“We enjoin political parties to note that under section 31(8) of the Electoral Act, a political party which presents to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500, 000.00

“The detailed Timetable and Schedule of activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms.”

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