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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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Gender Equality: NASS careful not to enthrone further discrimination says Omo-Agege

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Gender Equality: NASS careful not to enthrone further discrimination says Omo-Agege 

By Joseph Sunday


The Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Adhoc Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has described the bill on Gender Equality sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi as challenging in that it may be difficult to achieve the goals without enthroning new set of discriminations. 

Senator Omo-Agege stated this in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of a non-partisan organisation, Women in Politics Forum led by Ebere Ifendu.
The Delta Central lawmaker assured women that their interests would be protected, but not to the detriment of the constitutional provisions against discrimination of whatever form.He said they want to strengthen women participation.Omo-Agege called on the Executive arm of government to always engage the Legislature before signing treaties and agreements.
This, he explained, will enable accelerated domestication by the National Assembly.

He also tasked the forum to help in mobilising the House of Representatives in concurring to the Sexual Harassment Bill passed by the Senate as well as the domestication of the Violence Against Persons  (Prohibition) Act in all the states of the Federation.
 In her remarks Ifendu called for the inclusion of Affirmative Action in the Constitution.
She cited African countries like Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda and Seychelles to buttress her position.
According to her there is no better time than now to achieve an inclusive democracy. Further more, she said we need to move from civil governance to true democracy where women, youth and persons with disabilities will have equal opportunities to participate in governance,” she claimed.

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Zamfara PDP alleges plans by APC to disrupt state Assembly bye-election

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Zamfara PDP alleges plans by APC to disrupt state Assembly bye-election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State, has raised the alarm over alleged plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to disrupt the State Assembly bye-election for Bakura constituency slated for Saturday 5, December.

A statement issued by Alhaji Tukur Umar Danfulani, the state chairman of the party on Wednesday, accused the opposition APC of a grand plan to create chaos using thugs during the election.

The chairman noted that the tell-tale signs by the opposition to cause mayhem during the exercise manifested two days ago when a faction of the party allegedly distroyed the PDP’s stand where key stakeholders including Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle were scheduled to address party supporters.

“Ahead of the Saturday 5, December, Bakura State House of Assembly bye-election, the APC having lost hope in the outcome of the election have hatched plans to disrupt the exercise even as the state provided level playing ground to all participating political parties.

“Just two days to the bye election, it was discovered that the APC candidate to the election, Bello Dankande Gamji led a group of over 200 APC political thugs and destroyed the grand stand where PDP chieftains including the state governor, Hon. Dr. Bello Mohammed MON Matawallen Maradun was scheduled to address party supporters and formally close the PDP’s campaigns in Bakura.

“The thugs who also carried guns to scare away all PDP sympathizers in the area as well as threaten the smooth conduct of the bye election have shot and wounded two of the PDP supporters who attempted to stop them.

‘The irate thugs also attacked and disloged all security personnel who were already in the area to ensure that peace existed before, during and after the election but which the APC leaders and their supporters did want to see happen.

“These acts are similar to what the APC did during the 2019 general elections in the state that led to the party’s total failure.

“The destructive APC thugs did not stop there but went to the nearby Dakko ward, attacked the village head, Alhaji Salmanu Muhammad destroyed two of his vehicles, a Kia and an Avensus, a Volkswagen Golf belonging to the PDP and a bakery house which they burnt down,” he alleged.

He said as law abiding citizens and party, the PDP and its supporters, “we want to draw the attention of Mr. President to know what is happening in Zamfara ahead of the state assembly bye election in Bakura local government area particularly on the use of arms by members of the APC with support from their leaders at a time when the state government under PDP rule is trying to entrench peace in the state which had suffered from severe bandits attack under immediate past governor Abdulaziz Yari leadership in the state.

“We also want to call on all security agencies in the state in the presence of who we gathered on Thursday, 26/11/2020 to sign a peace accord to guarantee the conduct of a peaceful election, to quickly look into this report and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks.”

He called on party supporters to continue to be law abiding and remain calm “while we await the security agents to do their job on the matter.”

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PDP expresses dismay that Buhari will blame the dead for his failure

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PDP expresses dismay that Buhari will blame the dead for his failure

**Says remark is an open support for insurgency

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday expressed dismay that a President would blame the dead fir his cluelessness.

The major opposition party in Nigeria described as weird, reprehensible and repulsive that the Buhari Presidency now seeks to turn itself into a mouthpiece of terrorists by its subtle attempt to rationalize the killing of innocent and hard working Nigerians.
The party said it is shocked that the Buhari Presidency has graduated from making bogus claims of having degraded terrorism to the embarrassing point of blaming unprotected and helpless Nigerians for falling victims of terrorist attacks.

It said; “This, to say the least, is the height of leadership failure of the lazy, lethargic and incompetent Buhari administration”.
It stressed that it is alarmed by the reckless and bizarre attempt by the Buhari Presidency to rationalize the gruesome beheading of 43 innocent Nigerians by insurgents in Zabarmari, Borno state.
The PDP particularly said that it is outraged by the Buhari Presidency’s claims that the farmers were killed because they failed to get clearance before going to their farms.
The Party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the statement by the Presidency is also an admission that the Buhari administration has been overwhelmed by terrorists and can no longer guarantee Nigerians and other citizens a normal life.

The statement reads, “This unpatriotic stance smacks of support for acts of terrorism and mindless killing of our compatriots by a government whose Commander-in-Chief had promised Nigerians to lead the battle against insurgents from the front.
“Our party is forced to hold that attitudes such as the unpatriotic remark of the Buhari Presidency embolden insurgents in their ceaseless attacks in our country.
“Such also provides further insights into the escalation of acts of terrorism in our country in the last five years.
“It is therefore insensitive for the Buhari Presidency to have shown this huge lack of empathy, which amounts to a spat on the grave of the slain as well as an unpardonable slap on the faces of the generality of mourning Nigerians.

“Perhaps this also informs why their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has not deemed it fit to have a word of lamentation for the death nor consolation for the bereaved.
The party therefore chalkenged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw the offensive statement by his Presidency and apologize to Nigerians, particularly the people of Borno state.
The PDP also restated its call to President Buhari to heed the demands by Nigerians to rejig the nation’s security architecture as well as replace his Service Chiefs with more competent hands in the interest of the nation.

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