Women, Power, the Assembly and 35%

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Image result for nigerian senate

Some of us have been angry with the Nigerian National Assembly since last week.

So there were proposed amendments to alter the 1999 Constitution, to ensure that at least 35% of the Ministers (and Commissioners for each State) consist of women a.k.a affirmative action for Women.

Laudable idea… right?

Which is why a large number of the people have been irked, and decried the National Assembly when the Senate failed to vote in favour of the “affirmative action”.

Not me. I am not irked. Well… not particularly for the non-passage of this Bill.

For starters, I am not ignorant of the fact that we (as a people) have this weird ‘gift’ of perverting (inherently) good causes, and using them for selfish ends.

Like “amnesty”.

I remember it began with amnesty for oil-bunkering militants, and training them to be more empowered, thus negating their need for oil-bunkering.


Then, amnesty for members of the Boko-Haram sect was brought to the table.

(It’s like the world granting “amnesty” to ISIS)

Asides the sheer confusion of who exactly the proposed beneficiaries of the ‘amnesty’ deal were – seeing that denouncing members of the Boko Haram sect were never actually identified – there was the disappointment that the Government’s response to brazen and ruthless murder via terrorism was to roll-over.

Not ok. But the deal was placed on the table anyway.

More recently … the waters are being tested for “amnesty” for looting public servants.

Image result for angry black woman
Let us take a moment of silence, for this to sink in.
Maybe we should just provide “amnesty” for all crimes already, and be the first sanction-free State in the world.

If “amnesty” could be perverted to the point of losing its meaning, nothing makes “affirmative action for women” immune to being converted into a vehicle for actualizing selfish tribal, political and personal interests of the privileged few.

There is also the danger of institutionalizing mediocrity (and laziness) if the law was passed.
Heaven knows we already have enough problems with the (misplaced) sense of entitlement brought about by disparities perpetuated by the present “quota system” and the ever ready chant of “Federal Character”. Often, merit is sacrificed at the altar of these prior “affirmative actions”.

What would have made this different?

Indeed, we can keep shattering glass ceilings by merit, and not pine over a mantel-piece piece of legislation, which harbors the potential to be perverted into a vehicle of injustice and inequality in its own right.

Like the others before it.

In any case, a government that is truly interested in having more women in governance does not require the lip-service of a law to actualize this. In choosing its Ministers, the Executive arm of government could simply adopt the said affirmative action as a policy.

Just as was done by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau (a.k.a the most handsome ruler on earth, and in the ten planets)

Moreover, any meaningful affirmative action in favour of the female gender should not be pegged at 35%. At the very least, women should be on the equal footing with their male counterparts, and occupy a minimum of 50% of available public positions.

Shebi members of the male gender have occupied 90% - 100% of the public positions since 1960.

We have not died.

If women occupied a majority of the public positions, we would all be alright.

But then… even if the law had been passed, and an affirmative action was implemented for public office-holders, what of at our places of work?

Will there be affirmative actions to ensure that women are given their rightful places in Board-Rooms as decision-makers, without being subjected to the extra-mile that that their male counterparts are not subjected to? Will this affirmative action have magically shattered that glass ceiling?

What of in our individual homes, where we encourage the boy-child to sit comfortable before the television, and practice being the Lord of the Manor, while the girl-child is relegated to the kitchen, where she is indoctrinated from an early age that regardless of how many degrees or A’s she bags, her purpose in life is measured in the kitchen?

What of our lackadaisical responses to rape, and domestic violence against women?

The truth remains that the absence of a law on “affirmative action for Women” is neither the problem, nor the reason gender inequality thrives in all spheres in Nigeria.

The problem is more endemic, such that the “second-class citizen” status of women in the country is subconsciously taken for granted, as the natural status quo. It is not a problem that can be wished away by a cute-looking bill.

It is a problem which requires deep reorientation and a total change of lifestyle.

There is primarily a need for the overhauling of the treatment of females, from the girl-child to the woman, such that if the Nigerian government is serious about actual affirmative actions for women in Nigeria, the fundamental step would be to foremost domesticate in all states and implement already existing laws, which promote equal rights for females. Laws such as the Violence Against Persons Act, and the Child Rights Act.

Image result for child rights act nigeria

I mean… if females do not feel safe, how can they validly wield power? To empower the woman, you must first empower the girl.

The Government could also wage a war on, and stop child marriages under the guise of culture or religion. Or under any other guise. For it is only after the girl-child has been protected and given equal rights to a life of her choice that the world would begin to take us serious on actions for women.

It is equally important that women in all spheres, who are making great strides be regarded as the equal humans they are, capable of holding any position or wielding any power that their male counterparts hold and/or wield, without the need for the proverbial eye of the needle, or a condescending nod of approval in the form of a “35%” palliative.

I repeat: after all is done and said, it is not a law on yet another affirmative action that we need.

It is a systematic and fundamental revolution in our way of thinking, and in regarding women, that we require.

Let us first in our daily lives affirm women for the equals they are, and accord them that right.

The rest of the lines will fall in the proper places. Eventually.



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  1. In the just concluded elections in Kenya;Three women were elected as governors of their respective
    counties, another three women became the first women in Kenya's history to be elected to the Senate rather than appointed, this goes to show how much they value women and would elect them to lead unlike our country Nigeria where they'd rather pull down a move to make it law for 35% of ministers be women. If they'd turn down a law to select women to guaranteed positions; how then do you think they'd vote women to probable positions. First of all, women need to do more by staying true to themselves and supporting each other and when one amongst 1million gets a chance to serve, they should serve well and not be like the Diezani''s and Patricia Etteh of this world but rather be like the Okonjo Iweala and Dora Akunyilis.