Yes, to Female Combatants in the Nigerian Army

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 Image result for female soldier nigeria

In 2016, Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 American Presidential Elections. Despite the “polls of polls”, which assured us that the less juvenile candidate would mount the iron throne.

I watched the votes being counted, in living colour.

And I cried.

Not because I am American, or because Hilary and I are buddies; constantly sipping off opposite ends of the same glass of Long Island Iced-tea.

Her contesting for the highest office in the world - argue with your mirror reflection - represented on the highest scale possible a resistance of sorts to centuries of women being relegated to second place in the general scheme of humankind, thereby holding the promise of defying the odds and shattering this symbolic glass ceiling.

Other than ensuring general sanity in the United States and continued reverence for the office of the POTUS, Hilary’s win as President would have been the ultimate “Yes You Can!” battle cry to accompany every school-girl with aspirations far bigger than her reality.

But it did not happen.

While the United States did not elect its first female President in 2016, this does not belittle the other ways in which women have made great strides, shattered various other glass-ceilings birthed from centuries of prejudicial limitations, and holding positions of power and leadership formerly deemed out of their reach.

Sirleaf Johnson. Angela Merkel. Arunma Oteh. Sheryl Sandberg.

Indeed, it may be submitted that a foremost global index for rating progressiveness of a society is in the due recognition given its women, and equality in opportunities to its people, irrespective of genders. Even countries like the United Arab Emirates, formerly perceived as hesitant in placing women on equal pedestal with their male counterparts, now take pride in having women at the forefront of critical strike missions against deadly terrorists.

This is why I (literally) clutched my heart to my chest, and sat on the floor (mouth open) upon receipt of the news that the Nigerian Army was stopping the recruitment of female combatants.

Initial reports indicated that the Nigerian Army had in a major policy reversal stated it will no longer continue to admit female combatants, thereby, impliedly making the combat unit of the Nigerian Army a sole domain of the male gender.

Thankfully, the Nigerian Army released a statement to the effect that no such policy reversal has been made.

But you know how our elders say that there is no smoke without fire? At this point, it has not been categorically confirmed or denied whether such policy is or was ever the subject of debate/consideration by the Army, at any point in time.

Just in case the devil is blowing devil- breeze into the ears of the Nigerian Army and such policy is being considered behind closed doors, it behoves us to draw attention to the inherent dangers of this regressive policy, if adopted.

As a basic threshold, the fundamental right of equality enshrined in Section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution mandates that no person can be discriminated against by virtue of their sex. In this case, it would be irrelevant that the ‘discriminator’ is the Nigerian Army, as the Constitution of Nigeria is the grundnorm of the land, that is, supreme to every other law and applicable to everyone, especially the very people sworn to defend it with their lives.

Beyond this constitutional hurdle is the inherent policy paradox which would unfold, if such a policy were adopted.

You see, Nigeria has often touted itself as the giant of the black continent. Any such move to explicitly exclude females as combatants in the Nigerian Army would be akin to taking century-fold steps backwards into the dark ages, in refusing to accord equal status to the capabilities of the females with their male counterparts.

This would be conduct becoming of (probably) only a blind giant.

The ‘rumoured’ policy also has negative labour implications, as it does nothing to help the employment index for Nigerian females; instead, limiting and excluding possible sources of employment for females, and cutting short the former aspirations of intending combatants.

There are also political implications.

Prior to now, it has been hypothesized that the government of the day is anti-women, considering the low number of female cabinet members and Federal Government appointees. Adoption of any such policy by the Federal Government to exclude the recruitment of female combatants would more or less be a brazen confirmation of the fears of female relegation, and inherently, be the final nail in crucifying the government, against whom a rap-sheet of grievances already exists.

(You know what they say about the wrath of a woman scorned?)

Other than the perpetuation of misogyny and inequality in employment opportunities to the detriment of women, such a policy would not improve Nigeria’s military strategies, or enhance its image as an emerging world leader. After all, there is no scientific or statistical research report indicating the negative effects of female combatants, in order to justify any such (absurd) policy, and the placing of this additional level of ceilings which the Nigerian woman has to surmount to thrive.

It should not be heard that while other countries in the world are preoccupied with finding a cure for Cancer and developing artificial intelligence to aid human existence, we are the ones preoccupied with relegating our female population to pounding yam and fetching firewood.

It is sincerely hoped therefore that the ‘rumour’ dies, and does not futuristically rear its head, in any capacity.

Until then, we will be keeping watch..

Waiting..

Hands on our waist.

(Cantankerous-Yoruba-woman style)

Paz,

Meg.


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7 comments

  1. I sincerely hope too that this rumour dies! My superwoman kudos to this!

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  2. "....we are the ones preoccupied with relegating our female population to pounding yam and fetching firewood....AND THE OTHER ROOM"

    By the way how will you mention Aruma Oteh and not mention Nzogi. Even your village oracle knows her....lol!!

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    1. Lol... which is why we have to shed light on Aruma Oteh. NOI is already a household name..

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  3. If not for the outcry I bet they'd have gone through with this plan and it's fine they've debunked it. There are better things to worry about and not this.

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    1. This is a huge thing to worry about, especially the ripple effect on Nigerian women.

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