The Shadow Cabinet of Nigeria (SCN), an innovative style of opposition politics in Nigeria which is modeled after similar bodies in the UK and Australia has come out to condemn that lack of female representation in the 21-man list of ministerial nominees sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The SCN, which is made up of smart, patriotic and young democrats of the opposition spoke through a statement made available to The Trent and signed by Nkechi Ugwu, the Secretary of Women Affairs and Social Development of the SCN.
In the statement, the SCN called to mind that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan gave women about 35% representation in his appointments, wondering why President Buhari has chosen not to tow the same path, as his 21-man ministerial nominees only had about 3 women.
The group also bemoaned the fact that the three women in the list are already facing stiff opposition from their various states.
The statement reads:
World over, the role of women in governance cannot be overstated. During the last administration, we saw increased participation of women in public administration, though not without the attendant controversies.
The giant strides they made and their collective landmark achievements would remain a point of reference for years to come. The Buhari led government seems poised on taking us back to the old era, and now, we are forced to ask; “Are Women really insignificant as far as governance is concerned in Nigeria”?
Since this female biased ministerial nominees list was released by the president Buhari government (the leaked list and their portfolios which poses a serious credibility question to this administration is a topic for another day), one would think that by looking up various fora, there would be articles and essays addressing the apparent neglect of women by the present administration, but we found to our utter dismay that this is not so.
The only visible article on this topic which was written by Bimbo Adelakun of Punch Newspaper has been taken down from their website.
This has really given us concern as a group as we are gradually realising how insignificant the Nigerian government of this dispensation intends to make women. Globally, women are making as much input(s) socially, economically and politically as their male counterparts. It is therefore an injustice on the part of the Buhari led administration to knowingly seclude and relegate them to the background while making vital political and administrative appointments.
It is highly alarming that out of the twenty one (21) ministerial nominees as announced by the Nigerian Senate, only three women made the list and to worsen the situation, they are currently facing a backlash of sorts from their respective states.
It is on record that the previous administration gave the women a 35% political playing field which motivated and led to the active participation and empowerment of the women in a democratic setting. We expect this administration to consolidate on such precedent and not destroy it completely.
It is no longer news that women in several capacities have faced degradation socially and culturally but the protection of women rights and gender equality has secured a special place internationally through various statutes, acts and more explicitly in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Nigeria, being a signatory to this goal and most of the international laws that empower women should not pay lip service to such proclamations, but do everything within her power to uphold it through direct actions such as the appointment of women into various important positions in the federation as was the norm in the previous administration.
While not undermining the cultural and religious impediments this administration might be facing due to the region and religious faith of the president, it will be right to remind him that for a nation to grow, we all need to grow above our various itinerant affiliations and brace up to the realities of true democracy, federalism and development.
We hope that the Buhari led administration would henceforth show true equity and fairness as far as gender roles in governance is concerned.