An Activist, Dr. Abiola Akinyode-Afolabi, has applauded the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to back affirmative action for women’s participation in politics.
She spoke on a TVC programme: “Journalists Hangout,” on Sunday afternoon on the speech by President Buhari.
Akinyode-Abiola described it as a welcome development.
She added that the President must now go further to put his money where his mouth is by lobbying the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, to bring back the five Bills on Affirmative Action that was shot down by both chambers of the National Assembly in the course of the ongoing amendment of the constitution.
She said the fact that the National Assembly even put the issue of affirmative action as part of the Bills in the course of the ongoing constitutional amendment is a major development for women empowerment in the country.
She added that affirmative action was successful in other parts of the world and Africa and Nigeria can take a cue from those countries by leveraging on their experiences to make it work.
Nigeria, according to her, as the giant of Africa does not have any reason not to make affirmative action work.
Akinyode-Abiola called on President Buhari to take action and re-present the bills on affirmative action to the National Assembly before the conclusion of the ongoing constitution amendment process.
Affirmative Action, according to her, will be very difficult without legislation in Nigeria.
She also traced the process of lobbying and meetings that initially led to the presentation of the five Bills on Affirmative Action in the National Assembly, expressing her disappointment at the way the bills were scrapped and thrown out.
She disclosed that the Bills had made women representation in the National Assembly easy for everyone by creating additional constituencies for women in both chambers.
She expressed her believe that the representation envisaged for women in the Affirmative Action Bills that were thrown out would have been a major step forward for Nigeria on the vexed issue of Gender Equality.
Akinyode-Abiola said the time to act for President Buhari is now so that he will leave a legacy of being the first to truly make women empowerment a national issue.
She also expressed her doubt on the sincerity of Buhari on women empowerment and affirmative action owing to what she termed as the inconsistency of the action being taken by the Federal Government on the Issue.
She said having won a case in court on the signing of the National Gender Bill by President Buhari, she was pleasantly surprised that the same government under the direction of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, appealed the case.
On what she believes will happen if women get the opportunity to run or lead the government at any level in Nigeria, Akinyode-Abiola said women will run the country much better than men are currently doing.
The panelists on the show, led by Babajide Kolade-Otitoju, Ayodele Ozugbakun and Dotun Oladipo, agreed with her.
Kolade-Otitoju, Ozugbakun and Oladipo, Publisher of The Eagle Online and former President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, also called for attitudinal changes, adding that there is not much difference between a man and a woman.