The Secretary General of the Mano River Union, Amb. Medina Wesseh, has said she is fully in support of the call for a gender –sensitive reform that will ensure adequate women participation in governance and leadership in Nigeria.
Mrs. Wesseh made this known in Abuja, Nigeria, when she granted the Arise News Television an interview to give her take on the submission of the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, for the amendment of the country’s Constitution.
The amendment is intended to grant women special seats in the National Legislature so as to address the issues of the less participation of women in politics and leadership in the country.
“So here we are, a great country like Nigeria is lagged behind, and as the African Director of the NDI said, if Nigeria speaks, Africa listens; and when Nigeria leads, Africa follows. A while ago, you played the clipping that shows that the current statistics in the parliament shows about 4%. So I think the Minister of Women Affairs is saying that as a leader on the continent, Nigeria lags behind in women representation,” she said.
Mrs. Wesseh, a member of the International Working Group for Support of the Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) in Nigeria, elaborated on the address delivered by the Nigerian Women Affairs Minister at a function organized by the National Democratic Institute.
The Nigerian Women Affairs Minister’s address indicated that the local women groups want for women’s exclusive occupation, additional seats to be allotted for each of the 36 states of Nigeria in the Senate and three seats for each of the 36 states in the House of Representatives through elections so that there will be some balance in gender participation in the country.
Asked whether it will not be an additional burden on the cost of governance against the background for the call for the cut in the cost of governance in Africa, the seasoned Liberian diplomat told the journalists that there may be some cost, but analysts should look beyond the cost and look at the benefits by doing the comparative analysis if that will not bring equity, equality, peace and stability in the polity as compared to when the process was not adopted.
She also debunked the notion that calling for additional seats for women will negate social justice where the Nigerian constitution speaks against discrimination in all forms and shapes. She said as it stands, the very constitution they talk about speaks against how women are not fully represented in government and leadership in the country.
“You have a country where women are 52% of the population and their representation in the national legislature is just 4%. Is that what you call social justice”, the Liberian diplomat asked.
He then called upon the relevant authorities in Nigeria to find a mechanism so as to urgently address the deficiency by taking measures that will ensure that women are adequately represented in the decision making process in the country. Women1a Political participation is a universal crusade that is even reflected in Liberia.