Give women a chance in Nigeria

Access today in many places in Nigeria to quality education is still a major problem for the girl-child. Women still cry of marginalization. Their cries can’t be ignored. Women sacrifice a lot for Nigeria despite offerings and promises to make them Nigeria’s bride and the intimacy of such a relationship. What ricochets to me is that many people see their tribe as being marginalized, hardly ever do they complain about the marginalization of women on the same scale. Shouldn’t they? Women’s aspirations have been diminished in the space allocated to them in regional and national politics. They have suffered practical exclusion at all policy levels safe for times when speeches are delivered by governmental persons to make women happy. Support for claims to equality also arises because human rights are a major challenge, poverty continues to spiral upwards, infrastructure is lacking. I think the fact that we haven’t been able to put things in proper perspective further destabilizes the polity.

Agitators need to look along the lines of campaigning for progress in the areas of access to education, power, health, rural roads, the social well-being of rural people, reduction in poverty, unemployment and- gender equality. We have policies that aren’t all embracing. Some tribes in Nigeria always complain about internal marginalization, without shifting their sights to many of the minority tribes lumped together in many states struggling for survival. A situation that has led to some tribes being more prominent than others. Aren’t women also marginalized? Some bosses rarely tell their senior female staff that they won’t be in the office but they will tell junior male staff when they’ll be absent. I was introduced to Eno-Obong Akpan, Esq, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Uyo Branch, Akwa Ibom State, in Abuja by my contact Ibong Cindy during the 2018 Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference with the theme: ‘Transition, Transformation, and Sustainable Institutions.’‬

A rare feat for a woman in view of the fact that no-woman before her had ever been elected to that office. On the other hand, how was she able to accomplish this feat in a country where men would rather women are seen but not heard. Why did you contest for the position of Chairman I asked her, “I contested to be Chairman to enable me contribute my own quota towards the advancement of my association and to improve on the achievements of the past.” Not that I doubt a woman’s capacity. I have always known that women from studies in the public domain are more emotionally intelligent than men and score higher on social awareness, relationship management and self-management, although the scores on self-awareness lean towards equality between both genders. Women in Nigeria need to be given more roles in senior management, because unlike many men who value task excellence more than relationship excellence, women value both. And justly so for the reason that even though hard skills get one into jobs, the lack of soft skills sends them through the exit doors. Some of the soft skills include, self-evaluation, personal responsibility, positive attitude, good work habits, people skills, proactive learning, problem solving, and respect for context, service and teamwork.

What are your achievements so far Eno-Obong? “My administration is the first that has ever promoted transparency and accountability, the first to give monthly financial reports to members. Again it’s the first to ever produce a budget, a Newsletter and the first to adopt a welfare policy that has enabled the branch make welfare a priority. The branch was established after the creation of Akwa Ibom State in 1987, my administration has returned to an abandoned Bar Secretariat project and working towards the completion of a befitting Secretariat for the branch” The canard that women cannot provide effective leadership just because they are always ‘racked off’ by men has been proven wrong by this woman and many others like her out there, who are not celebrated appropriately but even so are contributing their own quota to development of polity. Why should women be refugees in their own country and be made to accept bad handlings as inevitable? They have to be freed from such catacombs, from being harried, steamrollered and met every day with vociferous claque. The cloak-and-dagger behavior of men folk blowing small straws in the wind, against women is a fraud. This is encouraged by the culture in Nigeria that heavily victimizes against women. The culture defines the lives of, instead of complimenting the lives of women. This restricts them in fulfilling their ambitions in life. This is the reason that beyond piquant-symbolism of appointing women to governmental positions, they hardly leave a legacy. Their husbands still see them fit for the rooms of cooking and libertinage.

One of the fastest ways of helping women succeed in a male dominated environment is for governmental legislation to encourage this in words and actions. This is why I prefer non-material leadership: the provision of thought leadership instead of emphasis on the material. The religious bodies have not fared any better. Are the keys to social justice not political equality and human dignity? Why then therefore are women subjected to a farrago of endless bad options instead of having a pluralism of options on how best to live fulfilled lives and contribute to society? The feminine traits of teamwork, give-and-take, and cultivating friendship are necessary in a world that is becoming more and more communal, mutually dependent and transparent. Many work places today suffer from a connection deficit but with the skill of women in maintaining relationship which builds trusts and foster collaboration, the workers who experience enough connection will do well cognitively and physically and will take part in creative exchanges that fuel innovation, growth and development.

I paused to ask her about her dreams. “My dream is to witness an era where women and girls are availed the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Most importantly, women must be given leadership opportunities to enable them contribute their quota towards the advancement of their families, communities’ and society at large.” Noble dream and attainable in enlightened societies, there is a difference between knowledge and enlightenment Nigeria needs to promote her dream. The position of Chairman couldn’t have been all-beer-and-skittles for Eno-Obong and so I asked her what her challenges are in office. “One of the greatest challenges of leadership is the onerous task of acceptance from the male folk. Quite often, women need to work many times harder to gain accolades and recognition in their leadership roles.” Can Nigerian men release women from this stranglehold of discrimination? Wouldn’t our society be better off if men did so?

As reported from guardian.ng

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