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Seeking restructuring the female way



Seeking restructuring the female way

The agitation for restructuring is spreading like a wild fire in the harmattan and sweeping through every segment of society, including women groups. REGINA OTOKPA reports


Prominent Nigerian women recently embraced the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria. The women, who joined the fray at the weekend, said womenfolk would no longer sit on the fence on important issues capable of changing the fortunes of Nigeria. Leading the women’s vanguard were the Director-General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mary Ekpere-Eta; Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Binta Masi Garba and a former Minister of Women Affairs, Josephine Anenih, among others.

The trio, who were at an event marking the Finalization of the Draft Memorandum by Nigerian Women on the Restructuring of Nigeria pledged to mobilise other women to support the agitation. In her remarks, Ekpere-Eta said the draft document was the outcome of a round table dialogue which had in attendance, female politicians, academia, professionals, women with disabilities, market women, female youths and women civil society organizations and the submissions of organizations. She said the document covered history of restructuring debate in the country, with key ingredients of the debate, where women stand and why.

“It is expected that this small group of experts will finalise the draft document which was borne out of consensus and wide agreement such that women are willing to uphold, defend and argue its points and resolutions at different levels. “We expect that the final outcome will be submitted to the Federal Government Committee on Restructuring, as well as National Assembly, while ensuring bipartisanship ownership around the women agenda.

“In addition, we are hoping to step up the women’s agenda in the six geopolitical zones of the country and monitor its utilization by various groups on a continuous basis, using all available media,” Ekpere-Eta said. Ekpere-Eta disclosed that the women have been on the draft memorandum for over three months, having held series of meetings before they came out with the draft.

“The 15-man experts that we have, analysed the drafts and we are going to send them back to Nigerian women for further input and we will come out with a position for the Nigerian women,” she stated. Ekpere-Eta said the involvement of women in the agitation for the restructuring of the country, was auspicious considering that women were the most important factor and key players in the society, being the best in terms of organizational skills and the economy. According to her, there was need for the women to come together to take a decision on the restructuring of the country. Nigerian women, she said, were throwing their weight behind the issue because of its importance to the development of the country.

“Of course, women are in support of restructuring and they want to play a major role to make sure that they are not left out, and that they take their position in the national policy making,” Ekpere-Eta said. On her part, Garba said the issue of restructuring was not new in the country, but had been with us as a nation for a very long time.

“History has shown that way back in the 50s, restructuring has been on the front burner of women and today, for the first time, for women to come together and name their own voice in the advancement of Nigerian governance. “It has shown that women came from all over the country, even some from abroad to have an input on the draft bill that will be sent to the National Assembly on the overall view of what the Nigerian women are agitating for in terms of restructuring.

“We are fully in support of the restructuring. Like we said, it is a draft bill. At the end of the day, the common decision of the Nigerian women will be taken and we will see if it will be accepted by the National Assembly,” Garba said.A former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih, said the draft was of great importance because the debate on the restructuring of the country cannot be left on the doorsteps of the malefolks.

“We must bring in our own perspectives to the conversations, the demand for restructuring. One thing is certain, we as Nigerian women, want this country restructured if we are going to survive as a nation and how do we want it to be restructured? That is what we are brainstorming on now and putting our thoughts together, so that we can show and tell them how we want it to be done. “So, we are looking at all the different agitations. Some are asking for state police; so all those issues that have been talked about, we are bringing them out and looking at them,” Anenih said.

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