SOURCE: Premium Times

Gender advocates and women groups have faulted President Bola Tinubu's cabinet list following his failure to achieve 35 percent affirmative action.

When Mr. Tinubu sent his first list to the Senate for confirmation, seven women were included out of 28, which represents 25 percent.

In his second list submitted on 2 August, only two women made the list of 19. Altogether, there are nine women in Mr. Tinubu's 47-member cabinet, which drops women's ministerial representation to 19.15 percent.

This goes contrary to his promise to give 35 percent allocation to women in public offices as indicated in his manifesto and the 2006 National Gender Policy.

In reaction to this development, gender advocates and women groups who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES expressed disappointment in the President.

Bukky Shonibare, a Gender advocate and Executive Director of Invictus Africa, noted that Nigerian women were expecting the fulfillment of the 35 percent affirmative following its nonattainment in other government positions.

She said: "We were first disappointed in the fact that when principal officers were being named and recommended, women were not advanced. Then in the state houses of assembly, there are 57 women out of 993 lawmakers, in the Senate, we have just 2.8 percent- 3 women out of 109 Senators and House of Representatives, we have 4.7 per cent-17 women out of 360 members.

"So the ministerial position has been one of the areas that we were looking for, hoping that the government will be able to bridge the gap. But again, it did not meet the 35 percent that he promised and the National gender policy. We were expecting nothing less than 16 women from his 47-member list of ministers but we have nine."

Likewise, the co-founder of Womanifesto, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, described the President's action as a "deliberate attempt to promote patriarchal character in governance" because the ministerial list contains names of "recycled-former governors who cannot serve anybody any good".

She said: "If the President has during his campaign made promises with respect to some affirmation of what he would do and some women and men might have voted for him for that reason but when it is time for the President to deliver on his promise, the failure to do that is a credibility and integrity issue for the President. It shows that the President cannot be trusted, is not likely going to be inclusive, and won't be able to serve the concerns of people".

Similarly, a Gender advocate and Executive Director of Adinya Arise Foundation, Mabel Ade, noted that while she is not disappointed in the President's action. She was however "hopeful that our advocacy will make some sense and there will be an afterthought."

"The government has failed Nigerian women and the marginalized once again and recycling old hands who couldn't make a difference in their eight years as governors, especially regarding lifting the bars for women's representations sends bad signals that would further widen gender inequality gaps in Nigeria", she added.

The CEO of Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES called on Tinubu's government to "uphold its commitment towards gender equality and leverage the untapped potential of women in driving sustainable development and social progress of Nigeria".

"We demand true representation of women and the implementation of the 35% affirmative action based on the court judgment of 6 April 2022 upholding the National Gender Policy. Achieving gender parity is not only a matter of fairness but also necessary for effective governance. We will continue to engage with various stakeholders to promote inclusive governance and advocate for equitable representation at all levels", she added.

For the Executive Director of TechHer, Chioma Agwuegbo, "punishing politicians and giving political parties their scorecards at the polls", will see a change in Nigeria's politics, governance, and in the inclusion of women.

She said: "19 percent out of 47 ministers for a government that made a lot of comment about affirmative action, the inclusion of women in government, how they were going to do better, is very poor but it is also representative of the fact that politicians will say whatever they need to say to get into office and when they get into office, they will do then do what they originally want to do because there are no consequences."

She however urged women groups and gender advocates to go back onto the drawing board and review the status quo.

"We need to start to ask ourselves questions about what has contributed to the decline and see if there is anything we need to do differently and also use the opportunity to engage the new members of the National Assembly and State houses of assembly to build a consensus with them that can hopefully advance our cause", she said.

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