ITA-GIWA, BETTA, OTHERS OFFERS PERSPECTIVES ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR WOMEN
Discussants at a One-day Public lecture organized by the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar have expressed plausible but divergent views on the issue of Affirmative Action for Women in Nigeria.
The Public lecture with the theme, ‘’ Zoning Women into leadership positions in Nigeria: Between the Convenience of Affirmative Action and Demand for Competence’’, was held at the Institution’s International Conference Centre, as part of activities to mark the 2021 law week.
Speaking during the lecture, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, a discussant, said she does not believe in affirmative as women have struggled over the years to be recognized in the scheme of things in the country.
According to her, women who have ever dared to aspire to leadership positions had been engaged in a ‘battle of wits by the men ’, adding that, the amount of male ‘testosterone infused into all institutions in Nigeria suggests it is wrong for women to aspire to leadership.
The former lawmaker said some women are competent enough to assume sensitive positions but the domineering attitude of the men have relegated them to the background.
She, however, identified zoning as a compensatory mechanism for the exclusion of women in leadership in Nigeria, stressing that, the men have over time perverted some aspects of the African culture that confers special status on women to a weapon of exclusion of women in leadership.
Ita-Giwa who was represented by Mrs. Patricia Endeley said opportunities in the leadership matrix exists at several levels, but according to her, women have been at an appalling disadvantage in all of these levels.
In her words, ‘’ if we must be brutally frank on the competence question, recent history suggest that the few women who have been given sensitive and strategic assignments have excelled. For instance, Dr.Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla, Dr. Dora Akunyili performed very well in governance’’
While challenging women to take up the challenge by demanding greater inclusion in leadership via the ‘zoning’ route for leadership appointments, she further charged them to ‘steel themselves for the battle, mobilize necessary funds and get ready to rumble’’.
But the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu disagreed with Ita-Giwa’s submission that women must aspire to leadership positions by engaging in a battle with the men.
To her, capacity and competence would naturally place women in an advantaged position to take up leadership positions.
This came as she encouraged women to set their priorities and work towards achieving them.
Hear her, ‘’ once you proffer solutions to societal problems you will naturally lead. I do not believe women are in a battlefield with the men. If you show capacity you will lead’’
In the same vein, the Senator representing the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State, Stephen Odey, stated that zoning women into positions is not out of place, saying that some women have excelled above the men in leadership positions.
While describing women as ‘better organizers and less financially greedy’’, Senator Odey who was represented by the Head of Department of Sociology, Dr, Mike Ushie said women should be supported to ascend higher positions of authority because, according to him, they have demonstrated adequate capacity.
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Joe Edet, in his remarks, said women deserve equal representation in all facets of the society.
He also used the occasion to remind law students of the need to be well behaved and diligent in their studies.
The Dean of the Faculty of law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon who spoke on the imperatives of the public lecture, said he is poised to key into vision and mission of the current University administration by enthroning academic excellence.
The Public lecture also featured presentations by Dr. Comfort Oko, Dr. Mrs Grace Edu, Dr. Mrs Maria Umo and a representative from Engr.Ben Akak foundation.
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