Women, Ministers and the Book Launch

By Joke Grange

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with a population of over 160 million. According to the 2006 census by the National Population Commission, women constitute 68.3million of Nigeria’s burgeoning population. Women are therefore a significant demographic group and Society for Women Advancement in Nigeria (S.W.A.N), a civil society organization, has continued to advocate that the talents and expertise of Nigerian women must be effectively harnessed and utilized for the advancement of the Nation. The society also advocates for family values.
The opportunities given to women in the Federal Executive Cabinet by the present Administration is a recognition of their capabilities. This is welcome and must be applauded as it is in line with global best practices. There is however, a strategic Ministry, petroleum, in which SWAN must express its principled concern. The Ministry is headed by one of our gender but the scandal that has surrounded her person is turning the attention away from the work being done in that organization. One day we are reading and seeing pictures of her luxurious, Champaign, private jet lifestyle, the next is news of an alleged purchase of a million-euro mansion in Vienna.
The President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was honoured on Wednesday, (26/06/2013), for the opportunities he gave women to serve in key areas of his administration at a dinner held in Abuja. The event, tagged the Mid-term Presidential Dinner, also featured the presentation of a 320-page book titled, “Goodluck Ebele Jonathan: Champion for Women.” According to reports, the Minister of Petroleum was the book’s project coordinator and editor-in-chief. She also wrote the forward. It is a good thing to recognize the President for giving women strategic ministries and empowering our women folk. In fact, in the history of Nigeria we have not had such a gender sensitive leader. However, many are asking why is the oil Minister usurping the powers of the Minister of Women Affairs? Ordinarily, the book project on women falls under the preview of the women affairs ministry. Some have argued that it is because of the personal relationship the oil minister has with her boss, the president, but does she have to flaunt it?
It would be better for her to do her job well in her won Ministry and not interfere with the mandate of another Ministry. In fact, if we are discussing about women empowerment the icon is the First Lady, Dame Jonathan. She campaigned throughout the 36 state of the Federation and the FCT to ensure victory for her husband. During campaigns, if I recall, Dame Jonathan promised women 35% affirmative action and assured that if voted into office, Dr. Jonathan would not let the women down. Dame Patience, a formidable grassroots social mobilizer, stands tall by her husband at all times. Many have described her as the “Hilary Clinton” of Nigeria. She defends the President through thick and thin as she is a tower of support for him. The First Ladies dignified silence must be commended and applauded, her charitable works have earned her accolades as well as national and international awards. Keep up the good work Dame Patience, as the voice for women, the friend of widows, orphans and the less privileged. SWAN applauds your efforts and your commitment to family values.
Joke Grange is the President of Society for Women Advancement in Nigeria (S.W.A.N)

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