IWD: As We Rehash The Equality Rhetoric

What would the Nigerian leaders even have gone there to say, anyway, except rehash all the highfalutin words lent to them by their equally apathetic speech writers and assistants?

Justice Akon Ikpeme has been disqualified by the state assembly allegedly because of her Akwa Ibom State parentage / Photo credit: http://newswirelawandevents.com/
Justice Akon Ikpeme has been disqualified by the state assembly allegedly because of her Akwa Ibom State parentage / Photo credit: http://newswirelawandevents.com/
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March is the International Women’s Month and on March 8, the world will celebrate the International Women’s Day.

It will also be the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).

This year’s theme is, “Realising Gender Equality and The Empowerment of All Women and Girls”.

Initially, like every other year, many side events were scheduled for this year’s (the 64th edition) annual Commission on the Status Women (CSW) meeting at United Nations, New York.

However, no thanks to our ‘August Visitor’ Mister Coronavirus, this year’s events have all been cancelled except a procedural meeting on March 9.

All the side events by member states, including Nigeria are cancelled.

People should just stay in their countries and celebrate their women the way they want.

But I think it’s good.

What would the Nigerian leaders even have gone there to say, anyway, except rehash all the highfalutin words lent to them by their equally apathetic speech writers and assistants?

Would they have told the world about the country’s inability to rescue Leah Sharibu from her abductors even after two years in captivity? Rather, we are told of how she has been married off to a Boko Haram commander and also delivered of baby boy!

No?

Okay, perhaps they would have given a progress report on the remaining 112 Chibok girls that are still in captivity more than five years after their abduction.

The same Nigerians that are eager to travel to Canada, US, United Kingdom and become citizens are brazen enough to call a Nigerian woman married in their state a non-indigene

I dare them to also go along with Oby Ezekwesili so she can give the world a first person account of how the government literally criminalised the efforts of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group at ensuring that the plight of the missing girls remain a top agenda issue for every Nigerian.

Or they should tell the world about Justice Akon Ikpeme, from Cross River State (or should I say Akwa Ibom State), who has just been told that even though she’s qualified to become the chief judge of the state, her less qualified male counterpart is preferred for the position because she a non-indigene and only an ‘ordinary wife’ in the state?

This is a woman born in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, prior to the creation of Akwa Ibom State from Cross River.

She has lived and spent decades working in Cross River State as a judicial officer, including being a director of public prosecution, and a judge.

Yet, when it’s time for her climb the apex, and receive that which should naturally be her due, we have been reminded that she’s, after all, a stranger and even security risk.

The same Nigerians that are eager to travel to Canada, US, United Kingdom and become citizens are brazen enough to call a Nigerian woman married in their state a non-indigene.

The same Nigerian officials who will gleefully send congratulatory messages to Nigerians who win elections in Europe and North America, are unwilling to accept their brother’s wife in a role she’s well qualified for.

They would rather have the second best and we’ve all moved on like that’s how normal people should act.

Please before you tell me this may be peculiar to Cross River State, let me remind you of the rumblings that greeted Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as a minister during former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s second coming.

According to the petitioners, Okonjo Iweala’s appointment filled the Abia State slot and she was only a wife and not a daughter of the state.

Of course, Obasanjo being Obasanjo, their objection was like water off a duck’s back.

It’s also in this country where citizenship by registration affords non-Nigerian women married to Nigerian men an opportunity to become Nigerian citizens if they so desire but that doesn’t extend to a non-Nigerian man married to a Nigerian woman.

However, our men are not ashamed to go to other countries in Europe and America and acquire citizenship of any country of their choice by getting married to their women.

Yet at this every year we pack our bags and spend taxpayers’ money to be in New York and claim we are celebrating women.

The same Nigerian officials who will gleefully send congratulatory messages to Nigerians who win elections in Europe and North America, are unwilling to accept their brother’s wife in a role she’s well qualified for

We go there with long speeches about equality and women empowerment when we all know that it all means nothing, in reality.

But how can you celebrate the one whom you neither value nor respect?

How do you celebrate women when almost every action of those in government reminds women daily that they are not worth as much as their male counterpart?

How do you protect that which you don’t value?

But many of us may probably not realise it yet; that the basis of the many cases of injustice the Nigerian woman have had into to endure in this country stems from lack of respect.

The average Nigerian man has no respect for the Nigerian woman and he’s able to manifest this so easily because the laws are not on the women’s side.

Therefore, his decisions, policies and utterances even in public office betrays him most of the time, though he would want us to believe otherwise.

Written by Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe is the Editor of The Interview Abuja, has worked as a journalist in Punch Nigeria Nigeria Limited and also LEADERSHIP Newspapers where she rose to become the Editorial Director.

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