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don makes case for equal rights for women in politics

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Oluseyi Dasilva, Ilorin

A professor of jurisprudence and international law at the University of Ilorin, Nimah Modupe Abdulraheem, has harped on the need for equal rights for women in politics.

Abdulraheem said this at her inaugural lecture, the 197th in the university’s series, frowned at what she identified as “artificial encumbrances” in the path of women’s political aspirations in the country, opining that nothing should prevent Nigerian women from becoming the president or governor of any of the component states.

Delivering the lecture on “Genderising the Rights for Partnership not Rivalry, Friendship not Foe, Complementarity not Confrontation,” she said that, as far as natural justice, laws of the federation and Islam were concerned, women were free to aspire, become and serve as the president of Nigeria and governors of states, provided the aspiring women possess leadership qualities and are found electable by the electorate.

Bemoaning the state of things in Nigeria, particularly the deliberate denial of females, most especially Muslim ones, of their rights to contest for certain elective offices, the don said that the capacity of a political aspirant should, rather, be assessed on the basis of personal attributes, including competence, charisma and integrity and not on the person’s gender.                               

She also noted the continuous poor representation of women in federal and state parliaments since the commencement of the ongoing democratic dispensation, saying that the number of women elected as senators, members of the House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly in the last two decades of the Fourth Republic, was too low compared with the numerical strength of women over the years. 

Abdulraheem insisted that “the trend whereby the female gender is politically stereotyped as incapable of holding state or national chief executive positions has no basis in the major Nigerian culture, the constitution and Islamic law.”

Citing the illustrious career of the first female chief justice of Nigeria, Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, and those of several other accomplished women who excelled in Nigeria and beyond, she advised the Nigerian people to try women for the offices of president and governors for them to demonstrate innate leadership qualities which, she believed would be put to use to put Nigeria back on track.

As a way of facilitating women development, Prof. Abdulraheem called for more understanding and cooperation from men, saying that negative feminism and antagonism would not solve the problem.

Prof. Abdulraheem, the first female professor from the faculty of law of the University of Ilorin, appealed to the federal government not to leave any stone unturned towards stemming the tide of social and physical abuses of female gender, especially in schools.

She advised the government to do everything to improve security infrastructures around schools in the country, saying that increased attention needed to be paid to the safety of the female gender and to raise their consciousness about safety through security education.

Explaining the genders rights, the scholar said, “Genderising the Rights as a discourse seeks to address perceived sex-based discrimination as she said that allegations of gender discrimination cut across cultures, religions and civilisations, thereby giving rise to the need to investigate and identify where amend is necessary, and propose recommendations.”

She added that her journey to gender studies was not accidental neither was it driven by activism nor directed by any confrontational instinct against the opposite gender. Rather, she said, “it is solely due to the divine guidance of Almighty Allah and frantic efforts of my numerous mentors” as she urged parents to desist from showing preference for a particular gender as was often the case when the male child was favoured over her female sibling. She advised that, in matrimonial relationships, parties should eschew superiority contest and see each other as partners, friends and helpers because the prerogative of who becomes the husband lies with the creator and they should always be conscious of the divine injunction that “the superior among you is the highest in piety. (Q49:13)”.

She also advised that the guiding rules and regulations should always be interpreted taking cognisance of the creator as the ultimate grundnorm whose purpose and intendments are embodied in those rules, stressing that the ultimate goal of the creator in the laws was to achieve balance in the rights of the two genders.

She said that, though the modern science believed that the function of producing a male or female offspring rested solely on the man’s ability, the Holy Qur’an in Chapters 23 verse 17; and Chapter 42 verses 49-50, made it clear that “it is Almighty Allah that determines the sex of a child and He bestows it on whosoever He likes.”

Prof. Abdulraheem, however, lamented that the non-justiciability of educational objective ordinarily served as a refuge for many government authorities from performing their educational roles, especially, in the area of provision of infrastructural facilities to schools and institutions.

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