‘Wife Of The President Should Have Office’
Two-term member of the Delta State House of Assembly, now representative of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in the 8th National Assembly, Onyemaechi Joan Mrakpo, is rather worried about the politics of the office of the First Lady. As a woman, she supports a structure that would serve as platform to highlight women-related issues. She spoke to BRIDGET CHIEDU ONOCHIE in Abuja.
Office of the First Lady
WHEN you say there would not be office of the First Lady but there would be office of the Wife of the President, it becomes a matter of nomenclature.
What is important is that the wife of the President has an office from where she can operate. We have gone beyond the era the wife of the President or governor will not have an office.
They also explained that her roles would be spelt out. Whatever such roles are, it is necessary for the first lady to have an office. Out of 360 members of the 8th National Assembly, we have only 20 women. This should be of great concern to any First Lady.
Cost of the First Lady office
There would be no financial implications of her office to the government. I have been in government and would want to tell you that the office of the First Lady does not necessarily need to have a vote attached to it but she will nevertheless have everything she needs to run the office.
If you say you will give her an office but there would be no funds, is that not a contradiction? Where then would she get money to pay her staff, fuel her cars and run other expenses; from her feeding allowance? Nigerians are more intelligent than that.
When the First Lady is allowed to have an office, government will definitely play a role in its funding.
Relationship between female lawmakers and the First Lady
It is part of our major concern because by now, it is not interesting that we have not met with the wife of the President or the wife of the Vice President.
There would have been interactions at this point on how to address issues affecting women so that they can pass such to their husbands, because their offices go beyond mere jamboree.
For us who relate directly with our constituents, we could get to pass on issues of national importance in their husband’s administration through them.
We still remember what the late Mariam Babangida did with the rural women. That was the time most women in my constituency who did not finish primary education got enlightened and returned to school on adult education.
Today, so many of them can read and write. Operating the office of the First Lady should not be considered a wasteful venture unless there is an attempt to further relegate women in politics.
Pushing women-related bills in the House
Men can support such bills to the extent that it is profitable to them. If you come with a bill compelling every man to expose his Will to the wife, you know such a bill will never see the light of day because we do not have the number of women to support it.
Also, men who have more than one wife will kick against it. But if we had enough women, we would be able to push it through because the truth is that so many families are shattered soon after the demise of the man.
PDP caucus and its mandate in playing the opposition
Yes, we inaugurated the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives and I belong to the Media and Publicity Committee.
It is necessary that PDP continues to have a voice in the polity and we will speak through the right channel and be able to table our positions as the opposition party. Each member of the Media and Publicity Committee represents a particular geo-political zone.
I represent the South-South zone.
Appraising leadership quality of Dogara
The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives did not support Dogara because we wanted to buy favour from him. We were just stating the obvious. We needed one united House so we can move forward.
I also want to state that it was not all APC members that supported what transpired in the House. Dogara appears to some of us as a decent, humble and yet, intelligent person.
Motion on power supply to your constituency
It is true that I sponsored a motion on Wednesday, August 12 in the House of Representatives on the plight of the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, which comprises Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Oshimili North and Oshimili South that have been in total darkness for over five