Women group in Ondo alleges gender imbalance in council appointments
IRKED by recent appointment of members of caretaker committees in the 18 local councils of Ondo State, which they said were not gender-balanced, women rights groups and other organisations have condemned the development which was authorized by the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
Two weeks ago, Mimiko dissolved 16 caretaker chairmen and appointed new ones, sparing Adebayo Alarapon for Akure South and Wale Suru for Akoko South West, to the chagrin of the groups who argue that it is unfair to the female gender.
The appointment, so far, has roused up series of criticisms from some quarters against what they described as outright marginalisation of the women folk, hence none of the newly appointed caretakers chairmen and the two retained ones are females.
Some of the gender campaigners said that the governor has decided to make the female politicians in the state, less relevant and accused him of intentionally making that move to undermine the powers and influence of the teeming female population across the 18 LGAs of the state.
This is contained in the statement made available to The Guardian in Akure by the National Coordinator of Ondo State Women Must Count (OWC), Olamide Falana, who accused Governor Mimiko of a deliberate attempt to push the women out of politics in the state.
She said, “Ondo State Women Must Count is a pressure group that insists on the political rights of women based on its belief that women must count beyond voting rights to inclusiveness in governance process.”
According to her, “We hereby protest the continuous, deliberate and unfortunate marginalization of women in Ondo state which is even more evident in the recent appointment and swearing of 16 local government council caretaker bosses who are all men.
“The group is aware of the antics aimed at propagating exclusion of women at the grassroots and state politics to which we are not in support and declare totally unacceptable.”
In the same vein, the wife of the President, Mrs Aishat Buhari, recently vented her displeasure in Abuja during the reception organised in honour of Rotimi Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State.
Mrs. Buhari expressed great dissatisfaction over the decline in the number of female representatives in the 8th Assembly, which she said negates the objectives of 35 percent affirmative action towards 2019.
“Supporting women to contest elective positions has become imperative as the number of female legislators have declined because some if them lost their seats during the last general elections.
“As the number of female legislature declines, we wish the men in Nigeria will support the women to attain the 35 percent affirmative action in 2019,” she said.
The wife of the President noted that if Nigeria would attain that great height by 2019, the men have to support and allow the women to attain significant elective posts at all levels in the nation.
Falana remarked that “it is such a surprise that a government that claims to be gender balanced in words, has a stance that negates against women when issues of political appointments occurs.”
Her words: “It is evident that the recent appointments of LGA caretaker chairmen is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise, alienate and make irrelevant women in the political landscape of Ondo State.
“We therefore call on the Governor of Ondo state Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and the leadership of People Democratic Party (PDP) to reassess the appointments and enforce inclusiveness and gender balance as the local government elections draw near.”
In similar spirit, the President of Movement for the Survival of the Underprivileged (MOSUP), Dappa Maharajah, said the appointment was politically motivated and not masses-oriented ahead of 2016 governorship election in the state.
He noted that the women were not given sensitive positions in the recent appointment, and those who managed to be slotted among the caretaker committee, as also mentioned by Falana, are those who are not politically sagacious and would do the biddings of Governor Mimiko at every beck and call.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Mimiko, Eni Akinsola, refuted the allegation, stating emphatically that the present administration is the most gender sensitive and has involved women in politics since its creation in 1976.
He noted that the Mimiko administration produced the first female speaker of the state Assembly, Jumoke Akindele, who got a second term ticket and still reelected as the third most influential personality in the state.
Akinsola, said among other things that, aside ministries, agencies and other government parastatals that statutorily have preference for women appointees, Barrister Bolanle Olafunmiloye and Banke Sutton, the chairman of Ondo State Micro-credit Agency (OSMA), who retains her job while others lost theirs recently are part of Mimiko’s cabinet.
He also emphasized that the governor has been encouraging a number of women, whose track records and landmarks cannot be easily forgotten in Ondo State, saying that like a gold fish in the ocean, his boss found them and gave them the fillip to maximize their potentials politically.
Akinsola distanced Mimiko from the alleged imposition of the 16 council caretakers, saying it was a decision made by the people at their various wards, through the recommendation of a popular choice to the governor.