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2019: Women should use their numerical strength in politics – Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa

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2019: Women should use their numerical strength in politics - Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa

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“We must leverage our numerical advantage in creative ways; one of which is to make voting for any male governorship candidate dependent on his running mate being a woman”

Christy Anyanwu

Senator Florence Ita-Giwa was elected into the upper legislative chamber in the Fourth Republic on the platform of the All Peoples Party (APP). She is popularly called Mama Bakassi because of her passion for the underprivileged in Bakassi.

She has also served as Special Adviser to two presidents: Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Recently, she carried her ‘No woman, no vote,’ campaign to Lagos State.She spoke to Sunday Sun on women in politics, her moves for her campaign and other issues.

READ ALSO: Lifetime Achievement Award: Florence Ita-Giwa

Excerpts:

Let us know your experience in politics as a woman, did you get support from your fellow women

When I first entered into politics, women were a novelty and men had no qualms trying to intimidate me, but I soldiered on and even gave as good as I got, matching them fire-for-fire. All this happened while women were either indifferent or downright hostile towards me. I am glad to say that all that has changed now and women are a formidable part of my support structure.

Recently, you held a campaign, ‘No woman, no vote’, why did you think this is compulsory?

The meaning of ‘no woman, no vote’ is that we encourage women to vote more for the men who carry women along in their political moves no matter what political party they represent. If a governor picks a woman as his deputy, then we encourage more women to vote for such governor, not minding the political party. If there is anywhere a woman emerges as a senatorial candidate or House of Assembly candidate, we want more women in politics in Nigerian no matter what party she represents, I encourage women to vote en masse for such females. We should support ourselves in elections. I want those who have won the primary elections now as governors to take Nigerian women as their deputies. Can we have more Nigerian women emerging as parliamentary candidates?

Nigeria is 58, what significant role have Nigerian women played in the development of the nation

Women have been pivotal to the development of Nigeria, right from the days of the independence movement up till today, with their role in critical areas of governance. Women like Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and my late mother, Beatrice Bassey, were very active in the nationalist movements of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Gambo Sawaba, Franca Afegbua and a handful of women held the torch for Nigerian women in their time. Then, there are women like myself who are still actively engaged in nation building. I am so glad that more women are seeing the need to make their voices heard. To put it mildly, the Nigerian economy will collapse if women withdraw their participation. I hope you are aware that the rural economy of Nigeria is almost exclusively driven by women? They are the ones who process cassava into garri, grill and process the fish, market the vegetables and so on. It will amount to silliness to discount women’s contribution to the national economy. Even in the larger economy, women like Folorunso Alakija, Uju Ifejika are blazing the trail in oil and gas and maritime services. In banking, we have Mrs Iroche and many others. Even in governance, women like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have made a mark in advancing the Nigerian economy. I honestly believe that given more opportunities, Nigerian women can transform Nigeria’s economy radically

Women generally are on the sidelines in politics and positions, what is your take on that?

Psychological intimidation is a large part of politics. Women have to understand this and overcome the penchant of men in politics who frequently resort to psychological intimidation. The Nigerian woman is, for the most part, strong and courageous. However, we need to overcome our disdain for politics and get engaged. Women must also emulate men who always give support to their contemporaries in politics. Until recently, women were more often than not indifferent to other women in politics and, sometimes, even hostile. Now, this trend is changing and women are supporting each other more. Another factor women must be aware of is the importance of financial power in politics; women must work hard to gather the required financial muscle to stay relevant in politics.

What is the challenge facing women that we have not gone beyond Speaker of the House of Representatives?

This is a chicken and egg kind of situation. If the people were more engaged and active, the political class would not have the audacity to squander Nigeria’s resources on one hand. On the other hand, it is only a responsible political class that can embolden the populace. I think it is time for the populace to be more discerning about the quality of people it allows to rise within the political class. At the same time, responsible elements within the political class must rise to the occasion and checkmate the unscriptural amongst them.

So, what should be the new narrative for women, especially now that the country is preparing for another election?

Until women prioritize contesting for elective offices, our fortunes will continue to be dependent on the whims of men in government. Ordinarily, our numerical advantage ought to work for us, but we appear to be unwilling to exploit it. In the U.S., a record number of women are billed to participate in the mid-term congressional elections. I believe women in Nigeria should be primed to participate in the 2019 general elections.

How can we translate our numerical superiority to our advantage such that we can have more elective positions in order to be at the core of party decisions, especially as it affects us as women?

We must leverage on our numerical advantage in creative ways; one of which is to make voting for any male governorship candidate dependent on his running mate being a woman – in effect, a no-woman, no-vote campaign. Women must also make it a point to financially and morally support any woman seeking elective office. This has worked for men and will certainly work for women also. When I entered into politics, it was women who surprisingly called me names, but all that has changed. Now, women are much more supportive, but I believe we can make the support total by putting our money where our mouth is.

READ ALSO: Vote for me again in 2019, Buhari begs women

What is your take for having a female governor in Nigeria?

Nigeria is over-ripe for a female governor and even had one when Peter Obi was “impeached” if you recall. Taraba State nearly had a female governor in the 2015 election cycle. In my case, I am no longer interested in elective office, but I am available to put my weight behind any woman who desires to run for governor in any state.

With all the horse-trading going on, will there ever be merit in our democracy?

Politics and horse-trading are synonymous; so horse-trading will always be part of our politics for a long time to come. However, merit also has found a place in Nigerian politics. If you notice, some critical areas of governance have been reserved for technocrats. All that is needed is a right balance of political horse-trading and meritocracy.

Nigerian politics is reputed to be very dirty, do you agree?

No matter how dirty politics may be, not participating will guarantee it will get even dirtier. Decent people must not shy away from politics. We all must roll up our sleeves and do the needful, politically for the benefit of unborn generations.

We have issues of fake documents, certificates by office holders in the past, but recently, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, resigned on allegation that she presented a fake NYSC discharge certificate. How do you look at her action?

Kemi Adeosun chose the path of honour and I am proud of her. Like some people with similar issues, she could have gone to court to get an injunction preventing any action being taken against her, but she chose not to. I have no doubt that she is a victim of circumstance and wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Without sounding immodest, I believe women are diagnosed to be more dignified than men. Naturally, women like to uphold and protect their integrity, so automatically they hold themselves to a higher standard than men who are less scrupulous.

What advice would you give to women who want to go into politics, but don’t know their onions?

My advice to women desirous of a career in politics is first, to get first class education, overcome their phobia for politics, realise that it is a game where intimidation is the order of the day. Men have become experts at playing the intimidation card. Believe me, if it was real, I wouldn’t be around now. It’s simply a myth. I also advise women to also concentrate on building a life of financial security. I cannot overemphasize the need to be financially independent when coming into politics for the first time.

READ ALSO: Women in Politics: Urgency of Quota System For Women In Regional Elections

The post 2019: Women should use their numerical strength in politics – Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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