REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, REP, FEMI GBAJABIAMILA AT THE
“PAVING THE PATH: FORUM ON STRENGTHENING
WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
IN NIGERIA”. THURSDAY, 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021
- Good morning and thank you all for joining us at this event, which is aptly titled the ‘Paving the Path Forum on Strengthening Women’s Participation In Political Leadership In Nigeria”. We chose to call it ‘Paving the
Path’ because that is exactly what we have gathered here to do; to start paving the path towards ensuring that our society is more equal; that our women and girls
can play their rightful role in decision-making in any level of political leadership they aspire to in our country; and they can do so, without the fear of violence,
intimidation or discrimination on the basis of theirgender. We are here to pave the path for a more equal, safer and more inclusive Nigeria where women can optimally and effectively contribute their own quota to
leadership at every level in this great nation. We are paving the path to creating a more inclusive Nigeria, the Nigeria of our dreams.
2. This is the second event this week where I have been asked to speak about women’s participation in
politics and political leadership in our country. While the exigencies of duty made it impossible for me to attend the first event on Tuesday 14th September being the ‘Nigeria Men’s Conference on Gender-SensitiveConstitutional Reform’ organised under the able leadership of Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Honourable Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development , I
was determined to be here today to demonstrate my personal commitment and that of my colleagues at the 9th House of Representatives to creating a just and more
equal society, where all women and girls can aspire to become anything and anyone that they choose to become in Nigeria. This is what truly makes a nation great. And the greatness of this country will remain
stifled and stunted until we jointly Pave the Path for Women, as we have gathered here to do today. It may be a journey of a thousand miles, but I am delighted and honoured to be a part of these critical first steps that we are taking together, here today.
- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in
communities across the country, Nigerian women have excelled in commerce and industry, academia, and the professional class, to say the least. Unfortunately, this excellence has not had ample space to manifest in politics, political organisations; nor in the numbers of women who hold and exercise political authority in Nigeria’s three levels of government. It follows,therefore, that this is not a women’s problem; it is a Nigerian problem. It is a problem of a system of culture and religion, of law and political practice, that together, hinder political opportunities for women, discouraging political participation, and excluding important voices from the critical conversations about our nationhood and its future.
- It is time to challenge and change all of the above. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge. Ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly why this Forum was created. We choose not just to challenge the status quo, but to change it. It is a call
to duty that summons us to take action to dismantle those obstacles of law and convention, of culture and expectation that disadvantage women, and deny them full participation in our national life. We must do this, not out of charity or magnanimity. We do it because the evidence abounds that our country is less than it can be. Our highest aspirations are out of reach and will stay there until the arenas of political power in our country accurately reflect the incredible contributions that women make to every facet of our society.
- Our gathering here today is in recognition of two
realities; not enough women are participating actively in
the political life of our country, and we are poorer for it.
Secondly, this situation will not change of its own
accord. It is up to us to understand why things are as
they are; identify strategies to construct a different
paradigm, and implement these strategies with vigour,
skill, and utmost dedication. Our future depends on it.
Much of the organising activities around increasing
women’s participation in political leadership need to be
targeted at the political party structures because it is
there that the bulk of the work of increasing women’s
political participation has to be done. I urge you all to
identify the many ways we can ‘choose to challenge and
change’ and emerge with an Action Plan that we all can
implement to make this change happen, holistically,
practically, and sustainably.
For the women amongst us who wish to run forpolitical office, I salute you and I support you. Please rise to this ambition with courage, passion and wisdom.
Join a party – preferably the best party which is the All Progressives Congress of Nigeria (APC) – when you do, arrange mass registrations in your communities and the
places you live. Organise the people you register into a caucus within your local party, and through that caucus,
you will be able to make demands, negotiate
concessions, and influence outcomes. Remember, politics is the steady boring of hard boards, and there is no easy way to achieve political power. I wish you the very best in your journey of service to our nation.
As I close, let me say that I am truly honoured to be here today and delighted that my team has been a key
part of organising this event under the able leadership of the Chair, Committee on Women’s Affairs & Social Development Otunba Adewunmi Onanuga.
Congratulations and very well done to you all. I thank all our local and international partners who have
contributed in different ways to the success of this event, especially the members of the donors’ Key
Political Partners Group (KPPG) whom we interact with
from time to time. I gave you a commitment that ‘gender would be at the centre of my agenda as
Speaker’ and by what you see here today that promise
is not only being kept, but I assure you there is more to
come. We are committed and together, we shall prevail.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the 9th House of
Representatives is committed to using the tools of
legislative authority to achieve the vision of a more
equal society where gender is not a hindrance to
ambition or a condition for holding political office. I also
want to assure you that as a political leader in my
constituency, in my state, and in my party, I will
continue to advocate for women and champion the
inclusion of women in the places where they need to be,
but too often are not
I congratulate the Chair and members of the
House Committee on Women Affairs and Social
Development and the team at my Policy Innovation and
Monitoring Unit (PIMU) who provided the technical an
coordination support for this programme. This is an
impressive start to what I understand is wider
programme to drive the necessary reforms for foster
holistic and meaningful change. Be rest assured of my
continued commitment and support; and to the many
speakers and panellist here today, thank you all for
coming and I wish you fruitful and impactful