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Barr. Victoria Nwenenda Opara Accuses Gov. Amaechi Of Running A Gender Unfriendly Administration And Marginalization Of Women In Rivers State

In as much as one will commend and acknowledge the recent appointments and swearing-in of some female permanent secretaries in the State by Gov Chibuike Amaechi, Rivers State as a State still lags behind and performs dismally when compared to other states in the federation in terms of women empowerment programmes, policies and integration of women in the political system and governance in the State.
Women in Rivers State have never been so sidelined and marginalized as is the case with the present Administration of Gov Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
It is indeed ironic that Gov Amaechi in a speech in Lagos on Tuesday, the l2′ of November 2011, during the 11th Women National Conference organized by the Committee of wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) advocated for the entrustment of the management of the country’s treasury to women to curb looting of public funds.
In the said speech, Gov Amaechi went further to praise Gov Babatunde Fashola of Lagos for recognizing women in Lagos state by giving them Seven (7) slots in his executive council, describing it as a pure recognition of the seriousness and natural endowment in women, especially those in the South West. He finally praised Lagos State and the southwest for being blessed with array of women capable of not only moving the state ahead of other equals, but also capable of contributing their quota to the development of the country as well as curbing corruption in Nigeria.
It is worthy of note that contrary to the said speech by Gov Amaechi, the reality on the ground in Rivers State is different. It is clear from the facts on the ground and from the present composition of appointments in Rivers State, women are substantially underrepresented, sidelined and not empowered by Gov Amaechi to contribute their quota to the governance and development of the State.
It is my opinion that Gov Amaechi does not recognize the potentials of women in Rivers State and the enormous contribution of the female electorate in ensuring his successful re-election in 2011 despite being completely excluded from membership of his 2011 election campaign team
The contempt and disdain that Gov Amaechi has for women in the state is demonstrated in the composition of his 2011 ten man election campaign team which did not include a single female as a member of his campaign team, whose members were as follows- Nyesome Wike, Mr. David lyofor, Mr. Chuma Chinye, Mr. Alemese Martyns-Yellowe, Mr Ibe Eresia Eke, Mr. Emmanuel
Oko jaja, Mr. Cliff Opunadu, Mr. Charles Awortu, Mr. Melubari Akekue and Mr. Okere Nnamdi.
Presently in Rivers State, the composition in terms of the elective positions is as follows: Rivers State House of Assembly, out of 32 members, only 3 are females, House of Representatives, out of 13 members, only two are females, the Senate has three members, all males and out of the 23 local government chairpersons in Rivers State, only 1 is a female and the rest 22 are males.
Gov Amaechi, in my opinion ought to have used his power of appointment which is completely at his discretion to bring on board more competent women to enrich and add value to his administration. The Governor rather chose to continue the perpetuation of discriminatory practices against women in the state, the practice which has become more pronounced and entrenched under the present administration.
It is on record that out of 15 Special Advisers appointed by Gov Amaechi, only one (1) is a female, Rivers State Executive Council comprising of 32 members, only four (4) are females, the non – inclusion of a single female in the board of Rivers State Civil service Commission and Local Government Service Commission and the non appointment of women to head over the nineteen (19) government parastatals in the State which are presently being headed by all males leave much to be desired.
This lopsided appointment by Gov Amaechi amply demonstrates the ill disposition and non inclusive nature of women in the present administration headed by him.
It is sad and most unfortunate that women are used during campaigns and elections and thereafter, they are relegated to the background and sidelined. It is the trend all over the world that most progressive Governments do run an all encompassing and inclusive administrations.
This has also been the cornerstone of the present policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Millennium Development Goals (M.D.Gs), which the Nigeria government is committed to attaining by 2015.
Gov. Amaechi should key into President Goodluck Jonathan’s affirmative action by appointing more Rivers women into key positions of power and formulating a deliberate policy of integrating more women in his administration.
The exclusion of half of the population from main stream political activities in Rivers State fails the basic test of democracy and cannot facilitate Nigeria’s achievement of its commitment to the MDGS. Furthermore, research has shown the followings:(a)That countries that encourage gender equality have higher standards of living and significantly more achievements in all facets of life,(b) That where more women leaders are present in critical numbers and are able to participate effectively, economically, politically and socially, the result is more socially responsive governance.
It is time Governor Amaechi recognizes the critical role women can play in the development of the state and having more women in his cabinet and positions of power will enrich the debate and bring about a much more balanced decisions and policies.
It is important that our leader should be seen to walk the talk. If Gov Amaechi truly believes that women are less corrupt than their male counterparts and can equally effectively contribute to the development of the state, then he (Gov Amaechi) should reflect same in his appointments, policies and programmes.
There is no doubt that Rivers State is equally blessed and endowed with array of women capable of not only moving the State ahead of other equals, but also capable of contributing their unlimited quota to the development of the state and country in general just like Lagos State and the South West being praised by Gov Amaechi.
However, unlike the present practice in Rivers State where women are excluded and discriminated against from appointments into key positions in the state, governments in Lagos State and South West States run an all inclusive and expansive administrations where contributions of women are well recognized and women are appointed into key positions and given the opportunity to serve and contribute their quota to the effective development of their various states.
Rivers State truly belongs to all of us and will require the concerted effort, dedication and commitment of all (men and women) to build a virile State and the State of our dream.

BARR. VICTORIA NWENENDA OPARA
08034657423.
Nendas2004@yahoo.com.

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