Democracy In Nigeria Only Works For Politicians –Okei-odumakin

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise and Centre for Change, believes that women should be allowed to be involved in governance. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, Odumakin spoke on what she has been doing through her NGO and how she has kept the memories of her late husband, Yinka Odumakin, alive. Excerpts:….CONTINUE READING....CONTINUE READING

What is your comment on the fact that only a few women were elected into the National Assembly in the 2023 general elections and how will you describe the roles the women played in the election?

It simply depicts that our society is largely a patriarchal one, notwithstanding Nigeria being a signatory to the 35 percent Affirmation Action on women inclusion in leadership and governance processes. The National Gender Policy (NGP) has formulated a 35% Affirmative Action (AA) in Nigeria since 2006.

This policy demands that 35% of women be involved in all governance processes. The NGP is recognised but is not practised as the structures and processes to use are not in place.

This is evident in our political appointment structure. Nigerian women are not resting on their laurels as we will continue to organise ourselves, rally round ourselves so as to occupy leadership positions in our country. No women, no life and there will be no nation.

What are your views about the economic policies of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, especially the removal of fuel subsidy and integration of exchange rates?

He appears to be marching where Angels fear to tiptoe. No one since 1999 could remove subsidy. No one could touch the dual foreign exchange system. No one could set dates to the revival of the refineries…

It is interesting to witness these bold steps even with court cases hanging above the whole process. Yet, it is better to organise rather than agonise. It is really tough on the masses but the government should demonstrate enough political will to sacrifice too.

What are your comments on the planned palliatives to reduce the impacts of the subsidy on the poor?

I don’t think in terms of the best palliatives for the masses. I am worried they would meet serious challenges because we have no data. Those who have bank accounts are not the poorest of the poor mostly.

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Whatever they intend to give might not reach the worst victims of the system. Well the short term should be free and qualitative education for the citizens up to university level. Stable power supply, good healthcare, food security and good road network.

Would you say democracy is working in Nigeria?

Democracy is working but very poorly. It works for the politicians whose lives get better every four years. You could prove it by measuring their cheeks against measuring the cheeks of their victims who are their constituents.

Democracy would work better if we could reengineer our leadership processing system such that the means to assume these offices would be with the people. If the people could hire and fire, democracy will work better here. Right now, they get there by all means. Not by the people essentially.

The issue of insecurity is still biting hard in Nigeria, what would you recommend to the government on fighting the menace?

We will see as this government settles down if the terrorists and bandits would have a field day. For certain heavy decisions, I believe the court cases have to be behind.

We will like you to advise the Nigerian youths as many of them appear to have embraced ‘Japa syndrome’?

The “japa” challenge is not about the youth. That would be looking in the wrong direction. We have to stop it by policy and policy execution.

Not by disturbing those who want to have a semblance of good living. We shouldn’t be throwing advice at them. We should be telling ourselves we failed them and working to restore the pride of black man’s most populous country.

What is your comment on the Nigerian judiciary and what is your advice to them on the various elections petitions?

There is nothing to tell our judges at this point. Nothing to state about our judiciary. Do we intend to single out the judiciary now for crucifixion? How do the politicians fare against judges? Did the judges steal votes?

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What about the legislature, executive etc. We have a way of waiting for INEC during election, police at crime junction, Super Eagles at World Cup… it is silly. We have to work ahead.

Not to go sleep until matters come to a head. The judiciary will perform as it has always done in this circumstance. We could not have conflicting national standards.

The issue of empowerment of women has been a subject of constant debates, how best should the Nigerian government empower the women?

Compulsory education of the girl-child.

Tell us more about the activities of Women Arise For Change Initiative

We have handled over 17,350 cas- es ranging from violation of human rights, insecurity, assault, illegal detention arrest and detention by law enforcement agencies, widows’ rights protection, mainstreaming of women and girls related budgeting, prosecution of human rights violators to securing of judgements on life imprisonment for rape and defilement offences to mention but a few.

What are some of the things you have been doing to keep the memory of your late husband, Mr. Yinka Odumakin alive?

Everything within my God-given strength. He already lived his life in such a way as to be unforgettable. Im- mortal. You see, the mind of the multitude is the most fertile soil to bury a man.

The memory would be constant as hearts beat through generations. However, we still complement that with a Foundation after him and dedicated documentaries.

What would you have done differently if you were the President of Nigeria?

Implementation of a 50:50 Affirmative Action like it was done in Kenya. This will definitely impact on our policy formulation and implementation across board as it will engender a pro- people governance. I would make restructuring an issue on the front burner. I would harmonise the acceptable items on the list to all the zones and go from there. Nigeria won’t go far without restructuring….CONTINUE READING