The President stated this on Monday, in Abuja at the Nigeria Women Strategy Conference, with the theme Building Bridges of Opportunity: 2015 and Beyond, organised by the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola.
President Jonathan said “One of the policy directions of our administration is the increased women participation in governance. We have set the target of meeting the Millennium Development Goals of promoting gender equality and empowering women and the 35% Affirmative Action on women representation in governance.”
Represented by Vice President Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo, the President noted with delight that women were found in virtually all the areas hitherto seen as exclusive preserve of their male counterparts and previously best imagined, saying ‘‘I am proud that our women have never had it so good. Our administration, to say the least, is gender friendly and compliant. Apart from the accomplishments of women in the political sphere and their career pursuits, we have had significant progress in their meteoric rise to the pinnacle of their professions.’’
‘‘We have had a woman Speaker and a woman majority leader in the House of Representatives. We have women senators, woman governor and deputy governors, members of the House of Representatives, members of the houses of assembly at the state level, local government chairpersons and councillors at the grassroots level,” he also added.
According to him, women were by their nature compassionate, loving and caring, emphasising that ‘‘Politics is all about selfless service and deep concern for humanity’s progress which is a natural trait possessed by women through their natural roles as mothers and nurses.’’ He, however, stressed the need for more political education and enlightenment to encourage women participation in politics especially, those contesting for elective offices.
President Jonathan, expressed optimism that the Conference would reawaken the spirit of the Nigerian woman to rise up to the challenge of improving the society by their active participation in politics.
The Minister of Women, Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, charged Nigerian women to be supportive of each other. She revealed that her Ministry had established non-partisan political empowerment offices in the six geopolitical zones of the Federation and also the Nigerian Women Trust Fund to build the capacity of women to effectively participate in the nation’s political terrain.
The Senate President, Senator David Mark, represented by the Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Helene Esuene, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who spoke separately, assured Nigerian women of the support of the National Assembly. The Speaker particularly urged INEC as it is set to delineate constituencies to consider reserving some constituencies specifically for women politicians.
In her remarks the convener of the conference and also the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, stated that the conference, was non-partisan and aims to sensitise and prepare Nigerian women to fully participate in all political processes in the country, particularly as the 2015 elections draws near. She also used the opportunity to lauded President Jonathan for his support to Nigerian women in both elective and appointive positions.
In his paper titled; Building Bridges of Opportunity, 2015 and Beyond, the Guest Speaker, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said the development of any society required the participation of all citizens irrespective of gender. He stressed the need for government to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action on women participation in governance to bridge the gap and attain the much needed development. Highlights of the event were a drama presentation by Prof Abdul Rasaq Ojo Bakare.