The female delegates are ganging up to check male domination and high-handedness at the Conference
Female delegates to the ongoing National Conference may be heading for showdown with their male counterparts over what they consider the incessant harassment of the Conference Secretary, Valerie-Janette Azinge.
There are about 77 female delegates in the 492-member National Conference, a situation some women delegates believe is making it difficult for them to push any agenda through.
Mrs. Azinge, her colleagues say, was constantly harassed and nearly all the powers given to her under the proposed Rules of Proceedings were either amended or given to the Chairman of the Conference, Idris Kutigi.
It took the intervention of Otu Duke, a delegate from Cross Rivers State, to stop an amendment which was proposed to transfer the power to append her signature on the Conference Hansard to Kutigi.
Mr. Duke had argued that it was the duty of the Secretary to produce a verbatim report of Conference proceedings to the plenary, adding that Mrs. Azinge be allowed to sign the document.
“My Lord,” he said, “I move that the secretary of the Conference should sign the Hansard since it is her responsibility to produce the document.”
Another delegate, Femi Okurounmu had openly canvassed that the powers assigned to the Conference Secretary under the proposed Rules of Proceedings be transferred to the Chairman.
But the female delegates, who met shortly after Monday’s plenary sitting, expressed disappointment at the way the male-dominated Conference treated Mrs. Azinge.
The meeting, which was addressed by a former Minister of Women Affairs, Josephine Anenih, took a decision to challenge any other attempt to sideline Mrs. Azinge by their male delegates.
Over 50 women, representing various interest groups and organisations, attended the meeting.
An authoritative source told PREMIUM TIMES that the women took a strong position to defend any cause that might affect them at the Conference.
The source, who was at the meeting but pleaded not to be named because she is not authorised to speak on the matter, explained that subsequently, female delegates would vehemently oppose any attempt by men to malign or sideline them.
She said, “We have decided to speak with one voice on any matter that we feel strongly about.”
Mrs. Anenih was also said to have cautioned her female colleagues not to oppose any matter they agree upon as a collective.
“We should not miss an opportunity to make meaningful impact at the Conference,” she was quoted as saying. “This is a golden opportunity God has given us. We cannot fail to use it to our advantage.
“When one person has spoken on an issue affecting us, no other person should speak against such matters. When they (men) realised that we are speaking with one voice, they will take us very serious.”
They female delegates claimed that some of the objections that were raised against the Secretary was because she is female.
“Are you telling me that if the Secretary was a man, they would have done what they did today?” one of the female delegates was quoted to have asked.
They insisted that every effort should be made to lobby representatives of civil society and youths to support the position of the group whenever the need arises.
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