Abubakar Sulaiman, the director-general of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), has urged northern politicians not to hide under Islam to prevent women from participating in governance.
Mr Sulaiman, a professor, made the call while receiving female parliamentarians from Somalia on Monday at the institute’s permanent office in Abuja.
Mr Sulaiman said that 14 out of the 54 lawmakers in the Somalian Senate are women while in Nigeria, only four are women out of 109.
The DG said the situation is the same in the lower chambers when both countries are compared.
According to him, Nigeria and Somalia share a lot of things in common, religious, political structure and so much more.
Mr Sulaiman said he was delighted to see women actively involved in governance, especially women of Islamic extraction.
“Your appearance here today sends signals to the Nigerian people especially those who believe that in Islam, women are not allowed to participate.
“Most Christians do not read the Koran or the Hadith, they judge by what Muslims do, but it is clear to Christians worldwide that Islam accommodates women, and gives room for female children’s education, we have seen that in Somalia.
“There is this impression Islam does not allow for women’s participation but Somalia is largely Muslim, Islam in Nigeria is the same as Islam in Somalia, so if Somalia can do it, Nigerian Muslims should also be able to do it.
“I want to urge Muslim brothers from the North to allow for women’s inclusion in governance, on several occasions we have bills on gender equality being muted in the parliament.
“And at any point, these bills are being stepped down or voted against by male parliamentarians from the north most of whom are Muslims on the basis that Islam does not allow it; Islam allows it and that is what we have seen in Somalia,” he said.
The DG urged the parliamentarians not to relent in their efforts but to work hard to grow the number of women in parliament to 100 per cent.
What NILDS is all about
Mr Sulaiman charged the lawmakers to take advantage of the opportunities in NILDS to build their capacity in parliamentary activities.
He said the institute is the think-tank of the legislature in Nigeria and it provides pieces of training for lawmakers and their support staff for legislative excellence.
The DG said the institute in collaboration with some universities offers post-graduate specialised courses at master’s and PhD levels
He said NILDS has all the necessary resources, experts and a conducive environment to train lawmakers and could compete with any institute in the world.
The DG said the institute is also in partnership with other Western institutes and also facilitates foreign training and inter-parliamentary exchange programmes.
Mr Sulaiman also charged the lawmakers to commence the establishment of a similar institute in Somalia.
Leader of delegation speaks
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Naima Hassan, a senator, said Nigeria has a lot of similarities with Somalia and that they have come to learn from Nigeria, which is more advanced.
She said that just like Nigeria, Somalia practises bicameral legislature at the federal level and unicameral legislature at the state level.
She also said that Somalia also has religious, tribal, insecurity and gender issues just like Nigeria.
The lawmaker said that they are very interested in how Nigeria passed a law against rape and other forms of gender-based violence to be replicated in Somalia.
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