‘Treating Inter-tribal marriages with disdain has long-term repercussions’
1. Career women married to men not from their states of origin appear to be at the receiving end when major appointments are to be handed out in their husbands’ states. To what extent do actions like this discourage inter-tribal marriages?
Actions like this to a very large extent discourage inter-tribal marriages
We have seen several cases where the progress of women is hampered because they are not from a particular state even though the records reflect very clearly that they chose that state over their state of origin. Having married, they willingly live in their husband’s state of origin, have children there and bring them up there, while giving life there their best shot. They work in the state, even speaking the language yet when it comes to position, promotion, or entitlements, they are turned down on the basis of indigeneship. This is most unfair and unfortunate, and a great injustice to such women.
Particularly when Section 42 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom from discrimination. SS (2) stresses that “No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of birth.”
On the basis of this right, women should ordinarily freely marry anyone from any state without thinking of long-term repercussions to them (such as being treated as second class citizens) in states they have lived and given their all to. This would not encourage a ‘one’ Nigeria and unity.
Worst of all as a developing nation we ought to be stressing merit, capacity to function, best experienced, most qualified; however sadly our focus seems myopic and is often based on tribalism and nepotism.
With this level of thinking where we are prepared to jettison merit, quality and competence for tribal sentiments, it would greatly set us back as a nation; this means our hardworking and industrious women will sit back and we would certainly not be opportune to get the best from all our citizens
We must as a nation remember our core values and visions for building a one Nigeria. Inter-tribal marriage helps to fully integrate us as a people particularly as it helps us build bridges and blend strengths against weaknesses.
For as long as the issue of indigeneship is used against women it will largely dissuade women from inter-tribal marriages and proper integration. If I have been victimized in marriage, the question is why would I allow my daughter or ward, to face that same challenge that would prevent her from realizing her full potentials.
As a people we must not do anything which is not fair or which brings about conflicts and divisiveness.
2. The House of Representatives in May last year endorsed double indigeneship for married women following the adoption of the report of a Bill for an Act to amend the Federal Character Commission (Establishment) Act, 2010. Despite that adoption, affected women are still being discriminated against in many ways. What are the available short and long-term reliefs?
The Constitution is the highest law of the land and we must all be guided by it. As aforesaid, It clearly provides against discrimination on the basis of gender, place of birth, etc. Nigeria in1985, also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1985. Furthermore, the African Charter on people and Human Rights also prohibits all forms of Discrimination. We can rely on all relevant laws to seek relief and enforce our fundamental rights.
Though we sometimes have situations where laws seem to contradict each other, the Constitution is supreme and any provision inconsistent with it must fail and be thrown out. The legislature can also in their function synchronize all laws to harmonize them so the right spirit is not defeated. Where a lacuna exists, they cover such areas.
For instance, the Character Commission (Establishment) Act, 2010, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria CAP F7, which gives Nigerian married women an option of indigeneship. The legislature amended Section 2 Part 11 of the Principal Act to state: “A married woman shall have the option to lay claim to her State or Local Government of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character formulae at the National level or state as the case maybe.”
Recourse therefore lies to the courts to enforce a beach of your fundamental rights.
The short-term reliefs are continuous engagements; dialogue and sensitization of all stakeholders; and encourage, more of such appointments.
While the long-term reliefs are Public Interest/Class Litigations. Women groups should go to court on issues of discriminations and let the court pronounce on it. Individual women affected can also go to the court in their personal capacity such as in the case of the Cross Rivers State Chief Judge
3. The constitution provides that no one should be discriminated against by the reason of several factors including circumstances of birth, place of origin, state of origin, religion, gender, and so on. What is the best way for the Federal Government to end this abhorrent behavior?
Discrimination no matter the basis is never a good thing. It is wrong and not progressive because it encourages divisiveness and disunity.
Yet we find that our culture and traditional beliefs including sometimes religion has greatly helped to institutionalize different types and levels of discrimination which negatively impact us.
Parity is fair, it brings with it opportunity, Peace and Harmony which are essential for growth and development. As a nation we must desire this.
The best ways to tackle and end this negativity is through the following ways for which everyone has a part to play:
Government must have the political will to address this matter clearly in a wholesome way, in a focused and targeted manner, deploying all its agencies and parastatals to all be on the same page. Review and check in balances, to correct and ensure parity
Advocacy and Sensitization, across board, aggressively pushing for a reorientation and change in values and attitude, engaging all persons of influence and key stakeholders to support and help bring a turn around.
The media can also assist especially with investigative journalism, doing expose’ on areas of concern and default, to force a change
Persons in authority such as parents, educational institutions can help change the narrative, re orientate, educate right to stop discrimination. Likewise, Faith based institutions and traditional leaders changing repugnant customs, rules and cultures
The legislature reviewing laws and policies of government
We must all join hands to stop discrimination using all available means to communicate effectively and accomplish. For instance, the use of: songs, jingles, talks, speeches, drama/plays, poems, posters, campaigns and outreaches and so forth to change the mindset and attitude and encourage positive reorientation.
The FGN and indeed State Governments at all levels must be very firm in upholding the positions of Section 42 of the 1999 CFRN. More appointments of Married women need to be made based on their state of marriage to drive home the point such that it gradually becomes a part of our psyche stressing the point that it is not a crime to be a woman, neither should gender or marital status determine how you should be treated
4. The Chairman, Ondo Youth Coalition, Ademario Emmanuel, said it was “insulting” for a Rivers woman married to an Ondo man to be handed a non-ambassadorial appointment when prominent sons and daughters that could take up the appointment are abound. How far backwards does a scenario like these push us as a people?
This scenario pushes us very far back. But unfortunately, a lot of people feel like that hence the need for concern and concerted effort for change.
As a people, a statement like this goes to show our mindset and thinking. Particularly when expressed by a leader; and even sadder when representing and speaking for the youth, our future generation who must be progressive for the betterment of our great nation.
They should be propagating inclusiveness, unity and oneness, their key words should be competence and capacity; merit, character and experience, rather than sentiments bordering on tribalism, state of origin and indigeneship.
We do not want as a nation to regress therefore we must keep speaking out against any form of divisiveness, and this negative mindset. Let us educate and enlighten our people. Our laws mean well for us as a people, let us implement them objectively
The world has greatly advanced and most are building capacity using all available capacity to advance and develop their nations. It is for this reason that Nigerians who have relocated abroad, work hard and based on merit become heads and leaders of major corporations, mayors and councilors in a foreign land. If this is the norm then why not so in Nigeria. All over the world now racism is being fought. We must also fight all types and levels of discrimination in the country.
Society must embrace change; we desire development and progress. Acknowledge the full potentials of your citizens, build capacity. Allow self-expression and actualization. That we practice federalism and allow states to determine what should be applicable should not be used for mischief by states. Equity and Justice is Paramount
5. What steps is FIDA taking to ensure that Governor Ben Ayade confirms Justice Akon Ikpeme as the state’s chief judge, in compliance with the dictates of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) that so ordered?
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, had issued a statement condemning the action and calling on the Cross River State Governor, His Excellency, Sir Ben Ayade, to swear in Hon. Justice Ikpeme as the Chief Judge of the State on the basis of seniority and merit.
However, the matter is in court now and has become sub judice.
Beyond Cross Rivers State, FIDA Nigeria has been in the forefront, using the instrumentality of the Law to ensure that women in Nigeria are accorded their rightful place.
In addition, FIDA has embarked on sensitization, advocacies to key stakeholders on the promotion and the protection of women’s rights in Nigeria, including carrying out capacity building, mediation and litigation etc.
Our message here is simple -State of indigene cannot now be used against a judge, we must not allow the issue of ethnicity and politics to be the deciding factor in the appointment of a Chief Judge.
Once she is qualified and is recommended, she merits it having served diligently. Section 271(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) confirms this position and is further supported by our legal professional rules of practice.
The NJC must not therefore be intimidated by anybody but must be allowed to do their work independently without political or ethic coloration or undertones
FIDA has addressed this issue nationally being that this challenge has been faced in several other states in Nigeria; even calling on the Chief Judge of the Federation for intervention.
6. Considering the manner, which incidents like that involving Justice Ikpeme cut short the career of married women, would it be out of place for parents to caution their daughters to be wary of where they search for love?
Bearing in mind these dynamics, it may not be out of place for a parent to entertain such fears and to caution their daughters against inter-tribal marriages explaining the dangers of discrimination as unfortunate as it sounds.
However, I advise against this, rather let us all join hands and stand up against any injustice; while instilling equity and social justice in all matters.
Marriage should certainly not be based on tribe, but on mutual love, trust, respect and understanding.
As highlighted above, women as a matter of course, constantly experience all forms of discrimination. What is therefore important, is for us to understand that every human being, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and be accorded all rights recognized by Law. As such, discouraging inter-tribal marriage is not the solution, but rather, eradicating all forms of discriminations against women in its entirety. We must practice this.
Parents being key influencers have a role to play in formation and changing the mindset of Children. This means if there is a concerted effort by parents to properly positively stop discrimination against women; it will be successful. This must include encouraging a change in attitude, change in mindset, change the orientation, improve on moral teachings that encourage parity, then we would be making tremendous progress in the right direction.
7. Many are of the view that sub-ethnic undertones that impact negatively on inter-tribal marriages also contribute to the absence of national harmony. Is it not time for a national introspection?
Of course, the earlier the better for our beautiful country; because ‘though tongue or tribe may differ in brotherhood we stand.’ That is the vision we should cherish and hold dear.
Consequently, Government and her agencies must be constantly monitoring and strategizing to ensure we move away from any form of individualism and self-preservation to patriotism and unity
There is a need to change the mindset and reorientation and this must be consistent, targeted and focused. We should dwell more on what binds us together as a people. Government must check itself and correct itself setting the right example
8. Despite opposition from Ondo youths, the Senate on Wednesday (today) confirmed Mrs. Nimi Akinkugbe as a non-career ambassadors-designate from Ondo State. How strong is this message from the National Assembly, and what lessons are there for Ondo youths?
The lessons include the following:
The Nigerian Constitution forbids discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity and so forth against any Nigerian citizen.
We must move away from tribal sentiments and set good precedent to secure our unity as a nation, build bridges across states that bind us together to grow our democracy
Rather than being objects of discrimination, women who have found love outside their places of origin, having married and settled in other States and contributing immensely to the growth and development of the people, should be supported, welcomed, encouraged to succeed, accepted whole heartedly and protected
Women are industrious, hardworking and they often sacrifice for the benefit of their family and loved ones. When supported and encouraged they positively project and contribute immensely to the development of the community. Furthermore, they act as mentors to others under their care. We must not discourage or frustrate them and their mentees so they always give their best while contributing their own quota to the advancement of the State.
Beyond personal and tribal sentiments, lets promote peace, equity, good conscience and justice. Uphold true democracy and meritocracy
I commend the President of FRN and indeed the National Assembly for the position they took in respect of Mrs. Opunimi Akinkugbe’s nomination as a non-career Ambassador
How can a mother be rejected but her children and grandchildren are accepted? How is this fair and equitable? We reject this mindset and must all rise up and speak out against this.
As we educate and empower the girl child, she must be opportune to break any glass ceiling, so let us equip and support her to accomplish her full potential. The nation needs her input as a citizen
I encourage focus on merit and qualifications, efficiency and professionalism. Our desire is good development and progress rather than trivializing issues constantly with gender and tribal sentiments which causes divisiveness, conflict and disunity.
FIDA NIGERIA stands against all forms of discrimination and injustice.
National Public Relations Officer