By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday asked women in Nigeria to come out of their “self-exclusion as ” everyone is now looking forward to the politics of 2019″ .
Chief Obasanjo made the call in Ibadan while delivering a lecture titled “My Understanding of Women’s Aspirations in Politics, Business and Nation Building” organized by the Initiative for Information, Arts and Culture Development in Nigeria and the American Corner .
The former President stressed that with the situation in the country, there is the need for more women participation in Nigeria politics, saying, ” in whatever walk of life they find themselves, they want to be given the opportunity to perform and excel”.
According to Chief Obasanjo, “no nation will become great when half of her population ends up only in the kitchen and the other room or get disproportionately discriminated against in the higher echelon of corporate management and in governance”.
“In 2017, according to the United Nations, gender inequality Africa $95billion . That is tremendous waste. Surely, we cannot continue that way. We cannot keep heaping up waste and expect that we will not maintain our poor record of being the world’s poverty headquarters,” he said.
Chief Obasanjo emphasized that to correct the situation, “the starting point is education, girl education” and that ” all hindrances to free and compulsory girl education in Nigeria for the first nine years of formal school such as culture, religion and so on should be stopped. Child marriage must be made unlawful. Girls must be able to receive formal education, skills and empowerment just as boys in Nigerian educational institutions from primary to tertiary. When you educate a girl child, you educate a family”.
“Needless to say, woman constitute more than half of our population, in fact 52percent, in Nigeria and their contributions to the Growth Domestic Products is great, not as professionals, but as entrepreneurs, especially in the so called informal sector as market women, traders, craftspeople, artisan and farmers, and even by doing unpaid care work at home as housewives. No nation will become great when half of her population ends up only in the kitchen and the other room or get disproportionately discriminated against in the higher echelon of corporate management and in governance.”
Chief Obasanjo emphasized that Nigerians “should not lose sight of the fact that our girls have equal right as boys to lead” adding, “we should continue to support them to speak up for themselves, to make decisions about their own lives and take the positions of power to which they are entitled. It is this realization that made me think that this gathering could not have come at a better time than this gathering couldn’t have come at a better time than now when everyone is looking forward to the politics of 2019.”
The former President then asked Nigeria women to work for themselves to achieve their desire;saying, “Our women should take a quick look at history and understand how they have marginalized themselves. Men are yours by birth or by association. Negotiate and seize the hour before they turn the table against you in 2019. This is my take: we should all rise from here and say to ourselves enough is enough.”