Legislative Slaps and gender equality

Nigerian Legislators in scuffle

Nothing in recent time demonstrates devastating gender equality in Nigeria than the cross-gender legislative slaps from National Assembly. Almost all the local and foreign media sources made breaking news of the blow and counter blow from those elected to represent Nigerians in lawmaking. The subsequent news items and global commentaries on the incidents, have boost the image of our political class and give them deserved rating.

It is no more news that a slapping session, pioneered by a distinguished single-blow from Senator Isa Mohammed on his Committee Chairman on State and Local Government, Senator (Mrs.) Iyabo Anisolowo is now going round in the National Assembly.

As usual, the offender cited the devil as the influence for his objectionable act, but female activists and chauvinist went to town calling for Senator Mohammed’s head. Not only that, in an incredible and unprecedented feminine solidarity, an unseen hands of women folk, the political leadership and government of the state of the slapping senator condemned the act immediately and threatened to recall the man as if he had committed a treasonable offence.

To those who have been following feminine conspiracy theories and antics since the end of Beijing Women Conference of 1995, the period for tit-for-tat was sooner. While the tempo of denunciation against the male senator was gathering momentum, a woman representative in the House of Representatives, Honorable (Mrs.) Iquo Minima Inyang proved to the whole world that women are no more the biblical weaker sex as she rained the fastest and electrifying legislative slaps (with plural S) on her Chairman of the committee on police affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Bwacha. It was easy for her too, to declare that the devil had once again sneaked through the back door of the National Assembly to inspire her honorable mannish smack. The innocent and seeming weakling male member not only lost his eye-glasses with blood gushing out from his nostril, he had bloody eyes too.

Those childish and dramatic scenes happen regularly among elected public officers especially in the legislative arm at the federal, state and grassroots’ levels. We could recall the disappearance of mace, abduction of members, scuffle over monies and non-challant attitude to people oriented programmes and public yearnings. Having proved themselves as subservient to the other arms, through their actions and deeds, most of legislative houses have remained the avenue for comic relief through their debate and resolutions.

Apart from the fact that the recent altercations among members of political class, are rooted on purely pecuniary and selfish interest as in the past, the latest slapping saga has proved that women are indeed catching on fast in their drive to outshine their men. It is now clear that what a man can do, including legislative slaps, a woman can do worse.

For those who have sympathy and are in solidarity with women in their campaign for gender equality, they need to do a rethink and reflect on our cherished culture and tradition which give women prominent roles in the sustenance of the home and children upbringing. Feminine activists have consistently and effectively campaigned against male dominated world with bias and slogans that portray the men as animal and devil reincarnate. They voice out against women battering by men as if the likes of Hon. Inyang do not exist in matrimonial homes; they talk of sexual harassments while they entice their gullible male victims with indecent dresses and pretentious invitations; they expand the scope of rape offence to include a desperate husband’s love advance to his wife; they chatter over marginalization when in true sense they do not love themselves, just imagine in-fighting between two women ministers in a Women Affairs Ministry. They babble on women empowerment, when they can not resolve the age-long and inherent detestation between mothers-in-law with daughters-in-law. They desire equal employment opportunity when they are in the habit of absconding from office with full pay in the name of maternity leaves, while the men are denied paternity break.

Though men by virtue of their superior spirit, as ordained by God, may not admit of being victims of their women’s arrogance, domestic violence and humiliation, it is time the women folk are tamed to respect our culture and tradition on gender issues. Some enslaved men who were forced to buy fashionable items and jewelries for their spouses, regretted to see that such regalia are not used to make them attractive at home but for outbound rendezvous.

Experiences have shown that when a woman is given a minimum freedom, she unlike Oliver Twist, forces her way to excesses. If they receive support and encouragement to brighten the future of the family, they pay back in off-putting ways, apart from attempting to takeover men’s ordained roles. The more powerful, rich and influential the woman becomes, the more she seeks disengagement and complete detachment from her partner. A former deputy speaker in one of the states in the last dispensation not only abandoned her matrimonial home but also got impregnated by a yet to-be-identified person.

Some pertinent questions must be asked here: how many women in powerful political positions still give their husbands that traditional and religious respect? how many women in the forefront of women’s liberation campaign obediently obey the dictates of their husbands as ordained in our Holy Books? How many men are forced to the world beyond by their wives cantankerousness and betrayal? How many men enjoy peace under bossy women? What have they done with all the free funds for their feminine NGOs apart from using it to bash and castigate the men endlessly instead channeling them to just cause?

It is necessary to make a call that in the next Sovereign or National Conference, we should make sure an agenda on gender equality is tabled to iron out the level of equality between men and women on the basis of religious injunctions and our cultural heritage. There is indeed the need for a national dialogue on coexistence between men and women to minimize excessive slaps and over-blows as retaliation for a single, innocuous strike on the face. We may allow them to be involved in formerly men dominated games like football, boxing etc for our amusement, they may even be tolerated to head religious grouping just as some have emerged as Bishops, but we should not tolerate disrespect, disobedience from women folks. Even for those still crazy of being seen and called single mothers just in a bid not to be under masculine control, we may force them to adopt babies as we should deny them the use of our God-gifted fruit.

If the men want to retain their ordained title as breadwinners of the family, it is time to check women incursion into men’s core duties. A man, who allows his wife to participate fully in politics to be slapping and to receive slaps, should look forward to receiving legislative slaps in the presence of family members and friends from his (un)provoked wife.

God save us from generational slaps of women.

This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Daily Sun Nov 4, Nigerian Tribune Nov 5, Daily Independent Nov11, Financial Standard Nov22, DI Opinion Nov 16, 2004

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Yushau Shuaib

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