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Gender inclusion: Kwara Gov Bags National APC Women Merit Award

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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq came up for national applause in Abuja on Wednesday night as women of the ruling APC singled him out for recognition over his deliberate effort to mainstream gender inclusion in the state.

Apart from being the first Governor to nominate a female majority cabinet in the country, AbdulRazaq recently signed a legislation that makes it binding for Kwara to have at least 35% gender sensitive cabinet and public sector appointments.

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Speaking at the APC Women National Conference in Abuja, National Women Representative at the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee Hon. Stella Okotete commended AbdulRazaq for the gender policy and called on other governors to follow in his footsteps.

The award event, which wrapped the two-day conference, was attended by Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Vice President of Liberia Dr. Jewel Taylor; Senators Yahya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), Lola Ashiru (South), and Sadiq Umar (North); female lawmakers from across Nigeria; wives of governors; Minister of Women Affairs Paulen Tallen; ministers; female cabinet members from across the country; APC National Chairmanship aspirant Turaki Saliu Mustapha; party leaders; among others.

Accompanied by dignitaries from Kwara State, Senator Oloriegbe received the award on behalf of AbdulRazaq who was attending a meeting of the Governors Forum in Abuja. The Governor had earlier made a brief appearance at the women’s conference.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo urged women to demand equal representation at all levels, including in elective positions, instead of asking for just 35%.

“I want to emphasise that our women should be asking for equal representation, not 35%. That is what you should ask for,” she said in his keynote address.

“While women were breaking the glass ceiling in business and corporate world, things are much slower in politics and in the public service. A lot needs to be done and you will find out that this is so all over the world. There is the need for us to ensure that women are giving their fair place.”

Vice President also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that women be given equal opportunities in the social investment programmes, saying 56.4% of the beneficiaries of the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme are women.

“I also bring a warm felicitation of the number one HeforShe champion in Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari. To demonstrate that role champion of Nigeria, Mr President insisted that women must be given equal opportunity in all of our social investment programmes. Out of the 2.4m beneficiaries of the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme, 1.2m were women. That’s 56.4% of beneficiaries. Women are the heart and soul of our party, the APC,” he said.

His counterpart from Liberia Dr Jewel Taylor called on Nigerian women to be agents of change in making a difference in the country.

“Today, we are calling for agents of change to make a difference and change the trajectories of your country (Nigeria). This is your time. The time is now,” she said.

Tallen tasked women to be assertive, strong and be relevant in their respective communities as they seek to make a difference.

“I celebrate all women in executive positions. I celebrate all women that are gathered here. It has been two days of great work brainstorming and finding ways to make our presence felt. I want to call on women that have come as delegates and participants to go back fully reenergised, believing in yourselves, trusting in God and making sure that you don’t go back the same. You are going back as achievers. You going back as winners and women who will make a difference within your communities,” she said.

“The Ministry of Women Affairs is ready to support and guide all female aspirants to make a difference. We are demanding for 35% and one-third representation across board in elective and appointive positions. Liberia has made it. We believe Nigeria will definitely make it too.”

Okotete, for her part, said: “We decided to come together in one accord to speak with one voice because we understand the important role women play in national economy and national development. So far, so good, we have spent the last 48hrs brainstorming, taking a diagnostic approach of what we have done as a party and proffering solutions that will help in providing more visibility for our women, not just in party politics but in Nigeria.”

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