By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Former President of Malawi Mrs. Joyce Banda Friday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his government’s support for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to land the prestigious World Trade Organisation (WTO) job.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the National and International Working Groups of the Supporting Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) Initiative paid a courtesy visit to President Buhari at Presidential Villa, Abuja, Banda said it is not in dispute that the Nigerian leader gave his unflinching support to Okonjo-Iweala to become the new WTO Director General.
She said: “It gives me great pleasure to join this meeting. And I’m truly grateful for being invited. As a member of the African women leaders network, I would like to do the first thing which is to thank you, Mr. President most sincerely for the support that you provided to our sister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo on her candidature at the WTO.
“I say this because being a woman, I know that most fellow women barely take positions on international organisations, because they don’t get support from their country and their president. And I also happen to know that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala did not serve on your cabinet. But you stepped out and did everything you could to support her, not only to support her but you supported all women of Africa.
“And so I speak freely on their behalf in expressing our gratitude to your excellency for that statement. You’re Excellent.
“Secondly, I will like to congratulate my sister minister of women and all young people, Nigeria, and men and women also work so hard during that period leading to the WTO position.
“To reiterate what Dr. Ken Nnamani has said, Your Excellency, I participated as a keynote speaker yesterday, on a launch of a barometer that shows where Africa stands in getting women into leadership positions. And it was very sad, to find that Nigeria is on the position number 185 out of 190.
“And I do know that this can change quickly. Because as far as we are concerned, Nigeria, is the country of achievers but look what we are particularly watching what your excellency is doing. And we know that during your time, we can achieve.
“The current (ongoing) Constitutional Review process provides a unique opportunity for you and the people of Nigeria to enable a different percent gender quota. I have no doubt your excellency that is shall be possible. And all I can say is to join those that are in this meeting to encourage you to do what is right. And and I know that you can do it”, the former Malawi leader stated.
Also, commenting on the directive by Mr. President to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Minister of Women Affairs to work on laws that will allow for increase in the percentage of Women in top positions, Dame Paulen Tallen who is Minister of Women Affairs said she will carry out the directive without further delay.
She said: “The President gave me directive and the Minister of Justice should use with National Assembly to push for the 35% women affirmative action should be included in our constitution how soon are you going to act on that?
“The President’s directive has to be acted on promptly. As I’m leaving here, I’m going straight to the Attorney General of the Federation to alert him. And I’m sure the chief of staff will send in an official letter directing him on Mr. President, directive”.
On how does that make her feel? She said: “I mean, I feel overwhelmed with joy, I feel a letter on behalf of Nigerian woman. And I believe that the more we have women in elected positions, the better for this country. Nigeria, more women have property or what they can do better.
” They can contribute their quota to national development, and all developed countries have succeeded. due to women’s participation, Nigeria cannot be left out. Okay. Mr. President, has made a historic statement today. And I believe that God will see him through to the completion of his tenure, in good health. And this is a legacy that he will leave on the sands of history.
“This is not the first time this has been said. I mean, we’ve had pushes like this in the class, what gives you the confidence that this is going to go through?
“This would be different by the grace of God. Mr. President is a man of his words. The two constitutional amendments are ongoing. The party constitutional amendment is ongoing. He has told us that he will lead his horse. The Nigerian constitution amendment is ongoing in the National Assembly, he has directed that we, myself or the Attorney General, should liaise with the National Assembly. I believe he will also speak with the senate president and the speaker. I trust Mr. President, and I know that he will leave a legacy that will stand the test of time in this country, on women issues”.