Abuja, Tuesday, August 15, 2023: A civil society coalition, the Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD), has called on newly elected State Governors to ensure gender equity in the constitution of the executive councils of their different States while also addressing other inclusion gaps through the appointment of representatives of marginalized groups such as youths and persons with disabilities as commissioners.
The Alliance also urged Governors that are yet to appoint their commissioners to take urgent steps to do so in the light of the deadline for the nomination of commissioners stipulated in Section 192(6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which provides that “the nomination of any person to the office of a Commissioner for confirmation by the House of Assembly of a State shall be done within sixty days after the date the Governor has taken the oath of Office.”
In a statement issued in Abuja, the Alliance commended Governors who had already submitted the names of their nominees for appointment as commissioners in compliance with the constitutional deadline but said it was concerned by the findings from a study it conducted on the appointment of commissioners across the States, which revealed a pattern of gender disparities and other imbalances in the lists of nominees submitted by Governors in several states.
It noted that despite the provision of the National Gender Policy, which stipulates that at least 35 percent of appointive positions should be allocated to women, the data from six states that have constituted their Executive Council evidenced a disturbing disregard for the policy.
For instance, the Alliance said, in Osun State only two out of the 25 commissioners appointed are women, representing 8 percent of the state cabinet while in Taraba State, which has appointed the highest number of women as commissioners so far, only seven out of the 21 persons appointed as commissioners are women, representing 33 percent of the state cabinet.
The Alliance also condemned the pattern of appointment of the children or other family members of former governors and other powerful political figures as commissioners in different States, describing the gradual but systematic creation and nurturing of political dynasties as undemocratic, nepotistic and inimical to good governance.
It argued that the practice whereby a privileged few who have wealth, power and influence can routinely get their children or other close relatives appointed as commissioners regardless of the competence or otherwise of the family members only serves to ensure that such prominent political figures are able to maintain a permanent presence in government and constantly influence its decision-making.
The Chair of the Steering Committee of the Alliance, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, who is the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), said: “Besides the need to comply with the National Gender Policy and other instruments which require that Government should be constituted in a manner that is inclusive and representative, ensuring gender equity and diversity in the constitution of executive councils at both Federal and State levels is imperative in order to foster social cohesion and create a more just and inclusive society where everyone can have a sense of belonging.”
He insisted that inclusion and diversity in representation are critical in a democratic system of governance and should not be treated as a mere privilege to be accorded to any group or section of the society by the Governor at his absolute discretion.
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Adedoyin Ojosipe (Ms)