Women In Niger Delta Dev


Nothing comes so quick to my mind than the definition of development which means, “A human – created change to improved or unimproved real estate, including buildings or other structures, mining, dregding, filing, grading, paving, execavating and drilling.” The definition has it that development is human activities and actions that turn underdeveloped property into developed property. This unique dictionary did not attribute development to men alone, it simply says: human created change thereby envisaging that women, as part of human, are also capable of creating activities that could lead to development. Women emancipation in almost every sphere of life has greatly and positively affected the Niger Delta region in terms of development. A few and vibrant women organisations like Federated International of Women Lawyers, (FIDA), the National Women Commission (NWC), the Mothers Union, the Women Guide, the National women’s union which in 1953 metamorphosed into the federation of Nigeria Women’s Society (FNWS), the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, have made some impacts in the region. Niger Delta region comprises of the Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, Abia State, Imo State, Delta State, Edo State and Ondo State. The women from these states can effectively bring a different perspective into political, social, economical and religious development using their experiences as mothers. The current battle against kidnapping in the Niger Delta has made more impact ever since the women took the bull by the horn. In one of the television commentaries, a woman leader opined that these kidnappers and militants are “our sons; they are not ghosts”. Only the true mothers can approach their stubborn sons and arrest this ugly situation. It is rightly said that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach. Our women by virtue of their domestic services to men have direct access to men’s hearts; a sensitised workshop against these social vices could mean that all the road constructions would be easily executed, it would also imply that our children, the leaders of tomorrow shall learn more and more in atmosphere of freedom, it also follows that our water ways and ports would harbour more ship. Stray bullets and accidental discharges from the rifles of the militants and police men would no more be the order of the day. Gender equality, if constitutionally envoked and politically accepted could bring the best in the women of Niger Delta towards achieving these developmental goals. I was of the view that the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would appoint a woman as the Minister of Niger Delta:- the new ministry created by the President to ensure speedy development in the Niger Delta region the political sharing formula went as usual, men took the lion share. It is high time the women rise against these arbitrary political appointment. Do women’s rights in the Niger Delta exist only on papers? Little wonders why sojourner Truth, the former African – American slave woman said “…. I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! … I have borne thirteen children and seen them most all sold off to slavery … that little man. In black dar, he says women can’t have as much right as man because Christ wasn’t a woman …” Sojourer Truth’s statement provides a poetic back drop to the voice of Niger Delta region based on fundamental rights and freedom, justice, equity and dignity for all. No struggle for development has ever been waged by men alone. Women of Niger Delta are hereby called upon to swell the ranks. The extent and nature of women’s involvement merit in these struggle have been determined by the needs arising out of particular history. No need to say that women have not been spared in the campaign against HIV/AIDS and polio. Almost all the eight first ladies of the Niger Delta region have invited Alhaja Turai Yar’Adua to end the fight against Polio and HIV/AIDS, the Deputy Governors wives and the wives of the chairmen of the local government areas are not left out. Infact, I doft my cap for the Niger Delta women, The FIDA located in the Niger Delta takes up cases on: Violation of women’s rights, rape, torture and other crimes against women free of charge, just like the market women protest against the importation of sub: standard food and inflation. What more is development? Development and growth are two twin sisters that can turn Niger Delta around. The Niger Delta women do not expect 100 per cent sharing formula in political appointments, etc No! They are only crying out that the rate of marginalization of women in the Niger Delta region should be checked, so as not to go back to the state of anarchy and chaos or to reinvite the Aba women riot of 1927. Niger Delta women have the magical wand to cement the diversity among political parties, ethnic groups, religious bodies, among others. Our President in considering political appointments should bear in mind that men, alone, like the proverbial left hard cannot package democratic parcel properly without the support of the right hand. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.