Connect with us

Features

2013 In Retrospect

Published

on

The year 2013 has gradually come to an end and paved the way for a brand new year (2014). Like previous ones, it certainly must have begun with great expectations for most people. Gleefully, unlike 2012, it was not a year of natural or national disasters. There weren’t numerous plane crashes or widespread flooding which 2012 was reputed for.

On the average, the year can be said to be a fair one comparatively. It was characterised by some eccentric developments which indeed invigorated or intrigued Nigerians both at home and in Diaspora.

The year began with Nigeria’s steady cruise to glory in sports. The country had a blissful outing in sports particularly in football and athletics where the strength of the nation was proven fantastically at local and international levels.

On February 10, 2013, the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s senior national team, won the 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in South Africa beating Burkina Faso, after 19 years attempts at winning the trophy. It was a championship where Nigeria was never listed among tournament favourites.

In July 2013, Nigeria broke another jinx in African Nations Championships (CHAN) when it qualified to feature in the tournament slated for South Africa, the first time since its inception in 2009. Nigeria had beaten Cote d’ Ivoire 4-2 to secure a place.

This success continued between August 11th and 18th, 2013, when a Nigerian, Blessing Okagbare, won silver and bronze medals in women 200m and long jump respectively at the World Athletic Championship in Moscow.

While the nation was basking in the euphoria of the aforementioned successes in sports, the Golden Eaglets on November 8, 2013, again conquered the world in far away United Arab Emirates (U.A.E), trouncing Mexico 3-0 to lift the FIFA Under 17 World Cup for the fourth time, having won it in 1985 in China (maiden edition), 1993 in Japan and 2007 in South Korea.

The zenith of 2013 sports glories was the qualification of the Super Eagles for the next edition of the World Cup finals in June 2014 in Brazil. The country got to this stage when it beat Ethiopia with an aggregate of 4-1 to give it its fifth World Cup ticket.

It was indeed a year to remember with many troubling moments in the aviation industry. A major plane crash, a financial scandal and several other flops have left watchers of the industry in utter bewilderment. The anger they generated were so potent and consistent that they almost overshadowed the remodeling projects of some airports in the country.

The year was characterised by the grounding of the Bombadier Global Express aircraft with registration number 5N565RS by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), belonging to the Rivers State Government, which conveyed the state Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, at Akure Airport on 26th April, 2013 . The development caused so much uproar by Nigerians and deep controversy between the federal and Rivers State governments.

Similarly, a chartered helicopter by the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, was grounded at the Benin Airport by the federal government on June 7, 2013. Oshiomole was on his way to Akwa, Anambra State, when the incident occurred.

A high profile incident in the aviation sector is the stowaway phenomenon that happened on August 26, 2013. On that fateful day, a teenage stowaway, Master Daniel Ohikhena, beat aviation security at the Benin Airport and hid himself in the wheel compartment of a Lagos-bound Arik Air aircraft and successfully landed at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos. He was later arrested by security operatives for questioning.

Another high point of events in aviation this year was the fatal accident involving a Brazilian-made Embraer 120 aircraft with registration number 5N-BJY belonging to Associated Airline with 20 passengers made up of seven crew members on October 3, 2013.

The aircraft, which flew from Lagos, was Akure-bound. It was conveying the corpse of the late Ondo State governor, Chief Olusegun Agagu, and some members of his family when it crashed. 14 out of the 20 passengers perished. The crash once again threw the aviation sector into a quagmire with many questioning the air worthiness of the aircraft that fly the nation’s airspace.

Developments in the sector remain incomplete without mentioning the recent N255m bullet proof cars scam allegedly bought for the minister, Stella Oduah, by NCAA. Since then the issue has generated a lot of questions that have remained unanswered. Not even the three-man administrative panel set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to investigate the circumstances surrounding the purchase has been able to provide the needed succour.

The nation’s economic sector was not left out in the series of occurrences in the country. During the year under review, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Nigeria’s leading think-tank on economic policy and private sector development, hosted the 19th Economic Summit from 3rd to 5th September, 2013. The Summit focused on growing agriculture as a business which aims at turning Nigeria into a global agricultural force.

In November, 14 private successor companies received their certificates of ownership following the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). The move brought an end to the many years of public ownership of electricity generation and transmission in Nigeria. This is expected to enhance the country’s fortunes and ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Also,2013 saw the death of literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe. His demise created a vacuum particularly in the literary space both in the country and international community. His funeral in May attracted several dignitaries from all walks of life. Late Achebe was known for his very famous book Things Fall Apart.

The entertainment industry also recorded some landmark achievements in 2013 with several events within and outside the country. Many award-winning movies were produced and premiered within and outside the country. The development has placed Nigeria’s movie industry on world map. Also, Nollywood celebrated 20 years of existence with series of activities and funfair.

Still in 2013, Nigeria witnessed a solar eclipse on November 3. The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) had earlier predicted that the country would witness a partial solar eclipse on November 3. Solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, and the moon fully or partially blocks the sun.

A challenge the Federal Government has been working very assiduously to address and surmount is the issue of Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern part of the country which has made life unpredictable and brutish in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States where emergency rule is currently in place.

That the activities of Boko Haram which have left thousands of Nigerians dead in the past three years is a major source of concern in terms of safety of life and property of citizens, was underlined by the listing of Boko Haram and Ansaru as terror groups by the United States.

The designation was made formal on November 13, following two statements from the White House and the State Department.

This move by the US Government was not surprising if the killing of 32 school children in Potiskum by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram operatives; Saturday July 6, is anything to go by.

Not done, the terrorist group recently on December 2, in an early morning raid attacked the Nigerian Air Force Base and other military formations in Maiduguri, fuelling suspicion in the military that the attacks had insider collaboration.

This is besides the internecine tribal conflict which regularly claims the lives of citizens on the now infamous “Plateau killing fields”

But as if these security challenges are not enough to keep the federal government on its toes, the escalating oil theft in the Niger Delta must, no doubt, be a source of concern to patriots. So far the country reportedly loses a whopping $1bn  daily to oil thieves who have invaded the Niger Delta as if the area is a “no-man’s-land”

This process which has grave implications for the nation’s economy and the ecosystem in the impacted region is not helped by our law enforcement system which appears to be helpless in the face of rape of our collective resources by a few untouchables.

But the most profound event of 2013 which impacted on the majority of Nigerians was the five month long strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from  April 2013. Their grouse: non-implementation of an agreement the Federal Government reached with the union in 2009.

The rot in our institutions in terms of infrastructure cannot be contested, but the level of corruption and the depravity which some lecturers exhibit in their relationship with their students is unacceptable and should begin to occupy the attention of the leadership of ASUU in our collective bid to sanitise our tertiary institutions.

It is gratifying, however, that the Federal Government and ASUU, just on December 11, 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the resolution of the dispute which led to the strike. It was on this note that ASUU called off its five month strike.

Though details of the agreement were not made public, ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, revealed that the deal captured the main areas of the union’s demands, including the deposit of N200bn in a dedicated account in the Central Bank of Nigeria and the non-victimisation clause.

In the area of boosting the economy of the northern part of the country through improved transportation, the federal government had completed the dredging of the River Niger up to Barau, while River ports at Lokoja and Oguta have been completed. Meanwhile, the dredging of the Benue River from Lokoja to Yola is on.

But according to the Minister of Information and Communications, Labaran Maku, the most significant economic project for northern Nigeria done by any federal government for the north is the rehabilitation of the railway system from Lagos to Kano.

This has in no small measure reduced cost of moving bulk commodities like cement and petroleum products which corporate bodies now carry out through use of railway coaches. Besides, he promised that this year train services between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri would be in place as three contractors are handling the rehabilitation of the line with revenue from SURE-P.

However, it appears that in spite of these seeming progress made in the transportation and electricity sectors, critics allege that corruption was now growing in leaps and bounds in the polity with the leaders being the most offenders. For example, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria disclosed recently that Nigeria loses nearly $8 billion about N1.24 trillion per year to oil sector corruption despite the existence of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). ERA/FoEN decried the fact that NEITI had failed to sanitise the Nigerian petroleum sector or reduce corruption level as Nigeria loses over 500,000 barrels of crude per day, costing the nation a whopping N1.24 trillion per year.

In the political scene, the year witnessed many political developments and upheavals that are bound to change the political alignment of the country.

A major disclosure in the political arena is the merger of four political parties into All Progressives Congress (APC). The four parties were Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led by the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

With the merger, Nigeria now has two major national parties. This means Nigerian now have an alternative party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The year also witnessed the factionalisation of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), following the victory of the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi in the Forum’s chairmanship election. During the election, 19 governors voted for Governor Amaechi while 16 voted for the Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang, who is the factional chairman.

The Rivers State House of Assembly also had its share of turpsy turvy political situation inthe country. It was plunged into a serious crisis following the failed attempt by five lawmakers to impeach the speaker, Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree. Following the crisis, the Assembly was unable to open for normal legislative functions. This led to the taking over of its duties by the National Assembly.

 

Arnold Alalibo

President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

Continue Reading

Features

NUJ: Gleanings Of PH National Confab

Published

on

Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, recently served as the host city for the Third National Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Declaring the two-day event open at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said he considered the theme of the Conference “The Media, Insecurity And National Unity” very apt in view of the perilous security challenges that have continued to plague the country unabated which he believed would address the issues of insecurity in Nigeria and positively impact on the nation’s unity.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the Governor said that the country was threatened as a result of self-destructive tendencies like ethnic chauvinism, religious intolerance, brazen disregard for the rule of law and nepotism and that it appeared the Federal Government of Nigeria was fanning these embers of disunity through its perceived actions and inactions.
“For instance, how could we explain a situation where almost all the heads of security agencies as well as critical national institutions are headed by people from a particular ethnic nationality and religious faith in a country which prides itself as a secular state and believes in federal character when it comes to the appropriation of positions?” Wike wondered.
He urged journalists, who are said to constitute the Fourth Estate of the Realm, to brainstorm and come up with a workable solution to save the country from imminent collapse.
NUJ President, Chief Chris Isiguzo, while speaking, called on journalists in Nigeria to avoid allowing politicians to dictate news angles for them. He also spoke on the theme: ‘The Media, Insecurity And National Unity’ at the event which held from June 7th – 8th, 2021.
Isiguzo added that it is unethical for journalists to allow politicians take over their responsibilities and dictate media content at the expense of public interest. He warned journalists to de-escalate news capable of causing fear and panic, especially now that the country is facing the challenge of insecurity.
In one of the other presentations at the conference, the Head of Mass Communication Department, Renaissance University, Enugu, Dr Maxwell Ngene, urged the Federal Government to ensure that the Freedom of Information Act is domesticated and implemented in all states of the federation as a matter of necessity, so as to instill accountability in government.
Speaking on ‘Maintaining Peace in Turbulent Times: The Role Of The Media in Security and Unity of Nigeria’, Ngene, advocated that codes of conduct in journalism practice should be encouraged as well as development of a regulatory framework that would enhance media’s role in national unity and security, while adding that there should also be strict observance of high professional standards of ethics.
Also speaking on  Media and National Security, Alhaji Muktar Sirajo stressed that there must be ethical re-orientation in media practice, genuine and inclusive fight against corruption, pervasive unemployment and poverty, and addressing the issues of ethno-religious, political and economic-based violence, with robust improvement in national security architecture to stem the tide of terrorism and insecurity in the country.
Alhaji Muktar urged media on its part to place national interest above any parochial interest in disseminating information to the public. He enjoined the mass media to avoid the temptation of over- escalating negative news, but rather focus more on escalating positive news in other to calm the tension arising from the insecurity challenge being faced in the country. 
In another presentation on the same topic, Richard Akinnola, explained that press freedom is about freedom of expression, which in itself is a fundamental right in the world, without which genuine democracy cannot thrive. He encouraged journalists never to disclose their source of information no matter the cost, noting that they must maintain their sources of information in order not to betray the trust and confidentiality of their new source. 
Also as part of the event, delegates undertook a tour of the new Flyover bridges to have a feel of some of the new edifices being put in place by His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike. The first visited was the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover with a length of 880 metre. The second visited was the Rumuogba 1&2 Flyover which we were told is the longest of all with 1.24km length. Others were the Rumuola, GRA Junction, Rebisi, and Oro-Abali flyovers. It was gathered that three of the flyovers were constructed at the same time and delivered less than one year.
It is worthy to note that the NUJ Vice President Zone D, Chief Wilson Bako, led the Team Flyover and the Rivers State Press Officer, Ministry of Works, Paul Bazia, sensitised the delegates on the Wike-led administration’s projects recorded thus far.
It was also observed that delegates commended the numerous quality infrastructural projects executed by Governor Wike, while calling on other governors in the country to emulate his leadership prowess.
Meanwhile, everything that has a beginning has an end as the two-day event came up with a 17-Point communique drafted by the Drafting Committee members; namely Amos Dunia, Ifeyinwa Omowole and Emma Couson and signed by the National Secretaries, Shuaibu Usman Leman and Walin Shadalafiya, on June 8th, 2021, in the presence of key media houses and civil society organisations (CSOs).
The confab adopted the following resolutions as panacea to the myriad of security, political and ethno-religious crises currently facing the country. 

  • Taking into cognisance that the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of citizens, against the backdrop of prevailing situations that government is overwhelmed and unable to effectively carry out this onerous responsibility, the conference urges citizens to assist in community mobilisation as a way of addressing insecurity and notes that it will be disastrous to allow citizens to lose confidence in the ability of government to deal with the situation.
  • The conference also did retrospection on the role of journalists with regard to their core mandate of informing, educating and holding government and leaders accountable. Conference notes that the media has played an active role in their propagation and proliferation by promoting their different names and titles and serving as a vehicle for their messages.
    *It also notes that more is required of practitioners as watchdogs of the society, particularly at this trying period in which a balanced reportage is more than ever before desired.
  • The Nigeria Union of Journalists takes note of the responsibility of the state to guarantee safety of lives and property, to protect the economy and economic resource areas, critical infrastructure, environment, including forest reserves and national assets.
  • The government should, in enforcing security policies, carry stakeholders at all levels of governance along and ensure good governance.
  • The Media should mediate with its distinct role of being between the governed and the rulers, particularly in situation of existential threats. The Union urges its members to prioritise mediation in the prevailing tension that pervades all geo-political zones and the threats to Nigeria’s unity. 
    *The Conference urges media practitioners to exercise caution in their reportage and analysis of unfolding events as well as play the role of a mediator between contending forces and actors. 
    *The media should be a partner in de-escalating tension instead of being a party to the conflict.
    *As for the controversy generated by the suspension of the micro-blogging platform – Twitter, the Union notes the widespread use of its resourcefulness in promoting dialogue, individual expression and commerce. The Union, therefore, solicits for caution on all sides.
  • In view of the challenges impacting on press freedom, freedom of expression, the Union will establish a Special Press Freedom Monitoring and Defence Committee.
  • The Conference, as part of innovation being injected into the NUJ, an ‘NUJ HALL OF FAME’ was launched. It is in view of this that the Conference resolves that the HALL OF FAME shall be instituted to accord due recognition to deserving public office holders, technocrats, journalists and other deserving members of the society, who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields. In this wise, His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, became the first inductee of the HALL OF FAME.
    *The Conference stresses the need for adherence to the rights of the people to freely express themselves and comment on the affairs of state and conduct of government as an intrinsic part of democracy that demands accountability of rulers and public officers to the citizenry.
    *Conference notes that a factor we cannot ignore is the fact that Nigeria is a country that fought a civil war. Those who were active players in the war, from children that were born after the war to those who experienced the war, have not gotten a closure.
    *Stakeholders call on the NUJ to lead the national voice for healing the actors of the Nigerian Civil War still alive, to engage and dialogue on issues that bind them as well as commit to ensuring that past events are put behind them and all find closure.
  • Conference also notes that #EndSARS was just a ventilation of bottled-up anger, dissatisfaction and discontent with the elites.
    Conference notes that more than 60 years after Independence, it is still battling with ‘State of Origin’ in our National Data Collection System taking into cognisance that ethnicity and tribe played a negative role in the cause of the RWANDAN war. . Participants commend His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for hosting the Conference and thank the people of the State for the warm reception.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

Continue Reading

Features

Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

Published

on

Recently, a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

Continue Reading

Features

Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

Published

on

Recently a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

Continue Reading

Trending