Sunday 27 August 2023


Between the 23rd and 24th of August 2023 in Abuja, National Institute for Legislative & Democratic Studies (NILDS) held an International Conference with theme: 'Women's representation in governance in Nigeria: Issues, challenges & way forward.' The parley was attended by parliamentarians from within and outside Nigeria, academics, practitioners and several other stakeholders. I was a valued participant.

L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Sen. Abiodun Olujimi on the first day of the parley

Some of the participants are:

*Sen. Godswill Akpabio - President of the Senate

*Hon. Dr. Tajudeen Abbas (Represented) - Speaker, House of Representatives

*Prof. Abubakar Suleiman - DG NILDS

*Barr. Uju Kennedy - Minister, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development

*Mrs. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi - Co-founder, African Women Development Fund (AWDF)/Fmr. 1st Lady, Ekiti State/Keynote Speaker

*Hon. Agnes Kirabo - Member, Ugandan Parliament

*Advocate Olave Mogale - Chairperson, Commission for Gender Equality, South Africa

*Hon. Mbalu Jessica Kilo - Member, Kenya Parliament

*Mrs. Beatrice Eyong - Country Representative, UN Women

*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Independent Conflict Transformation Strategist/Gender Specialist & Fmr. Director, Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution (IPCR)

*Sen. Biodun Olujimi - Fmr. Parliamentarian, Nigerian Senate

*Prof. Shola Omole - Federal University, Oye Ekiti

*Ms. Ekaete Umoh -Country Director, CBM Global Disability Inclusion

*Jake Ekpelle - CEO Albino Foundation

*Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola - Fmr. Majority Leader, House of Representatives

*Prof. Olalekan Yinusa - Obafemi Awolowo University

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio greeting Ms. Lois Auta on the first day of the conference

In his address, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said the 10th National Assembly is determined to promote gender equity. He noted that gender stereotypes and biases have hindered the desirable turnout of women in politics and governance in general. 

DG of NILDS, Abubakar Suleiman said he shall continue to put programmes in place to deepen the democratic culture, while promoting gender-sensitive legislation. Let the DG speak for himself: 'In recent times, there has been growing concern in the public space about women's under-representation in governance. Despite accounting for 49.7% of the population, Nigerian women continue to be under-represented in governance at the national, state and local levels, compared to their male counterparts. Though the extant policy framework in Nigeria recommends 35% affirmative action in favour of women, their representation in governance remains below 7% as witnessed in the 2023 elections.' (Source: Conference brochure, pg. 10). For Prof. Suleiman, the conference was NILDS's contribution towards the effective correction of the anomaly of low representation of women in governance.

A cross section of participants: Ms. Lois Auta (sitting); Ist right - Alh. Dr. Shehu Chindo Yamusa (Emir of Keffi); 2nd right - Prof. Abubakar Suleiman (DG NILDS); 4th right - Barr. Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Minister of State); Hon. Kafilat Ogbara (Rep. Speaker, House of Reps); Sen. Godswill Akpabio (Senate President); Sen. Barau Jibrin (Deputy Senate President); Barr. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye (Minister, Women Affairs); Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi (Fmr. Ist Lady, Ekiti state/Keynote Speaker) 

In the speech of the representative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, she was indeed on the same page with the Senate President. She pledged that the Lower House would support the five Gender Bills rejected by the 9th Senate when re-presented.

In her illuminating address, the keynote speaker, Erelu Fayemi, made a passionate appeal to the Senate President to walk the talk as regards the vexed issue of the representation of women in politics. She would like to see more competent women in the political space, enabled by relevant legislation on affirmative action and gender equity.

Middle - Barr. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye (Minister, Women Affairs); Right - Ms. Rosemary Effiong (UNICEF)

In my many interventions, I broke down the concepts: gender equity/equality and affirmative action. I did this because the two different concepts of equity and equality were being wrongly used inter-changeably. Besides, I mentioned the fact that some of the discussants should be more kind in their remarks to paper presenters at the parley. The import of the discourse was to enrich the review of the various papers with their comments without 'putting down' the presenters. To be sure, some of the younger presenters/academics need to be encouraged rather than discouraged with rather harsh remarks. The point could still be made in a gentler and more accommodating tone...

On the whole, there were at least 21 parallel sessions, some of which are:

*The historical, conceptual & theoretical context.

*Women & the Political Party system.

*Women, elections & the electoral system/process.

*Poverty, women's empowerment & the SDGs.

*Gender norms & socio-cultural practices.

*Constitution, citizenship & women's rights.

*Girl child education & national development.

*Women in science, technology & mathematics (STEM).

*International gender protocols & legislation in Nigeria.

*Conflict & insecurity: The peace-building & gender dimension.

*Inclusiveness of women with disabilities in politics & governance.

*Cross-country perspectives of women's representation.

*Climate change & women's participation/representation in governance.

In conclusion, it is necessary for the few Nigerian female legislators to take a queue from their counterparts from other African countries who said they took some of their male counterparts to lunch in order to lobby them to support gender-friendly Bills! The discussion continues on the corridors and other spaces. The DG has emphasised the fact that this is not the last from the institution on this matter. We look forward to further engagements in collaboration with other stakeholders that would hopefully catapult women to where they should be...Kudos to DG NILDS and his formidable team for pulling off this remarkable and impactful conference...

                           Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa on the second day of the conference


Wednesday 9 August 2023


 On the 8th of August 2023 in Abuja, the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) held a conference with theme: 'Unpacking the outcomes of the 58 sessions of the subsidiary bodies (SB58) of the UN framework convention on climate change'. The parley assessed Nigeria's preparedness for CoP 28 and how much progress has been made since CoP 27. Please see my relevant Blog post: I was a valued participant at the meeting.

Photo L-R: Ms. Jasmina Haynes (Representative of Integrity Action) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Some of the participants are:

*Dr. Salisu Dahiru - DG NCCC

*Xolisa Joseph Ngwdla - South African academic/Lead paper presenter

*David Greene - Charge d'Affairs ad interim/US Ambassador to Nigeria

*Richard Montgomery - British High Commissioner to Nigeria

*Mohammed Yahya - Resident Representative UNDP

*Markus Wagner - GIZ Country Director for Nigeria & ECOWAS

*Lazarus Angbazo - CEO InfraCorp

*Aminu Sadiq - MD Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)

*Ahmad Salihijo - MD, Rural Electricity Agency (REA)

*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Independent Conflict Transformation Strategist

*Ms. Priscilla Achakpa - Global Lead Women Environmental Programme (WEP)

The lead paper by Xolisa Joseph Ngwdla focused on the 'Overview of the negotiations in the African context & outcomes of COP 27/SB58.' He discussed mitigation, adaptation, finance and cross-cutting issues in relation to climate change (CC). He was particularly interested in sustainable pathways to net zero emissions. Xolisa admonished Nigeria to be mindful of the lens through which she achieves development in CC. Loss and damage was another contentious issue. The cross-cutting issues addressed were global stock-taking, international cooperation initiatives, just transition work, indebtedness, criteria for aiding African countries towards adaptation, etc

In my submission I was worried about the concept of loss & damage as it affects Africa, especially Nigeria. Besides, I challenged NCCC to include more women, youth, PWDs and other vulnerable groups in the adaptation process/agenda. For me harnessing indigenous knowledge (IK) is germane for effective adaptation in any clime.

Dr. Salisu Dahiru emphatically said that the 'financial page' was of utmost importance and that Nigeria needs to figure out exactly what it would cost to sustainably adapt to CC in the country. This may help the country attract the necessary help from the relevant sources globally. We should always remember that adaptive capacity is a function of development. For example, Nigeria lost about $7b in one rainy season. What does that tell us? CC is perpetrating significant damage in our clime...He also presented salient points in the National CC Act. The Act was signed into law in 2021.

The panel discussion was concerned about in-country platforms that could be catalytic for CC mitigation and adaptation. If these platforms are effectively harnessed, we may be able to shift forward the 2030 deadline we have set for ourselves to adapt to CC. The Energy Transition Plan (ETP) needs to be continually interrogated. The role of the media in the dissemination of vital information about CC cannot be overemphasised. 

The youth are desirous of 'green skills' for the post-adaptation era. The Action Plan on Gender & CC was alluded to. In agriculture, for example, there are initiatives to reduce emissions from paddy rice production. Environmental/human health was another burning issue. NCCC was advised to carry sub-nationals along in all they do.

On the whole, there was fruitful discussion. I look forward to the next pre-CoP 28 parley sometime in October 2023...