By Sabastine Mbah
In a virtual conference/Seminar organized by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) to commemorate the first International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Day For Women In Maritime, the participants decried the gender imbalance and inequality that affect women in almost every sector. While some of the reasons that have continued to create gender disparity in work places were highlighted as care-giver bias (where women are seen as the ones to provide care for children and age family members), motherhood (which has to do with the period of pregnancy and weaning the baby) and other bias; the women believe that the stereotype and men consciously and subtly subjugating their efforts is on the high side.
A guest speaker, Hajia Lami Tumaka and former director of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), expressed her dissatisfaction with the immediate past Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi. According to her, the Minister was not fair to women in the reconstitution of board members of various agencies under the ministry. As a woman who has worked her way to the position of a director in one of the agencies, she knows the hard work and gallant sacrifices that women provide at their workplace for the growth of the society.
She argued that if the Minister had given the United Nations SDG 5 which centers on gender – equality and women empowerment, more women would have made the board members list compared with the negligible few that did.
Further investigation revealed that the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) has a 14 Governing Council Members listed in the official website of which only three are women. However, 2 of these women are representatives of Federal Ministry of Transportation and Nigerian Railway Corporation and only Hajiya Fati Sanusi Abubakar appears to be the only appointed woman to the council board. Meanwhile, a peep into the Nigerian Railway Corporation Board exposed even a more worrisome situation. Of the total 23 board members listed in NRC page, one Ms Obukome Ibru seems to be the only woman in the board. This may yet prove that Amaechi was indeed insensitive to gender equality or simply does not care.
To further indict the immediate past Minister, a look at the Nigerian Port Authority, NPA, divulged that only a single woman is a member of the board. While it is so, only the Minister can tell considering his interest and constant visitation to the port and the crisis that led to the removal of the past MD Hadiza Bala. While it’s the same disappointment from one agency to another, the actions of Amaechi may have confirmed the outburst of the women who consider him a threat to women inclusion in leadership roles and all aspect of human endeavors.
The entire agencies which include Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding of Nigeria (CRFFN) and Nigerian Ports Authority under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Transportation has failed to give women the attention they deserve in constituting their board. Statistics shows that not more than two or three women are nominated as board members in any of this agency. With sure avoidable figure which is still less than 2% and not close to the 30% which the women are seeking the immediate past Minister of Transportation may have shot himself and put the possibilities of earning maximum support from the women in jeopardy.
While there could be excuses for Amaechi who likely would have been at war with various interests groups while these boards were being constituted, analysts are of the opinion that a gender sensitive person would have done a much better job and fought the battles to see that women gain increased representation in several areas. Since women always give more support to those who consider their interests largely in whatever ever they do, Amaechi would have been rest assured of their unwavering support should he clinch the APC presidential ticket.