President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said the demand for a female vice president in 2019 was threatening the position of Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The President spake when female members of the state Houses of Assembly across the country asked him to consider picking a female running mate for the 2019 presidential election.
They made the demand when they paid a courtesy visit on Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Apart from the Vice President slot, the female legislators also asked Buhari to make it compulsory that one out of three senators produced by each state of the federation should be a woman.
They also demanded that three out of nine members of the House of Representatives from each state should be a woman.
The leader of the delegation, Mrs. Elizabeth Ative, made the demands on behalf of her colleagues.
Ative said, “All over the world, the issue of twinning is being advocated. Currently, many African and European nations are daily finding ways to include more women in governance.
“Some have elected or appointed women as Heads of States, Prime Ministers, Heads of Foreign Ministries and other key positions of decision making. It will not be out of place, Your Excellency, for women to be given such opportunities in our dear nation. Even God created them male and female.”
In his response however, Buhari jocularly told the women that their demand for a female Vice President, was a threat to the current holder of the office, Yemi Osinbajo.
Osinbajo was not present at the meeting Buhari had with the female lawmakers.
“It is a pity that the Vice President is not here but I am sure the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will brief him that his position is threatened,” the President replied.
Buhari also said he had no constitutional powers to grant the third request that a particular number of federal lawmakers produced by each state should be women.
He said only a military dictator could make such a pronouncement.
“I am not all that powerful that when I talk it becomes a decree. As I said it is only the Vice President that is threatened,” he said.
He however thanked the women for their supports and urged them to continue especially as he had declared his intention to seek re-election.
He also said there was no truth in their belief that men were bent on marginalising them in the forthcoming general elections.
Ative had earlier claimed that female politicians were being marginalised by men.
She commended Buhari for what she called his integrity.
Ative said, “The impunity at which the former handlers embezzled with reckless abandon has become a thing of the past in our country because of Your Excellency’s doggedness, courage, firmness and integrity in standing for truth, fairness and equity.
“Politically, women account for over 50 percent of voters in any election. They are very loyal politicians and do not cross-carpet. They wait patiently to cast their votes under the rain and even in the scorching sun.
“It will interest Your Excellency to know that Nigeria is a signatory to several conventions and treaties supporting and encouraging the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
“However, Nigerian women have not been given their rightful place in the scheme of things. Women political empowerment in Nigeria ranks a lowly 111th position of 145 countries surveyed in the 2015 Global Gender Gap Report.
“Today, Nigeria falls short of the National Gender Policy benchmark of 35 per cent minimum representation for women as well as the global and regional benchmarks of which she is a signatory, ranking 181 out of 193 countries in female representation according to statistics from inter parliamentary union.”
Meanwhile, when contacted on the telephone on the female parliamentarians’ request, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said he had nothing to add since the President had responded jocularly to the request.
Laughing over the question, Akande said, “But you are also aware that the President responded to the request jocularly. I don’t think I have further comment on it.”