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Nigerian women take key cabinet posts 0

Gender activists, with Nigerian First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan leading the pack, have won a significant battle in their quest for more women representation in government with the final unveiling of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet last Thursday.

Of the 40 ministers and one cleared ministerial nominees, 13 are women, a major milestone in women’s campaign for more involvement in governance.

The number of female appointees in the cabinet represents about 31 percent of the 42-member cabinet. It may even be more as the president is yet to replace the rejected ministerial nominee from a named State.

In the new cabinet led by Jonathan, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala(in the picture), who is expected to run the Ministry of Finance and will be given more responsibilities to superintend the economy in an expanded role, has been cleared by the senate but she has not taken her oath of office, as she is yet to disengage finally from her job as the managing director of the World Bank.

Until her appointment as Minister of Finance by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on July 15, 2003, only a few Nigerians, outside the economic and financial sectors, knew of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. By the time she left on August 3, 2006, shortly after her redeployment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she had become a household name.

During her second stint on the job, Okonjo-Iweala will be expected to help drive the president’s transformational agenda, especially by instituting fiscal reform, a reduction in recurrent spending to the neglect of capital projects, job creation and ending a regime of deficit budgeting.

Other female members of the cabinet are Diezani Alison-Madueke (Petroleum Resources), Prof Ruqayyatu Rufai (Education), Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi (Aviation),  Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa (Environment), Omobola Johnson Olubusola, (Communication Technology) and Ama Pepple (Lands and Housing)

Others are  Sarah Reng Ochekpe (Water Resources), Hajiya Zainab Maina (Women Affairs and Social Development) Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi (Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs), Prof. Viola Onwuliri (Minister of State Foreign Affairs), Erelu Olusola Obada (Minister of State, Defence) and Olajumoke Akinjide (Minister of State for FCT).

Some of the appointees are not only leading lights in their chosen professions, they have impeccable pedigrees.

Although the number of female ministers in the cabinet is slightly below the 35 percent benchmark women were clamouring for in line with affirmative action, it is within the ambit of the 1995 affirmative action of the Beijing conference in China and international instruments that the nation is a signatory to and a major leap in the nation’s history.

Not only has Jonathan appointed more women into cabinet positions than his 13 predecessors, both military and civilian, in Nigeria’s 50 years of independence, he assigned them to some of the most critical ministries to the economy and his transformational agenda.

Meanwhile President Jonathan told the newly appointed ministers at the presidential palace in the nation’s capital on Thursday to be transparent and to bring “significant improvement to (the) economy”.

He said: “One critical issue that will also engage our attention is the issue of corruption. There is no doubt that our rating in the Global Corruption Index is embarrassing. Corruption is therefore the monster that we need to confront and defeat, in order to raise the country’s integrity profile.”

“Everything will be done to provide an enabling environment for you to be able to function efficiently. I will also personally ensure that we remain focused as a team, and that the confidence that the people repose in us, is not taken for granted.”

By Staff writer – Afronline

Sources: This Day Live, World Stage newsonline, Iol News

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