By Engr. Prof. S.A. Olagoke, JP
Mother is a female parent who inhabits biological maturity to bear and nurse offspring and perform the role of bearing some relation to their children as a social responsibility. She is a family of incredibly smart sensors that one sets to monitor whatever one cares about. Motherhood is therefore a state of being a mother. She is the first school of a child, vector of knowledge for the children a beast of burden for procreation and survival of the household.
It is against the above background that the major parts of the Millennium Development Goals are focused while almost half of the 17 Point Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals is equally dedicated to womanhood for every nation to implement through her government. However, motherhood in Nigeria will have to storm against the turbulence of our political challenges amidst the present poor human development index, poor health facilities, and viscous fluid of discrimination against the girl child and womanhood.
- GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROBLEM EFFECT ON NIGERIA
Nigeria has experienced different types of global economic changes with direct impacts on our development because we run mono-economic system of oil as our 80% economic mainstay. 1982 experienced oil glut limiting our production supply or exportation of our crude oil. The budget implementation reality could not meet up with the budget plan.
2005 Economic meltdown due to climate change and seasons of Tsunamis that ravage agricultural products resulting in drought, loss of aquatic lives etc and rise in prices of commodity. Presently, the global price of crude oil per barrel has fallen from $114 per barrel in 2013 to $39.5 in 2016. The budget has to be cut down drastically with implementation success hope depending on borrowing and debt!
One can now imagine the quality of life of Nigerians with Naira worth falling for dollars, unpaid salary of workers and retirees for possible flow of the currency. The unfortunate scenario is an environment under which motherhood needs to survive! Imagine the plight and hardship of Nigerian mothers!
- NIGERIA ECONOMIC SITUATION
Nigeria is ranked 3rd in the world Bank (2013) rating of world poverty in terms of level of extreme hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, diseases and high crime rates which are the offshoots of poverty. 90% of the nation’s wealth is looted by the elites hence in the hands of less than 10% of the population. Since independence Nigeria has experienced deteriorating profile of all social indices of development: (Life expectancy 47years, HDI 0.478). The poverty indices in the table below refer:
Table 1: Poverty Indices 1960-2015
Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS 2010)
Presently, Nigerians are into throes of financial pain through profligacy, elevated to state policy due to heinous treasury looting game of her various ruling regimes:
- Federal government uncovers 3.2trn fraud in government agencies! News headline Punch, March 15, 2016
- Nigeria oil wealth was grossly abused by the elites through various corrupt practices
- All MDAs – ghost workers’ syndrome, diversion of billions of project fund into personal purse! etc.
- Nigeria GDP per capita is low with:
- Unemployment is 24%
- Social indicators are low with:
- 10% of the world one in ten out of school children (>10.5 million in Nigeria)
- 10% of child and maternal deaths
- 25% of global malaria cases
- Ebola touch, Lassa fever outbreak and Zica virus (potential neurological and auto immune complications)
It is unfortunate to note that after hard struggles to effect our external debt profile totaling $30bn some few years ago, Nigeria is now indebted to the tune of $60bn (Daily Times, Wednesday, March 2016, pg. 12). The Islamic Development Bank Official, Abdullah Mohammed Kiliak equally observed:
- Nigeria is one of the countries in the world that use largest percentage of her revenues for debt servicing
- Nigeria with low debt – GDP ratio of 17% but resources being used to pay the debts are enormous going by percentages taken on yearly basis compared to 150% for Italy and other countries, and 100% for United States.
All these directly affect motherhood on the issues of gestation, child delivery, child rearing and nature nurturing of the youth or adolescent and the health status of the mother.
- NIGERIA SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES: A POLITICAL CLIMATE
Nigeria faces immense challenges in:
- Accelerating growth
- Reducing poverty
- Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs (2000-2015)
- Sustainable Development Goals Challenges, SDG (2015-2030)
- Promoting inclusive society (2015-2030)
- Servicing debts
In May 2004, Nigeria launched her National and State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS, SEEDS) for growth and poverty reduction based on:
- Empowering people and improving social service delivery
- Improving the private sector and focusing on non oil growth
- Changing the way government works and improving governance
2007, Late Yar Adua 7 Point Agenda of wealth creation, security energy, education, land reform, mass transit and the Niger-Delta on one hand, 13 Point Agenda of Jonathan (2011-2015) notwithstanding, the Agenda impact was too low to sustain Nigerians and womanhood hence the Change Mantra of President Buhari that needs to start afresh through restructuring, fighting corruption and institutional indiscipline to create right environment for development.
- MOTHERHOOD IN CONFLICT SITUATION
- Women are the first to be affected by infrastructure breakdown as they struggle to keep families together and care for the wounded
- Women may also be forced to turn to sexual exploitation in order to survive and support their families (UNSCR, 2010)
- Aftermath conflict effect: Impact of sexual violence persist including
- Unwanted pregnancies
- Sexually transmitted infections and
- Insecurity and impunity
- Within an environment of discrimination and inequitable laws, sexual violence can prevent women from:
- Accessing education
- Becoming financially independent
- Participating in governance and peace building
Nigeria women paid a heavy price in the long and violent conflicts that have been ravaging the country especially in the past two decades:
- Plateau to Kaduna
- Borno to Benue
- Lagos to Jigawa
- Anambra to Kogi
- Rivers, Delta, South-south
- Fulani herdsmen and farmers, Boko Haram and Niger-Delta militants, ethnic and electoral violence etc.
In all women have continued to endure unprecedented levels of sexual violence and assaults and suffer in a patriarchal world as beast of related burden. It is unfortunate in March (2016), that the National Assembly in Nigeria turned down the bill on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (Gender Equality of Access) perhaps because of defect in the bill proposal structure. I wish and advocate for a quick re-presentation.
Poor governance, poor economy, insecurity, domestic violence, threats of war etc, have direct consequences on motherhood:
- Loss of lives in various levels of armed conflicts and violence
- Internal displacement due to violence and insurgence
- Resources spent in managing conflicts rather than for economic development and improvement of the living standards of the citizens
- Conflicts that have placed tremendous burdens on Nigeria community including women who suffer from:
- Loss of families
- Loss of livelihood
- Various forms of gender based violence
- Conflicts have led to various women experiencing forms of violence against women that affect:
- Their lives
- Hinder their personal development as well as their contributions to community and nation building
- Contributions to socio-economic development
- Loss of family member to conflict – husband killed
- Women suffer from food insecurity
- Live in fear of being kidnapped, used as slaves or as domestic servants
- Suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological consequences of conflict
- Suffer from unprecedented lives of:
- Sexual violence, many of which are unreported
- Related HIV infection
- Involuntary pregnancy
- Health complication as a result of rape, and
- Other sexual abuses
- EMPOWERING AND SUPPORTING THE GIRL CHILD FOR REAL WOMANHOOD
- Efforts across the Nations (March 2016 Report): The Ethiopian government has been ordered to pay $150,000 to a girl who was raped, abducted and forced to marry at the age of thirteen (13), in a landmark ruling.
- The government of Zimbabwe Standard Media is clamping down on child marriage by making it an offence for parents and guardians to accept a bride price for children below the age of 18years (African News).
- A new multi-country UN programme has been launched which aims to eliminate child marriage by 2030 (UNICEF)
- In India the governor of Punjab and Haryana has said child marriage is a violation of basic human rights and the freedom of choice. (Business Standard)
- In Nigeria the Senate has rejected a proposed law aimed at banning child marriage and discrimination against women. Leadership Newspaper.
- Muslim organizations in Northern Nigeria have launched a video to highlight the importance of seeking a woman’s consent before marriage. (AA).
- In Bangladesh, new research show that skill based education for girls can encourage parents not to marry off their daughters early. (The Daily Star).
- The US has launched its Global Strategy to empower adolescent girls aimed at improving the lives of adolescent girls worldwide. (Girls Not Brides).
At the level of organisations, civil societies and religious denominations and sects, we must not relent to educate, sensitise and empower the cause of girl child and womanhood.
- POOR MOTHERHOOD AND CONSEQUENCE ON THE SOCIETY
The motherhood focus is to raise a happy home with children of sound health, good behaviour as future leadership hope of the society. Poor motherhood will ever be characterized with poor child custody, poor child rearing and neglect of nature nurturing for the grown up. The consequence of this is a world of crime, value erosion and cultural bastardisation.
- For Nigeria, as reported by Daily times, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, pg. 24:
153 Nigerians awaiting execution in China, Malaysia due to various drug offences in different countries of the world in Guadong and Gumut of China, Indonesia etc.
- Harm Reduction International (HRC) a United Kingdom based NGO said:
33 countries impose death penalty for drug related offences
At home, let us ponder on the prison yard condition, inmate living conditions and the rising rate of crime being committed by Nigerians:
Table 2: Prison Admission by Types of Offence (2001 – 2006)
|Indian Hemp offences
|Contempt of Court
|Unlawful possession of arms
|Forgery and Altering
|Escaping from Lawful Custody
|Offences against Native Law and Custom
|Unlawful Possession of property
|Breach of peace
Source: Nigeria Democracy and Sustainable Development: The Journey So Far
Table 2b: Summary of Prison Admission by Types of Offence (2001 – 2007)
Source: Nigeria Democracy and Sustainable Development: The Journey So Far
Are these not the consequence of poor motherhood and negative parenthood? Children are fruits of the womb, no mother will ever be happy seeing her children committing crimes or going into prisons or for execution. Where lies our integrity? Nigeria deserves to have a human friendly leader that will address all these problems through empowering and emancipating women folk including the girl child. The role of mothers is crucial to raising good children.
- MOTHERHOOD, EDUCATION AND DECISION MAKING
Without education, motherhood is primitive and it suffers from all forms of deprivation because of lack of access to beneficial resources. Without adequate women representation in power sharing and decision making, gender sensitive laws and policies will be patriarchally silenced for women abuse to continue unabated. Nigeria is still to embrace 35% Affirmative Actions of the Beijing ’95 on CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Let us look into the situation report on women’s representation by election 1999-2011:
Table 3: Women Representation by Election (1999-2011)
||House of Representatives
||State House of Assemblies
||Local Government chair
Source: Okonkwo Chukwu Udodinma (2013), Gender and Women Participation in the 2011 elections. Research on Human and Social Science ISSN 2222-1119 Vol. 3, No2, 2013.
Only women will have the right feelings and passions for bills on women’s human rights to remove stigmatization, abuse, oppression and other challenges of development facing women for ease of passing them into law even when some men do resist. Measures must be taken to ensure equal women’s access to and full participation in power structure and decision making.
Assignment: Compute that of the 2015 election result outcome. It is even worse!
Food, water and air are the most essential needs for survival. Unfortunately in Nigeria, food and water are luxuries for many families in the urban and rural areas. A UNDP Report 2013 stated that women constitute 60-80% of agricultural labour force in Nigeria:
- Fetching water for farm workers
- Transporting farm produce
However, despite the enormous contribution of women in agricultural practices, government policies and programmes in the sector and increase in global food pricing (globalization) have decimated accessibility to adequate food by the poor especially women. There is yet to be on ground gender sensitive policies/blueprint on how to close the gap.
Agriculture is seen as a male occupation hence policies and programmes are not based on accurate information and analysis to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. When the capacity to support the home is low, women are faced with worries and all forms of abuse – adultery, unwanted pregnancy, raising children (school etc.), sexuality education and health related issues.
Let the government be pragmatic about women or gender sensitive policies by implementing the following to make motherhood fertile, productive and enjoyable:
- Programme that addresses unequal access to health
- Revise laws and administrative practices to ensure resources including health and nutrition, education, skill development and training of girl child. Also say ‘No’ to girl child marriage
- Eradicate violence against women and girl child including economic exploitation of child labour
- Increase women capacity to participate in decision making
- Promote good governance to prevent violence and effect of conflict on women. Let us say ‘No’ to insurgence, violence, militancy, terrorism, ritual killing and war!
- Counsel couples on the essence of dialogue in running the home and promote the need to respect ordinance of marriage on issues of responsibilities of the husband and wife to promote favourable motherhood.
There is hunger and poverty in the land affecting womanhood with direct consequence on the child and crime. There is need for government to expand the scope of resources through diversification of economy into other critical areas especially agriculture. We need to create value addition from production to processing and increasing exporting index to earn Nigeria the required foreign incomes.
Bills on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women need to be domesticated through National Assembly and various Houses of Assemblies to empower women and give them access to resources including ability to have a voice at decision making points in order that their fundamental human rights are not trampled upon.
In the words of Barak Obama of the USA, let us respect motherhood right from the home front:
A husband is tested when he has everything
A wife is tested when her husband has nothing
Motherhood is a divine construct that must be respected by all to have justice, equity, peace and sustainable development.
Thanks and God bless.
UNSCR 1325 (2015). National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and Related Resolutions in Nigeria, pp. 1-13.
Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies, OAU (2015). Gender Analysis of Health Policy, Plan, Tools and Strategies Related to Maternal Mortality in Nigeria. Pp. 6-14.
Beijing +20 (2015). Review of the Status of Women in Nigeria. 1st Edition, 2015 Group of 6, Secretariat. Partnership for Justice, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.
Olagoke, S.A. (2014). Nigeria Democracy and Sustainable Development: The Journey So Far. SAO Multiventures, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, pp. 302
 Q4 vs. 34, Mathews 11 vs. 3-6