Abubakar Sulaiman, director general of the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), has urged northern politicians not to hide under Islam to prevent women from participating in government.
Sulaiman, a professor, made the call while hosting female parliamentarians from Somalia on Monday at the institute’s permanent office in Abuja.
Sulaiman said 14 of the 54 lawmakers in Somalia’s Senate are women, while in Nigeria only four out of 109 are women.
The Director General said that the situation is the same in the lower houses when both countries are compared.
According to him, Nigeria and Somalia share many things in common, such as religious, political structure and much more.
Sulaiman said he was delighted to see women actively involved in governance, especially those of Islamic background.
“His appearance here today sends signals to the Nigerian people, especially those who believe that women are not allowed to participate in Islam.
“Most Christians do not read the Quran or the Hadith, they judge by what Muslims do, but it is clear to Christians around the world that Islam suits women and gives rise to the education of girls, We have seen it in Somalia.
“There is an impression that Islam does not allow women to participate, but Somalia is majority Muslim, Islam in Nigeria is the same as Islam in Somalia, so if Somalia can do it, Nigerian Muslims should be able to do it too .
“I want to urge Muslim brothers in the North to allow the inclusion of women in government; On several occasions we have had gender equality bills that have been silenced in parliament.
“And at any given time, these bills are rejected or voted against by northern male MPs, most of whom are Muslim, on the grounds that Islam does not allow it; Islam allows it and that is what we have seen in Somalia,” he stated.
The Director-General urged parliamentarians not to relent in their efforts and to work hard to increase the number of women in parliament to 100 per cent.
What NILDS is about
Sulaiman charged legislators to take advantage of the opportunities of the NILDS to develop their capacity in parliamentary activities.
He said the institute is the think tank of the Nigerian legislature and provides training to legislators and their support staff to achieve legislative excellence.
The Director General said that the institute, in collaboration with some universities, offers specialized postgraduate courses at the master’s and doctoral levels.
He said NILDS has all the necessary resources, experts and conducive environment to train legislators and could compete with any institute in the world.
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The Director General said the institute is also associated with other Western institutes and also facilitates overseas training and inter-parliamentary exchange programmes.
Sulaiman also tasked lawmakers to begin the establishment of a similar institute in Somalia.
The leader of the delegation speaks
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Senator Naima Hassan, said Nigeria has many similarities with Somalia and they have learned from Nigeria which is more advanced.
He said that like Nigeria, Somalia practices a bicameral legislature at the federal level and a unicameral legislature at the state level.
He also said that Somalia also has religious, tribal, insecurity and gender problems just like Nigeria.
The lawmaker said they are very interested in knowing how Nigeria passed a law against rape and other forms of gender violence that will be replicated in Somalia.