Dis afametiv akshon sef
bai Edwin Eriata Oribhabor
For the umpteenth time, President Goodluck Jonathan had reiterated his readiness to work in line with the 35 % affirmative action for women representation in key areas of the nation’s economy. His dear wife and first lady of the nation, Dame Patience has been championing the fight for government’s recognition of 35% affirmative action for women which of course qualifies her to be addressed as “madam afametiv” i.e. if we have such nomenclature. There is no doubt that women in politics are confident in the sincerity of the first family’s commitment to ensure “equity” in their representation in every facet of our nation’s body polity. This is bound to affect “di rashon” of men in appointments into various offices of state, though; they are quietly watching to see how things eventually play out. This current “sidon luk” dispensation of men regarding the subject matter has inspired me to write this article.
Depending on the context in which the word sef is used in Naija, it speaks majorly of disinterest in something or lack of confidence in someone else. For example, if one says “yu sef” to someone else, it is more or less an expression of doubt in the one being referred to. However, there are situations where it could be used jocularly by friends without any negative connotation whatsoever e.g. “yu sef na wa!”
The title of this piece simply means that, there are more to the issue of affirmative action than meets the eye. In this wise, affirmative action may not be implemented with ease. To fully explore this fear or assertion, it suffices to state that women shall be the major obstacle. A critical look at a popular remark women make will give an insight into what I am talking about. I have at different fora heard women say “Wi wumen no laik awasef.” If women “dislike” for themselves, as it seems, is anything to go by, there is an urgent need for reorientation. Except they cooperate with one another, those of them who are privileged to be in positions of authority will less likely provide a level playing ground for other women to come on board. Situations like this, pose a threat to the realization of 35% affirmative action for women representation in wherever.
Towards a sincere implementation of 35% affirmative action by the Goodluck Jonathan government, a flashback to women who, in the past, had demonstrated excellent administrative capacities should serve as an encouragement. Most women that have had the opportunity of serving in any capacity didn’t disappoint. Few notable ones that have proved that “women can do it better,” are Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Obi Ezekwesili, Diezani Allison-Madueke Nigeria’s first female Minister of Petroleum etc. The current Minister of Education Professor Rukayyat Rufai creditably rose to her current position based on her sterling performance as Commissioner of Education in Jigawa State. At the state level Mrs Veronica Ogbuagu former commissioner of education in Delta state, raised the standard of education in Delta from its unenviable past when it was popular for teachers to bring melon ( egusi ) for pupils to help them “ brok .” During her tenure, female teachers were made to come to school in corporate suits as against wrappers and “oninigogoro" head gears. Examination malpractices and all sorts of “mirakul senta dem” in Edo State have been drastically reduced because of Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Osarenren who is the present Commissioner of Education in the state. There are so many in the private and public sectors that are too numerous to mention. The is no doubt that men are largely central to the numerous problems we are facing today as a nation especially for the fact that they have held more positions of authority than women. Secondly, most men appointed into political positions find themselves in a “must steal” situation so as to take care of the numerous wives, concubines and mistresses they keep. Women are more focused and not easily influenced to act contrary to the dictates of her office.
Notwithstanding the above, “Dis afametiv akshon sef” suggests that a lot of work needs to be done for the fulfillment of affirmative action and this is to the extent that the womenfolk support it. I am saying this with sincerity of purpose. In most cases, the interaction between most service girls and male customers (in company of a “babe or woman friend” ) in bars and restaurants doesn’t “flow well.” The simple reason is that, girls are never comfortable whenever they attend to fellow women especially when they accompany men. If you ask them why they put up such unfriendly behavior, the answer will be “wi no laik awa sef. An awa jelosi tu mosh.” Afametiv akshon no go wok if wumen no laik demsef.
Mr. Oribhabor is a promoter of Naija (Nigeria pidgin) and resides in Abuja – Nigeria.