Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria is outraged by Senate Leader, Ali Ndume’s call on Senate President, Bukola Saraki and others to marry second wives describing the call as ‘disparaging and meant to demean Nigerian women’.
In a statement issued yesterday by FIDA Country Vice President/National President, Mrs. Inime Aguma, the lawyers said they were outraged by Ndume’s utterances on the floor of the hallowed chambers of the Senate.
According to them, the remarks portrayed women as ‘sex objects’, whose clamour for gender equality could be realised by being married off by men.
The statement reads: “May we remind the Senator that Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and his utterances negate the provisions of Article No 16 that ‘State parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations’ and the General Recommendation in Article No 21 which states that ‘polygamous marriage contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, and can have such serious emotional and financial consequences for her and her dependents that such marriage ought to be discouraged and prohibited.'”
FIDA also stated the Marriage Act which defines monogamous marriage and Sections 33, 39, 45, 46 and 47 which prescribe punishments for polygamy for persons married under the Act.
The women lawyers said: “The Holy Bible which Senator Ndume referred to does not recognise polygamy as the wording of Mathew 19: 4-6 refers to the union of one man and woman to the exclusion of any other being.
“FIDA Nigeria states that on March 8, 2016, men all around the world adopted policies to accelerate gender equality in support of the theme, ‘planet 50-50 by 2030:Step it up for Gender Equity.’
“We urge Senator Ndume and other distinguished senators to pledge for gender parity and not trivialise the role of women in the society.”
Ndume, had during a debate at the Senate earlier this week asked Saraki, to consider taking another wife.
The senate leader also asked Nigerian men to marry more than one wife so as to show care to them.
Making his contribution to the debate on a motion to mark International Women’s Day presented by Oluremi Tinubu, a senator from Lagos State, Ndume emphasised that the “first care” of a woman was marriage.
“I urge men to marry more than one wife. The first care of a woman is marriage,” he said.
Men should take care of women by not just befriending them, but by going further to marry them. I know there is nowhere in the Bible that prohibits marrying more than one wife.
“Starting with the senate president, I ask him to consider marrying more than one wife.”
Ndume, thereafter, made a formal request to the senate to declare that Nigerian men should marry more than one wife.
“As a sign of respect for women, let’s urge men to marry more than one wife,” he said.
His prayer was seconded by Suleiman Nazif, a senator from Bauchi State, but it did not sail through as the “nays” had it.
Earlier, presenting her motion, Tinubu said: “We represent courage and resilience. Without us I don’t think this country will move forward.”
Theatrically, Binta Masi Garba, a Senator from Adamawa State, took a shot at Ndume and said: “We are not sex objects. The Bible is in support of one man, one woman.
“We want gender parity where women and men can work side by side.”