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Meet Hafsat Abiola: Woman Rights Activist’s fight for democracy in Nigeria

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Village women in Nigeria. Image Source: Wikipedia
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Hafsat Abiola, daughter of Moshood Abiola (president- Nigeria 1993) has been a determined Woman Rights activist of Nigeria. In conversation with Peter Clottey, she shared her aim, her ideas about how she wishes to see her state of Ogun and Nigeria in the coming few years.

Hafsat Abiola. Image source Wikimedia commons
Hafsat Abiola. Image source Wikimedia commons

Expounding her work, she said “Nigerians are very supportive and excited to have a democracy, but in many respects people don’t know how to use the democratic system. So what my NGO does is- a ‘community scorecard’ .”

Community scorecard is a method in which they take up local issues and conduct surveys on the services of the state in terms of education, healthcare, protection of markets, etc. and bring the representative sample together with the state and the local governments so that they share, see how people perceive their performance and their government as a whole.  And then the government has a chance to respond and explain the challenges they face and to know what the people expect from them.

Being the inaugural person in-charge of the Millennium Development Goals Portfolio (the UN Global), she was assigned to achieve goals for a particular state out of which one was the women empowerment and gender equality. Smartly, she worked with the women in the cabinet on how they can increase the number of women in the local government. They decided to go with a ‘sponsorship platform’. Due to certain positions, they could talk to the party leaders and the gatekeepers about how they could proudly have more women on board as there were 300 positions targeted.

We had about 3 women at one time, we worked and were able to get 54 of them in the 2014 elections, and now from the experience we had we want to use my NGO to replicate this nationwide” she says.

There is also a documentary on Hafsat’s Abola’s life titled The Supreme PriceWhen asked about how her NGO plans to deal with the northern part of Nigeria, hardest hit by the Boko haram, she says “we have a large network of 500 men and women to inform us about the latest happenings, and I learnt that women eyewitness these problems but because they had no access in politics to really make sure that they could raise an alarm or could be heard or the path could be changed in the government’s direction”.

According to her, what actually helps the economy of a state is investment. People are seeing that women in the Ogun local government are making a difference. “When later on, my younger sister or any other women from my state goes to the local government and asks for some support, people would willingly help them knowing how I or any other women has worked in the cabinet”. This is far from the traditional governor rule which involves just the monetary factor and does not help the economy.

“Yes we’ve seen that good leaders can make a difference because we have seen our governor. So yes! Go forward, go and try. This is what we want to do across Nigeria” says Hafsat Abiola summing up her dream.

-by Vrushali Mahajan

Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram. You can reach the author at twitter- Vrushali Mahajan 

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Is chaos in the ranks of Supreme Court a threat to the Indian Judicial System?

Why did have four apex judges of Supreme Court of India have to go public regarding a matter which could have been solved internally?

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SC Judges went in an open dissent against Chief Justice Dipak Mishra by calling a press conference. Wikimedia Commons
SC Judge's open dissent against Chief Justice Dipak Mishra as they called a press conference. Wikimedia Commons

By Salil Gewali

When the judges become noisy plaintiffs, who will deliver the judgment? This was the kind of unprecedented situation that we witnessed last week. Yes, Supreme Court is the last resort where an estimated one hundred and twenty-five crore people repose their faith. We are the public having great faith in democracy. However, when the custodians of the democracy themselves openly roar that “our democracy is in danger”, where do we go? Well, the people of this country had to face such ‘comedy of errors’ enacted by four devious judges — all in the name of expressing displeasure, grievances, more candidly, when the country is ruled by the upright PM Modi whom they dislike.

Also read: Rise of PM Modi and roar of subversive forces

For whatever be the reasons, the stooping low by these judges has led people to lose their faith in the judiciary. Is it not a sort of degeneration because it also showed there is an obvious rift between the protesting judges and the Chief Justice of India. One of the judges had again said that there was no constitutional lapse on the part of the Chief Justice, but the convention, practice, and procedures that he followed while awarding cases to various judges were in question. He was also categorical that they would sort out this issue among themselves and no outside intervention is required. What does one not understand is, why did they “go public” with their internal issue, if they felt, they, themselves could sort it out? Whom were they trying to trick after breaking the established principle of judicial restraint?

Justice Kurian Joseph was one of the four judges who called the press conference. Wikimedia Commons
Justice Kurian Joseph was one of the four judges who called the press conference. Wikimedia Commons

It is very true that some things were not going well within the four walls of our judiciary. But are all things going on, in order, in this great country of ours where political leaders and a certain brand of media fraternity ceaselessly groan and moan? They all overwork to push for their host of devious agendas. They are too alert to something but play deaf and dumb for many other things. These very undesirable acts by these elites that have only been draining the very values of the democracy and national sovereignty.

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Yes, in this particular case, the rule of law itself has been undermined. This has clearly raised the questions of integrity and propriety. What is astonishingly outrageous is the fact that after a short while of the press conference a CPI leader D. Raja rushed to visit Justice Chelameshwar to shake hands. Does it not sound too fishy and unethical? Do we still doubt that it was a preplanned scheme? Who now disagrees that there were not the skeletons in the closet. Very soon they all might frighten us all, nay, the whole nation.

Further, if the learned judges had the solution to their stated issues, was their press conference not tantamount to washing dirty linen in public? Could they not have imagined the adverse effect of their action on the citizenry? However genuine their grievance is, which they may claim, it has invariably dented the very credibility of the Apex Court. The esteem with which people looked at it has now been just eroded.

The Indian system faced a huge crisis on January 12 when 4 senior judges called a press conference to discuss a matter which could have been solved internally. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian system faced a huge crisis on January 12 when 4 senior judges called a press conference to discuss a matter which could have been solved internally. Wikimedia Commons

Read more: Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

On the other side, the opportunistic politicians have been too quick enough to feed on the fodder that was generated. As usual, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi lost no time to attack BJP. The CPI leader, D. Raja got his opportunity to make his otherwise obscure presence felt in public. Some other corrupt politicians acted swiftly to get Anuj, the aggrieved son of late Justice Loya in front of TV cameras to “request all to not harass or trouble” the family. Anuj became a pawn in the hands of the high and mighty. Instead of saving the family, in the garb of helping them, the unscrupulous politicians are trying to put them in dire straits. Our greedy and self-centred politicians turn anyone in distress into a pawn in their hands. And they are ingenious in turning any untoward incident into demonic opportunity. If these dishonest politicians have their way, our country will have disaster written all over.

Salil Gewali is the author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali