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Tuesday, 14 July 2020 03:58

[OPINION] From My Mailbox - Reuben Abati

Last week in this column, I wrote a tail-piece titled “Nimi Akinkugbe and the Indigeneship Question” (July 7). The substance of it was the nomination of Mrs Nimi Akinkugbe, a Rivers State indigene, who has been nominated by President Muhammdau Buhari as a non-career ambassador, to represent her husband’s state, Ondo. A group of Ondo youths kicked against her nomination claiming that she has no right to represent Ondo State.  Can a married woman represent her husband’s state in a public position? What should be the proper definition of indigeneship in Nigeria?  Should any Nigerian be classified as an “alien” in any part of the country? I got some reactions in my mailbox. I will like to share just three of those reactions. The authors raise salient questions that may provide an opportunity for a further interrogation of the subject:  

Good afternoon, Dr. Abati,  

I trust you are good. As the subject of this email suggests I am responding to the short piece in yesterday’s This Day (July 7).  I believe the subject is big and there is need to further interrogate the issues for a more robust position.  That piece as short as it is amplified some of the contradictions inherent and indeed the complexities of the subject matter. A few examples: 

The proposed amendment that would grant a married woman the right to the indigeneship of her husband which was referenced in the piece in my view reinforces the reality of indigeneship as a starting point!  A married woman would by virtue of being married acquire dual indigeneship and then get an advantage over unmarried women? Would that not be discrimination based on marital status? What would that do to the prospect of men if population numbers swell by marriage?

Also if the essence of Federal Character is to ensure an even spread of opportunities across the Federation then the Ondo State Youths may be justified in kicking against the nomination of an' Ondo wife' as the only candidate from Ondo State. Some States got 2 or 3 nominees. Rivers State already got a 'daughter of the soil or should that be daughter of the oil/waters' nominee, Mrs Akinkugbe by extension is a second nomination for Rivers especially as the law remains what it is concerning married women. A few other questions that should concern us regarding this matter; If the reason of nominating the woman is for gender balance is it that there is no woman of Ondo State origin that qualifies?  Is it not giving Rivers State 2 positions and Ondo none? Would the nominee’s 'Ondo children ' be entitled to and be afforded such opportunities in their mother’s River State? Knowing how things usually play out in Nigeria would a woman upon completing a term as a 'wife indigene' be able to seek opportunities for the same thing or something else in her State of Origin? Should the extent of a woman's socialisation in her husband's place of origin count? For example, if  a Yoruba woman married to an Ibibio man speaks fluent Efik would that help or perhaps if the couple live in the locality and the wife is more active, productive to the community than the husband? Would men also be able to acquire the indigeneship of their wife (ves)?

Let me say here that I am a Lagos indigene (from Idumota and my mum from Brazilian quarters/Epetedo).  I am married to an Ikorodu indigene whose both parents hail from Ikorodu. However, I know for certain that if an opportunity within the State is allocated to Ikorodu. I would be unable to take up such a slot even if I qualify many times over. My Lagos Island origin would preclude me. To be fair, should I really be able to take up that slot on account of being married? and my sister or brother would take up the other slot for Idumota? What would be the fate of my children who do not have the benefit of alternative state? The merit question is not in contention in this reaction. I ask that brilliant minds should do more work on this subject as it is a minefield.

F. K. Dawodu (Mrs)

Nigerian Mother  

Citizen Advocate

Re: Indigeneship Question 

I hope you are aware that when President Goodluck Jonathan nominated Mrs. Mobola Johnson as Minister, Ondo people protested that she could not take the slot for Ondo State because she was married to a Lagosian, the son of Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson. This was regardless of the fact that her father, Chief Bayo Akinola was the Lisa of Ondo!! Both Nimi and Yinka are my friends. But the issue is beyond that. Why not Yinka? Why not Nimi for Rivers State? In this particular case not only is Mrs Nimi Akinkugbe the daughter of late Mr. Ajumogobia who was Vice- Principal of King's College, Lagos. Her husband, Yinka is also an Old Boy of King's College!!  The matter is settled in her favour.

Bashorun J. K. Randle

Chairman, International Chartered Accountants

It is indeed illegal and unconstitutional to turn any Nigerian into a "foreigner" in any part of the country......."  But it has happened before, most recently when authorities in both the South-East and the South-West laid siege at their respective borders to prevent what were clearly migrant seasonal workers from entering those states. Calling them criminals and an advance force for Boko Haram, etc. Even now, a similar injustice has taken place in Cross River State where governor and State House of Assembly refused to appoint the proper person to the office of Chief Judge because she was from neighbouring Akwa Ibom though married to a Cross Riverian. With children.

If former Zamfara State governor Ahmed Sani Yerima did any good it was when he refused advice not to appoint a non-indigene woman Justice to the office of Chief Judge. If only the campaign against these egregious actions can be sustained across the board, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.

Muhammed Tukur Usman

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