The alleged stopping of female cadets from taking combatant courses at the Nigerian Defence Academy has attracted a backlash from civil society groups.
The PUNCH in a report linked the decision to some northern leaders who told President Muhammadu Buhari of their opposition to the continued enlistment of female cadet for the enviable courses. The president reportedly ratified the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised); Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017, thereby giving effect to the review.
Kemi Okenyondo, executive director of Partners West Africa, Nigeria, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the policy was retrogressive.
“If this is allowed to come to reality, it will be like taking 10 steps backwards and such would be revising all the gains of inclusiveness and mainstreaming of women within the security sector. If it is allowed to sail through, it then means that the perception that this administration is not given to having women participate within the different layers of government will be held to be true,”said Okenyondo.
Also, Malachy Ugwummadu, president, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, said the move was “absurd and unacceptable”.
“It offends Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which talks about non-discrimination against citizens on the basis of sex, gender, religion and others.
“We have female officers who distinguished themselves in the armed forces. We have a lot of them who have showed capacity and done more than what their male colleagues are doing, even at the war front. I think that recruitment and admission into the armed forces should be a question of preference rather than discouragement on the basis of gender,’’ said Ugwummadu reportedly.
Similarly, Usman Abdul, president of Campaign for Democracy, said, the alleged move “is discriminatory and anti-democratic … It offends the human rights privileges.”
On her part, Joe Okei-Odumakin, president of Women Arise for Change Initiative said, “It is an unacceptable discrimination against women; highly insensitive. They must tell us why they are putting this glass ceiling.”