GEO Bill: What’s individual opinion got to do with it?

Sultan of Sokoto reminds us on his stance on Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill in regards to family inheritance and his religious beliefs. Reading through the proposed bill  I can not say I see any  part of the bill that seeks to remove masculinity or religious rights from anyone.

Sultan of Sokoto believes the inheritance portion of the GEO bill violates the Islamic law that allows men to have bigger portion of family inheritance. 

“Our religion is our total way of life. Therefore, we will not accept any move to change what Allah permitted us to do.” – Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Jama’atul Nasir Islam, Amirul Mumineen Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV

Here is the section of the GEO bill that the Sultan disagrees with:

(vi) A widow shall have the right to a fairshare in the inheritance of the property of her husband and shall have the right to continue to live in the matrimonial house provided that in the case of re-marriage, she shall retain this right only if the house belongs to her.

(vii) Women and men shall have the right to inherit, in equitable shares, their parents’ properties.

Interesting that Sultan of Sokoto decided to pick on inheritance issues amongst all other points that was raised. It is not that women inheriting fair share of family property will ever take away from his. 

My theory is women having economic freedom they deserve is like a dagger to the throat of some people. 

Predictably, many people especially women are offended by this careless utterance by the the Islamic leader during his visit to the Annual Qur’anic Recitation Competition in Zamfara state. All I could fathom from what I read online was that he believes ‘my way is the only way.’ 

Nigeria is a multi faith country, I am not even sure any God will be comfortable being the sole saviour of a country like ours, I still do not know why most of our religious leaders are twisted on this simple fact.

I say kudos to Senator Biodun Olujinmi of Ekiti State for sponsoring this bill in the first place.

Sa’ad Abubakar lll is not my cup of tea. 

It is a waste of time thinking if we throw one more abusive word to Sultan’s way, maybe he would change his mind, I doubt he will ever change his views of women around him. 

In the south, we try to maintain we are a secular nation, our southern representatives have not always work in way that benefit us. On the GEO bill, what Sultan of Sokoto said is immaterial to me as I do not expect anything different.

To put Sultan’s stance in perspective, Sokoto state is said to have the highest number of kids out of school in Nigeria with girls being the highest. Last year girls between 6 and 15 had to be given cash to stay in school UNICEF

In the south most girls have secondary school education with no one handing anyone cash incentive, so why should we allow someone who is clearly oblivious to what goes on around him and of the mindset that women are inferior to men to influence important and progressive thinking of the GEO bill?

The first part of that inheritance bill about widow’s right to inheritance is very important. I have seen so many examples of this that is just too sad. The closest to me happened to my friend’s sister whose husband died in a car accident a few years ago.  Barely a week after the death, the brother of the deceased took over the man’s car spare parts store with absolutely no consultation with the widow. The family just moved into their new property that the couple built from scratch, they had three children (‘unfortunately’ they were girls). In the end my friend’s sister moved back to her parents’ house with her girls. The assumption was that the house belonged to the man, the sister was a fighter but she gave up fighting for the house when she remarried, the girls now only visit their childhood home as strangers – what a world that is.

I appreciate opinionated people like the Sultan, at least we know where to pay attention, the real question here is what our elective senators in the house are thinking about this bill? It is not enough to be in the senate as bench warmers, the real impact comes when we hear voices of people who claim to represent us.

We allow our leaders to sit on the fence on important issues, maybe we need to start ‘poking’ them so they do their job. I will be watching what Osun state senators (Senator Omoworare, Senator Adeyeye and Senator Adeleke) think on this bill, they are there to make sure bills meant for the best interest of Nigerians get passed into our law.