By Olugbenga Salami
Ahead of the June 13 inauguration of the 10th Senate, a group under the aegis of South-South Women Compatriot, on Monday, kicked against the aspiration of former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio to head the upper legislative chamber, saying he is a threat to women across the country.
The group which said it constituted about 60 percent of women in the country declared Akpabio unfit to head the Red Chamber, citing many reasons to justify its stand.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Imma Ubong, National Women Leader of the group said Nigerian women will not feel safe should the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs emerge President of the Senate.
She said: “We are speaking for women across the country. Akpabio is a threat to women, we don’t want somebody as the head of the National Assembly who will take advantage of our vulnerability. Akpabio is not fit to be the President of the Senate.
“He’s known to disrespect and harass women. Women are not safe in his hands and if such a person emerges, the safety of women in the National Assembly is not guaranteed.
“We, the Nigerian women find it disheartening that the name of the president-elect will be peddled as having endorsed Akpabio. We don’t want to believe that his silence means consent. The President as a matter of urgency must come out to dissociate himself from this Akpabio.
“We the Nigerian women will never allow the image of the country to be dented.”
Ubong further called on Akpabio to feel free to field questions from anti-graft agencies for alleged corrupt conduct in the past.
“Akpabio should submit himself to the Economy and Financial Crimes Commission like other politicians, who have done so in the past, and who were later jailed or set free. The bottom line was that they were able to clear their names,” she said.
The woman leader added that the votes of Nigerian women who contributed to making Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the president-elect must be respected.
“During the presidential election, we came out en-mass to vote for the president-elect, Bola Tinubu. Will our votes count for nothing that somebody who has no regard for women is made the head and chairman of the National Assembly?
“We call on Tinubu to come out and tell Nigerians his position because some reports have been alleging that he is the one behind Akpabio. He should tell Nigerians now.
“The position of Senate President is a serious issue that should be left in the hands of serious people. Names of corrupt people with files in EFCC shouldn’t be mentioned when a serious issue like the President of the Senate is being debated. The President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu shouldn’t take Nigerians for granted.
“The National Assembly at this point needs an intelligent, vibrant, and focus leader. The nation is presently at its lowest, and this is not the time to play with its destiny. This is the time for the red chamber to have men and women, whose focus and mission is to rescue the nation,” Ubong noted.
She further reminded Tinubu of the enormous task awaiting him saying, “You don’t need to be told that the nation’s debt at the moment is about N77 trillion. You need a serious National Assembly led by a serious-minded person to rescue the situation. Serious-minded leaders in the National Assembly will help to pull Nigeria from the wood. This is not the time to put the parliament in the hands of unserious people, but leaders that are ready to build.”
Other leaders of the group included Mary Ogbebor, Ijeoma Anya, Biobele Abbey, and Abinla Alabraba of Edo, Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa States respectively.