Professor Abubakar O. Sulaiman, the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, on Monday, 13th November, 2023 received female parliamentarians from Somalia at the institute’s permanent office in Abuja. Highlighting the gender disparity in legislative representation, he pointed out that out of the 54 lawmakers in the Somali Senate, 14 are women, while in Nigeria, only four out of 109 are women. The situation, he noted, is similar in the lower chambers when comparing both countries.
He emphasized the commonalities between Nigeria and Somalia in terms of religion, political structure, and more. He expressed delight in witnessing the active involvement of women in governance, particularly those of Islamic extraction. Addressing misconceptions about women’s roles in Islam, he urged Nigerian Muslims, especially those in the North, to embrace women’s inclusion in governance. He cited instances where bills promoting gender equality were hindered in parliament, often by male parliamentarians from the North, citing misconceptions about Islam.
The DG encouraged the visiting parliamentarians not to relent but to strive towards achieving full gender representation in parliament. He urged them to leverage the opportunities at NILDS to enhance their capacity in parliamentary activities. He further underscored NILDS’s role as the legislative think tank in Nigeria, providing training for lawmakers and support staff to achieve excellence in legislative duties. He highlighted the institute’s collaboration with universities to offer postgraduate specialized courses at the masters and Ph.D. levels, emphasizing the institute’s readiness to compete globally.
Additionally, he mentioned NILDS’s partnerships with Western institutes and its facilitation of foreign training and inter-parliamentary exchange programs. In concluding his address, Professor Sulaiman encouraged the Somali lawmakers to consider establishing a similar institute in Somalia.