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Osinbajo urges improved female representation in governance for Nigeria’s development

By Gloria Nwafor (Lagos) and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
23 September 2022   |   4:03 am
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, lamented the low representation of women in government positions, saying the number remained stuck in the path.

Dr. Ije Jidenma (right); Keynote Speaker/Chairman, KPMG Africa, Kunle Elebute and Mrs. ‘Debola Osibogun. PHOTOS: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI 

Tasks IoD to step up advocacy
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, lamented the low representation of women in government positions, saying the number remained stuck in the path.

He noted that a more effective and balanced gender representation and participation in governance would have major impact on the country’s socio-economic future and overall national development.

The Vice President spoke during the 2022 Women Directors’ Conference by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria, where he urged the institute to step up the advocacy.

Osinbajo also charged organisations and institutions to advance the crusade for women representation as an imperial objective not just on boards, but in politics, education and government due to their spiralling effects on societal and global outcomes.

He cited an instance, which failed in the National Assembly last week, of an attempt to pass a legislation, mandating women to fill 35 per cent of appointed positions in government and 35 per cent of elective offices.

The Vice President said the legislators across parties appeared resolute against the idea, but after considerable local and international criticisms, it appeared the matter is being reconsidered by the legislature.

Analysing reports and statistics, Osinbajo, who spoke on the theme, ‘Facing Forward: The Evolving Nature of Boards in a Rapidly Changing World’, pointed out that countries led by women were systematically and significantly better off than those of the opposite sex.

On board level, where he assessed about 500 companies with more female directors, he said 42 per cent made stronger returns on sales and 53 per cent higher returns on equities, adding that they are usually more diverse and gender-balanced than firms with male board chairmen and chief executives.

In his keynote address, Chairman, KPMG Africa and Senior Partner, KPMG Nigeria, Kunle Elebute, mentioned six challenges of COVID-19 pandemic confronting organisations, including slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, increasing regulatory requirements, talent risk and technology disruptions.
He said with these problems, it was critical that boards should go beyond the traditional skill sets of commercial acumen and financial literacy to address issues.

From board’s perspective, Elebute recommended that directors should restrategise for future survival of business.

He urged directors to proactively engage stakeholders, prioritise talents, human capital management and Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) succession.

The senior partner harped on the need to approach cyber security and data privacy holistically as data governance.

Elebute said gone were the days when boardrooms were about ‘man know man’ syndrome, as the current dispensation prioritises competencies and with track records to move companies forward.

Earlier in her opening remarks, President and Chairman of Governing Council, IoD Nigeria, Dr. Ije Jidenma, said that the onus was on directors to position organisations to maximise advantage of diversity with respect to gender, skills and experiences to create new value.

“Regardless, we must look forward as a people, as organisations, confronting challenges head-on with initiatives to drive economic growth and stability.

“We must devote more time and energy as progressives with focus on long-term goals and implementation of policies, while keep reinventing and evolving to withstand the tide of change,” she said.