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Paternity leave: Pressure shifts to state governors

By Tobi Awodipe, Ijeoma Thomas-Odia (Lagos), Timothy Agbor (Osogbo), Odun Edward (Ilorin), Monday Osayande (Asaba) and Rauf Oyewale (Bauchi)
09 October 2021   |   4:25 am
Ten days after the Federal Government approved the introduction of 14 days paternity leave for male civil servants in its employment, male workers at the state level have urged the state governments to extend the same treatment to them.

PHOTO: Europeanceo

• Workers Call For Domestication Of Policy At State Level, Seek Cash Back Up
• ‘It’ll Give Us Opportunity To Help Our Wives And Care For The New Born’

Ten days after the Federal Government approved the introduction of 14 days paternity leave for male civil servants in its employment, male workers at the state level have urged the state governments to extend the same treatment to them.

Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, who briefed journalists after the September 29, 2021, Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, had announced that the revised Public Service Rules (PSR) provides for 14 days paternity leave for male civil servants whose wives put to bed to enable them assist their wives and bond with the new born.

The development came more than seven years after the Lagos State government approved 10 days paternity leave for any male civil servant in the state whose wife delivers a new baby.

However, male workers in other states of the federation are now demanding equal treatment with their federal and Lagos State counterparts.

Speaking with The Guardian, a male civil servant in Osun State, Mr. Adeyinka Adeniyi, said there was need for the state to toe the path of the Federal Government and approve the leave.

“It is important that the state government also grants us this paternity leave. We are all civil servants after all. We also need to be with our new babies and nursing wives. This will create deeper relationship and love,” Adeniyi said.

Speaking in the same vein, another civil servant in the state, Lateef Agboola of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Osogbo, urged the state government to approve the paternity leave for state civil servants.

In Kwara State, male civil servants also charged the state government to domesticate the policy, noting that it should also be backed up with remunerations.

The workers also insisted that the issue of paternity leave was too sensitive to be made an exclusive benefit of only federal workers.

According to Mr. Ademola Michael of the state’s Ministry of Finance, paternity leave without corresponding monetary support would amount to “a mere holiday in penury.”

To Mr. Bashir Jimoh of Radio Kwara, the country should emulate other countries of the world that have the policy by making it holistic.

A worker with the state Ministry of Sports and Youths Development, Mallam Shehu Always, the state governments should embrace the policy “or else it would make us inferior to our colleagues at the federal level.”

Some male workers who spoke with The Guardian in Bauchi State also demanded paternity leave from the state government, saying they have the divine mandate of taking care of the whole family.

A lecturer at the Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi, AbdulRasheed Bala, said that it would be commendable if the Bauchi State government could domesticate the step taken by the Federal Government.

“We are the one who cater for the family; it is not bad if we can also be given the paternity leave. This will allow us have quality time with the mother and the new baby. It will enhance the father and child bond. Most of the time, we need to assist in some domestic responsibilities too,” he said.

Another civil servant, Jibrin Usman, also said it would give him time to take good care of his three wives.

“Anytime that anyone of them gives birth, I feel like staying back at home to assist her but my work won’t allow me. This makes me feel like an absentee daddy.

“I have 12 children from three wives; I have never spent two days together with them during childbirth. I love being around my kids, but I have been denied that by my work. I will personally appreciate if the state government can domesticate the leave for me to enjoy when any of my wives delivers next,” he said.

In Delta State, an Assistant Director in the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Johnson Ebigide, noted that it would sound unreasonable if the gesture is not extended to the state’s workers.

He explained that granting both maternity and paternity leave to working mothers and father was necessary and a better way to stabilise the home, adding that the nursing mother would be assisted to overcome her pains during childbirth.

His words: “If a woman is given three months leave, the man should also be given at least some few weeks to enable him get closer to his wife who had just delivered but without a house help.

“For me, there is nothing wrong for a man to wash clothes, prepare food and help in other domestic jobs for his nursing wife who was exhausted during childbirth.

“So, I think the Federal government has done something good for the states to borrow a leaf from. So, such a policy trust should go round because we are all Nigerians. If it is happening to someone at the federal, it should also be replicated at the state.”

On his part, a federal civil servant in Asaba, Comrade Sam Erhunmwunsee, described the policy as a welcome development, saying, “Federal workers have long been expecting the paternity leave.”

While applauding President Muhammadu Buhari for approving paternity leave for federal workers, Erhunmwunsee said the leave would afford him “much time to take proper care of my wife when she puts to bed.”

Another federal civil servant, Mr. Victor Adeoti of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also commended the Federal Government for introducing the policy, noting that it would enable working men to assist their wives properly in nursing the new born.

“I want to commend the Federal Government for the rare opportunity; it is part of what we have been yearning for. The paternity leave will afford us more opportunity to assist our wives to cater for the newborn baby. This will encourage more bonding between couples and their children,” Adeoti said.

A health officer with the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja, Geoffrey Ogbeke, also told The Guardian that the leave was long overdue for working fathers.

Ogbeke said: “I believe women should be given more time off; for men, this is at least a step in the right direction. The time off is to support your spouse and be there to do things for the new mother and baby especially with running around, buying things and the likes. If for instance you don’t have help at home, pending when expert help comes around, the father should use this period to help as much as he can and bond with the baby and his wife.

“This period can be very stressful and personally, I would be happy to be with my wife and baby. I would offer support in every way I can with massaging, cooking and helping with the baby. I will definitely be on ground during those weeks to offer support. However, I understand that some fathers may not be able to take this time off, as they will be running around looking for money to take care of the baby. But this is a very great time to offer all the support for those that can.”

Meanwhile, male civil servants in the employ of the Lagos State government, which introduced paternity leave since July 2014, revealed that they have been savouring the policy and urged other states to emulate the policy.

One of them, Taiwo Dosumu, said: “Men have their roles to play after their wives put to bed. So, the 10 days paternity leave in Lagos comes in handy. For instance, I am a Muslim; the first seven days after the child is born is used to prepare for the naming of the child and this can only be effectively achieved if the man has ample time. The introduction of the policy is a step in the right direction. I implore all the states too to implement it. It will further strengthen homes and effectiveness at work place.”