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Opinion

Making Digital Skills Meaningful to Girls and Women: A Journey to a Difficult Handshake and Conversation

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Malam YZ Yau

 

By Y. Z. Ya’u, CITAD

While discussing with participants of the Digital Livelihood for rural women and girls conducted by the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and supported by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in Itas, Itas-Gadau Local Government of Bauchi State. I was taken aback by the repeated celebration of digital systems as capable of providing jobs at home for women.

The aspect was that the potential for women to work from home is culturally non-disruptive and should be welcome. Most of the girls were happy with this. The training of film and video editing as well as digital photography in particular seemed to excite the girls more than anything. Some of them opined that with the cultural practice of having men celebrating weddings for example outside the house and women inside the country, women or girls who are skilled on film and video editing as well as photography could find ready-made market,
I can understand this as the girls live in the context in which the horizon of most girls is clouded by the ABU syndrome and all that all aspire to quickly get married and raise children. Independent means of livelihood comes a distant priority. The first time I came across the ABU was angry, why should all the girls want to go to ABU and not Bayero University, Kano. the university I was lecturing. My ignorance was revealed when one of them explained that ABU did not stand for Ahmadu Bello University but Aure Bautar Ubangiji (Hausa, loosely meaning “Marriage is a Worship of Allah”). For many of these girls, the first instinctive gut was that digital skills will enhance their marriage. Which is good in itself.

However, as the training continued to unfold, they began to imagine a different way of using their skills. Some see it as a means to improve their education, update and move to higher institution of learning. Some saw a window of venturing out into professions that they ordinarily consider outside their reach. For example, 22-year old Bilkisu Gambo Idris of Itas Local Government Area of Bauchi State explained that having learn a number different aspects of digital skills including website design, Coreldraw and Online Marketing, plans starts that her dream is to start an online business but due to the lack of capital is yet to start but the training encouraged and inspired her to further her education to the advanced level.

Hauwa Baffa Sulaiman of Itas community, aged 20 years described the training as an eye opener and the essence of her life because now she has started advertising her make-up business on the Internet especially Facebook and Instagram pages. Fauziyya Yakubu age 23, from Jamaare is now using social media platforms to advertise her digital skills to train other women at home. She has found an add up way of addressing the gender digital divide by driving digital skill lessons into the homes that were initially a block against further learning.
In the end, they came to accept digital skills not just as something that will make them better wives but also make them better human beings and living a meaningful and productive life. However, it will seem that in this logic, the emancipatory aspect of digital skill is undermined and subverted and re-directed by a patriarchal conditioning, making the question pertinent: is digital skills enough to address the economic and political marginality of women?

Clearly, women are politically excluded in the country. But more than even patriarchal control, the main factor for this is the economic marginalization of the women.

Women are relatively poorer than men and constitute the largest number of those living under the poverty line. It is for this reason that some researchers have referred to poverty as having a feminine face in Nigeria.

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If the economic status of women can be improved, they will be able to engage as equal actors in the political realm and thus be in a position to address some of policies and practices that continue to hold them down. The poor economic condition of women has meant that they have a low affordability index for digital access.

Addressing the economic marginality is important to addressing the gender digital divide in the country. However, while it is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient one.

The digital divide is not just about access and empowering women economically while important will not in itself solve the digital marginalization of women. And while skill is an important enabler, it too is not enough.

To deal with the gender digital divide in a subversive manner, we need to deconstruct cultural norms that inhibit the effective use of the digital technology by women. Surprisingly, the experience from the digital livelihood program shows a less controversial path in which two things worked out well.

First, men did not feel threatened by their daughters and spouses learning digital skills that will make them better partners to their husbands. In other words, seeing the seeming digital skills compatibility with cultural norms of the society makes it easy to break resistance and barriers to learning.

Second, once the learners get emersed, they get their horizon broadened. In this sense, there seem to be a double subversive appropriation of digital technology: first, patriarchy subverted the libertarian impulse of technology to drive it to domesticity.

Having accepted this, the girls then re-subverted this to go beyond domesticity and begin to make effective use of digital technology in ways that go to seed and enhance personal livelihoods for them, thus opening the way for independent means of livelihood and being active economic agents of their own.

Drawing from the above is the inescapable conclusion that bridging the gender digital divide is beyond addressing the four conventional pillars of awareness, availability, accessibility, and affordability. No doubt, we all need to be aware about what digital technology can do in transforming our lives and society before we can make the efforts to embrace it. Embracing it of course requires its availability, which is beyond individual choices or effort we make.

Government in particular has greater role in making digital technology available to the citizens, and particularly, to girls and women. What policies and programmes a government deploys to address availability will invariably play role in addressing affordability, though affordability is also beyond just technology policies because it is signposted by the economic status of the people. Finally, accessibility would include making digital education not just in the privilege colonial language of higher education but also in local languages that citizens speak and engage with so that they can see technology not as something external but as part of daily lived social being and a necessity. That means teaching digital skill in our first languages.

But more than anything, addressing gender digital divide will require an honest handshake across genders. This is because gender digital divide is part of the wider gender development divide and cannot be addressed in isolation of this wider issue. The exclusion of women in the policy spaces and other digital space spaces is not accidental. It is the construction and imagining of these spaces as masculine by patriarchy.

Addressing these requires understanding masculine fear of the internet.

Masculine fear about the internet is rooted in the reaction of men about the communication space that digital systems, particularly the internet have given to women. But it also seen in the fact while men think the internet will expose women to bad influence, they do not think that they too could be exposed to the same bad influence. Within the realms of power discourse, women who engage with the internet are demonized as wayward, of easy virtue and generally as “prostitute”, etc.
The handshake has to bring both men and women into a mutual dialogue on technology. Men and women should work to deconstruct the myths around the internet. Men and women should work together to discuss how the internet is a tool that can help rather than subvert family structures. Ultimately, men and women have to work together to overcome the constraints that patriarchy has placed before women in the use of technology. The handshake is not an easy conversation.

On the part of males, it signals acceptance to give up on some privileges while for women, it requires rethinking of normalized ideas.

The digital livelihood is one example of a handshake, a conversation involving parents, spouses, daughters, and other community gatekeepers. It allowed the fears to be on the table and in an open conversation, not on combating any social norm but on opening spaces for learning for girls to seek self-actualization. We need more of these conversations and handshaking to make substantive progress in closing the gender digital divide and ending gender digital marginalization in the country.

Opinion

The Benefit of State Creation, By Adnan Mukhtar

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Comrade Adnan Tudunwada
Adnan Mukhtar Tudun Wada

 

 

On July 11, the Senator representing Kano South Sulaiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila sponsored a bill for the creation of a new state, Tiga State.

This is not the first time that people from different parts of the country are agitating for the creation of new states in their region.

The call for the creation of Tiga State didn’t start today ,During the regime of Late General Sani Abacha the creation of Tiga state gatheres momentum ,Insiders in the Presidential Villa confirmed that General Abacha have already made up his mind to carve out Tiga state from the present Kano state but due reasons best known to him the Late Head of state announced the creation of Zamfara state from the Northwest on 1st October 1996,even with that the agitation did n not die down , I came across agitators for Tigari State from Kano North and Tiga from Kano South while in Secondary school during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ned Nwoko, a Senator from Delta State sponsored a similar bill for the creation of Anioma State.

Young men like me who are in their early 30s and not current with issues in the country may think that the recent move by Senator Sumaila was the first of its kind.

There were similar requests for the creation of Okura state out of Kogi, Aba from Abia, Hadeija from Jigawa, Katagum from Bauchi, Karadua and Kafur from Katsina, Lagoon from Lagos, Borgu, Kainji and Gurara from Niger and many more.

In 2013, the House of Representatives received more than 50 requests for the creation of new states.

The creation of states began in 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states after abolishing the regional system, General Murtala Mohammed 7 states, General Ibrahim Babangida created 11 states between 1987 to 1991 and General Sani Abacha created 6 states.

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Some young men on social media were criticising the move by the Senator by expressing their pessimistic thoughts that the bill may not scale a second reading or get the assent of the President. They argued that such requests had never given any priority since the return to democracy 25 years ago. The idea of creating more states is dead on arrival.

Some are of the view that such moves require a very long process because constitutional amendment in the country is a very difficult thing.

While states in the country relied on federal allocation to survive, they can’t pay salaries and their internally generated revenue has been very poor; the creation of additional states is adding a burden to the Federal government at this time of economic instability.

Nigerians are facing the most difficult economic condition under President Tinubu. Sadly, the President doesn’t care to address this critical issue by going ahead to purchase a presidential aircraft that’s worth 150 billion dollars although the president has yet to increase the minimum wage, long queues at the filling stations, a bag of rice is close to 100k with a 30k minimum wage; I wonder whether the president is serious enough in attending to this matter of National concern.

Some of the agitators of this are seeking the expansion of platforms for their citizens to utilise their potential under a federal system of government.

It was not a wrong thing to come up with this idea but a constitutional right. I’m sure most of these agitators and bill sponsors are speaking the minds of their people.

Some people are accusing Sumaila of trying to divide the people of Kano. These sets of people are deceiving themselves. The people of Kano South have been crying about marginalisation and being denied the dividends of democracy since 2011.

Abubakar Rimi was from Sumaila in Kano South, he governed Kano in the second republic. Kabiru Gaya governed Kano in 1993 and since then, the people of this zone are yet to be given any chance to govern Kano.

They have also been crying that most of the developmental and infrastructural projects are been centred in Kano Central while abandoning the rural areas.

State creation in states like Kano with 44 local governments will enhance development and bring government closer to the people.

While I support the idea of having more states like in the US, we should put this at the back of our mind states are building blocks for development in the Federal system of government and will boost democratic governance.

Adnan is a political PR consultant, he teaches Islamic History, Culture and Civilization at Federal University Dutsin-Ma. He can be reached at adnanmukhtaradam@gmail.com

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Opinion

The Political Motivations Behind Nigerian State Creation: A Historical Analysis

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Nigeria's Map
Nigerian Map

 

Abdullahi Dahiru

Many proponents of state creation believe that Nigerian states were created for progress and development but history tells us otherwise.

Sarkin Kano Sir Muhammad Sanusi had dispute with the then Northern regional government leading him to abdicate the throne in 1963. Many Kano people were angry with the way the Northern regional government treated Sarki Sanusi and decided to form a pressure group called Kano Peoples’ Party, KPP. KPP agitated for creation of Kano state out of the then Northern region because many Kano people believe the regional government unfairly treated Kano province even though the province contributed revenue to the regional government more than any other province. KPP also agitated for the reinstallation of Sarki Sanusi as the Emir of Kano.

After 1966 military coup, there was tension between the Eastern region and the central government. The governor of the then Eastern region Odumegwu Ojukwu decided to secede from Nigeria to form an independent nation of Biafra. Just 3 days before Ojukwu’s decleration of independence, the head of state Yakubu Gowon abolished the regional governments and created 12 new states. The purpose of the state creation by Gowon was to reduce the power of Ojukwu and get the support of minorities and other sections of the country. Kano province was among the new states created as Kano state partly fulfilling the wishes of the KPP.

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State creation became an important aspect of military rule. Murtala regime created seven more states bringing the total number of states to 19. In 1987, Babangida’s political bureau recommended creation of two additional states to make the total number of states divisible by three, so as to get a perfect number when 2/3 of states is being computed to determine the winner of presidential election. This was to prevent the recurrence of dispute of 1979 election about what is the 2/3 of 19 states. So Babangida created Katsina and Akwai Ibom states in 1987.

Babangida and Abacha created more states in 1991 and 1996 bringing the total number of states to 36. The 1991 and 1996 exercises were done when there were pressures for Babangida and Abacha to handover power to civilians.

During the military regions committees were formed to recommend states to be created when there were plans to do those exercises. The committees receive requests from different groups for creation of states but the ultimate decision was done by the military council. The military do that often to satisfy lobbies from high ranking military officers and powerful Nigerians. It is often not about the people or development.

State creation was easy under miltary regimes since the constitution is usually suspended. A sole administrator is posted to the new state and take up grant given by government. That is very difficult in civilian administrations because of many bottle necks.

Whoever analyses the history of state creation in Nigeria he will know that it is almost exclusively done by military regimes and it is not something done for development or anything but political expediency. The most economically viable Nigerian state has remain a single state since 1967. Civilian administrations have tried several times to create new states without success. Many states that were created are surviving only because of monthly revenue allocation from the Federal Government. Without that federal allocation, they are nothing.

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Opinion

Kawu Sumaila: A Senator in need and indeed, By Adnan Mukhtar

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I forwarded a complaint to Senator Sumaila two weeks ago over the lack of water, school, and basic amenities for the people of Kawuri and Bangashi Villages at Gaya Local Government. I told the Senator that my washerman sent this complaint to me that they have been suffering for decades over lack of water and other basic amenities in their villages. The Senator replied to me with ” Noted Adnan zamuyi abun da zamu iya.”

Kawu swung into action the next day by sending his men to construct two boreholes for each town and assured them of bringing more dividends to them as they requested.

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This is called excellent representation. Doing exactly what will bring rapid development to his zone and Kano State.

Just some weeks ago, the super Senator supported a bill for the establishment of a Federal Medical Centre at Rano, the headquarters of Kano South, which was presented to the House by Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, and today he is presenting his sponsored bill for the creation of Tiga State. This is a welcome development.

Something that people are not aware of is that the entire members of the House of Representatives from Kano South are united to bring something positive to their people.

People like Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin are all over bringing the dividends of democracy to their people.

 

Adnan is a university lecturer, lobbyist, and political PR consultant

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