CHAT WITH PLATEAU STATE COMMISSIONER FOR WOMEN AFFAIRS AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, BARRISTER OLIVIA DAZYEM
TMV- We wish to congratulate you upon your recent appointment as Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development and also upon your recent award. How do you feel about it?
DAZYAM- Well I want to thank you so much for the opportunity you have given to me to hear from us about what we are doing.
TMV- What exactly does the Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development do?
DAZYAM- Thank you so much. The Ministry of Women Affairs, you know as the name suggests a lot of people just think that the Ministry of Women Affairs has responsibilities only for women, but our responsibilities focuses on these categories of people: women, children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, especially the vulnerable members of our society. You can see that this is a lot, bringing service to women; women mostly as you are aware are the less privileged in our society in terms of everything. Is it in terms of their rights, is it economic opportunities, is it vulnerability in terms of reproduction, the fact that the women they are the ones that carry pregnancies, they bring children to the world and they have more of the responsibilities to take care of children as they grow up. We are happy that there’s child rights law in Plateau State following in the footsteps of the nation. Of course we have the Child Rights Act 2003 and for us in Plateau State we also have that law on ground part of the responsibility of the ministry is to ensure that child’s rights are protected through the instrumentality of this law.
TMV- There has been a lot of agitation from women about gender equality, especially in political appointments. How would you score the Jang’s administration?
DAZYAM- I think I will score him 100%, you know just like I would score the President, Jonathan Ebele Goodluck. Let me be very honest with you for us in Plateau State the governor is a person who is deeply passionate about the issues that concerns women. As I can confirm to you, he has made: four female Commissioners, go to our neighbouring states here they manage to have Women Affairs Commissioner and that is all just one female Commissioner but for us four, not to talk of female Permanent Secretaries I think they are eight, we also have women heading government boards and parastatals. Look at, we have a female Minister representing Plateau and she is doing wonderfully well. The recent nominee of our governor for the position of ambassador is a woman; I think he is leaving nobody in doubt about what he feels about women involvement in decision-making.
TMV- What are some of the programmes that Jang’s administration has put in place to better the lives of women in the state?
DAZYAM- For this year, in our budget he was very clear about it that this time for the Ministry of Women Affairs our programmes will receive full attention and we are very grateful to him for that. We have programmes lined up to create awareness and a lot of key issues ranging from women’s rights, challenges that confront women, women with HIV/AIDS you know a lot of these things that will create awareness on how women can get themselves economically empowered, we have a lot of these programmes about giving training to these women; apart from the fact that we need to create awareness on the rights of women; get other people involved; get even men involved and youths involved that there’s the need for women to bring out the full potentials that they have because they are part of development. We have made provision for that in the budget and thank God that even at exco level that scaled through. I have also made provision for loan, grants that will be given to women to boost the small-scale economic activities that they are involved in. We have only one skill acquisition centre in the state which is in Mangu local government the Widowhood Vocational Training Centre now we intend to have for the three zones so we have made arrangements for having one in the Northern Zone and one in the Southern Zone to create opportunities for women and even orphans to go in there and acquire some form of skill that will make them stand on their own so that they can actually employ themselves and also employ others. We have also made provisions in this year’s budget you know this building (the structure housing the Ministry for Women Affairs) that you are seeing, we intend it to be a business center wherein women will come with various things they have been able to make with their hands to display them here and to also have outlets for selling them even for international organizations, even for local organizations to come and see and patronize these women.
TMV- Digressing a bit from the Activities of the Ministry of Women Affairs, some say the recent imposition of state of emergency on some parts of the state is politically motivated, what’s your take on that?
DAZYAM- Honestly, I have given it a very big thought and like we all know a lot of people have actually been crying out about imposition of state of emergency in this state, the truth about how I see the problem in Plateau state is that we do not cause problem in Plateau state but all the crises that have affected us in Jos are attacks from outside, because you have not heard another community going to attack another community, you have not heard Barkin Ladi going to attack Riyom; we have not heard Mangu going to attack Bokkos, you have not heard attacks that are within and I have the firm belief that the Boko Haram does not reside here so all the attacks that we have had came from outside.