Remarks by Speaker Dogara at HORMWA Retreat
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE SPEAKER, HO– USE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA, AT A RETREAT FOR MEMBERS OF HO– USE OF REPRESENTATIVES WIVES ASSOCIATION (HORMWA) ORGANISED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES (NILS) ON 1ST MARCH, 2017:
It is with deep respect and appreciation that I also welcome you all to this Retreat organised for wives of Hon Members of the House of Representatives by NILS with collaboration of the National Assembly. I also specially commend my wife, Mrs. Gimbiya Dogara, and all of you for this wonderful initiative and the commitment you put into organising yourselves.
2. This apparently is the first public outing of the House of Representatives Wives Association and I must commend the organisers of this Retreat for their thoughtfulness on the need for this event. The stated objectives of this Retreat are: To strengthen the role of spouses of Legislators in the democratic process; raise awareness among political spouses on the roles and responsibilities of their husbands as lawmakers; broaden understanding of participants of the structure of government and political processes; deepen their knowledge of the legislative practice and procedure; and identify ways in which spouses can contribute in the work of their spouses.
2. The justification for the existence of this association is predicated on the urgent need for team work, collaboration, cooperation, non-partisanship, social bonding and synergy necessary for legislators to work optimally in the national interest.
The Association is further anchored on promotion of a healthy family life as envisioned in the Social Objectives of the nation contained in the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is indeed provided in S.17(3)(b) and (h) of the Constitution that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that – ‘conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and go social, religious and cultural life’; and ensuring that ‘the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged’.
3. However in order to avoid discrimination against persons based on gender as outlawed by our Constitution, I have a few suggestions to make. Firstly, I wish to respectfully suggest a change of name from House of Representatives Wives Association (HORMWA) to House of Representatives Spouses Association (HORMSA). The reason is very simple. It is not only men that are represented in the House. It is patently discriminatory of our female colleagues in the House as their spouses have no similar Association. We must bear in mind that we have even had a female Speaker of the House of Representatives, in the person of Her Excellency, Rt. Hon. (Mrs) Patricia Etteh, I have support for this proposition in the practices of other nations of the world. Examples can be found in the Philippines House of Representatives and even in the United States Congress, among others.
Secondly, pending when you acquire your own building and similar facilities you should endeavour to hold your activities in the House of Representatives where many Halls exist, in other to have a feel of the environment where your spouses work.
Thirdly, I don’t know whether spouses of former members are included in your association. If they are not, I will highly recommend it as it is in accord with best practices worldwide for similar associations.
4. Ladies and Gentlemen, the influence of spouses particularly women cannot be underestimated. Most often he or she is the only person that you talk to when you come back from work. It is therefore of critical importance that your spouse is knowledgeable on what goes on in the House and even on current affairs of State. Let me tell you a story. The Congressional Club, USA which is similar to your association was founded in 1908. The first President of the Club, Mrs. James B. Perkins of New York, and her Board decided to seek a Congressional Act of Incorporation. On May 20, 1908, Mrs. John Sharp Williams, wife of the House Minority Leader who was opposed to the Act, invited her husband to a private lunch between them. She supported the existence of the Club. While they were busy dining, he couldn’t attend the sitting of the House, and consequently, the House of Representatives passed the Act unanimously without him!. Don’t joke with women!.
5. I want to also advise that apart from acquainting yourselves with the legislative and political work of your spouses, it would do great justice to the image of this association if you also concentrate on issues concerning children, gender, community and humanitarian activities. You have a great role to play in keeping our families together for a well organised family is the bedrock of any society. Indeed, behind every terrorist, armed robber, social deviant is someone who lacks parental care and attention. So you can play an important role in the security and wellbeing of our nation.
6. May I therefore once again thank the organisers of this event and wish you all fruitful and successful deliberations.
7. God bless you all and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.