By Lucy Ackanyon
The Ter Makurdi, His Royal Highness Chief Vincent Aule has thrown his weight behind the proposed bill to amend the Benue State Traditional Council Law to include women in the Benue State Traditional Council.
“I and the good people of the Makurdi Traditional Council will support the bill 100 percent,” Chief Aule said Thursday in Makurdi, during a one-day stakeholders validation meeting at Benue Hotel and Resort.
The meeting was held to validate the proposed Widowhood Protection Bill and the amendment of the Benue State Traditional Council Establishment Law, to include women.
Chief Aule expressed optimism that the bill would find acceptance with other traditional rulers, and commended the wife of Benue State Governor, Dr Eunice Ortom for the initiative, noting that it was a good development.
Earlier, in an opening address, Dr Ortom emphasized the importance of fair representation of women in all decision making processes, even as she explained that the move to have women in the traditional council was not for competition but to add value to the process.
Dr Ortom appealed to all relevant stakeholders to support women inclusion in traditional leadership and the widowhood protection bills to sail through all the processes to become laws in Benue State.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Benue State Sexual and Gender Based Violence Advocacy and Policy Implementation Committee, Prof. Magdalene Dura stated that the proposed bill to have women inclusion in traditional traditional leadership was innovative and forward looking.
She added that it would put the state in the annals of history, should it be passed into law.
Commenting on the Widowhood Protection bill, Prof. Dura noted that it contains provision for establishment of widows commission, which will work to remove all harmful cultural barriers against widows and allow them rights to take decisions on matters involving burial and what to do with their lives after burial of their spouses.
Prof. Dura further appealed to traditional leaders and all relevant stakeholders to give their support for the bills to see the light of the day.
A widow, Mrs Perpetual Oche, speaking for all the widow groups said the proposed bill was light at the end of the tunnel to many avoidable sufferings which widows face.
Highlight of the event was the review and validation of the two bills by stakeholders, for onward forwarding to the Benue State House of Assembly.
The stakeholders validation meeting was organized by the Office of the First Lady, in collaboration with Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) and the Benue State Sexual Gender Based Violence Advocacy and Policy Implementation Committee.