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Home » Three times Women Affairs Minister generated controversies in two months

Three times Women Affairs Minister generated controversies in two months

Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has recently been in the eye of the storm.
Her remarks and reactions to certain events have elicited a mixed bag of comments.

Some have her back, others criticize her, and in one of the cases, she has also come out to clarify what she said.

Here are three of the instances and comments around them.

1. UNICAL sexual harassment case
Kennedy-Ohanenye stirred up a hornet’s nest when she waded into the sexual harassment scandal at the University of Calabar. She publicly threatened to jail the victim if they were found to be lying. Commentators think that that sounded like bullying.

There was an ongoing investigation into the case by the university, and commentators think she should have let it run its course.

She was widely criticised for taking the position. She drew widespread condemnation, alog with calls for her resignation.

Later, the minister on Sunday, September 17 tendered an apology on the controversy which had trailed comments credited to her in a viral video concerning the sexual harassment scandal at the University of Calabar.

Her apology came 24 hours after a coalition of over 500 gender rights activists under the aegis of Womanifesto said it was concerned about the implications of her utterances on protecting vulnerable women and children in Nigeria.

Read also Women affairs minister to mobilise against gender-based violence

2. Child exploitation statement
As the dust settled on the UNICAL controversy, Kennedy-Ohanenye made another controversial statement at the Anambra Investment Summit.

She suggests that children should be employed in producing everyday items like toothpicks, matchboxes, cotton buds, and sanitary pads to expedite urban development.

Her remarks were met with outrage, as many accused her of endorsing child labour.
Critics argued that her advocacy for child exploitation was unacceptable and out of touch with the realities of child welfare.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy, denied advocating child labour in her proposition of local toothpick production, saying her position has always been empowering schoolgirls.
She said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“I never said the children will be used to produce toothpicks. I don’t know why you people keep mentioning toothpicks,” she said. Kennedy reiterated her commitment to providing vocational training opportunities for children, emphasising that she never suggested using children for toothpick production.

3. Suing the United Nations
Kennedy-Ohanenye’s other controversial statement was made during a press conference in Abuja on October 16, 2013. She boldly threatened to sue the United Nations, alleging mismanagement of funds intended to benefit Nigerians.

However, her threat exposed a fundamental misunderstanding of international law, as the United Nations enjoys immunity from lawsuits.

Her statements might have been made out of an enthusiasm to serve Nigeria. There is still enough time for her to serve Nigerian women’s interests effectively.

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