02 June 2015

Good Governance from ……… Nigeria?!?!?!?!?!

I'm actually serious here.

Not only did the Nigerian parliament pass a ban on female genital mutilation, but it was done in a way in which the successor politicians get political cover to enforce the law:
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill this week that criminalizes female genital mutilation or cutting, a practice that a staggering 19.9 million Nigerian women are thought to have undergone. The landmark legislation is being hailed as an important step for Africa’s most populous country but also one that experts hope will have a potential ripple effect on the 26 other African nations that have significant populations of women who undergo the practice.

Nigeria’s decision to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM) sends “a powerful signal not only within Nigeria but across Africa,” according to J. Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. “Nigeria, just because of the sheer size of its population, has one of the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world,” he said, adding that the bill now effectively criminalizes a significant percentage of FGM on the African continent. “One cannot overestimate the impact of any decision by Nigeria [on the continent].”
Here is the important bit:
In this regard, the timing of Nigeria’s decision to outlaw the procedure is no coincidence. While advocates have campaigned for this legislation for over a decade, it was only passed this week, in the final days of the Jonathan presidency. “There's a price to be paid by bucking norms that are widely observed,” said Pham. “It took a lame duck president and lame duck legislators who don't have to face voters to undertake something that goes that much against the cultural norms or practices.”

Indeed, Pham argued that Jonathan has even done a favor for his successor, President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who will now not have to face future voter backlash by legislating the controversial issue. “It's already signed and Buhari can say he's simply enforcing the laws,” he said.
This last bit is remarkable, particularly for a country whose political system is a dysfunctional as Nigeria's.

Normally, one would expect a defeated President to do whatever they could to plant policy land mines for his predecessor, much as GHW Bush did with Clinton on Somalia in 1992.

Props to the soon to be former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, for doing the right thing in the right way in the most unlikely of places.


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