The drums roll for Kebbi State and its people for the passage of the Violence Against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) law by the State House of Assembly. Passed on 30th of September 2021, this date is etched into history for Kebbians and especially for human rights defenders in the state for many reasons. First, with this passage, Kebbi state has become one of the 14 states in Nigeria that has passed the law, thus signifying the state’s progressiveness and commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of its people. Secondly, for the women’s rights community, the law is much more than a piece of legislation. It is a bold statement to the recognition of the fundamental human rights of women and girls, thus cancelling the notion of subjugation, control of agency and autonomy of women and girls through use of violence and other disempowering beliefs that are contrary to human development. The passage of VAPP law by Kebbi lawmakers has therefore set Kebbi on the path of becoming a violence free state if fully enforced.
The process for the passage of this law was vigorous. Though Kebbi State seems to be the fastest state to pass the law in Nigeria. The bill was introduced into the House in January 2021 by the Executive, and in space of nine months, it was passed. This however did not reduce the rigorous process of getting it passed. Involving many actors beyond the lawmakers to include the contributions of the First Lady of Kebbi state, Her Excellency Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, who was a strong advocate for its passage. On the other hand, and from the CSOs and women’s rights defenders’ angle, Kungair Tallafin Mata Development Initiative (KTMDI) was very instrumental in the passage of this law through facilitating advocacy actions. Working in collaboration with actors such as Ministry of Women Affairs, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and other NGOs in the state, KTDMI convened meetings targeting critical actors, participated in think tank meetings for designing workable strategies for achieving the desired positive outcome. These actions are of particular importance, as it is one thing to pass the law, and another for the content of the law to have the desired bite required to deter perpetrators and their supporters.
The resource required for these actions is also worthy of note. KTMDI needed resources for convening these meetings. With funding support from ActionAid Nigeria under its Global Affairs funded project – Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria project, KTDMI was enabled to conduct its policy influencing work for the passage of the bill. With the funding, KTMDI was able to hold a strategic retreat meeting with lawmakers, submitted its position paper to the lawmakers, as well as mobilize citizen’s interest through awareness creation using various platforms such as webinars that targets high profile persons including the First Lady, religious and traditional leaders in the state for a shared understanding of the value of the law and buy-in by critical stakeholders. This in addition to having one on one meetings with principal officers of the House of Assembly and the Executives.
There is no gainsaying that Kebbi state requires this law. The state is almost assuming an eye of the storm position within the North-West with targeted kidnapping of school children in recent times, in addition to existing incidences of GBV in the state heightened by COVID-19. The law therefore is a huge win for every person who believe in social justice. “We are indeed glad that this law has been passed in Kebbi state. We are grateful to everyone who has made this work and especially ActionAid Nigeria for the funding support through the Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria project. We also want to appreciate the Speaker of the State House of Assembly Alhaji …and his team for creating opportunity for Kebbi to be rid of all forms of violence” stated the Executive Director …..adding that they are more energized to advance the rights of women and girls.