The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill seeking to give parternity leave to Nigerian men whenever their wives welcome a baby.
The bill for an Act to make provisions for optional paternity leave to all married male employees in private and public service was sponsored by Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau state).
According to Pwajok who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN ), the proposal for a two or more weeks (depending on the decision of the of House) paternity leave is to ensure that mother and child get adequate assistance and care from the father.
He told the house during a debate on the bill, “As father’s share of parenting is on the increase, they experience similar challenges with women, such as their jobs and family duties clashing. Making provision for maternity leave without provision for maternity leave is discriminatory against men.
No better person can support a newly born baby than the father which will make the child more emotionally stable if the father stayed close. This will not be peculiar to Nigeria alone, it’s done globally,”.
Rejecting the bill, a member of the house, Betty Apiati (PDP, Rivers) said since maternity leave issue was discussed in the Labour Act, it would have been better it came as an amendment to the Act and not as a bill.
Apiati alongside other lawmakers Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia), Rita Orji (PDP, Lagos), Nicholas Ossai ( PDP, Delta) and Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) argued that men should be out trying to provide for the upkeep of the family rather than staying back at home.
They also wondered how many times a man with six or seven wives would go on leave if the bill becomes law.
The motion was roundly defeated in a voice vote.