Paternity leave for men, a joke of the year – Labour leader

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It’s a noble idea – midwives, nurses association

Uba Group

Uba Group

BY BRIGHT JACOB

Mixed reactions have continued to trail the announcement of a 14- day paternity leave for men in the federal civil service to allow them bond with their new born babies.

While some people commended the move, others felt it was an action that shows how unserious the government could be, saying Nigerians would rather like to hear stories about review of minimum wage than talk of paternity leave.

Adelakin Idowu, a labour leader with the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, however had a totally different view about the paternity leave.

He called it “the joke of the year”.

He wondered why an issue like paternity leave can be given that level of attention by the federal government when there are other more pressing matters.

He said, “The current minimum wage is nothing to write home about. It cannot sustain a family for 30 days. There are many issues that ought to be acted upon, rather than acting on paternity leave for men in the federal civil service. The issue of the electronic transmission of election results is very much there, the issue of insecurity is there and they are talking about paternity leave?”

Adelakin then queried what federal civil servants do. He said, “Some of them go to work and sleep all through, and then stroll back home. Some wouldn’t even be at the office for a month, and they get away with it. This is all a misplacement of priorities”, he concluded.

The president, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Adeniji Abdulrafiu, said that it was a noble idea. According to him, “paternity leave is part of the considerations of parenthood. It is not just maternity leave only. All over the world, even before maternity leave was approved, the International Labour Organisation had done a lot in catering for new born babies, and that eventually led to the granting of maternity leave for mothers, in the first place. In spite of the efforts of the ILO, there are still some challenges plaguing child care. For instance, in the military and private sector, the moment you think about getting married, you could also be thinking of forgetting the job. Nevertheless, the truth is that it is the fundamental human right of the baby to enjoy parental care.”

Continuing, the labour leader said, “paternity leave has been the clamour of many trade unions, because taking care of the baby shouldn’t just be an issue for the mother alone, especially during the neo natal stage of the baby. The father has a role to play and this will correct certain impressions that it is more or less associated with the patrilineal descent of the child. In Nigeria, the paternity leave will cement the family bond and will also complement the exclusive breastfeeding of the baby which ought to be for the very first six months of life, without water. The 14 days will make the father to be closer to the child. They are very vital indeed. One would have loved that it was more than that. Nonetheless, with the 14 days, love, care and affection can be extended to the newborn. This will consolidate the efforts of the mother as well. It will also consolidate parenthood and ensure that fathers play a direct role in caring for the new born.”

“There are many issues that ought to be acted upon, rather than acting on paternity leave for men in the federal civil service”

Answering questions on specific ways bonding takes place, Adeniji said, “bonding starts from the way the fathers take care of the mothers. When this is done, the baby will grow up to know love and affection. Immediately the baby is born, in the past, it takes days before a baby can recognize objects, but today, you find out that immediately they are born, they have already opened their eyes. Apart from the physical bonding, there’s psycho-emotional bonding within the people that surround the baby. If the baby comes into the world to meet love and affection, there will be a bonding or linkage that goes beyond the physical presence.

You see a baby that looks at your eyes, then smiles. It means there’s a feeling, which goes a long way to determine that there’s bonding and psycho-emotional attachment between parents and newborns.”

On his part, a human rights activist, Richard Akinola, also said that the approval of the 14 days paternity leave is a step in the right direction.

Akinola said, “In some other parts of the world, it is a provision in their laws. The taking care of a child is not just the responsibility of the mother. The father, too, has lots of roles to play.”

When asked whether the 14 days was too small, he said, “We should not say it is too small, after all, there was nothing like that in existence before. Now that this has been announced, one can always advocate for more in subsequent months or years to come.”

To underscore how important the bonding developed between the new born and father could be, he narrated an experience in the United Kingdom, where in some cases, fathers were asked to carry their newborns in the labour room, who would in turn smell the body of the father, for some obvious psychological and medical benefits that help to create a bonding or linkage between the baby and the father.

“CBN"

At the last Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, the federal government had approved a 14-day paternity leave for men in the federal civil service.

While briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the Head of Civil Service, Folashade Yemi-Esan, had stated that the approval was to enable the proper bonding of fathers and their new born babies or adopted ones.