The federal government, on Monday, through a circular by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, approved a 14-working-day paternity leave for civil servants. Some Nigerians spoke on this development and the effects they think it could bring to Nigeria’s social and economic life.
Hajiya Rafat Onyeche Salami, journalist and gender advocate
The 14-working-day paternity leave is indeed a great idea which will help to promote family cohesion. A child is born to two parents, so both of them should be around him or her.
We as mothers already know that it is actually a working leave because one is busy with the child. As a supervisor I have seen how men struggle to juggle between work and attending to their spouses when there is a newborn baby.
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It becomes more intense when hospitalisation exceeds three to four days and the men have to do a lot of running around. So, it is good for us as this wipes out the sense of guilt some men have if they skip work or are unable to be optimal at work.
I also like the caveat in the new policy, which limits the frequency of the paternity leave. Men can’t take it more than once in two years and not more than four times.
Madam Florence Adidi, journalist, gender activist
I think it is a good development, as most times, when women put to bed, normal husbands literally go through the entire process emotionally and psychologically with them.
Sometimes they don’t even have anyone to help as a care giver except their husbands. When the baby cries all night long and suffers insomnia, both parents more often than not stay up sleeplessly till daybreak. So, I think this leave will help both parents to settle in the baby nicely before the father resumes his duties in the office again.
Economically, I don’t see any much problem it can possibly pose for the country because the man can also work from home if the need be.
Comrade Austin Aigbe, social development worker and human rights activists
This is long awaited, the proposal dates back to around two years. While 14 days are commendable, childbirth and care are by both parents, and while the mother bears more burden, the father does more.
Paternity leave leads to improvement in a partner’s relationship, thereby forging a stronger bond and can reduce stress level.
A father whose partner had just put to bed can be depressed, which will impact negative on him and by extension his colleagues and organisation, thereby leading to poor service delivery.
I see paternity leave as part of Abraham Maslow’s theory of need. The welfare of staff correlates with an organisation’s improvement. This, by extension, leads to Nigeria’s social and economic development.
Abubakar Jimoh, development communications specialist
We must see the latest policy granting 14 days of paternity leave to civil servants as a welcome development in Nigeria. This is a practical demonstration of the federal government’s acknowledgment of the importance role of fathers in care-giving to the newborns. This policy is expected to set the foundation for more equal distribution of responsibilities in care-giving; reduce the reported cases of post-partum depression on mothers; and strengthen relationships within the family for more healthy, inclusive and prosperous society.
Through this process, fathers will receive a boost in happiness and fulfillment that may impact positively on their productivity in workplace since there are emboldened best practices across the world.
The new policy, if effectively implemented, should not pose a negative socio-economic impact on workplace productivity.
Sub-national governments and the private sector are encouraged to domesticate and support implementation of the new policy.
We are also hopeful that the fathers would judiciously utilise the leave to support their families.
Mallam Moshood Isah, development communication experts and civil rights activist
I believe it is a step in the right direction as it is a recognition of the role of men in childbearing and upbringing. This will also go a long way in promoting gender equity and ensuring adequate support for women during early stage of childbirth.
Also, this will go a long way in improving family bonding and responsible parenting, which in a long run will reduce the tendency of social vices in the society.
Mallam Abubakar Bestu, journalist and civil servant
I strongly believe that it is a well thought out policy by the federal government.
Childbirth comes with complications that need the support of the husband, before, during and after. It goes beyond financial support, but largely moral, which no one is in better position to provide than the husband.
The challenges that follow childbirth will surely be managed adequately with the support of the husband, which his presence will accord. The 14 days are critically a stabilisation period for both parents, which their being closely together to tackle emerging challenges will consolidate the needed intimacy through the support the mother will enjoy from the father of the child.
Being away from official distraction is no doubt a desirable opportunity for the father to devote the needed time for the mother and child.
I am confident that every father knows the anxiety that comes with labour and post-delivery demands, either in the hospital or at home. No one does it better than the father, and 14 days of post birth psychological stabilisation for the father is well thought out.
So, it is more of promoting social life than economic. It is not a period to engage in economic venture (though it is the choice of the individual) but to support a nursing mother.
However, engaging in economic activity may defeat the essence of the paternity as the distraction meant to be avoided will still be there.
But it will surely promote social cohesion due to the intimacy expected by the devotion of the husband to supporting the wife and the baby.