Recently, the Federal Government granted a 14-day paternity leave for its male employees whose wives put to bed.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr (Mrs) Folashade Esan, who revealed this at a media briefing, said that the paternity leave was provided for in the new Public Service Rules (PSR). In reaction, some male employees of the state governments have requested their employers to extend the same gesture to them to enable them to be more readily available to support their wives after delivery.
Some Nigerians have praised the Federal Government for the paternity leave while others faulted it as a misplaced priority arguing that the 14-day paternity leave would have been added to the nursing mothers as enhanced maternity leave.
New Telegraph extends kudos to the Federal Government for the paternity leave to its male workers. This will surely make it possible for fathers to have limited or no excuses for not being present at their homefronts to comprehensively support their wives for two weeks out of the marathon period of childcare.
We observe with fulfilment that the concept of paternity leave was blazed not by the Federal Government but by Lagos and Enugu State governments which, in their forward looking and family-oriented disposition, warmed their way into the innermost parts of humanity by each granting a threeweek paternity leave to their male employees.
Lagos and Enugu State governments granted paternity leave more than seven years ago and in 2015 respectively. It is indeed, heartwarming that the state governments raised themselves to the Olympic heights as to be emulated by the Federal Government.
New Telegraph cannot thank Lagos and Enugu State governments enough for such humanitarian gesture. Some African countries such as Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius, Kenya and South Africa have also operationalized paternity leaves to enable their male workers to support their nursing spouses.
Mention must also be made of some developed countries like Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Estonia, Lithuania, Serbia and South Korea which grant paternity leaves with accompanying allowances to their male workers whose wives put them to bed. Swedish male workers are entitled to 90 days while their counterparts in South Korea and Japan are entitled to 52 weeks paid paternity.
The early days of a child’s life are usually stressful for both the child and the mother. In some instances, the joy of motherhood appears compromised as some mothers feel disillusioned at the consistent crying of the baby and feel like walking away. Others slip into depression with suicide beckoning at them.
At such trying moments, nursing mothers require the companionship of their relatives including their husbands in order to successfully negotiate such challenges.
The closeness between husbands and wives at the time of arrival of new-born babies is likely to enhance the quality of their marriages and family values.
The bonding between fathers and their children in the first two or three weeks after delivery is likely to be enduring. Family stability will likely be achieved instead of the age-long patriarchy which does not enhance humanity.
Gender equity is one of the realistic paths to take in order to have well rounded families that will help produce a balanced human society. We make bold to acknowledge that paternity leave will help to deliver the above society-building yearnings.
New Telegraph is, however, worried that this paternity leave may be abused. Some male civil servants might have embraced polygamy.
Should their wives head to the labour rooms and get delivered of newborn babies at the same time, such male workers may be tempted to request for 14-day paternity leave as often as their wives give birth to new-born babies, so as not to be accused of partiality and preference for some wives at the expense of others. Organisational and national productivity will ultimately be undermined.
It is, therefore, important that a regulation be put in place to help curb the likelihood of abuse. But even when this is effectively and efficiently handled, a bigger problem still lies ahead.
Productivity is still greatly compromised in some public organisations. Saturday and Sunday each week are work-free days nation-wide. In some states, Friday, each week, are unofficial public holidays.
There is a need for a quick balancing act regarding how to shore up productivity in the public sector for sustained economic recovery of Nigeria while retaining the 14-day paternity leave.