Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Place Of Women In Nigerian Politics

Dame Patience Jonathan, Nigeria's first lady

The Place Of Women In Nigerian Politics is unknown for now.

Okechukwu Onuegbu writes on the way patient, read below

Earlier last year, the world was filled with reactions as the news of demise of erstwhile British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher filtered into the air. Prominent personalities world over gave their verdict on the character of the deceased especially on her strong leadership personality which earned her the title of “Iron Lady”. Drawn from these publications and her baptismal name (Iron Lady) was that the late Thatcher was a tough leader, dictator and a promoter of British imperialism as evidenced by her support for the then apartheid regime in South Africa.

However, since she left power, no other woman has occupied that prestigious position of the prime minister of Britain.
In Africa and Nigeria precisely, the likes of the late Iron Lady are lacking with the exception of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and in Nigeria, the likes of former Governor of Anambra state, Dame Virgy Etiaba (a child of circumstance) are just the few that fly the flag of women in the nation's politics. Notably, no woman, since Nigeria's independence, has ever ascended to the position of the Presidency, Vice Presidency and Senate Presidency, among other prestigious positions in the country.

What then is the reason behind this poor representation of women in the various elective and appointive positions in Nigeria, particularly when one considers that it is only by a little margin that the male population stands higher than the female one if the result of 2006 population census is anything to go-by?

 Worst of it all perhaps, was the male-dominated outcome of 2011 general election irrespective of the enormous supports drawn for women in media prior to the polls. The media was saturated with the report of how the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan and former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, initiated a programme (Women for Change Initiative (W4CI) through which they charged Nigerian women to believe in the immense capacity and capability of the women folk in nation building with a view to bringing about the positive change the country was yearning for.

Margret Thatcher

Launched in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, the W4CI was also geared towards helping the Nigerian women actualize their aspirations through provision of soft loans for small scale businesses and giving support to women vying for political positions, et cetera.

 In similar vein, Mrs. Anenih reportedly endorsed the only female Presidential aspirant in the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Sarah Jibril, at a ministerial press conference in Abuja, stressing that her endorsement was in line with the 35% affirmative action for women during the general election and beyond.

Aside the W4CI, the media, NGOs and other bodies equally advocated for women entrance into elective and appointive positions in the country pointing to the good legacies left by Professor Dora Akunyili, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, among other women, who distinguished selves in the various positions recently occupied.

Their assertion was that "what a man can do a woman can do much better". In-line with this, there were large influx of women into the electoral contest at  the national, state and local government levels.

However, as political parties’ released primary elections result, it was not a too-sweet story for the women. Hence, the truism of the US Congress woman, Clare Boothe’s words that “I must make unusual effort to succeed because I am a woman. But if I fail people may not say that I hadn’t what it takes to succeed but that women have not what it takes to govern” apparently became relevant.

The PDP Presidential Aspirant, Sarah Jibril, failed woefully to secure a vote from the thousands of PDP female and male delegates that graced the primary. She even testified in an interview that the one vote she scored at the primary was from her very self.

Where were the advocates of a woman president in Nigeria?
Similarly, at the conclusion of the elections, many other women political office holders and aspirants lost their bid to occupy any seat in the country. These include the presidential candidate of United National Party for Development, Mrs. Ebiti Ndok, who was incidentally the only female presidential candidate in the race; 4 female vice presidential candidates - Rose Yakubu, Kadijat B. Abubakar, Binutu Fela Akintola and Bilikisu Ismo of ARP, BNPP, FRESH and NTP, respectively. Others were Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, Professor Dora Akunyili, Senator Joy Emordi and over 13 governorship candidates in all parts of the country to mention but a few.

Also worthy of mention was how the only female House of Representatives Speakership aspirant, Mulikat Akande of Oyo state, was unanimously voted out by her fellow women and their male counterparts in the lower chamber.

Frankly speaking, there are less than 10 senators out of 109 serving senators; about 13 women appointed ministers (out of the total 42) and 4 female special assistants to President Goodluck Jonathan (out of the total18); and less than 5 Females ambassadors, etc. Where then is the 35% affirmative action dreamt to be achieved during the general election and beyond? Could one be faulted if he calls the advocates sepulchers?

In the Anambra state House of Assembly precisely, there are 6 female lawmakers and 24 males. (Please, don’t tell me that the Assembly’s Speaker, Princess Chinwe Nwaebili is a woman or that the outgoing Governor Peter Obi has about 3% women in his cabinet because if added together with others in appointive and elected political offices in Nigeria, it still less 35% Dame Patience Jonathan and her associates agitated for).

Although most of them may pretend to be asleep now, derivable truth from the unscripted drama in Nigerian politics is that a Nigerian woman can’t afford to vote a colleague! So, women are against women.

REASONS A WOMAN MAY NEVER EMERGE AS A President or Governor of a state in Nigeria

Women are naturally jealousy. How do you want a woman to feel serving a colleague as a commissioner? Would she not sack any of her aides; Commissioner or Minister once discovered such person’s wife flouting with flamboyant dressing, possess a particular lifestyle or popularity unlike her? Could she contain an impertinent fellow, talkative or a tout?

These and other questions explained why a woman would prefer voting a man to a woman. She knew she’s covered when a man is on power. She is sure that she would be forgiven of her wrongdoings, waywardness, misappropriations, indecent dressing among others. Try it to a fellow and see how she would send you packing or accusing you of husband or boy friend snatcher!

Indeed absolute power corrupt absolutely. Women are too strict; too childish, love to cared for and forgiven yet she hardly forgive offences. Biblical Jezebel, Delilah, others tell more.

Prof Dora Akunyili, former NAFDAC BOSS in Nigeria

Besides, Religions, African Tradition and host of others may never guarantee a woman ride our horse here! Off course, no traditional institution, Monarch or Emir or a-Catholic Priest would love to bow down for a woman who may not even rank to his wife in terms of pretty or sex.

However, this content is qualified to produce a woman or number of them considering their popularity. Thus, I am urging our “mothers” to work in one accord and speak in one voice so as to successfully perform as likes of the Biblical Eve who enticed her heartthrob (Adam) to eat an apple, thereby luring humankind to sin.

 With this quality, a woman can easily convince their loved ones to liaise with their friends and associates to endorse their (women's) political candidacy and furthermore vote or appoint over 40% of them in office. The journey of a thousand miles is said to start with a step; let’s wait to welcome Her Excellency the Governor of a state; a woman Senate President; a woman Speaker House of Reps (better than Mrs. Etteh); and a woman President of the  Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2014 governorship election in Anambra state and Nigeria’s general election in 2015!



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.