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Re: That Sarah Jibril’s lone vote

By Helen Ovbiagele,  Woman Editor
We were overwhelmed by the huge response we got with regards to the above topic.  Apart from text messages, we got a few verbal responses from the streets.

Some readers interpreted my write-up to be a call that women should be voted into elected positions by all means, whether they’re achievers or performers or not.  Or, that Sarah Jibril should have been  the one elected to represent her party at the presidential elections.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Right from the start, I’m sure no-one expected that she would carry the day.  First, she’s female and the culture in many parts of the country, including the one Sarah herself comes from, would never want a female to rule over them; at least not for now.  Secondly, she hasn’t a record of experience in  governance or of being a law-maker,  for people to judge her capability to rule the country from.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the incumbent president, a male, was a fellow contestant at her party’‘s primaries.  Also, the other contestant, a male, was a former Vice-President of the country.  So, the battle was actually between the two male contestants.  Nobody expected things to swing miraculously in her favour.  I’m sure all the delegates knew this right from the start.  I wasn’t insisting that Sarah or any particular person, male or female, from any particular political party, should be chosen to stand.

My point was that the women, knowing the great odds against the only female candidate, should have come together in solidarity, to arrange to ‘donate’ some votes for her, so that the one she cast for herself wouldn’t be the only vote she got.  That would save both the female candidate and her fellow women, great embarrassment.  We shouldn’t forget that Nigeria is an important country in the sub-region, in Africa, and on the international scene, and that such an occurrence would astonish the foreign watchdog; especially since it happened within the ruling political party.

We should stop thinking of our own personal and immediate gains, and think of the future we’re building for our young people.
We thank all those who sent in their views.    Most people wrote in anonymously, so we couldn’t say how many women reacted to the write-up.

“I have the greatest admiration for Mrs. Jibril’s energy and fervour and doggedness for her several attempts, but we must not take this talent in isolation. The major task is how she markets herself as a woman leader if she aspires to lead women or how she markets herself as a leader of all.

What issues did she canvass?  And where?  Your article was based on the assumption that Mrs. Jibril is a true representative of the Nigerian women folk not the men, hence you first lamented that at least the women delegates should have given her a percentage of their votes.

Had she campaigned to them for this?  The men know well in advance who their likely supporters will be, and can give you an advance number of votes which they expect.  Are women such strategic planners?  Mrs. Jibril must have a constituency, not just ‘Nigerian women anywhere and everywhere’.  She has to make an appeal not just rely on being a woman per se, in other , as the proverbial saying goes ‘she has to work ten times as hard as the men’ to reach the delegates for their votes.

Finally, why did Mrs. Jibril start at the office of President?  She should have created an unbeatable record of service in other posts before going for the top most shot.  You don’t become a leader by saying you are and you can.  You have to lead in something, whether professional or business, so your contributions can be noticed and appreciated.” –  Hairat Ade-Balogun, Lagos.

“Madam H.O., are you just learning that our women politicians, like their male counterparts, play the same ‘money for hand’ politics?   Mrs Jibril didn’t have the dollars to throw at them like some others, so, our so-called women politicians humiliated her without batting an eye lid!  It was a horrendous collective shame to all the women in the PDP.  A pity.  Kudos to your writing, ma.  Please keep it up. From Charles Onuchukwu”

“Aunty Helen, good day!  Mrs. Sarah Jibril may not be the kind of female president that Nigerians are looking forward to having in the nearest future.   From Celestine, mnse, frc.”

“Thanks for your optimism and strong faith.  May God continue to strengthen you in your bid to promote the interests of women, especially in this present dispensation.  Your efforts will surely pay off as the women rally together to move the nation forward.”

“Where’s the embarrassment, when the women compromised themselves most probably under strict instructions.   This is politics Nigeriana for you.  Stop crying for us.”

“I was raised singlehandedly from age six by my mum after the death of my father, along with my sister who was eight at the time.  I know several of my contemporaries from two- parent families who were not half as well looked after as myself.  The point I’m making is that what a man can do, a woman can do better, and I think that giving quota for women is a male’s tool to patronize women which should be recognised for what it is.”

“The designation of women as under privileged  is a tool to keep them subjugated.  No one hands out power because of quota.  The women who have reached the top have done so by competing against and defeating their male rivals, by providing a better alternative e.g. Sirleaf Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, and not by asking for sex-based concessions.  Ngozi Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Dora Akunyuli or Kema Chikwe would all have got appreciably more than one vote, because they are credible candidates.  Jibril did not bring any vision to the table for delegates to tap into.  She had no track record to flaunt, she thought her campaign speech was enough..  I wouldn’t say she didn’t deserve that lone vote.”

“Mrs. Jibril did not get any votes because she was unable to convince anyone of her ability to lead the country.  You seem to suggest that the women should have voted for her regardless of their opinion of her abilities.  That would be sexual discrimination.”
“Mrs. Sarah Jibril is from Niger State, not Kwara State, please.”

“It would have been beautiful if female columnist like you had chipped in one or two lines for Sarah, rather than cry over split milk or shift the blame after the primaries.  Like her single vote, she stands tallest and lonely amongst Nigerian women. –  Donald”
“Madam, you were wrong.  That lone vote for Jibril came from Akwa Ibom State, not Kwara State.”

“Auntie Helen, you hit the nail on the head in that write up on Mrs. Sarah Jibril’s lone vote.  Her co- delegates who are female should have encouraged her with a few votes from each state in the federation.  That wouldn’t have derailed their ambition to put forward whoever they wanted.”


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