DURING the treason trial of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1962, he stated among others that “after the darkness comes a glorious dawn”. Women in all climes have been known to impact positively on their society. In many advanced democracies, women have provided quality political leadership.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, a former British Prime Minister, was nicknamed Iron lady for her strong will and determination to rule the country along the path she considered sane and progressive. The late Mrs. Indira Ghandi was a strong voice in Asia when she was at the helm of affairs as the Indian Prime Minister. Benazir Bhutto, the late Pakistani Prime Minister, was arguably the most popular politician in her country before she was assassinated a few years ago.
Even our own Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Managing Director of the World Bank is no pushover in economic affairs. These are ready instances of where women readily indicate that the assertion that what a man can do, a woman can do even better was not a figment of any dreamer’s imagination.
Even in Nigeria, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, contributed significantly to the presidential electoral victory of 2011 by her effective mobilisation of women all over the country to vote for the ruling party.
Dr. Kemafor Chikwe, the new National Women Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a bright star in the firmament. Although she has been around in the political scene for some years, her antecedents indicate that the new Woman Leader will bring into her office the sterling qualities of dynamism, commitment and purposeful leadership with which she has become associated.
Educated at Queen College, Lagos; Advanced Teachers Training College, ATTC, Owerri; Queens College City University of New York and the University of Nigeria Nsukka where she bagged her Doctorate Degree in Curriculum Education in 1995, Dr. Chikwe has made significant impact in her various offices of national calling.
Between 2008 and 2011, she served the nation as Ambassador to Ireland and Iceland. In this capacity, she initiated economic diplomacy through the International Gateway Economic Partnership Summit Programme and also led an economic mission of Irish businessmen with the Irish Minister of Integration. The Ambassador further organised three international conferences and six business round tables in Dublin.
As Chairman of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB(2005-2006), she ensured release of results within one week of exam and the automation of JAMB operations, thereby eradicating manual manipulation of results.
When she served as Minister of Aviation between 2000 and 2003, she ensured the resumption of Nigeria Airways flights to London and South Africa, initiated code sharing agreement with South African Airline, signed multiple designation agreements with foreign airlines that gave rise to KLM, Lufthansa and other airlines to land in more than one airport in Nigeria. She signed the Open Skies agreement with the US Government which was also signed at the presidential level when President Bill Clinton visited Nigeria in 2002.
Dr. Kema Chikwe was the first woman ever to be appointed major infrastructure minister in Nigeria when she was appointed Minister of Transport in 1999. In this portfolio she presided over 20 Federal Government parastatals, including Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA; Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA; National Maritime Authority, NMA, now NIMASA, etc.
Apart from dredging of our waterways, she devised a 24-hour port operations and radically reduced turn around time at the port to 48 hours.
She had earlier served as Imo State representative in ECOWAS First Ladies Meeting on Peace Mission in Africa 1996 as well as the Beijing China International Women Conference in 1995.
The new PDP Woman Leader has garnered numerous awards from many organisations both locally and internationally. Suffice it to assert that she has had a distinguished public service career and contributed immensely to the political development of Nigeria.
Addressing a gathering of PDP Women recently, their new leader expressed her gratitude to the President, the First Lady, the Vice President and his wife, the Senate President and his wife, for their support to steer the ship of the PDP Women Wing which she claims constitute 50 per cent of voters in Nigeria. She also noted the contributions of the Deputy Senate President, the Deputy Speaker and the South East PDP Governors and their wives for their support in her new position.
She acknowledged the contributions of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Chief Charles Amaechi, Chief Tony Chukwu, the PDP Chairman Imo State; Chief Eze Duruihema (SAN); the State PDP Secretary and Publicity Secretary to her electoral victory, and assured them that the confidence they repose in her will be very ably justified.
Her focus will be on the economic and political empowerment of PDP Women. Her activities and programmes will include consultative meetings with PDP women at all levels, establishment of empowerment schemes for at least one million women in her four years in office, reaching out and partnering with national and international agencies on women empowerment and hosting of national and international conferences on women and political participation. The new PDP Woman Leader will also initiate a monthly welfare programme for the poor, the sick and the aged women as well as travel to some countries and appreciate how women organise themselves in political parties.
With this programme of action, any observer of political activities in the country will clearly note that women had never had it so good. Women activities in politics had always been those of singing and dancing in rallies, showcasing all styles of dresses, what William Shakespeare would describe as full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. With the new focus in education and enlightenment/empowerment of women, their involvement in politics will mark a great leap forward.
Dr Chikwe has an intellectual background, she has a rich political experience having held political offices at the highest level in the country for many years and she has the mission and vision of taking women to the next level.
There is no doubt that under her leadership PDP women, nay Nigeria women, will witness tremendous growth and development. Nothing less is expected of the Amazon.
Mr. CHIKE OKEKE, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Abuja.