Dis 'N' Dart

May 6, 2014

Our Women In Politics

NIGERIANS have become used to seeing the mass of women who under different guises press their campaigns for more official positions in our polity. Women want places for themselves, not as alternatives to the men. It is more a campaign for more representation, based mostly on population.

We no longer ask what the women want. It is clear that they want power, office, positions in order to again access to the national resources that abound with these offices.

Through the “stock of the gains recorded so far in the empowerment of Nigerian women and the quest for peace in the country”, the carnival, debased women.

The deployment of women as mere ‘side shows’ and for their entertainment value in political rallies is abhorrent norm. Nigerian women possess the requisite qualifications for politics, as well as other sectors of Nigerian society.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s fulfilment of his promise to ensure at least 30 per cent women’s participation in his government through affirmative action has been commended globally, but more has to be done, particularly in women running for and winning elective positions in the various political parties.

With the gender barriers broken through appointment of women to key positions in government, only eight women were voted into the Senate of 109 senators and 24 out of 360 members of the House of Representatives. No female governor has ever been elected in our history. With their numbers and reaches, these should bother women.

Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba was the Governor of Anambra State, from November 2006 to February 2007, making her the first ever female governor in Nigeria’s history, through the impeachment of Peter Obi.

Lessons can be learnt and parallels drawn from female political leadership elsewhere.  The number of female world leaders serving simultaneously has dropped in recent years to 19 from 20 during much of late 2010 to mid-2012.

Of these, only two: Liberia’s Helen Johnson-Sirleaf and Malawi’s Joyce Banda, are Africans; but other developing countries –  Bangladesh, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago –  currently have women as commanders-in-chief. Apart from Malawi’s Banda, who succeeded her predecessor and a few other appointed ones, all other female world leaders were democratically elected. Like pioneers, Goldie Meier, elected first Israeli woman Prime Minister in 1969 and the third woman to hold such position in the world,   Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, stepped up to their men.  Two of the world’s most emerging economies Brazil and Argentina are currently led by women. Democracy pre-supposes equal opportunities across gender, ethnic divisions. Nigeria cannot be different.

Nigerian women should brace up for power contests in 2015 now.  It would save everyone the lamentations that could follow the elections.