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Lagos 2015: Battle of the sexes

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The normally liberal political space in Lagos is being charged with allegations of sexism following the apparent inclination of the mainstream political leadership of the state to project what is being termed a male-male gubernatorial ticket
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

Politicians from Lagos State pride themselves in being among the most cosmopolitan in the country. It is perhaps in deference to this that the state is exceptional in its projection of the female flock in society and in the working place. The majority of the judges, a substantial proportion of its top civil servants and indeed politicians are women.

Sarah Sosan
Sarah Sosan

Indeed, the projection of women in the state reached a remarkable point last July when Justice Ayotunde Philips daughter of the late Hon. Justice James Williams retired as the chief judge of the state only to hand over to another woman and her own younger sister, Justice Funmilayo Atilade.

The place of women as an important segment of the social fabric of the state has also been cemented in the distribution of political offices with the projection of women in important offices notably, the office of the deputy governor of the state.

At least five of the seven immediate past deputy governors of the state have been women, a situation that has also bothered some of them given their own efforts to climb higher to the highest office in the state.

Efforts by some of them in the past, notably Mrs. Kemi Nelson, Mrs. Remi Adkikwu-Bakare and recently, by Mrs. Abike-Dabiri-Erewa to contest the governorship have notably, flopped. It is not known for now if either Mrs. Nelson or Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa would still be contesting the governorship given the perceived determination of their political godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu towards the mainstream candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

However, the choice of a running mate for whoever emerges the candidate, who is given the present permutations, expected to be a male has now turned into an issue in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

APC chieftains who it was learnt have agreed to present a Christian, in the person of Ambode as the candidate of the party, it was learnt are now under pressure to present a male Muslim as the running mate.

The decision which was apparently framed to soothe religious feelings among the two dominant religions in the state, Vanguard learnt, is, however, stirring insinuations of sexism among the normally vociferous female flank in the ruling party in the state.

Hon. Abike Dabiri
Hon. Abike Dabiri

The idea of the male-male ticket it was learnt was sold to soothe Muslim elders in the state who it was learnt would not welcome a woman to lead them in civil or religious events.
It is an issue that is, however, being seriously flayed by the equally critical segment of the female Muslim political class.

The argument has, however, ruffled feathers in the female flank of the party with a number of them asserting that excluding women from consideration or removing from their normal place on the ticket is an attempt to subjugate the women flock in the party.

Prominent member
“Must it mean that because one is a female Muslim that one cannot hold a position,” one prominent member of the party asked.
“If we allow that, it then means that we are quietly giving way to the theory that a woman cannot be a governor of Lagos,” the female party member said.

The canvassers of the female position it was learnt were mobilising to project the fact that two Muslim women have in the past held the position of deputy governor and served the state well. Alhaja Latefat Okunnu and Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu served as deputy governor of Lagos State in the nineties and the former was known to have led state religious delegations to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Lagos is itself planning to present a mixed sex ticket of a male and a woman for the gubernatorial contest.

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