By Sinmisola Sode
Lady Maiden Ibru, a major discussant at The maiden edition of the HID AWOLOWO FOUNDATION ANNUAL LECTURE which centered on the importance of women’s leadership held recently at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos, has said the woman’s first responsibility is to mould the character of the nation which starts from the training they give to the children.
She said due to traditional reasons and values, the society has decided that the women should not be emancipated but it’s time for women to come to the fore and say enough is enough. “And this starts with moulding characters that produce good leaders. From being a baby till a child gets to the stage of getting married, the woman is the nurturer she explains. Going further she encourages women not to shy away from this all because they are busy running their private businesses. Explaining the attribute of a character to be accountability, transparency, honesty, kindness and integrity, she states that women are multi-taskers by nature and so must make use of this advantage to make the world a better place.
Other discussants, represented by different generations, also contributed their quota to the discourse.
Sa’ndatu Audu Adamu representing Hajiya Naja’atu Bala Muhammad claims that the mistake the government makes is bringing non-resourceful people to occupy positions of prominence thereby limiting efficiency. Likewise, Mrs Yemi Adamolekun said, “Let the younger ones know that there used to be times of development instead of letting them get used to the dysfunctional state of the country”. Bolanle Olukanni representing the younger generation bluntly stated that the older generation has failed them and asked how they, still in power, can fix the failure they have caused. She also asked who in the society can the younger generation look up to as role models of change in the political world.
The keynote speaker, Dr Oby Ezekwesili speaking on the theme -Ethical politics, peace, development and security in Nigeria: the critical importance of women’s leadership-started her speech by stating that there is famine in leadership of today’s world. She said in line with the topic given, public leadership should be more focused on as it is central to other forms of leadership. Going further, she talked about the people and the society. “Society has people and people have problems. These people also have opportunities as well as they face risks and threats” she said. Explaining this, she outlines two types of problems. First, problems that can be solved or maximized privately and secondly public problems that require public effort and collective solution. More on the latter she said, “And it is because of the public and monumental scale of this kind of problem that we must find public solution to the risks and threats, and maximize the opportunity and strength that the collective can bring. It is for this also that the government exists, therefore the basic role of the government, no matter how advanced or developed the society may be, is to improve the welfare and state of life of the citizens as a collective.”
Speaking on how politics can be ethical seeing that it’s commonly defined as a dirty game, Ezekwesili explained that it could be moral because politics is much more than the struggle for power thereby advising that moral principles should be the wheel on which power thrives. She describes good governance as accountable and so decisions must be made in line with existing legislation. Good governance leads to development and development is inclusive, so people have a stake in the society, she explains. Giving three keys to development -sound policies, strong dynamic institutions and public investments that are effective and efficient – she assures that there’d be development when those are put in good use. Stating features of a fragile state such as the weakness of central government that it has little practical control over much of its territories, non provision of public services, wide-spread of corruption and criminality, refugee issues, involuntary movement of population, huge continent of internally displaced people and sharp economic decline, she confirms that Nigeria is the 13th most fragile state in the world in the year 2017.
Concluding her speech she says research has found that when women partake in government there are remarkable achievements. She- reading the report on the participation of the women in the African society with Nigeria in the lead-5% CEOs, 22% cabinet members, 25% parliamentarians, 29% managers, 36% promoted at their places of work-concluded that African women have been marginalized. She emphasized the need for women at the center of decision making as research as shown that in this, there is less corruption. She says it is time for women to disrupt the existing paradigm in the Nigerian politics of holding women out and limiting them. Women have incredible human resource that we must put to use she says. “In this era of the 2nd machine age and 4thindustrial revolution, what would matter most is the character of an individual. Character is the underlining factor that will determine how far nations will go in this era. We need to be more deliberate and intentional in the making of leaders,male or female”.
The lecture which started with the welcome address by Ambassador Awolowo Dosumu, followed by the opening remarks by the chairman of the occasion, Senator Daisy Danjuma and Dr Femi Ogunsanya representing Dr Insa Nolte reviewing the book: ’In the Radiance of the Sage’ which was mama HID’s biography; ended with some remarks from former governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko: the best way to empower a community and by extension a country, is to empower a woman, starting from the domestic and grassroots level.
Also the Emir of Shonga, representing the Sultan of Sokoto added that women do not need to be in mass to make a difference. Pointing out mama HID AWOLOWO as an example, he remarked that women should believe and begin to act in the power of one!