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My experience running against 13 male presidential aspirants — Prof Sonaiya

By Ebun Sessou & elizabeth uwandu

Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, the only female presidential candidate under the auspices of KOWA party during the 2015 general election recently launched her fourth book titled , “One Woman’s Race”, that chronicled her experience running against 13 male contestants.

One woman’s race a -123-page short book with four sections after the Introduction comprised of; “How did I get here; What would my message be? The manifesto and On the road; and Processing it all , and the concluded pages on appendixes spoke on the issues of gender in politics, god-fatherism , backlash and schism moneybag politics and the roles of volunteers and family support among others.

At the launch held last week at NIAA in Lagos that had family members that included her husband, Prof. Babafunso Sonaiya , her daughter, Sola with her baby, few friends and acquaintance, who co- chaired by Mr Fola Adeola, founder of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB and Princess Abiodun Omotade, the former senior lecturer, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said the book among other things was to tell the world that gender do not decide who win or loss elections, but what really matter was one’s belief, conviction and values of an aspirant.

It therefore came as a rude shock when Remi told the audience during her session with Mrs Toun Okewale Sonaiya, founder, WFM 91.7,the first radio station for women in Nigeria these words, “ I was not running because I am a woman; however, haven’t ran in the midst of 14 presidential candidates as a woman did not go unnoticed.” she said.

In the midst of being quizzed by Mrs Sonaiya, three key points formed the basic of the Professor’s journey into joining politics. They were the issue of gender, her intern on running and the desire of Nigerians to embracing change. On the issue of whether gender or not played a part in her contesting for the number one position in Nigeria, the Prof. Of Languages has this to say, “Back to the gender issue.

Of course , I was mindful of the fact that being the only woman among fourteen presidential candidates could not go unnoticed; nonetheless, I did not go into the race waving a gender flag or particularly with the intention of primarily championing gender issues. I did not want to. Even though “ women in politics had become a big issue internationally, especially with more women assuming leadership positions in their countries. I knew I was not running simply because I was a woman who felt that “ women too should be given a chance.” All through my professional career, I had competed on an equal footing with men, never seeking, expecting nor accepting any concessions on account of my gender, “she said.

However despite her conviction that leadership should never be based on gender, the academician lamented the dangers of living politics in the hands of male.” We should not allow the male dominated society. Nobody needs to dominate another person as we are all human beings created by God. So, it is important that women be part of decision making process of a the country. If we don’t allow women, we are short-changing ourselves because we are not making full use of our potentials.”

On whether she would contest again, the 2015 lone-woman KOWA presidential candidate said she would definitely run. Her words, “On running again. Yes, I am contesting in 2019. Did I lose the first time?  I didn’t lose. We are too narrowed minded in our conception of what success is. There are many ways of influencing thing. Since my election, several women have come to me to say I am running because of you? How then, do you say I lost? It is good to take stand with something and I am happy I took the decision to run.”

She however has a caution for those who would be contesting in 2019 to avoid borrowing money for their campaigns and elections. “My advice for anyone running is not to borrow money for election, spend the one you have.

The book, “One woman’s race in all chronicled, the Prof. Remi Sonaiya’s experience as the only woman among 13 male presidential contestants; the role of volunteering and the impact of family support system for anyone vying for political post, “she said.

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