By Ebun Sessou & Oyetade Oluwapelumi
The belief that Nigerian politics was not only meant for the male folk sprouted Prof Remi Sonaiya to join the presidential race in 2015 under the auspices of KOWA party.
Although, she contested with the male aspirants but did not win, she was determined and diligent and did not allow the toxic political atmosphere to consume her.
She remained focused and forged ahead. Her braveness helped other female politicians who then revealed their intention to contest different positions of authority including the local government elections, house of assembly, house of representatives, senate as well as the governorship.
Unfortunately, her hope was dashed at the party’s presidential primaries when she lost the seat to a man. The question therefore is, why do female politicians lose their chances to the male folks.
Another scenario was that of the erstwhile Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Aisha Jummai Alhassan popularly known as Mama Taraba who contested for the governorship seat in 2015. She contested under the auspices of the People Democratic Party, PDP but lost.
She was then appointed as the Minister of Women Affairs by President Mohammadu Buhari, All Progressive Congress, APC, in the same year. She resigned her position when she was accused of double standard by the party.
Sources said Mama Taraba had single handedly financed activities of the APC in the state; but her utterances last year in respect to her preference for ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar had made leaders of the party at the national level to be suspicious about her movements.
She has reportedly quit the APC and picked the United Democratic Party, UDP, nomination form to contest for the Taraba governorship seat.
Alhassan, who was disqualified from seeking the APC ticket, alleged that she was dropped by the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
However, the challenge women encounter as politicians cannot be over-emphasised. The more the women are joining the male-dominated world of Nigerian politics, the more it atmosphere become tougher and toxic.
Most of their opponents were men who felt they were better suited to the kitchen than the rough and tumble of national politics
Why women are dwindling
Recently, a member of Nigerian House of Representatives, Gudaji Kazaure, disagreed with the calls that women should be given more opportunity to participate in governance and political process in Nigeria.
Kazaure, while speaking at the plenary, said women would ‘mess up’ the country if they are given more opportunity in the country’s political set up. Kazaure, who is representing Kazaure/Roni/Gwiwa/Yankwashi constituency, Jigawa state said women are already in charge of the homes and should not aspire to rule the country.
Speaking on the challenges of women in politics, Mrs Toluwani Oyejo explained that, said that the reason women loose in politics is that, people already have opinion about them making it difficult to make headway.
Expressing his feeling, Oyejo lamented that, women hardly participate in politics because they are financially incapacitated to go into politics.
According to her, “This is more evident during elections as most women would not have enough money to spend on fliers,posters T-shirt and other things that will be needed for a successful election. “Another reason is that there are influential men also contesting for the same position as the women, and will do anything possible to win such position.
“A pathetic scenario is that most husbands are not always comfortable when their wives are actively involved in politics. So, they do not give the approval for their wives to go into politics. This usually discourage them from going into politics because they are scared of losing their marriage.
Women are often victims of rape, molestation, sexual harassment and other social vices. So why would they go into politics when they are aware of all these vices.
In her view, Mrs Biobele Adebule, Chapter President of the Women wing, Anglican Communion, Ibadan, Oyo state explained that, women are more pompous and arrogant when they are at the helms of affair. “It is time to stop all the pride, envy and hatred for women and we should support each other so that we can achieve our goals. There is nothing impossible with God.
In his opinion, Mr. Destiny Duru noted that women are always unfit to handle leadership positions especially when men are involved.
Mr. Segun Adubi also lamented that women are their own enemies. According to him, “Women do not support themselves in politics and that is why they cannot go far especially in Nigerian politics. He also said, women cannot play the rough and dirty game in Nigerian politics.
In his reaction, Mr. Segun Adubi further explained that most women according to research do not know how to set agenda for themselves. They do not know that it is important to understand the terrain before taking decision on a position. “Short time plan can mar your agenda therefore, it is important to start early”, he said.
On leadership, Mrs Adebule said, “If you want to be a leader, you have to act like one. Constantly downplaying your contributions shows you are reactive, not proactive. Always give credit where it’s due, and this includes crediting yourself too”, she said.
What are the implications for the future?
Some of the trends thwarting female candidates are unlikely to change anytime soon. Popular incumbents will continue to be difficult to unseat in reelection campaigns, and more than 95percent of the world’s incumbent leaders are men.
Speaking on what the future holds for the women, Princess Olashade Olabanji-Oba said, women have been relegated politically adding that power is not served a-la-carte.
“We need more women not just as mouthpiece nor for making noise but women that are passionately ready to serve and not be discouraged no matter how tough politics is in Nigeria. Women need to sacrifice for the future generation. Nigeria will be great and women must make sure they are part of its greatness,” she said.
According to her: “Women are built for the world to grow. And so, it is impossible for a nation to grow without identifying the role of women. When you build a woman, you are building the future of the nation,” she maintained.
While imploring women to occupy their rightful positions in politics, she noted that their active involvement would make male politicians to respect them. The princess charged women to ensure they raise their wards to be the best in the country, adding that only the best can influence the nation positively.