By Emeka Obasi
Enough of our men, the next level should allow women to be part of the running of our country. Let me sound it clear to all, Nigeria owes so much to ladies. Nkiru Chidubem Onyejeocha, a fourth timer, should be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is time to recognize Nigerian women.
Nigeria was named by Flora Shaw. Our first national anthem came from Lilian Jean Williams. The music was composed by Francesca Benda.
Where are our women? I want to see Ankio Briggs. I am searching for Joe Okei-Odumakin. I need to hear from Aisha Yesufu. Our dear First Lady, Aisha Buhari, is bold and has a way of speaking out.
We are walking to the National Assembly to campaign for Nkiru. All those who marched against the most innocent Patricia Olubunmi Foluke Etteh, first female speaker of the House of Representatives, in 2007, have gathered again.
The poor woman had to resign following a gang up by some of her colleagues. She was accused of awarding contract to the tune of 628 million naira for the renovation of her official quarters even when the actual sum was less than 250,000 million naira.
A probe panel headed by David Idoko, was set up. Other members were Rabe Nasiru, Yakubu Dogara, Habeeb Fasinro, Sani Minjibir, Chinedu Eluemeunor, Depo Oyedokun and Peter Umoh.
There was The Integrity Group, led by Farouk Lawan. Prominent voices included Femi Gbajabiamila, Abike Dabiri,Mercy Almona-Isei, Samson Osagie, Obahiagbon ‘Igodomingodo’ and Salik Ahmed.
Etteh was pilloried. They said she was a hair dresser, with no qualifications. They said President Olusegun Obasanjo was her godfather. Some reminded her that ‘ete’, is Yoruba for leprosy even if in her in her husband’s tongue it meant man.
Her supporters did all they could to defend her. Itah Enang fought a good fight. Aminu Safana died on the floor of the House as he rose in defence of Madam Speaker.
Civil Society and labour, powered by ex-Nigeria Labour Congress president, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole stormed Abuja. They wore red bibs with ‘Etteh Must Go’ inscriptions.
The Oshun born woman had to resign after 146 turbulent days in office. She wept like a baby. Her deputy, Babangida Nguroje, also left. Their positions were taken by Dimeji Bankole and Usman Nafada, respectively.
And this woman was eventually cleared of the bad name they hung on her. She was shoved aside simply because she was female. Today, she is a lawyer, and is watching from a distance.
In 2011, another woman, Adeola Akande, was going to grab the position of speaker. Representing Ogbomosho North/South/ Orire Federal Constituency of Oyo State, some of her colleagues from the South-West worked against her.
Akande speaks Hausa, having been born and raised in Kaduna. She is a lawyer. Many of her male colleagues from the North and South voted for her opponent, Aminu Tambuwal.
This time, the women should not allow our men to kill their dream. The president is a man. The Vice President is male. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is a he. The next Senate president will be another man. Women should fight for a female Speaker.
Women are speakers in other climes. In the United States, there is Nancy Pelosi who has been in the House since 1987. This is her 17th term. She is the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives having first served from 2007 to 2011.
Former president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is the country’s Speaker. In Spain, they have Ana Pastor Julian. In the Netherlands, there is Khadija Arib. Chileans have Maya Fernandez Allende.
Speaker of the Indian Parliament is Sumitra Mahajan. In Belize, we hear of Laura Tucker Longsworth just as Bridgit Annisette-George presides in Trinidad and Tobago. Bolivians look up to Gabriela Viana.
Closer home in Africa, Baleka Mbete is the Speaker of the South African parliament. She first served from 2004 to 2008 and returned in 2014. In the same country, Irene Ginwala, was speaker for almost a decade, 1994 to 2004. They also had Gwen Mahlangu Nkabinde between 2008 and 2009.
In Rwanda, Donatille Mukabalisa, has held sway since 2013.Note that she took over from another woman, Rose Mukantabana.
The United Kingdom had a first female speaker, House of Commons in 1992. Nations like Bahrain, Pakistan, Syria, Japan, Australia, Italy, Canada, Germany and Jamaica have also presented female speakers.
Nkiru Onyejeocha is going to the House of Representatives for the fourth time. She represents Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State. To understand what she went through, this woman needs to be rewarded.
Abia is controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party[PDP]. Onyejeocha left the party for the All Progressives Congress[APC]. She stood her ground, battled the men and won.
Some bigwigs who crossed over to the APC from PDP and enjoyed federal might were floored like babies. Onyejeocha put up a good show and emerged from the battle field fully decorated. Her party, APC, must recognize this fact.
I want Mrs Buhari to fight. We are tired of our men. They have been so disappointing. Our girls and women are doing great all over the world. The first black Mayor in the UK, was Juliet Olufunmilayo Adegoke.
Wendy Okolo, just bagged a PhD in Aircraft Engineering. She is the first black woman to go that far. In 2018, the quartet of Jessica Osita, Adaeze Onuigbo, Promise Nnalue and Nwabuaku Ossai, students of Regina Pacies Secondary School, Onitsha won gold at the World Technovation Challenge, in the United States.
Our women must stand up now and join this battle. Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, Janet Mokelu and Margaret Ekpo were in parliament long before many men became politicians.
As far back as 1954, Adunni Oluwole, had set up the Nigeria Commoners Liberal Party. Mrs Beatrice Kerry was a senator when some presidents were in the college.
Our men are ‘wicked.’ The first female speaker in Nigeria, Margaret Icheen, of Benue State, 1999, was shut out.
Women, this is your chance. It is your turn. Nkiru Onyejeocha, former Commissioner, ex-LG boss and multiple degree holder is ready to serve.