Women are key players in any election around the world and Nigeria in particular. They stay in the rain, under the sun to vote for the candidate of their choice; even go the extra mile of protecting their votes. Despite their impact, they are easily forgotten after elections.
In this interview with Ebunoluwa Sessou, Chief Executive Officer, Lagos International Trade Fair, Lucy Ajayi who is also a member of the All Progressives Congress National Committee Campaign to Edo election for Pastor Ize-Iyamu speaks on the need for women to be well protected by politicians during and after elections.
What is your take on the role of women in the Edo election?
Women are mobilizers from ward to ward and local government to local government. Their impact is immense especially as all gladiators are always on the ground to solicit their support in ensuring that they win the elections.
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Despite the role women play during elections, there are insinuations that their expectations are always cut short. Politicians easily forget their contributions after elections. Do you see this happening this time around and even in subsequent elections in Nigeria?
It is true that women seem to be forgotten when elections are over but I do not think anyone who wins an election should forget the role of women. Even the just concluded Edo election, women should be included in the masterplan of governance. There should be a change in the narrative.
Bringing the views and yearnings of the women should not be an issue as politicians should be true to their words. Women are key players when it comes to elections. Women are mobilizers, we mobilize the men, youths, and children, we tell them where to go and that is the gift God has given us to be able to persuade, encourage and make people do what we want them to do.
Empowerment is a big issue especially at this time when COVID-19 has taken its toll on everyone. Women are Wallowing in abject poverty and one wonders why they would be used as machinery and dumped by the wayside?
I am playing a role as a woman and also a politician elected by my party. I was appointed based on my contribution and involvement and that is what every woman should thrive to do. I do not expect everyone to be an active politician but within their community, their involvement should be impactful for people to notice them. No woman should be subjected to collecting envelopes in the name of election or politics. They should aspire to be different and get their rightful positions.
Contrary to your opinion, I do not think women are wallowing in abject poverty. The traders are making money and they are doing their business. I am a public servant and I have not been owed salary and I am a woman. Maybe the private sector is feeling the heat a little bit but I am sure that PMB has not owed anyone their salaries. We get our salaries on the 27th of the month.
I am helping my home through the salary paid by the Federal Government. There is no cabinet without a woman, and that is why I am encouraging women to step up their game. A trader who is not a round peg in a round hole will cause problems.
I set up a foundation to sensitise women on the need to empower themselves intellectually. You are a primary school drop-out yet you want to get a commissioner’s job. It will not work out. We are encouraging women to ensure their children are graduates so as to be relevant in governance perhaps get slots for their children.
For instance, a slot can be given to a market woman who has children that are graduates. It is not possible for everyone to be appointed but I believe women can be empowered to become a role model, thereby helping other women whose hopes are dashed.
There are thousands of women who have been compensated based on their achievement politically. If a woman has the credential, I am sure she will be given a role to play in the political sphere and governance. Unfortunately, most women seem to be satisfied with the envelope they give them during the campaign.
Secondly, Nigerians must ensure good governance and with good governance, there is no need to lobby for anything. If everything is going on well, you do not need anybody’s connection to get a job. In other countries, if you are qualified and you applied, you will get a job. You do not need to be a politician to be up there. We have female bankers, engineers and they are not politicians.
As women, we know that we will be held responsible for whatever comes up in Edo state and that is the same way people are holding me responsible for voting for PMB. So, I have every reason to explain the situation on the ground.
The election is over but the reality is that women might not be represented adequately in governance. How can this narrative be changed in Nigerian politics and Edo state in general?
I have always told everyone, not only women, to hold themselves in high esteem. There is a need to empower women in different ways. The market women have their own request as well as the technocrats who also want to be appointed in positions. We also have the men and until you get there, you do not start making promises.
Thank God that the election was without violence
For every Governor of a state, the first lady is a major factor. We want a first lady that will be with us. We are not ready to have a first lady that is not accessible for another four years. The Edo women need a first lady that is always on the ground on a daily basis; a first lady that would be in Edo State Government House on a daily basis. Edo’s first lady cannot be operating in Lagos.