February 28, 2024

WOMEN AND POLITICS

 

Introduction

In the same vein as we found in the nature, in the dew that comes in the morning, in the sun that sets in the that afternoon, in the flowers with their diverse scents, in the stars that adorn the sky, in the fruits with their diverse taste, colour, and shapes; so also we find unquantifiable and invaluable beauty, happiness, prospects and developmental skills in the Nigerian women. However, this chain of advancement and developmental strides in political and socio-cultural development are being hindered by a series of challenges that are products of unstable economic, inhumane policies and lack of consideration from the fleawort male politicians.

The Nigerian Women

Nigerian women right from the time immemorial has been known not only to be good mothers but also tireless and relentless partners in community building, restoration of hopes in the lives of hopeless ones and peace and conflict resolution. Several historical backgrounds can be used as epiphany in analyzing the valiant and evil-daring actions of the Aba women in fighting the oppressors on their land in 1929. More so, history will forever has a section that occupies the political impacts of the fearless Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti who unilaterally formed Federation of Nigerian Women’s Society and used it as a platform to successfully fight several harsh policies of the local and regional governments that are aimed at extorting the market women, limiting girl child’s education and promoting slavery. What about the rugged and dogged Queen Aminat of Zaria, Margret Ekpo – the women’s right activist and political mobilizer of the First Republic- and Queen Moremi – the hero of Ile-Ife. Even in the recent times, the brilliance of Late Professor Dora Akunyili in battling the menace substandard drugs and food items during her reign as the Director General of National Agency for Food Administration and Drug Control (NAFDAC) and her stellar performance as the Honourable minster of Information –where she coined the our slogan “Good people, Great nation” – would forever remain green in the history of this country. The above women and many others have shown how active, brilliant, committed and dedicated women can be if given the leeway to exhibit the valiance and competency that reside in them.

Problems faced by Nigerian women in Politics.

The problems facing Nigerian women in politics are highly technical, tactical and at the same time multifaceted. Some of these encumbrances are caused by their egocentric male colleagues who are either being driven by political, ethnic or religious sentiments. Although, the present and some recently passed women in political did not help the situation by creating bad impression about the female leaders but truth be told, it should not be generalized. Among the said problems are;

  • Government policies: inconsistencies and non-continuity of government policies are creating filthy environment for the women in politics and thus hamper their advancement. Example of this is the 35% participation in politics which has never been implemented –may be due to absence of legal backing
  • Nigerian politics is not only a game for the wealth people – and women are somehow poor – but also characterized with thuggery, night meeting in private homes, violence, conspiracy, rigging and even sometimes, death by assassination. This makes the political atmosphere to be filthy and unconducive for the kind-hearted creatures –women.
  • Religious and cultural beliefs are also retarding the participation of women in politics. Islamic and Yoruba beliefs do not allow women to lead in any organization that has their male counterparts. The recent callous approach of the Nigerian Senate in thwarting the ‘Gender equality bill’ sponsored by Senator Olubunmi from Ekiti state on the basis of religious and cultural beliefs is a clear manifestation of this. During the battle of Al-Jamal, when the prophet heard that the people of Persia have made the daughter of Khosarau their Queen, he reportedly said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler” (Buhari 9:219). Even in Christian belief, the injunction of Apostle Paul that ”Let the woman learn in silence with all subjections. But I suffer a woman teach, nor to usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (Timothy 2:11-14), has been widely interpreted in diverse ways and often used as a tool to relegate the women.
  • Discrimination against the women does not only discourage these talented and skillful minds but also limits their chances of advancement. The egocentric male in the society do tend to domesticate the right to decide and lead. This out rightly contravene the provision of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria under section 42 which protects all her citizen from discrimination.
  • Lack of education, sexual abuse and early marriage: the Emir of Kano, Mallam Lamido Sanusi on Thursday, 19th January, 2017 publicly asked the northerners to desist from building more mosques and instead educate girl children. He said that 50% of girl children between age 18 to 22 are illiterate and 70% of them have been given off for marriage (Punch).
  • Furthermore, ineffective judicial system is also a major threat to the advancement of women in politics and nation building. It is highly sardonic and heartbroken to see that Nigerian courts lack judgment own to the corruption of the benchers. Courts that supposed to be the last hope for the common man is now an auction market where highest bidders won. This keeps the persecution, rapping and violence against women on increase on daily basis, because the offenders are not given strict incarceration.
  • More so, ostentation and avarice of the recent in politics does nothing to the next generation of female leaders rather than hampering and limiting their chances of political advancement. The unprecedented skill demonstrated in siphoning the public treasury and corruptly enriching themselves has become so worrisome to several intellectuals and making them to be skeptical in enthroning a woman into the corridor of power. More so, a , a chunk percentage of ‘career women’ find it so difficult to strike a balance between matrimonial assignments and political life. This, to my best of understanding can be referred to as self-inflicted problem.
  • Finally, the security challenge in the country is also a menace to the advancement of the women in politics. Women are vulnerable and this is why the terrorists in the country target places like schools, market centres and religious places. The ineffectiveness of the police is also not helping the matter.

Panacea

Having highlighted problems of this magnitude, it will extremely unethical not to poffer solutions to them. Starting from the security challenges, at this point, we will have to agree with Anifowoshe (2014) who said “the current strength of 357,000 police is grossly below the United Nations benchmark of one police to 400 civilians”. A wholesome review of our security system is needed order to curb the incessant attacks on our women who are one of the great assets the country has in her disposal. Let the women initiate a security forum for the rights of women and fight for its incorporation into the Nigerian security system this will go a long way in addressing the security menace against women. More so, Abraham Maslow said “what is necessary to change in person is to change his awareness of himself”. The overbearing attitude and religious excess of Nigerians need an urgent attention. We don’t have to rely on feeble excuses and unproven narrations to hinder the progress of our nation. Neither of the two Holy Books conspicuously expressed that women should not hold any leadership positions. Pakistan and Bangladesh have produced one and two female Prime Ministers respectively. This is an evidence of how women contribute to leadership and nation building in the Islamic states. Needless to mention how women are taking leadership roles in European countries where Christianity originated.

Furthermore, affirmation of 35% action for women in politics as contained in the National Gender Policy. According to 2006 census, women constitute 52% of the Nigerian population and yet they cannot secure 35% of the leadership role. The best way to make this realistic is to legislate it. Women should rise up for this.

Moreover, any existing law, customs, traditions, beliefs and regulations that preach discrimination against should be rendered useless and outlawed by a strong legislation that will protect the right of women.

Finally, diversification of economy to help eradicate the poverty that women are wallowing in. the real diversification –not by mouth- needs to be done. School of entrepreneurial is urgently needed in Nigeria to help the female students to be financially buoyant. This will make them shun sugar daddies, temptations and other social vices that can lead them astray.

Prospect

It is crystal clear that Nigerian women are one of the great assets this country parades. If fully allowed to take leadership role, their sagacity, acumen, caring heart, wide thinking horizons and motherly nature will go a long way in ameliorating the ugly situation inflicted on us by the brawny and fleawort politicians in the helms of our affairs.

Conclusion

I believe that it is time for every organization, government at all levels to start appreciating the significant and integral contribution towards the nation building in the past and also believe that the present women have more brilliance and competency residing in them. Activation of these will go a long way in ameliorating and alleviating the leadership crisis that has engulfed our nation.

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