An Elder woman prays for now former Kano State Commissioner of Police, congratulating him for his bravery during the March 9 election
Even though at the early stages of the history of Nigeria women played active roles that got the British colonial masters to commit to changes in their governance style and eventually led the presence of women like Chief Mrs Oluremi Ransome Kuti, Chief Margaret Ekpo, Hon Janet Mokelu, Hajia Sawamba, etc., on the political map and discussions on Nigeria’s pre and post- colonial days. Unfortunately, long military rule spanning over 30 years washed off the gains from the acts of these pre-independence women and gradually turned the strong ability of the community women to question authority and thus reducing women to bystanders good only for mobilsation to colour campaigns with exotic uniforms and head gears but very removed from the nitty gritty of politics and the gains of playing within the political fold, a place in the elected and appointive offices.
Thus though the representation of women inparliament, executive and appointive positions in government in Africancountries is positively responding to the UN stated 35 per cent AffirmativeAction yarget, in Nigeria the record falls wy behind the bar. While countrieslike Rwanda have surpassed the 35 per cent mark, Uganda , Ghana.., Ethiopia late last year, appointeda woman s prime minster wit the president promising to appoint women as 50 percent of his cabinet whereas Nigeria has an all time low less than six per centrepresentation in a country where more than half of the population are women.Niger’s current population is put at between 180 and 195 million. Nigeria onlycame close to the 35 affirmative action mark under the Goodluck Jonathanadministration which had 13 female minsters from a total of 42 representing 31per cent; six female special advisers from 18, representing 33.3 per cent in executive positions. Women in electivepositions stood at…
Beyond that, female presence has been experiencing afall with six ministers under the Buhari administration, in the National Assembly a… This hasfurther translated into less visibility for women down the states except forCross Rivers State which has achieved gender parity in its make-up. With these, female presence in the Nigerianpolity has become one of to become the voiceless majority.
However, as the country goes through a turmoilthanks to a shabbily executed electoral system resulting in wanton display of impunity marked by ballot snatch andkillingsby both thugs and security agencies eager to manipulate the electoral outcome,the hiding warriors of Aba women riot have resurrected. Tey are manifesting indifferent forms lending weight to the strong conviction of the United Nationthat women can help ring about sustainable peace in the affairs of man.
Let us begin by establishing the impeccable faith ofwomen in rule of law and democracy best exemplified by their ever massivepresence at every election except where sent in by violence. Old or infirm,they are always at the pooling units to cast their votes. On March 9, 2019, anexpectant mother who did not want her vote not to count came out to vote inPort Harcourt, Rivers State during the governorship/ House of Assemblyelections and her baby chose to make an entrance into the world right on thatspot. Fellow mothers at the voting center gallantly cordoned her off with theirwrappers and bid the curious baby welcome,
In Enugu state, a woman came with her mat to voteand lie in wait for her vote to be counted at the February 23 presidential andNational Assembly elections. For the March 9 governorship and state Assemblyelections, aware that INEC takes long to decide on election outcome but stilldetermined to watch over her votes, she came with a game, Worth, to while awaythe time. Commitment to ensuring the right thing is done.
Then, Okrika women whose sons, fathers, husbands andbrothers have become victims of electoral madness engineered by the military,gallantly rose to save lives and end impunity of appointed protectors turnedoppressors. Rather than have their youths rise up in anger against themarauding ballot box snatchers in military gear, these women formed a barricadearound the boxes and even grabbed one unfortunate abuser by the leg. With that they saved the ballot boxes andtheir men on March 9, 2019. Remember that Abonnema lost many lives to these securityagents on February 23 and the Okrika women did not want more deaths.
In Kano, the women having watched carefullyon-goings around the election in the state on March 9 wherein the commissionerof Police in the state exhibited gallantry and genuine love for Nigeria thrneddown the offer to tamper with the electoral outcome with a whooping N100millionbribe, gathered themselves together to commend him and pour out heartfeltblessings on him for helping promote real democracy in the state. He has sincebeen redeployed but his blessings from mothers in the state can only but bemultiplied.
And as INEC continues to dillydally over obviouswins in other states y the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Sokoto state womenhave trooped to the street demanding the declaration of former National Houseof Representatives speaker, AminuTambual as the winner, stressing that he isthe candidate they cast their votes for.
More actions are coming up. Recall thatKalabari/Ijaw women had earlier condemned the militarization of the RiversState including Abonnema where 16 people were killed y men in army uniform.
The sum total of these actions is that women are nolonger taking the back seat knowing that in the aftermath of wrong moves bysociety leaders, they will bear the brunt. They are positioning to come in andhelp an already sinking nation and the best thing government, INEC, thesecurity forces and community leaders can do is, give them needed opportunityto play this role well and help re-direct the country for a peaceful, wellprogrammed and executed country will be the pride of all. That too will be partof this year’s International Women’s Daytheme, ‘Balancing for Better Progress’.
ConstanceMeju is the publisher of the Port Harcourt based National Point Newspaper and committed women’s and children’s rightadvocate.
#GenderAccountability and Transparency Advocacy