Columns - Guest Contributors
The elections have been won and lost, leaving ample time for reckoning before the commencement of another era filled with hope,
anxiety, promises et al; a Goodluck Jonathan era of fulfillment of promise and accomplishments made to the expectant electorates who defied rain and shine and made the journey to the voting polls to affirm his presidency. What a sweet victory that must have been for Jonathan on the night he was declared the winner of the 2011 Presidential election. That being said, a trip down memory lane on how the elections were won, who made what possible and what promises were made to the people is necessary to determine the way forward. It would be recalled that President Jonathan had in his electioneering campaign promised to actualize the 35 per cent affirmation action on women - to increase the number and contribution of women to
It has been said that behind every successful man there is a woman and it is on record that behind this past election were the women. The First lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan through her pet project, Women for Change Initiative, mobilized women all across the country with the utmost duty of making their votes count, especially in a society where they are better seen and not heard. Women took up the challenge as an avenue for change especially when poverty level has quadrupled and devastated the entire country leaving the electorates with little or no hope of survival. Most families have lost their earning power due to incessant lay offs and gross unemployment. Surely, women came out in large numbers to cast their votes because they want a change. Statistics emanating from many states show that women accounted for over 55% of the electorates that voted at the last elections. Also it goes to show that women are tired of playing the proverbial second fiddle to men and are ready to face reality and hold their future in the palm of their hands.
This election has shown to a great extent that women can change the face of any nation. As mothers, it is the women’s responsibility to ensure that the family is kept together in spite of everything going on around them. Women want a change that affects families positively by creating employment opportunities, affordable medical care, security, good roads and ease of transportation, good schools and adequate power supply among others. They are tired of promises that are never fulfilled and white collar politicians who are only out to feed their deep pockets and milk our oil revenue once elected. By this election, women are saying together that “we matter” and this is the mandate Mr. Jonathan got when he was declared winner. Also, this past election has redefined and changed the political map of the country. It is no longer party loyalty as usual but candidacy as was previously done in the past.
The 2011 elections came with a lot of upsets along party lines and it seemed the populace went for change and got more than they bargained for. So far, women account for less than 3% of the total winners to both state and federal legislative seats. This of course begs a lot of questions; what does this mean? Will Jonathan actualize his promise to give the UN mandated 35% to women through appointments to various offices, or will he leave women behind after all the support he got from them? Will Mr. President allow sentiments and frivolities to rule him? Or will he take charge and rule by doing the right thing?
A lot of people condemn the idea of women asking to be given a chance to show their ability in governance. They say women should quit demanding but go and get it. This is achievable as long as there is an equal playing field without any form of hindrance. Removing barriers to gender equality, tackling gender-based issues and getting more women into political boardrooms, has a positive impact on the economy and on the development of the society at large. Fact is
These detractors are the reasons
The lucky winners are: Ngozi Nwogu from PDP representing Abia Central. She is a former Senate committee chairperson on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions. Ms. Nwogu supports Scholarships, Interest Free Micro-Credit and Skills Acquisition Schemes. Another is Helen Esuene also of the PDP. She is the wife of the former military governor of
Others include Nenadi Usman, a former Minister of Finance under Obasanjo regime and currently chairperson of the Coalition of N.G.O's for Women Development in Kaduna State, representing Kaduna South; Oluremi Tinubu of ACN and wife of ex Lagos State governor. Oluremi is representing Lagos Central. She is an advocate of rights and dignity of the poor, disadvantaged and most vulnerable members of the society; and lastly Aisha Jummai of PDP, was former Taraba State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. She represents Taraba North.
The lower house returned with women winning only 3 seats out of 89 positions up for grabs in the Federal House of Representatives. Uche Lilian Ekwunife represents Anambra Njikoka constituency, under APGA while Rafeesuat Arinola Onabamiro and Olajumoke Abidemi Okoya-Thomas won the
To begin to imagine that out of the millions of educated, intelligent, and professional women in the country only a few number made it to both the two most important law making houses of the country. This by implication means that issues and laws affecting women in general may not get the attention they deserve. Women are supposed to be the backbone of any nation. It is a known fact that women can do as well as men in every area of life. In government and business, women have demonstrated their ability to be highly efficient and effective leaders.
Globally, the world has recognized the leadership capabilities of women, such as Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of
Recently, there have been calls from diverse schools of thoughts from all over the country and beyond to Mr. Jonathan. They have one underlying message - the need to make his Presidency count. This message is to appoint a 50 – 50 ratio cabinet comprising of technocrats and politicians drawn from all across the globe. Mr. President must shun sycophancy and not base his criteria or restrict himself to old and familiar names but should strive to include as many God fearing, intelligent, honest, and hardworking professional women with integrity who are aware of the problems and ready to give their best to see a new and revitalized nation. By this, women will surely have a platform where they can contribute immensely, bring to the fore issues affecting the ordinary man and woman on the street, and proffer solutions without fear or intimidation. The President has a golden opportunity to break the 50 year old jinx supposedly put on the country’s governance by creating a legacy for his administration and make history. Likewise women are waiting to be partners in this history making administration. He has made several firsts already including the appointment of Diezani Allison-Madueke as the first woman Petroleum Minister in
Mr. Jonathan should borrow a leaf from the western world where women serve in various capacities of governance. In the
The mandate is in your hands, Jonathan. Good luck.