By Rabiyat Usman, Abuja:
Going down memory lane The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace was the name given for a conference convened by the United Nationxs between 4–15 September 1995 in Beijing, China. In this conference, it was advised that women should be given 35-45% in politics. The 1995 International Women’s Conference, held in Beijing, it was a significant turning point for women. The Conference ended with what is now referred to as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, unanimously adopted by 189 countries, including the developing nations of Africa. Nigeria was signatory to this historic agenda for women’s empowerment and gender equality. Before Beijing conference, women participation in politics especially in some part of Nigeria were moderated by religious belief and traditional institutions. Even with the affirmative action of 35% representation of women in political and non-elective positions in Nigeria, the number of women in the legislative houses is not encouraging as a result of the patriarchal dominance of the men in Nigeria.
Statistics has shown that in the elective positions in Nigeria since 1999, it is evident that women have not reached 10% representation. From 1999 till date, no woman has gone beyond the dramatic presidential party primaries in Nigeria. In 2011, Sarah Jubril contested for presidency in Nigeria under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) but she could hardly go beyond the primaries. It was an opportunity for the women folks, who constitute over 60percent of the voting population in Nigeria. She got only one vote which was hers despite the large number of women that turned out during the primaries but refused to vote for her even on sympathy bases.
For instance in the upper legislative Chamber out of the 109 senators elected only seven female members were elected while the House of Representatives with 360 members, had only seven female members i
n 1999, in the upper legislative Chamber out of the 109 senators elected only four female members were elected while the House of Representatives with 360 members, had only 23 female members in 2003, in the upper legislative Chamber out of the 109 senators elected only nine female members were elected while the House of Representatives with 360 members, had only 27 female members in 2007, in the upper legislative Chamber out of the 109 senators elected only seven female members were elected while the House of Representatives with 360 members, had only twenty 25 female members in 2011, in the upper legislative Chamber out of the 109 senators elected only seven female members were elected while the House of Representatives with 360 members, had only fourteen female members in 2015. Despite the awareness and series of attempt by the various political parties to raise the stake in women participation in politics, the casualty rate in subsequent election is neither here nor there. As it were, the number of serving female Ministers is still very few.
Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, who is presently the Minister of Women Affairs contested as a gubernatorial candidate in Taraba state and was defeated by Darius Dickson Ishaku in the 2015 election. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo was the first female Deputy governor in the history of Nigeria in Enugu precisely. With apology to El-Rufai, Dame Ngozi Etiaba was an accidental governor as she emerged from the ashes of the political imbroglio that almost consume the former governor of Anambra state Peter, the political fun fare that led to her emergence lasted for only three months and as soon as he won his case through the court, Etiaba stepped down to for Obi, who she was holding forth for pending the outcome of the case instituted at the Court .
Those against the implementation of the Beijing affirmative action which concedes certain percentage of political offices to women are neither here nor there.
Many are quick to point at those women who had been appointed by previous administration that failed the integrity test, but compared to the number of male politicians, standing trial in Nigeria since 1999, the ratio of women standing trial or jailed for corruption is 0 to 50.
What is the justification for the political marginalization of women in Nigeria? Women giving the opportunity in political offices could manage both human and financial resources, like the men folks as all women cannot be said to be corrupt.
Some notable women given political appointment who have made impact in the country’s political scene include, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala former minister of finance, who saved the nation records of billions of Naira as a result of her hardworking nature as a public officer. Mrs. Obi Ezekwesili also laid a land mark in the history of Nigeria politics. Late Prof. Dora Akunyili, the NAFDAC boss has also performed credibly; leading the fight against adulterated pharmaceutical drugs and food, the first in the annals history of Nigeria, Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance who has been working tooth and nail with her team to ensure we exit recession. Not leaving out the former minister of the of environment Amina J. Mohammed who has been called to be the current Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. There are numbers of women holding political offices who are contributing to nation building have done very well and are still performing excellently well.
The role of women in government cannot be over emphasized. Some are of the view that the nature of men is to perpetuate domination on women in all ramification. I do not mean to be bias but the Nigerian political system is traced clearly from the colonial time with the notion that there is male superiority in all ramification. History has shown that women roles in politics has contributed immensely to shaping Nigeria. It is also very wrong to ascribe political powers strictly to men in this era of globalization where the role of women in global politics is considered to be relevant in overall world peace, tranquility and mutual co-existence