Saturday, June 25, 2022
MARKET UPDATE
Advertisement

TheCable

2023 elections: When will an all-men Nigerian association endorse female aspirants?

2023 elections: When will an all-men Nigerian association endorse female aspirants?
March 26
14:00 2022

BY BRAHEEMA THOMPSON

Want to see drama? Take an interest in Nigeria’s elections. From seemingly true-intentioned motives to the ‘aspire to perspire’ speeches and the comical jumps across party lines, election season is an interesting period here. Never mind that it is a country where four in ten persons live on less than $2 a day (according to the World Bank).

From consortiums to amalgamations, associations, progressives, ‘Hang Out’ (whatever that means), and movements, groups of all sorts appear to have suddenly emerged from a four-year limbo as the country sails into the 2023 elections.

Several women groups and youth associations have conducted visits to aspirants and, in some cases, held ‘world press conferences’ (one hopes at least 20 of the 195 countries worldwide will suspend their immediate concerns and show interest) to declare support for aspirants – whether the person in question has expressed interest or not.

Advertisement

However, wouldn’t it be stating the obvious to think that in many cases, this is some tactic by aspirants to test the popularity river with their fingers to determine if it’s safe enough to enter with the legs?

More interesting over the recent months has been the sudden outpouring of goodwill by these groups asking to purchase nomination and expression of interest forms for politicians, some of whom are millionaires – and even billionaires. From Bola Tinubu to Atiku Abubakar, Ahmadu Fintiri Aminu Tambuwal, Pius Anyim, Bukola Saraki, Orji Uzor Kalu, Bala Mohammed – notice that no woman comes to mind in this league – forms have been bought and in some cases, there are standing offers to buy.

Even for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who hasn’t declared if he will contest or not, a coalition of “180 groups” has offered to buy the forms for him. Interesting times indeed! Let’s not forget that generous proposal by a ‘Middle Belt group’ for former President Goodluck Jonathan — the Bayelsa native hasn’t even shown the slightest interest in contesting.

Advertisement

In all these, there have been women groups dancing their way into the offices and homes of aspirants, and it has been quite rare to find a group consisting of strictly men declaring support for a female candidate by purchasing the nomination and expression of interest forms for her.

Is one all-male group too much to ask for within this context considering how much support women have given within and outside the corridors of governance? There are tens of women associations – governors’ wives, army officers’ wives, defence and police oficers’ wives. There is even the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO). Should we assume there will soon be a Committee of Husbands of Lagos State Officials (COHLSO)? Go ahead and laugh! It’s 2022.

Beyond the quest for support from men, 21 years into Nigeria’s 21st Century, it would be assumed that there would at least be a rich representation of female chairpersons of major political parties at state level, and a good running even at the national level. But that is currently a pipe dream. Beyond the woman leader position (if you allow some parties, they will let men take this too), there really isn’t much in terms of significant representation of women where it really matters in decision making.

And it isn’t that women don’t have the numbers to match the required votes. In 2019, the number of registered female voters was around 47%. Add to this figure the men who see competence beyond gender, and the number could climb to above 65 percent. So, it isn’t that it’s impossible; it appears that many women interested in politics – whether as aspirants or supporters – are still caught within boxed confines.

Advertisement

2023 election deadlines are months away and however insignificant the effort, there is still time for women to rewrite the current narrative. One would have thought the APC women’s conference in January 2022 was a good launching pad. But from current indications with the party’s convention holding today, are women really ready?

Beyond protests and threats to boycott elections, which too many times end with another cycle of dancing for men at campaign grounds, more women need to show interest in contesting. Also, since we can’t all be at the decision-making table, those in observer/supporter positions should be ready to step out too. However, for women intending to contest, politics is a call to real service and not for showing up when it’s time to take sides over slap contests.

Many men have long taken their political stance and anything seemingly new at this time is lip service to get elected. Hopefully, 2023 will see women go beyond clapping, singing and dancing away prized votes offered cheaply to male candidates – some of whom have shown repeatedly that they have nothing to offer – to participating where it really matters – at the seat of governance.

The picture of what would have happened with the gender bills if women had good representation at the national assembly is a wake-up call for women to take matters into our hands.

Advertisement

To borrow from Rotimi Akeredolu’s #IWD2022 message on the gender bills and in the spirit of March which is a special month for us, it’s time for women to ‘stand gidigba’ with women.

Braheema, a social commentator, writes from Lagos

Advertisement

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment