Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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By end of next week, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should be able to publish authenticated list of all vying for elections in all 36 states of the federation plus Abuja, the federal capital territory for all the political parties and for all posts – from the state houses of assembly through the national assembly to the presidency. One thing appears likely though –the number of elected women would be short of feminists’ expectation, at least short of the often mouthed 35 per cent affirmative action. The United Nation’s Affirmative Action basically requires that some 35 per cent of all posts should go to women. It is not a open cheque though, that is, it is not automatic. It requires that women put their best foot forward to fill up any reserved position, not an all comers affair as many would desire.
In this connection the allegation of Chima Anyaso presumed winner of the PDP primary election for Bende federal constituency, Abia State that the party was being pressurized to concede the ticket to his female competitor all in the name of affirmative action is unfortunate. NNenna Elendu-Ukeje the present occupant of the seat was gunning for a fourth term, having spent some 12 years in the House of Representatives. If we accuse men of perpetrating a sit-tight syndrome, we (women) should be able to show a better example, to show that politics for us women is not a ‘do or die’ affair and that our motto is ‘live and let live’, to subjugate our self interest for the greater good. Having been in the National Assembly for 12 years Elendu-Ukeje should have bowed out when the ovation was loudest and allowed other zones in her federal constituency to also have a chance of going to Abuja. At best she and her supporters should have been readying a worthy female successor to take over from her if they were really that fixated about the much bandied affirmative action. After having initially accepted defeat, Elendu-Ukeje recanted, reportedly saying that she was threatened with a gun to concede. Whatever it is, Nnenna should honourably let go rather than entering into a ‘roforofo’ fight with her opponents which is dishonourable for a woman.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of the president is not a professional politician but surrounded by politicians, she cannot help being interested and be engaged in the politicking around her by way of voicing her candid opinions. In this she seemingly cannot be gagged, not even by her husband, President Buhari , in a seemingly patriarchal society as ours, where women are to be seen, not heard. Remember her outburst sometime ago that many of those being appointed by Mr. President were those who were not with them on the tough campaign train. She then threatened that she may not campaign for her husband in 2019 if things did not change. This led to the famous quote from the president to the effect that he does not know her wife to be a politician and that all he knows is that his wife ‘belongs to the kitchen and the other room’.
Now Mrs. Buhari has thrown another bombshell, accusing her husband’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party of impunity. This came barely a day after her husband had been confirmed as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections Given that her husband is the party’s leader, does it follow logically, that she is also accusing Mr. President of impunity? This is what the First Lady said in black and white: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously yet found their names omitted on Election Day, these forms were bought at exorbitant prices. Many others contested and yet had their result delayed, fully knowing that automatic tickets have been given to other people. All Progressives Congress being a party whose cardinal principle is change and headed by a comrade/activist whose main concern is for the common man, yet such impunity could take place under its watch. Given this development one will not hesitate than dissociate from such unfairness, be neutral and speak for the voiceless. It is important for the populace to rise against impunity and for voters to demand from aspirants to be committed to the provision of basic amenities. Let us vote wisely!!!!”
The last sentence is telling. Is Madam First Lady implying that all candidates of her husband’s party should not be voted for automatically, that voters should reject some APC candidates? I thought all party supporters including Madam Buhari who is President Buhari’s second half, are expected to line up behind APC candidates. It is called party loyalty is it not? Is to do otherwise not to betray your party? Some are attributing Mrs. Buhari’s outbursts to the concern that her brother did not win the Adamawa State APC governorship ticket. Whatever it is, Madam First Lady did not act in a honourable, edifying womanly way in publicly lampooning her party, the ruling party of which her husband is the leader. She could have lobbied and convinced her husband, Mr. President behind closed doors at home on her concerns and for whatever she wants politically.
Nasarawa State House of Assembly is still waiting for its first female member ever, since its creation. One had thought that Hajia Dongoyaro, former special adviser contesting for the Nasarawa-Toto constituency would make it, especially as she posed in a photograph with the governor, displaying her nomination form, giving the impression that he supported her aspiration. One thought that the Governor Tanko Al-makura would thus use his influence to get Hajia through just as he did it for his anointed governorship candidate Abdullahi Audu Sule.
The highest-ranked female politician in Nasarawa State is Senator Patricia Akwashiki who took over from Labaran Maku as information minister under the Jonathan administration. She campaigned for gubernatorial seat under the PDP. But on the day of the PDP primary election as I gathered, she was bamboozled by elders, traditional chiefs et al from her local government area of Nasarawa Eggon to step down for another famous eggon man, Solomon Ewuga. They reportedly said that they cannot “bow down” to a woman as governor. Interestingly, the much-hyped Ewuga lost the primaries to another Eggon person, a younger person, David Umbugadu who is now PDP’s standard bearer for the governorship race in Nasarawa State.