The much awaited list of President’s Buhari ministerial nominee has been submitted to the senate for screening and confirmation. Before the unveiling of the names of “the would be ministers”, there was so much suspense and speculation from Nigerians. What do you expect? Nigerians are becoming impatience and this government cannot afford to fail or dash the hopes of Nigeria, however, some people has often said the president is not a messiah, I quite agree, but to whom much is given, much is also expected. As a change agent of APC party, Nigerians are desirous of the “Change”, that rented the air prior to May 29th, 2015.
I, personally yearn to see “this change” affect every sphere of human life of the citizen in Nigeria, change in our morals behaviour, patriotism to our nation, co- habiting peacefully in any state we reside as Nigerians, irrespective of our tribe or religious affiliation and whatever, change in governance and decision making, change in our attitude toward the defence of the unity of Nigeria as done by our heroes past, upholding her honour and glory as we often say when we recite the national pledge.
Nigeria, a country of 178.5 million populations, [National Bureau of Statistics, 2014] comprising of diverse ethnic groups, religion, cultural beliefs, professions with 49.10% of her citizen being female [World bank Report 2013] of the 49.10%, we have intelligent, focus, patriot, woman who have/ will continue to make indelible mark in their calling, women configured by God to be “change agent in the world” why then is a significant percentage of the population of Nigeria still being marginalized in the decision making of her country, many reading this publication are of the notion that the writer is a feminist, when a woman voices out on the discrimination of a significant percentage of a particular gender in her country and of which she belongs, then you might be right or wrong to call her a feminist. No wonder, late Rebecca West, British author, journalist and literary critic of repute, once said “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what a feminist is ,I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.’, A lot of women has cried out recently on the low number of women in the President Muhammadu Buhari ‘s ministerial nominee sent to the senate President, Bukola Saraki, that just 3 of 21 names in the first list of the nominees are woman, an insignificant number, a ratio of 7:1, 14.28% of allotted ministerial nominee. The president in his inaugural speech on 29th May, 2015 had said he is a President to all Nigerians, I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.
The percentage of female population in Nigeria is 49.10% of Nigeria population, almost half of the population of Nigeria. Mr Gideon Zamani, a former speaker of the Kaduna state house of assembly had recently represented the SGF at the event, where he claimed that Mr. President was shy around women and that he did not intentionally marginalise women. Though Mr. Femi Adesina has refuted Mr. Zamani’s claim as erroneous and misleading. To say the truth the whole world is beaming its searchlight on Nigeria to confirm if Mr. Zamani’s claim is true or not. Worldwide, efforts to enhance women’s political participation have shown progress in the past two decades, since the UN Beijing conference on women in 1995, delegates called on governments to have women represent 30% of their governments.
A true democracy is characterized by the full and equal participation of women and men in the formulation and implementation of decisions in all spheres of public life. No country can call itself democratic if almost half of the population is given inconsequential fractions from the decision-making process. Moreover, the 1995 Beijing conference is not asking for too much, just 30% of women representation at all levels of governments.
A lot of measures are put in place by fast growing economies in the world that see woman as partners in progress in the decision making process of their country. Take the case of Rwanda also, 24 of the 80 seats in the chamber of deputies are reserved for women. Indeed, with 51 out of the 80 seats [64%] of seats held by women, Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians in the world. Just under 21 years ago, the country was in ruins, emerging from one of the worst genocides in modern history in which about one million Rwandans died. The genocide was as a result of a divisive and destructive culture that had pervaded the culture.[Watch Sometimes in April, for an in-depth understanding of the Rwanda genocide] In rebuilding of Rwanda, the country made a conscious decision to put inclusiveness and equality at the heart of the reconstruction process. The nation’s constitution put in place a quota for female representation in parliament and women were called upon to take up the demanding tasks of physical and social reconstruction of the nation, social healing, unity and reconciliation, repatriation of refugees, peace building in times of insurgence, justice and governance programs.
Rwandan women and men both rose to the challenge and woman proved themselves formidable partners in all aspects of the recovery of the nation. No noise was made and no eyebrows were raised, one thing was paramount in the minds of Rwandans and that is to heal the deep wounds from the aftermath of the genocide, a country that once saw such bloodshed is now seeing her economy growing fast, health service and schools are improving, and the country is now a safe haven or even the safest in Africa. All thanks to the joint effort of men and women. In Senegal, after its parity law was passed in 2010, a law that requires half the candidates for every elected position to be female. And because of the list system, it ensures, more or less, the governments will be balanced.
Take the national assembly, where the number of women deputies almost doubled in 2012. They now make up 61 out of 106 seats in the lower house, making 57.5 per cent.
In Nigeria, Female participation in decision-making (through the polls and by appointment] is still a far cry from Senegal, Seychelles and South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Uganda with women occupying over 35% of all parliamentary seats. Of the 360 seats of the lower chamber, only 24 are occupied by women in the just concluded 2015 National Assembly elections. Nigeria politics is presumed to be a man’s turf, where No Woman Need Apply, NWNA – an unspoken slogan reminiscent of the discrimination against Irish nationals in 19th century Britain. This unwritten rule is one that only a small percentage of the female population has defied.
At the January heads of state summit, the AU decided to throw its weight to fighting gender inequity cause, declaring 2015 as the “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.” It is the first time the AU has done so since its formation over a decade ago. While governments across the continent recognise the need to give women equal access to opportunities and services, and to this end have adopted gender policies like the AU Protocol on Women’s Rights, also known as the Maputo Protocol, alongside initiatives like the African Women’s Decade, to create an environment that enables the empowerment of women, Sub-Saharan Africa still has the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity, according to UNICEF. The policies are there, but implementation has proved challenging over the years.
CEDAW, The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women] a landmark Convention and the most important normative instrument that aims to achieve equal rights for women everywhere in the world and other international conventions that establish the universality of the principles of equality between men and women and makes provision for measures to be taken by States Parties to ensure equality of rights for women throughout the world. This convention provides for the adoption at the national level, of legislation prohibiting discrimination against women.
In China, the one child policy though already loosened, researchers are of the opinion that stigmatisation against daughters is fast disappearing even in rural areas. The value of women in China has actually been increasing as a consequence of one-child policy introduced in 1978 and enacted in 1979. Families with only one girl are supportive of their daughter, and invest heavily in her education and future.” Some Chinese families are recently aborting second sons in order to get a daughter, or preferring to have a daughter over a son.” This is to show that such countries are appreciate and value the female child and they also want their women to be part of the process of nation building. Why in this 21st century will Nigerian women dull her shine? Particularly in a government of “Change”, that saw women voters under the rain and sun coming out to cast their vote. Intelligent, patriotic, and proactive women abound in this country who are ready to contribute immensely in national development, the fact that one woman of the 49.10% is somewhere facing a corruption charge or money laundering allegation, does not mean there are still no proactive women.
With the female sex making almost 50% of Nigerian population, and which is inclusive of women of voting age, women representation at the level of decision making should translate from just being a statistic to fair representation of women in governance.. Mr. President, the whole world is beaming its searchlight on Nigeria, the Giant of Africa.
Oloninijo, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja