Government Appointments: Nigerian Women Still Waiting In The Sidelines
HAVING long clamoured for the bridging of the gap that had been apparent in elective positions and appointments, between men and women in the past, Nigerian women were exhilarated at the increase in the number of women included in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.
With the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan in the vanguard, stoutly championing their cause, Nigerian women had never had it so good, though it was actually President Olusegun Obasanjo that set the tone for it.
Expectedly, women are already feeling uneasy over the fact that President Buhari is yet to appoint a woman to any substantive post in his administration, even though he is far from being done. But unsure of what ace the President has up his sleeve in this regard, women are expressing their feelings.
Osayi Alile, Chairperson, Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ)
‘President Buhari Is taking Time To Appoint, Credible, Intelligent And Hard Working Nigerian Women’
TODAY’S world is perpetually changing and favouring greater women representation. Nigeria cannot afford to be different. As a continent, Africa is rising and striving to give women a better deal than ever before, a clear indication that Africa is interested in good governance. Nigerian women want change and progress.
For a long time in our nation’s history, Nigerian women have been marginalised and kept behind the scene. They have been discriminated against and prevented from taking centre stage. The first administration to ever give Nigerian women a good chance was that of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. President Jonathan came and surpassed what Obasanjo did by giving women about 35 per cent representation in elective positions.
I want to believe that President Buhari is able to give the good representation that women are yearning for, which means 50 per cent representation at all levels of our national life. We want to believe that the president is taking his time to appoint credible, intelligent and hard working Nigerian women, who will give responsible leadership and deliver the goods.
There are countless qualified Nigerian women that can be appointed to form a responsible and responsive government that will listen to their demands and grant their expectations. We need such women, most especially, in all issues that concern them.
Dr. Lydia Umar, Executive Director, Gender Awareness Trust (GAT)
‘The World Is Waiting To See What President Buhari Will Do For Nigerian Women’
STATISTICS have it that women make up about 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population. So, it only stands to reason that
women should be given more recognition in government. That women are not enjoying these positions is not for a lack of education, exposure or knowledge. In general terms, women have been applauded as more hardworking and conscientious than their male counterparts.
Nigerian women have truly come of age. Good governance is about the people. The nation today is at the point, where Nigerian women want nothing short of 50 per cent representation in this administration. What we want is 50 per cent representation at all levels of government and we know that it is possible to get it now. Women are more enlightened and aware of their rights and privileges, and I don’t see them settling for less. That is why we need key women in the president’s cabinet.
It is, however, the President’s responsibility to decide on the portfolios. The world is eagerly watching Nigeria to see whether the president will keep to the promise made by his party. They are watching to see what president Buhari will do for women. They are watching to see what he will do with Nigerians. The challenge before Buhari and, indeed, the APC is for them to keep to their promises, if they want to continue to enjoy Nigerian women’s support. Nigerian women are not asking for the impossible, because it is world standard. What we are asking for is what Nigeria is a signatory to.
Ordinarily, Nigerian women should not settle for less given the good deal they enjoyed under Jonathan. So much was achieved on women development then. President Jonathan empowered women and all of them did very well. President Jonathan was a promise keeper. He said he would deliver on all the promises he made to Nigerian women and he did. Nigerians are closely watching President Buhari to see if he will disregard women and rob them of their legitimate right to leadership. Or whether he will lend a responsive ear to their agitations.
Halima Usman, Author, Poet
‘President Buhari Should Surpass The Tempo Of Greater Women Involvement Set By President Jonathan’
THE composition of the Government of the Federation as laid down in the constitution is to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, as well as command national loyalty. What Nigerian women are canvassing for is the involvement of quality women in the running of strategic cabinet level positions. The challenge before President Buhari is for him to maintain the tempo of greater involvement of women in strategic cabinet level positions, as institutionalised by the last Jonathan led government or to possibly surpass it. Appointing more quality and corrupt-free women into the Federal cabinet would ensure gender parity and proper gender mainstreaming into the governance of Nigeria at the highest levels.
As far back as year 2011, the World Bank statistically projected that Nigerian women constitute nearly 49.36 percent of the entire population. From our extensive findings, we are aware that Nigeria is blessed with top quality intellectually vibrant women, who can competently and professionally pilot the affairs of vital federal ministries and agencies, as the abundance of empirical evidence has shown. We, therefore, urge President Buhari to write his name in gold, as one of the respected liberators of Nigerian women by equitably allotting high calibre cabinet level appointments to women, who are critical elements in the development of any nation.
Tracy Marshall-Uwom, Businesswoman, Jeweler
‘Nigerian Women Demonstrated They Have What It Takes To Perform Excellently In The Last Dispensation’
UP until now, a lot of interest was shown when it comes to issues affecting Nigerian women. Now, a lot of Nigerian women came out to vote and what we have seen so far outweighs our expectations. It is disturbing that despite APC’s gender friendly stance, no appointment has gone to women. The only one that the president appointed was rejected. The question now is, what is happening? Why haven’t we heard about any woman being appointed? Why is it taking so long? Has the president forgotten women so quickly?
Nigerian women have shown commitment and ability. The fact that they’ve got what it takes to lead was exhibited given their performance in the last dispensation. It appears that women are being marginalised or sidelined in the ongoing appointments. We really need to know what is going on. Nigerian women are looking, they re watching. The truth is that women are not expecting anything below expectation, considering what happened in the last few years, else they would not have turned out the way we did.
Titilayo Jimoh, Managing Director, Hadeart Petroleum, Independent Oil and Gas Marketer
‘It Would Be Unfair To Nigerian Women To Descend From The High Level Set By Jonathan’
THE question is: Are we saying that no Nigerian woman is good enough to occupy the portfolios given to the men? So much has gone to the men already. Nigerian women know how much things changed when Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of President Jonathan took the centre stage, leading a crusade for a better deal for Nigerian women. It would be unfair, therefore if we leave that level of success and progress and go down to a zero level for women.
Under Jonathan, women did not only celebrate 35 per cent Affirmative Action, but women occupying offices hitherto regarded as the exclusive preserve of men. And this is why we are insisting on a better deal for women. What women want is support to enable them realise their God-given potentials and their life’s goals as women.
There is no better time than now to give women what they really deserve— the key portfolios upon which to serve their motherland. They have paid the supreme prize for this democracy.
Ada Agina-Ude, Executive Director, Gender and Development Action (GADA)
‘Empowering Women Has Become Key Element In Any Economy’s Development’
NOW that appointments are being made, nobody is thinking of women. I hope we are not forgetting that women came out en- masse for the election. They came out in the rain; sun and cold weather to register, perform their civic duty. So, now is the time to encourage them by lending ear to their agitations.
Before now, Nigerian women were asking for 50 per cent Affirmative Action, in appointive positions. But now, they haven’t been given even one single appointment. The only one that was made was faulted and is yet to be resolved. With the look of things, its like women cannot even get what they got under President Jonathan. It’s like they would be proven wrong in their expectations. The notion that APC has a gender friendly stance is being put to test here. Meeting the demands will go a long way to reassure Nigerian women that they did not vote in error.
So far, President Buhari’s body language is not encouraging women to look forward with expectation that their yearnings will be met. And all that is being done so far does not suggest that he has any serious plan for the inclusion of women in this government. Somebody needs to talk to the president. Somebody needs to remind APC that women deserved a good representation.
Firstly, on the platform of merit; secondly, on the platform of massive participation and support of APC at the last polls; and thirdly, on the basis of what the constitution says and the federal character provision.
Therefore, now is the time for President Buhari to remember that empowering women has become the key element in the development of any economy; hence, it has become a global agenda. It is the President’s duty to empower women and build confidence in their ability to give their best to the nation. This makes good economic and political sense and represents the greatest potential for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
Barrister Ebere Ifendu, President, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF)
‘President Buhari’s Administration Is Gender Insensitive’
WE believe that President Buhari’s action is unjustifiable, as it portrays an administration with gender insensitivity in its pattern of political appointments, despite the promises made during campaigns and the National Gender Policy (NGP), which stipulated 35 per cent Affirmative Action.
Before President Buhari’s inauguration, WIPF had protested the deliberate marginalisation of women in the constitution of his 19-member Transition Committee, which included only two women in the persons of Nike Aboderin and Bola Adesola, despite women constituting 50 per cent of the nation’s population. We find this trend to be not only repugnant, but a gross abuse of the fundamental rights of the womenfolk in our country.
Experience has shown that this government is focused on its policy of perpetual marginalisation of women. How else can we explain a situation, where apart from the nomination of a woman as the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), no other woman has made the list of present appointees of the President?
We call on APC leaders to note that their collective record on women is poor— with a dismal three out of eight women in the Senate and five out of 17 in the House and the numbers in the State Assemblies is even more discouraging. It is only with appointments that this anomaly can be addressed and the APC can make good its promises to Nigerians in its manifesto.
Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research And Documentation Centre (WARDC)
‘President Buhari Should Be Sensitive To Gender Issues’
WE all know that up till now, no woman has made it into President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, expect for the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commission (INEC) boss, who is in acting capacity. Of course, she got there by merit and so Buhari has not done anything for women. We are still watching, but then if you consider some of the encounters he had with women, he made a lot of promises and part of these was that he would appoint women in his cabinet. This he said during his meeting with a group of women in Lagos, when he agreed to promote gender equality as part of his campaign promises. So, Nigerian women are going to hold him accountable.
However, we are very disappointed that in all the appointments made so far, he has not deemed it fit to have a woman occupy any of the positions and we are saying that it is not because there are no qualified women, but he seems not to be sensitive to gender issues. But if this continues, Buhari will be leading only half of the country with the other half being neglected.
It becomes more complicated because his insensitivity has also shown that he is really not looking at the diversity in the country, as one can see that his appointments have been lopsided. As the president, he cannot continue to be insensitive to the various diversities that exist in the country.
There have been a lot of games in the last couple of years in terms of gender appointments both at the national and state levels. Often times, what happens at the national level trickles down to the state. So, if the national cannot show an example in terms of appointing women, it is not good for women and that is why Buhari needs to be sensitive to the numerous over-qualified Nigerian women that can occupy these positions.
Those in the present administration should open their gender lens and ensure they appoint these women. Nigerian women would not just keep quiet and continue looking; we might, at a point, need to mobilise ourselves to insist. We are hopeful that since there are still other appointments to be made, especially ministerial positions, women will be considered.
Adebola Awogbemi, Executive Director, Volunteer Corp
‘President Buhari Will Not Fail Nigerian Women’
IT is surprising that President Buhari has not yet found any woman fit for his cabinet. The Nigeria’s Gender Policy provides for 35 percent Affirmative Action for women in appointive and elective positions. Nigeria is also a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, known as the Maputo Protocol, which requires member countries to ensure increased and effective representation and participation of women at all levels of decision-making, as well as positive action to ensure that women are represented equally at all levels in all electoral processes and in the political life of the countries. So, as a matter of constitutional requirement, 35 percent or more of all appointive and elective positions in Nigeria should go to women.
It is disappointing though that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is yet to appoint any female into its cabinet, as it clocks 100 days in office. But I am optimistic that the president will not fail us. Let’s give him a chance; let’s wait for the release of names of the ministers and other appointees. I would like to advise the president on a number of issues though, and top on my list would be for him to initiate or promote policies and programmes that can help increase the representation of women in governance at all levels.
I am very hopeful that women will be considered for appointments in the life of this government and so are other Nigerian women. The president demonstrated this commitment to ensuring women are adequately represented and given a voice, when he gave audience to the Bring Back Our Girls Groups and promised to ensure the return to safety of the girls. So, I believe in this current government. It is clear that the government is taking the rights steps in ensuring that Nigeria is back on the right track and can compete in the League of Nations. It is imperative for Nigeria to make significant progress in women’s participation in governance. Therefore, President Buhari must seek competent and qualified women for appointive positions in his government to herald the change his government preached, as well as fulfill his election campaign promises.
Everywhere in the world, women bring unique leadership skills to governance. This has been demonstrated in many developed and progressive countries and Nigeria should be seen as progressing and must ensure gender equality in all appointments in the country. Nigerian women constitute over 50 percept of the country’s population and many are qualified professionals in various fields. Nigerian women are very ripe for leadership and must be given the opportunity to operate. Women have become power brokers in their chosen fields and are doing excellently well.
This is very important for the future of women’s critical role in nation building. At the end of this government, Buhari would be setting a new record and a precedent on the need to consciously include women in government. Also, President Buhari will be presenting to the global community that Nigeria is, indeed, a ripe democracy.
Bukola Adefope, CEO, Optimal Performance Ltd.
‘It’s Too Early To Conclude’
I think it’s too early to conclude that this administration will not involve women in governance. What I can observe for now is lack of clarity of the direction of the administration. Let’s keep watching. Presently, there are no female appointments at the federal level, and the office of the First Lady has been scrapped. If this administration intends to have an all male cabinet, then we can clearly state that it is not acceptable to all Nigerian women.
Men and women united to vote for this government. There should, therefore, be equal representation in governance. This seeming marginalisation of women will constitute a looming danger to the positivity in the ‘CHANGE’ mantra of the APC. This will then be interpreted as change from below average representation of women in the last administration to zero representation and outright marginalisation, which is not acceptable.
My expectation, therefore, is for the consideration of women for 40 per cent of federal, state and local government level appointments. This way, we can begin to witness acceptable representation, which is a prerequisite for balanced and responsible governance.