‘Buhari Is Determined To Restore Nigeria’s Dignity’



Ifeoma Idigbe is the Chairman of the Women in Management, Business and Public Service WIMBIZ Board of Trustees. She is a former banker and deputy chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources at the last National Conference. In this interview with BISI ALABI WILLIAMS, Idigbe bears her mind on the change President Buhari should bring for the country and women.

What kind of change are women looking for in this new dispensation?
Change can involve a number of things but generically women are looking for change in key areas especially in significant appointments in terms of key positions and also numbers at both the Federal and state levels. Secondly, they are looking for new policies and overall policy expansion for issues concerning women, ranging from loan availability and preferential lending terms, to land ownership, maternal mortality, girl-child education, the advancement of professional women and so on. Thirdly, women are looking forward with great expectation to new legislation to support these policies, with sanctions for non-compliance. And lastly, women desire a partnership of female gender based NGOs with government for policy development and implementation to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from initiatives.

Do you believe President Buhari can give women this change; does he have the political will to do so?
The reputation of the President is that of a man who is determined to restore Nigeria’s dignity and prosperity. I doubt he is overly concerned with whether people are male or female as long as they have the right character and ability, and are willing to work hard and work with him to do what needs to be done, ethically. I think the proper female candidates just need to be presented for his consideration. I believe he has the will to do whatever needs to be done.
If given this change, what can it translate to for national development and women empowerment?

Nigerian women account for 50-52 per cent of Nigeria’s over 170 million population; so, including women in significant numbers is simply bringing into the equation the diverse talents of Nigerians as a whole. Studies have shown that companies with women on their boards outperform those without them. By the same token, when there are more women in every sphere of national life, we expect to see better governance and performance.

The WIMBIZ cause is the advancement of professional women, whether corporate players, successful entrepreneurs or public servants; professional women who will use their experience and abilities to excel at all levels and in all areas. Many women have the background, educational qualifications, experience and professional ethics required to perform in these positions. All these abilities should not be ignored; they should be harnessed to develop and build the country. Doing this also empowers everyone, male and female, to be the best they can be. Our WIMBIZ slogans to promote women within this new dispensation ‘Change includes women!

Is the 50 per cent you are asking for realisable?
Let me reiterate that women account for 50 -52 per cent of the nation’s population. It makes sense for them to be given 50 per cent of the opportunities as long as they can present qualified candidates. Realisable? You have to start somewhere with the end in mind. If 50 per cent is not possible now, it can be the direction in which we are all working towards. The core issue is that significant numbers of qualified, capable, experienced women should be able to make their contributions to the development of our country.

This is the vision of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) – to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building with a motto to inspire and empower. Nigeria belongs to both men and women. Let this be evident in all spheres of our national life. ‘All things are possible for those who seek.’ Yes, 50 per cent is realisable one day. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step… let’s keep walking!
Which areas are Nigerian women really eyeing in order to make some difference?

I am not aware that specific offices are being requested. The key consideration is the appointment and involvement of women in significant and visible numbers. There are enough capable Nigerian women to make this possible and to make a positive difference in Nigeria. As we say at WIMBIZ, change includes women!

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