Beauties and the Boss

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

A SHORT while ago one Gideon Samani who called, named and addressed himself as the Senior Special Adviser Political Matters to President Buhari had started a conversation that was cut down in mid trajectory. We had no chance of enjoying the full flow of this conversation.

He said that the reason President Muhammadu Buhari will not have many females breaking the floor of the Aso Villa with their stiletto is that Buhari is a shy man where women are, he cannot even look them straight in the face because he is not used to them.

As is customary, the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, quickly sprang to action, telling us the office that Samani claims to occupy exists only in the figment of his fraudulent imagination, that his assertion is totally wrong, that the President loves women and he provided the exhibit: the president has a wife and female children. Actually, the President has had two wives, one after the other. That is solid evidence to support the thesis. As for the female children, he did nothing to make them female. Evidence dismissed.

The women have counted the number of females nominated as Ministers on their 10 fingers and they found that there are still four painted finger nails left. They then asked what may have gone wrong. Education they have, cognate experience they also have. By the last population census the women are more in number than the men; if Buhari believed in equality of the sexes he could have given men and women 18 slots apiece. Or if he believed in equity of the sexes he could still squeeze out 30 per cent of the positions for them since they may not have invested as much in his campaign as the men.

All these seem plausible so why did the Boss put the Beauties in the background? What does he not like about our women? Does he feel uncomfortable with their blood-red lipsticks? Or their multi-coloured finger nails or their N200,000 Brazilian hair? Or could it be their mountain-high gladiators? Well, he was a gladiator himself at some point in his life. Maybe it is their pumps he doesn’t like but, again, he may have used pump action rifles in his life, even though he never wore pumps.

Some writers have described the President as a misogynist, a woman hater, and I think this is clearly over the top. Some people think he is a gynophobist, that he fears women. That, too, does not seem tenable. How can a man, a six footer, an ex-soldier, a blunt talker, a ruthless ex-dictator, a dogged fighter, an epitome of tenacity and President of the country with the biggest black population on earth tremble before any skirt or blouse for any reason whatsoever. Not likely.

While he was in the Army he didn’t meet too many women because the Army doesn’t employ too many women. But he left the Army 30 years ago, served in the Petroleum Trust Fund and did four tours of duty as a politician during which period he must have met loads of women. At campaign venues women are the ones who light up the campaigns with their customized uniforms, highbrow headgears and shiny trinkets. So why couldn’t he find more women worthy of the ministerial chair?

Or did the past deeds or misdeeds, omissions or commissions of the women who served the Goodluck Jonathan administration hang over the heads of the female folks like the Sword of Damocles? Did the alleged sins of Stella Oduah, Miss Do-the-Needful, Diezani Alison Madueke, Miss Private Jet, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also known as Miss Wahala weigh negatively on the minds of the Boss and he then decided to visit the alleged transgressions of the trio on the rest of the female clan by offering them half a loaf of love.

Remember that these three women, shall we call them triplets, were featured in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s three volume book, My Watch, as three of five Presidents that Nigeria had, or never had, whichever turns you on. The other two are Patience Jonathan and Goodluck Jonathan who was described by Obasanjo as the “weakest of them all.” Could it be that Buhari may have feared that if he had more women, especially of the caliber of the triplets who were said to pack quite a punch under their belts, no pun intended, he may in a moment of temporary absentmindedness fall for these acclaimed mistresses of maneuverability.

Or does he think that the bulk of our women are mediocre and he therefore thought it was appropriate to grant them only token representation. In a similar situation, Senator Roma Hruska, an ally of Richard Nixon, had risen in the United States Senate to defend the nomination of Florida Judge, Harold Larswell, who lacked demonstrable gifts for a seat at the Supreme Court. He said: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they? And a little chance.” We may not necessarily say that of our females because many of them have proven their mettle in the brutally competitive private sector of our economy and have broken the proverbial glass ceiling.

The Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly has been ratified by Nigeria. It is the international bill of rights for women but it has not fully granted Nigerian women all the rights that the men have. Yes, there is equal pay for equal work for both sexes in Nigeria whereas there is still discrimination on that front even in America. Nigerian women have been driving cars for ages whereas women in Saudi Arabia have only just recently been able to put their feet on the throttle. In Pakistan and Afghanistan women education is not tolerated by the religious jingoists. In Pakistan, a 17-year old girl, Malala Yousafzai was shot on her way from school for daring to preach the sermon of education for girls. In Nigeria a parent can be jailed in some states for denying their children basic education.

Nigerian women can count a few more blessings but there are still many burdens placed on the way of women by the instrumentality of historical, cultural, traditional, religious and other biases inherent in the society. These forces are compounded by the searing heat of male chauvinism. This chauvinism is reflected in marriage and divorce laws, property ownership, inability of women to bail accused persons, child marriage, female genital mutilation and an avalanche of other impediments put on the way of women.

Feminist polemics seems to be in decline in Nigeria as if there is the satisfaction on the part of the women that half bread is better than none. Also, is there the possibility that the women are not certain about what they want? What do women want? That is the title of a book by an American writer, Erica Jong. She answers the question by naming four valuables she believes women, not just American women, want: Bread, Roses, Sex and Power.

Many women in Nigeria have acquired a good education, professional success, wealth and many of them have also managed to combine the triple roles of home maker, wife and worker. Most of them have also acquired bread, roses, and sex but have not truly managed to acquire power. The first three valuables can be acquired without cut-throat competitive bull-fighting. The last one, power, which Henry Kissinger, calls the “ultimate aphrodisiac,” is a tempting nectar, much like a rose, beautiful but full of thorns. Many women may desire it but are deterred by the perceived dangers and daggers that hang menacingly in the arena. There lies the problem, or part of it.

In politics, visibility is as important as eligibility. So how will the Boss, shy or not, see the women if they do not seriously seek to be seen. The narrative of femininity must be accompanied by the practical realities of contemporary competitive politics if the women must get more than a token when the booty comes to be shared.

  • Sam Kumolu

    The writer is unfair to the President. Nothing he has done to merit this rotten write up. At least he just said that he has less ministry to go round the Ministers. Nigeria will complain unless a corrupt government that just put in women that steal our money. Like the Petroleum one.

    • Mukhtari

      you could be believed easily, if the writer was not Ray Ekpu of Newswatch fame. He has left tidbits for the president and women in the political class in a homework style. it takes some genius to uncode a work of genius. Try the rosetta stone.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    I must say with all honesty, that calling Dr Okonjo-Iweala all kinds of name is unfair to her person.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    if there is anyone that deserves positive media reportage, i am of the firm view that Dr Okonjo-Iweala should be the one in view of her positive contribution to the growth of Nigeria.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    Dr Okonjo-Iweala does not deserve to be given all sorts of embarrassing names. It shows that Nigerians does not appreciate their past leaders.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    The women that served under former president Goodluck Jonathan including Dr okonjo-Iweala never committed any sin against the Nigerian people.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    Those women who served under president Goodluck Jonathan as ministers should not in anyway be called all sorts of bad names. Instead, women like Dr Okonjo-Iweala should be appreciated for a job well done.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    The fact of the matter remains that those calling Dr Okonjo-Iweala different negative names are bereft of ideas. They should be humble enough to learn more.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    Those thinking that they have the capacity to defame the character of Dr Okonjo-Iweala are only wasting their time. They might not be able to stand the heat when coordinating minister of economy strikes back.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    I feel sad when i see how those who should be worshiped are being roughly handled. Dr Okonjo-Iweala should be treated like an hero for serving this nation in the capacity she did.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    People like Dr Okonjo-Iweala should be celebrated and not subjected to any kind of ridicule. This insult on her image is becoming unacceptable.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    My advise to madam Okonjo-Iweala is that she should ignore these idiots and face her new international appointments. She is going places.

  • Afeez

    From all indication you seem to be the official wahala personified from this stupid right-up. You had the gut to paint Madam Ngozi Okonjo Iweala in a bad light, I understand and believe you are under the influence of a local gin.

  • Afeez

    If there is anything I admire in Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it is her resilience and boldness in the heat of media criticism. It only shows she is a woman of her words.

  • Michael

    I liked the fact that you referred to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the boss, because it takes courage and doggedness to handle the finances of a country like ours and still excel. Okonjo-Iweala is a real star!

  • Michael

    You seem to know it all, and how it all played out in the past administration, I have just one simple question for you; how much were you paid?

  • Afeez

    Since this writer has decided to give us a load down of Obasanjo’s book, he should also be educated and informed that the same Obj recommended these women to the former president. Obasanjo specifically revered Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala not just for her expertise, but for her integrity and strong principles.

  • Afeez

    Since it is apparent that you are hungry, and you probably need the likes of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to feed you. If you ask politely, not create fuss, she is kind, and would willingly sow a token to your life.

  • Michael

    Point of correction Mr. Orator, there is no logic in comparing Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with some other people. It is for such a time as this we are given names, be informed.

  • NonPartisanElder

    Many sycophantic contributors singing the praise of the deformer of Nigeria’s economy!

  • Cyril

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a competent economic manager. She laid the building blocks for the development of our economy

  • Iluyomade

    Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was one woman that did this country good with her economic reforms and crusade.