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Women Want Big Roles In Buhari’s Cabinet

Francis Moses examines the demand by women groups on the new administration to sustain and even surpass the Jonathan administration policy by giving women role in its cabinet

Women in the country do not want to give the new Buhari administration time to settle down before clamouring for representation in its cabinet either in the tradition started by the Jonathan administration, or even surpass it.

They argue that women’s role in governance has been found scanty until much recent time, especially the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime, in which profuse stints was proffered to women in the nation’ dispensation. There are indication that it was against this backdrop that some Nigeria women under the auspices of Women in Politics Forum is reminding the new APC administration of its campaign promises during the 2015 general election campaigns with regards to gender equity.

President and founder, Women in Politics, Ebere Efendu while addressing the media recently said their pronouncement is provoked by the recent appointment of the incoming administration, where it failed in its commitment to Nigerian Women in terms of equitable representation on its inauguration and transition committees.

Madam Ebere, however, went down memory lane to remind the president elect then of his promises to Nigerian women on March 19th, 2015 in a keynote address at a town hall meeting with Nigerian women professionals in Lagos.

The group also drew the attention of the incoming government to the statistics published by the parliamentary union as at April 2015, where Nigeria was ranked 132nd out of 190 countries that is submitted on the statistics of women in parliament.

However it could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari says he will not have an office for first lady if elected as a president.

President Buhari said his decision was premised on the fact there is no office of first lady in the Nigerian constitution, just as there is no official role for presidents’ wives.

Rather, he said ministries which are constitutional should be allowed to play their roles.

“There is the Ministry of Women Affairs, and so on”, he said.

The president said then that women would however play very important roles in his administration.

“I was raised by my mother, as I lost my father when I was under six years, so I know what a woman can do if given the chance,” he said, adding that he sees them as his cornerstone.

However one of the delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Chief Temitope Ajayi, urged President Buhari to recognise women’s potential in nation- building and include many of them in his government.

Ajayi who made the call in an interview recently in Abuja. She congratulated Buhari for his doggedness, which resulted in his electoral victory, and said that he required the collective effort of all Nigerians, including women, to achieve the change he desired for the country.

Her words “Any nation that puts the potential of women into consideration will excel because they are the engine room of the society. “I therefore appeal to the president to work with women in his government, to enable us achieve the change we have always clamoured for as a nation”.

Ajayi, who represented the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) at the national conference, lamented that only few women among those that contested in the just-concluded general elections, won. She stressed that the only way to ensure that women were given the opportunity to contribute their quota to nation building was for them to be appointed into public offices. “It is unfortunate that not many women won the positions they vied for in the general elections, but I must commend them for taking the bold step in spite of the challenges. “I congratulate those that made it and applaud their effort because it wasn’t easy. “They fought the men as if they were men. This shows that women are persistent and that when we believe in a thing, we go for it despite all odds. “I commend Sen. Jumai Alhassan for the feat she achieved in the Taraba state governorship election. “Though she was not declared winner, she fought courageously and Nigerian women are proud of her,” she said.

She called on the wife of the president, Mrs Aisha Buhari, to emulate her predecessor, Dame Patience Jonathan, who ensured that women were actively involved in governance. Ajayi also urged women not to relent in their effort to participate in governance. She described as “ironic”, a situation where women who often formed the majority among voters during elections usually faced the challenge of winning during such exercises. On the relative peace enjoyed by Nigerians after the elections, she attributed it to the magnanimity of the formerPresident Jonathan, who conceded victory to Buhari.

She said that Nigerians would remain grateful to him for averting violence in the country. “He will forever be remembered for his magnanimity and the bloodshed he averted. “He also made all Nigerians to realise that their votes count and that all Nigerians of voting age should have their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to enable them perform their civic duties during elections,” she added.

Similarly the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Ayisha Osori, recently urged the President Buhari, to appoint women in positions of decision making.

While speaking with some journalist in Abuja recently, Osori said that it is also necessary for the new incoming administration to adopt inclusive representation.

According to her, this is imperative as the performance of women at the general elections is poor.

She observed that the advocacy for change was required of the middle class in order to bring about revolution in the society

She said, “I am in two minds about this grassroots advocacy issue, because for me, all around the world it is the middle class that leads revolutions.

“It is the middle class that drives change; you do not expect the masses that are burgled down with many issues: poverty, looking for food, looking for water, health issues to actually care.

“It is the middle class that is going to drive change because for me, grassroots people have proven over and over again that what they care about is food.

“And if a man comes and provides it great, if a woman comes and provide it, I also think for them it’s great, the change we want to see in terms of inclusive representation is going to come from middle class, it is not going to come from grassroots.’’

During the past administration, women has been seen to hold keys to key sectors such as oil, finances, in fact, they’d also been speculated, and or perceived, as the key special adviser to the former President.The significance of women’s duties in the expired government of Jonathan had however been proven by women who held sensitive, powerful positions and delivered on their mandate.

It could be recalled in the mother’s day celebration the former president Jonathan, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, assured them that the Federal Government would continue to do all within its powers to empower them to play their “immense and God-given role for the greater glory of Nigeria”.

It reads: “Jonathan reaffirms that his administration will continue to progressively strengthen its affirmative action in favour of girls, women and mothers while intensifying its actions aimed at promoting gender equality in the nation.

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