THERE is no gainsaying the fact that women are bold, brave, intelligent, enterprising, fantastic administrators, disciplined, altruistic and, above all, adorable mothers who are beautiful in and out. These qualities and much more are probably why men are so afraid to allow women in Nigeria to have a go at becoming governors, vice president or even president of the Federal Republic. Will women ever get the opportunity to get to that peak of power? Yes, they can, if only they are ready to get their acts together, hold the bull by the horn and refuse to be blackmailed, intimidated or relegated to being a second fiddle. If the last congress of one of the major political party in Nigeria held recently is anything to go by, women still have a long way to go. Their fight for the actualisation of gender equality is still farfetched and stifled. How do you explain the fact that the only lady that purchased the presidential form and scaled through the primaries in her party to contest in the 2023 election stepped down at the last minute, thus shattering the confidence reposed in her by her fellow women. This action, without casting any aspersion, leaves one wondering about her sincerity of purpose in the first instance.
It was admirable at first when she demonstrated her confidence by deciding to accept the challenges ahead, she realised her potential and worth hence the purchase of the form which costed a fortune. However, along the line, no one could tell what changed, only she can attest to that, she suddenly pulled off the veil by herself and according to Cicero, “if you have no confidence in self, you’re twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.” What went wrong, what did she do or did not do? How well did she prepare herself before delving into this challenge? Was it just to test the waters or was it for self-aggrandisement? Of course, there are many unanswered questions. It would have been pleasing and more honourable if she returned with a zero vote just like some contenders did and it would have been on record that she was brave and confident enough to stand shoulder high with other contenders. What a disappointment that was rubbed on women’s ego.
This brings out the issue of voting and who to vote for. It is baffling to note that most women do not vote for their fellow women during election and one wonders why. It points to the way votes are cast on party lines instead of integrity, capability and truthfulness, irrespective of tribe and religion or party lineage. Has it ever occurred to anyone that if there are no ‘interference’ in the selection process during election, men may not even win a seat or probably have lesser wins if women have the same equal opportunities? Women are good at what they do and they are proud of it. During electioneering, it is mostly women that take the front row and ensure a successful election campaign, but is that all they are useful for? Do women truly know their worth?
It is rather unfortunate that before any election, most eligible women aspirants would have been schemed out without any show of supine from pressure groups and even within the party, this is so egregious and should no longer be acceptable. What are men afraid of anyway? They know authoritatively that women are better administrators, witty, focused and confident. Such confidence as succinctly put by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “…..that thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance.” No wonder they are relegated to play the role of a second fiddle when it comes to political hegemony. It will make sense if only women can rise up to the challenge and take their rightful place without any compromise.
In some countries around the world, women have been known and seen to have successfully performed creditably well at the role of being President, Prime Minister, Chancellor etc. without any blemish and where they err, they are quick and honourable enough to resign. It is common knowledge that men overrate themselves and do not see themselves playing a second fiddle to the opposite sex, but they tend to forget the adage that says ‘behind or beside every successful man, there’s a woman’. In other words, it takes two to tango. Women have to work towards their emancipation. Times have changed, new ideas are evolving and they must be ready to move with the tide.
It is interesting to ask why those privileged, super-rich, aristocratic women, especially here in Nigeria, rather than profiling and showcasing themselves have not thought of coming together to demonstrate leadership by establishing a political academy that will serve the interest of women and nurture them to compete favorably with men. An academy that will be fully funded by them to raise, groom, mentor and tutor young women adults and women generally, who are genuinely interested in participating and becoming successful politicians, that will bring about the much deserved changes and succor for both the present and the future, but do not know how to begin. There must be no strings attached and no ‘godmotherism’. Sincerely speaking, there is always a first time for everything and you will never succeed if you do not try. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” according to Winston S. Churchill. So, let the rich and privileged women, NGOs and women organisations and other well-meaning Nigerian women come together, sponsor and register a “Women Political Training Institute” and give it their all. It may not be possible now because it will require a lot of logistics, planning, funding and coordination but now will be an ideal time to start grooming these lot. It is only then that all these advocacy groups can be trusted and taken seriously by proving that they are genuinely after the interest and development of this country and not after their own interest.
It sounds gonzo and derisory, right, but achievable, it’s a matter of “If you can’t run, you can crawl. If you can’t crawl-you find someone to carry you”, according to Dr.Roopleen. Women and youths should be supported and encouraged by everyone, the media, corporate organizations and other well-meaning Nigerians so that this great feat can be achieved. This is in line with the opinion of Sheryl Sandberg, who believes that “we need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored”.
Who says women are the weaker sex? On the contrary, they are stronger, courageous, ebullient and benevolent. They have been instrumental to so many positive changes in the polity but alas, most times, due to lack of foresight or self-esteem, they cower and allow their struggles to be hijacked or truncated by selfish political bigots who pretend to identify with their cause. Such egocentric opportunists stylishly take over the struggle and either make or thwart the purpose for which it is intended.
This obloquy must end now and women must defend themselves, there are too many advocacy groups and that in itself constitutes a lot of distractions and confusion. Women must therefore look inward, organize themselves and be courageous enough to save themselves from these shylock detractors and let there be an indivisible cohesion amongst themselves. In actual fact, according to Nelson Mandela, “Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression…Our endeavours must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child”.
It will gladden the heart of agitators if women should flex their muscles and show the stuff that they are made of. What if women are who we need to save the world? It is about time they stop living a lackluster life, stop their procrastination, face facts, rise up and truthfully chat another course that will get them out of this present bondage. The world is big enough to accommodate everyone and new lofty or radical ideas that will hinge them closer to the pinnacle and mantle of power are what they should seek after and hold on to.
Women advocacy and pressure groups must rise up to the challenge and face reality rather than this cacophony of boycotting election if the contending aspirants do not reveal their plans for women and youths before any election, it has become a rhetoric, what a cockeyed idea. Here we are still struggling, begging, fighting and agitating for 35 percent slot for women in the polity when they can have it all.
Little wonder then why Roseanne Barr opined that “the thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it”. This writer, therefore, challenges the integrity of women activists and admonish them in the words of Oprah Winfrey, to “think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness”, and float a Political Academy that will be strictly for women, so let the grooming commence. Which way Nigerian Women?
- Olowu-Adekoya writes in from Lekki, Lagos State.
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