As always, women in the Nigerian political space always have the shorter end of the stick. They form about 65% of voters in every election yet they are always the losers on every front. They have the least chance of being victorious at the party primary levels. Given that Nigerian leadership emergence process is always determined by who wields the most violent tools and the biggest financial muscle not just for the regular campaign expenses but to possibly fund other legal and illegal political exigencies, Nigerian women seem to have virtually no chance in Nigerian political space.
Forget the tokenism we often see of a few women winning elections here and there. In most cases they must have worked more than ten times harder than the men and could possibly be extremely popular with the people. But the ratio is abysmally low and still disappointing. Sadly though, the women work hardest during campaigns and actual voting periods during elections. Ironically too, women become the victims of not just bad governance of the men that often usurp power, they suffer during elections and are often the victims of election violence as they lose spouses and their children.
The recent Kogi/Bayelsa governorship elections again left tears, sorrow and blood in its wake. The sight of a woman wailing uncontrollably having lost her husband was short during the election speaks to the effect of violent elections that have become a regular trademark of Nigerian political space since 1999. Consistently, successive elections record violence and political brigandage but in a country without a functional system, th3ere seems to be no sense of outrage. It speaks to a country that cares less about its human capital.
There are no records of those that have been killed in all the elections, no statistics, no memorials, much like the country as a whole that has no reliable census of its citizens. The numbers being bandied about seem not to have accurate demographic data. What we have are mere assumptions. It does seem that the political class are just interested in power and care less about the people.
The only woman governorship candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti was literarily dragged out of the contest. First there were allegations that sought to disqualify her. She went to court and won barely few days before the election which gave her just few hours to campaign and canvass for votes. She was threatened, attacked and even the the headquarters of her political party was raised. On the election day, she complained about the disenfranchisement of her supporters from freely casting their votes. She expressed sadness at what she suffered in her bid to participate in an election in her country.
Natasha and the wailing woman are both metaphors of what it is to be a woman as both a partisan participant and as a mere citizen. Either way, the Nigerian woman is a loser. The men make it clear that they do not care and have no room to accommodate women as equal participants. Sadly, women work the hardest for the male politicians as they are the more active participants in the political process.
At the moment, Nigeria ranks as the poverty capital of the world with more than thirteen million out-of-school children. Child marriage is still huge, Nigeria ranks very high in global terror index in addition to other developmental hitches. Insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, robbery and other social ills are at their zenith in the country. However, the male politicians that harvest political victory at the expence of competent and qualified women live in absolute delusion.
A million and one summits and conferences cannot solve the problems of Nigeria. As a friend, Felix Jarikre quoted his friend who observed correctly that “Nigeria is traumatized because the women are traumatized. Traumatized women give birth to, and raise traumatized children”. This, unbelievable as it might sound is the raw truth about the Nigerian situation. The women are so politically frustrated and handed bad leadership at all levels that it shows in their nurturing capability. The sad result is the security nightmare in town as family units have broken down and values eroded.
It is therefore a case of Nigerian male politicians shooting themselves in the foot by inadvertently disempowering women both in the society and in politics and reaping the reward in poverty and insecurity. It is astounding that in most electoral violence like in all conflicts, women become victims. The seeming all motion-no-movement that has impoverished the country must be realized by male professional politicians because the situation is an ill-wind that blows anyone any good.
***LEAH SHARIBU AND OTHER GIRLS AND WOMEN ARE STILL IN CAPTIVITY.