First lady’s efforts and our women politicians

One keeps thinking about the recent campaign of the first lady, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan who has been going round the country with curiosity, trying to convince the Nigerian people for her husband's presidential bid. Is this not novel in the polity? First, she started this national tour, campaigning for women involvement or their full integration into the political process, urging the male politicians to willingly cede some elective positions to their female counterparts. Then, after the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that saw her husband triumphant, the tune of the state visits suddenly changed as she has now taken over the activities of the women leader of PDP.

The national tour is not faulty, at least for a first lady who has the powers to visit and probably check the so-called pet projects of first ladies at the state levels and even local government levels. There are local governments where the wives of the chairmen are also called first ladies. And definitely any man who does not recognize his wife as a first lady may just be an epitome of infidelity.

However laudable the intentions of this tour may be, the troubles it has caused to some governors cannot be overemphasized. While some governors have had to spend public funds to host such political jamborees, some have had to contend with internal crisis such visits generated. By the way, this can just be a little digression.

The first lady was so passionate about the backwardness of women politicians. She campaigned for them and gave assurances, as the highest women authority in the country, that they would be carried along in the political process. Nigerian women especially those under the PDP umbrella, methinks, were overwhelmed by this promise. And so the promises continued until the primaries came and passed.

Post mortem of the primaries, most especially those of PDP, leaves many of us to contend with the result of all her efforts. Was she really campaigning for Nigerian women? Wonderful! Many of us were taken aback that the only female presidential aspirant under PDP, Sarah Jibril got only one vote in the party's presidential primaries held on January 13th, 2011. Apparently, it either she is the only one who voted for herself or someone voted her while she voted for President Goodluck Jonathan.

This depicts the fact that all the women politicians who were at the PDP presidential primaries did not hearken to the pleas of the first lady. This shows to an extent that realizing the call to empower the women politically cannot come fast because the women themselves are not ready to really and practically kick-start the demand. They are betraying themselves. Now, I realize that my own personal call for a female vice president was premature.

At states and local government levels, women have not gained enough elective positions. I expect that a non-governmental organization which has branches all over the country should produce a statistics of Nigerian females in elective positions after the April general elections.

What, thence, is the result of the huge amount of money expended by the first lady for the mobilization of women into politics? This means that the women are deceiving themselves. How can they, then claim the 30% leadership positions they are lobbying for. Do they want to be leaders through appointments alone? And who appoints or recommends their appointments than the male politicians who often have vested interests in them.

Many of us would always refer to how women politicians excel in the western world. There are, definitely, many Nigerian women who can do wonderfully in politics. There are already some who did very well. But what future do they have if they continue to betray themselves?

Dame Jonathan was seen through the AIT Channel, comfortably napping at about 3.00pm while seated in a cushion chair at the flag-off ceremony of her husband's presidential campaign in Lafia, Nasarawa State. In a throng, interestingly watching all bits of the ceremony, we were all shocked when suddenly the camera man focused on the first lady in that condition. This happened several times and she was always in that condition. Some exonerated her basically because she was a woman, thus her inability to cope with the tedious and rigorous exercise of running a very tight schedule.

Notwithstanding, she has succeeded in visiting all the states of the federation. Extendedly, she should have included some selected local governments of each state to visit, so that she will be equipped with some forehand information of how poverty and ill-health rock our rural dwellers. By so doing, she can properly advise her husband on how to go about governance in the country.

Merely flying presidential jet and lodging in first class hotels or luxury arrangements made for her and her large entourage in the state capitals by state governors through their wives cannot let her know the real state of the nation. As a mother, it is a duty she owes the Nigerian mothers and children to assist her husband provide meaningful governance for the nation before and even after May 29th. God bless her struggles and the Nigerian women in politics.

Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja E-mail: [email protected]

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Articles by Muhammad Ajah