General Buhari's war against women
By John Ainofenokhai
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammad Buhari, has openly declared war on the Nigerian women. In line with his well-known chauvinistic and anti-women stance, Buhari had boasted a few days ago that if elected he will abolish the office of the First Lady of Nigeria.
In whichever way Buhari's declaration is interrogated, it runs against good reasoning and commonsense. First, the Office of the First Lady is not recognised by the Nigerian Constitution and therefore any attempt to abolish it (what does not really exist in the eyes of the law) can only be an exercise in futility.
Second, and more germane, is the fact that the Office of the First Lady although not recognized in the Constitution, has become functional as a matter of convention and tradition in a presidential democracy the world over. Through the instrumentality of this office, real life issues and problems that may escape the attention of the three arms of government are taken care of with a motherly touch ever so needed in society.
No wonder, in almost every political system, the first lady is regarded as the mother of the nation. And given that fact, there is no male president no matter how strong and tough he may be projected to be in the public that would not be better off with the advice of a good wife and the calming touch of a female partner.
Through the Office of the First Lady, women and children, the most vulnerable in the society especially during the period of crisis and emergency, are give voice and attention in government. Through this symbolic office, charity, good and noble causes are pursued in the interest of the poorest, weakest and the voiceless in society. Who wants to deny the Nigerian women, especially, the less privileged, these opportunities because of his own hatred and disrespect for women?
General Buhar's position on the Office if the First Lady cannot be justified on any other ground other than the known fact that he holds women in unspeakable disdain! There is no budgetary allocation to the first lady's office and, therefore, it cannot be accused of draining public funds. And if, in spite of this fact, General Buhari and his party threaten to abolish the office, which gives women visibility and feel-good factor in government, then the womenfolk must ask Buhari and APC why they hate Nigerian women this much?
It should by now be clear to all that APC is particularly not women-friendly; and, as such, not happy with the giant strides and the rising profile of women in President Goodluck Jonathan's government. The thirty per cent affirmative action for women in the PDP government has increased effectively the participation of women in the governance and development of our country. And our country has been better for it because no nation in the whole wide world has been known to develop by shutting out a critical segment of its population. All the while, the APC has done its best to single out the women in Jonathan's cabinet like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is giving her best to this nation for unwarranted hostility and clobbering.
Buhari and his party, in line with their retrogressive ideology, want to reverse the gains the nation has made in the area of participation of women in the politics and governance of our country. They do not want our women who are distinguishing themselves across the globe to be seen and heard. Buhari and APC still reckon women simply as primitive sex objects without rights; and deficit in knowledge. They have already said more than that by promising to abolish the symbolic office of the first lady.
But this is the time for Nigerian women to rise and tell this party that has no iota of respect for the women folk that our country has moved on and has no place for any group of male chauvinists influenced by an anti-women ideology. It is time to show Buhari and APC the 'woman power' at the polls!
Mr Ainofenokhai sent this piece from Benin City via [email protected]
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