Time To Feature More Women In Politics

It was around 2am when my team was invited by the doctors on duty at the Accident and Emergency Unit of our health facility. On reaching there,it was an obese woman in her late thirties who was just delivered of a bouncing baby boy in a peripheral maternity home about few hours ago,now presenting in our facility with features suggestive of Pulmonary oedema, a condition involving fluid in the airspaces and the parenchyma of the lungs, characterised by difficulty in breathing,coughing up of blood,anxiety etc.

Her condition was so bad that other critical patients in the area were of the opinion that she be attended to first which was quite unlike patients that I have known since I started my clinical practice. Patients are the most selfish set of people hence some hospitals always place such notices around their Accident and Emergency Units as ,'Medical attendance in this unit is not by first come, first served but by medical priorities . However ,in this case every other patient was very sympathetic to the woman because to them it was a surprise why a woman who delivered 'normally' would develop such a life threatening condition in less than 12 hours.

While we were busy running around to save her life,her baby who was then being carried outside the area by her neighbour ,started crying. It was to my utmost surprise that this woman 'at the point of death' was able to recognise that it was her own newborn child that was crying amidst the hubbub of a typical accident and emergency unit of any hospital.

She immediately demanded that her baby be brought to her for breastfeeding. We initially refused on the ground of stabilizing her medically because apart from the current provisional diagnosis of Pueperial pulmonary oedema,she was also at the risk of deep vein thrombosis and the most dreaded pulmonary embolism.

She refused to cooperate with us,demanding that her crying baby be brought in for breastfeeding ,failure of which she would not cooperate with us. At this point,I got annoyed with her because in medical practice anything that affects the airway is not taken lightly,in fact that is the area that must be first attended to when there is any medical emergency .In this case,this woman preferred dying to leaving her less that 12- hour old baby crying unattended to.

It was at that point that I remembered what the bible said in the book of Isaiah 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ....? This excerpt shows the passionate roles of mothers even in our old traditional marriage system where men were permitted to be polygamists,there was no provision for the women to practise polyandry hence the onus was on the women to ensure that their children succeed in life in such polygamous family settings.

Many great men in life will always attribute their successes in life to mostly their mothers. Professor Benjamin Carson ,the American doctor that led the surgery team that successfully separated the binder twins in 1987,attributed all his successes in life to his mother,who kept on encouraging him and his brother that,' education is the only thing that can save one from poverty and ignorance.'

Since Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala assumed office as our Finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy,our economy has improved .It was under her leadership that Nigeria became Africa's largest economy and the 26th economy in the world today. Everybody knows that if America had not backed Dr Jim Yong Kim ,the current World Bank president,Our own Dr Okonjo Iwela would have defeated him outrightly in the contest .Coming to our petroleum sector , Our dearest Diezani Alison-Madueke was recently elected the president of OPEC ( Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) at the 166th OPEC ordinary meeting in Vienna on 27th November 2014.

Even before then in April 2006, shell had appointed her the first female executive director in Nigeria and she is also the first female to be appointed as a petroleum minister in Nigeria. It may also interest us to know that she is the first woman to be elected as OPEC president and she has painstakingly transformed the Oil and Gas sector of our economy.

When the former governor of Anambra state,Mr Peter Obi, was impeached, it was very difficult for the then deputy governor of the state,Virgy Etiaba ,to take over. She refused because she still saw the impeached governor as her boss. Even when she reluctantly assumed the position as the governor of the state as enshrined in our constitution,she warned everybody not to congratulate her as the first woman to assume such position. Even as a governor,she was still referring the impeached governor as her boss. It has to be noted that She reluctantly accepted to assume the position of the governor because the state was at the verge of anarchy.

She never as a governor destroyed or rearranged the political structures that her boss built before being impeached. When we contrast what Virgy Etiaba did in Anambra state then and what her male counterparts did recently in Adamawa and Taraba states,we will just conclude that women are truly good and humble leaders. I do not want to delve into the motherly roles played by our late Professor Dora Akunyili who was still carrying water for her husband to wash his hands before eating despite being a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria.

Many misogynists believe that elective and appointive offices are too demanding and time consuming, important meetings usually take place at nights hence females should not be appointed or elected such offices . My question to them is ,who attends the night meetings for female presidents of Brazil,Germany and Liberia etc and who attends the night meetings for our own Dr Okonjo Iweala,Diezani Alison-Madueke and the that of the director-general of World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan?

The leadership roles of women cannot be overemphasized even in my own transport business,if a potential driver applying for a driving job is not married I cannot give any of my vehicles or tricycles to him no matter his level of spiritual anointing and irrespective of who acts as his referee/guarantor .This is because from my many years of experience in the transport business,I have learnt that married men are more responsible than unmarried ones.

Meanwhile, in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) another history is being made. The current president of the Association Of Resident Doctors(ARD) is a woman,one Dr (Mrs) Ureh Annabel Oparaodu,being the first woman to occupy such post in the south-south Nigeria . Since she assumed that office,the welfare of her members has improved through nonviolent negotiations with the management and there is now improved interpersonal relationships among members of her association. Social events of a member is well advertised and attended to by all that matter in the association. She has undertaken a lot of renovation works giving the secretariat a facelift .

For sports lovers,she has bought and installed a lot of sport equipment. In fact,within the little time she has acted as the ARD president,unparalleled achievements have been recorded and more achievements are still counting. Having seen all these leadership roles of women,we can now thank the first lady of the federal republic of Nigeria,Dame Patience Jonathan for insisting on 35% participation of women in politics.

As we prepare for general elections,let us ensure that women are adequately featured in our elective and appointive positions.

Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt,
Rivers state,
[email protected]

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Articles by Paul John