APRIL POLL: 'JONATHAN HAS PATIENCE TO THANK FOR HIS VICTORY'
Hajia Jamila Ahmmad-Suka is an advocate of good governance, gender equality, women empowerment and child right. She is a lawyer and the Registrar, Trademarks, Patents and Design, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
In an interview with DICKSON OKAFOR, she commended the first lady, Her Excellency Dame Patience Jonathan, for mobilising women who came out en-mass to participate effectively in the April elections. She gave the credit of President Goodluck Jonathan's victory to the first lady.
Role of women in the April election
I was glad when I saw the large turn out of women, the great zeal and passion to make contributions during the electoral process that midwifed the present administration: from voter registration, casting and counting of votes, women all over the country guarded their votes to make sure their choice candidates emerged at all levels.
Let me inform you that if the women as mothers and wives did not encourage their children and husbands to come out and exercise their civic responsibilities they might stay at home and decide not come out, that is an important aspect of family administration or politics if you choose to call it so.
Our place in nation building cannot be overlooked. I am a wife, mother and civil servant contributing to the upbringings of my children, taking care of my husband and also going to work. This, to me, is very challenging. Women are the bedrock of any society. I can also say women are the stabilising factor in Nigeria and in nations.
First Lady and women empowerment
We saw her in action during the campaign, how she mobilised women through conferences, seminars and workshops, educating and informing them of their right and roles in democratic process.
Before the electoral process began, she toured the whole country sensitising women on the importance of participating in the electoral process and it paid off because majority of Nigerian women cast their votes for President Jonathan.
Therefore, I will say the credit of the presidential victory goes to the First Lady. Today, the number of women in elective positions has increased because the First Lady encouraged women to come and be involved in politics, to seek elective positions and women responded to that call and the result is overwhelming. The just constituted executive of the present government has a good number of women in it and with time it will improve.
Why women did not support Sarah Jubril at the PDP presidential primaries?
In line with my earlier statement, the number of women that participated in the last election was encouraging; we never had it so good in the past just because the First Lady, Her Excellency Dame Patience Jonathan, mobilised us to come and vote and be voted for.
Therefore, Sarah Jubril, I will say, did not mobilise women as she ought to, especially at the grassroots. However, at the stage of primaries, it was a party affair hence if she had contested the presidential election, then we can judge her by her performance. Meanwhile, after she lost at the primaries, Mr. President made her one of his campaign co-ordinators and to some extent that decision enhanced the president's chances at the April poll. With the level and height we attained, women will do better.
Return of Okonjo-Iweala
It is indeed a welcome development because for her to have left the World Bank to serve her fatherland shows that she loves Nigeria. It shows she is a pride of Nigerian women. The present administration's decision to engage the best brains in the executive arm of government goes a long way to show that Mr. President wants to move the nation forward.
Women and nation building
We all know the role of women in nation building, which starts from the family. Formerly, women were relegated to the background just as the saying goes 'Women's place is in the kitchen' but in the recent time women have risen and are beginning to compete with the men. Most successes recorded by past and present administrations can be attributed to women, such as the sanitisation of NAFDAC, Nigeria debt relief and here in the Federal Ministry of Commerce, when I assumed office as Director, Patent, Design and Logo, a lot of irregularities were going on but I made sure it stopped and today sanity has returned.
In the past, we used to experience scarcity of petroleum products, especially fuel, but following the appointment of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as Minister of Petroleum, the queues have disappeared. That is how much we have contributed to nation building. However, with a good number of women in the executive of the present government, I hope greater achievements will be recorded. When you go to other agencies, parastatals, different organisations and the banking sector, women are well represented and the First Lady is carrying women along. So, our role is very important and we are taking it seriously.
Why agitation for gender equality continues
We look forward to having women governors in the states, more senators and honourable members both in the Federal and state Houses of Assembly. Of course I expect to see a woman president in Nigeria. All these are positions we wish to assume and it is only when we assume such positions we can say there is a balance of power. It is time we exchanged positions with the men. In fact, we want to displace the men in governance, because whatever man can do, women can even do better.