Journalism in the service of society

2023 and the Nigerian women

“There is no group of people more powerful on planet earth than the women.  They control the home, they hold the city and the state, and they hold the country. In reality (but without our admitting it) they rule the world. And there is no doubt that they do a better job with power than the men.”

THE infamous constitution of Nigeria does not say that the seat of the President of Nigeria must not be occupied by a woman.But there is the unwritten constitution, or conspiracy, that has kept the women out of the office and even the race to occupy the office; the attitude of Nigerians toward Sarah Jibril’s aspiration to the office in 2011 under the People’s Democratic Party. We have never had even a female Governor except Deputies. It is not for want of capable women that this has continued to happen. Is it because the women have not really asserted themselves as they should?

There is no group of people more powerful on planet earth than the women.  They control the home, they hold the city and the state, and they hold the country.   In reality (but without our admitting it) they rule the world.   And there is no doubt that they do a better job with power than the men.   This explains why whenever they are at the helm of affairs, as CEOs, Prime Ministers or Presidents, things run far more smoothly than they would otherwise. In Nigeria, where we have had women as Ministers (not Ministers of State in ministries) they have performed excellently. Women such as the late Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala easily come to mind. 

In the real political arena, Nigeria has not been in want of efficient and effective women. A woman has not been President in this country simply because women have not collectively risen to the occasion; not because they lack the capacity to do so or because they do not have a suitable candidate. We have had hundreds of potential women leaders in the likes of Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti,  Gambo Sawaba,  Sarah Jibril,  Oby Ezekwesili and so many others. In more recent times, we have seen younger women pulling their weight, as is the case with Aisha Yesufu.   And we know that there are hundreds more of their type.

But this piece is not intended to encourage any woman to step out, if none has already done so. The idea is to ask Nigerian women to use that immense power they possess to turn things around for their beloved country.  One’s mind quickly goes back to the leadership qualities and organisational skills displayed by Aisha Yesufu who was the identifiable leading figure during the EndSARS protest of October 2020.  In the forthcoming 2023 elections women must play a prominent role by using their power and organisational skills to ensure that their husbands, friends, children and associates come out and vote for someone they believe has the vision and experience needed to change course of our journey.   There are many reasons why they must do this.

The point has been made earlier, that they, more than any other group, have the power to turn this country around, and they must do it because, of a reality, they have more stake in the country than other groups. They are the mothers, and they know the pain of losing the children they have carried in their womb, invested their love and material resources. They are those who suffer to feed the hungry mouths.   They are the ones that suffer when wars or crises consume nations and they are turned into widows, especially when it is untimely.   They are the ones who suffer oppression, deprivation and relegation to the background in patriarchal societies like ours.   They are the ones who are discriminated against in terms of education, appointments, employment, elections, and respect, all of which are backed by decadent cultures exhumed for selfish reasons. Yet, they are the ones that hold the society together. This is why they must rise and make a difference in the 2023 general elections. And they must do this at ALL levels.

Politically speaking, women and their children, the youth, have been at the receiving end since Nigeria got independence. Fortunately, the opportunity to turn things around has come. No one is happy with what we have gone through in the last two decades, and we, the aggrieved, are waiting for someone who can marshal our forces for the big change. Sometimes one gets the feeling that Buhari’s ‘regime’ has deliberately worked us to this level of despair and frustration so that we can be angry enough to storm the polling units armed with our voters’ cards ready for a change—the change they promised but could not deliver.   So, I charge the women to come together now and use the power they have over their men, their husbands, their children, their friends and all. Get them to support your move and desire to bring about a change. This is the time to implement your affirmative action using your votes instead of lobbying to be accommodated after the die is cast.  

But before you do this, I urge you—great thinkers and mobilisers that you are—to take time to think and take a wise and collective decision as to who you believe has the love of this country in their heart and who has the guts—yes, the guts—needed to bring about a real change, as well as the know-how to pull us out of this forest of bandits, insurgents, armed and pen robbers, terrorists and all what not. You have the time and the power, and I believe you have the will. In the words of the music legend, Bob Marley, let’s “Chase those Crazy baldheads out of ‘our lives’.”

Take charge of your own domain. If every woman lights her own corner, the entire country will be lit. Do not wait for who will start. If every woman mobilises their own household, the whole country will be mobilised. The starting point is to buy the idea and run with it. The ants build gigantic hills by each taking a tiny piece continuously.

Take the lead! Let it start with you today!

·  Prof. Johnson is of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Bingham University, Karu

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