Kogi Has Not Given Women Opportunities for Adequate Representation and Participation

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The world celebrates “International Women Day”. Recent statistics shows that female comprise 49.6% of the world population. They are master planners of many outcome of human endeavours, an intelligent species given a special creation. Women in the world are being celebrated for their impact and contributions to human existence. In Africa, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first woman to win the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, in building a nation and its democratic institutions.

Nigeria policy formulation has appeared to favour women, but it has been nothing but a mere paper work called an acts of parliament which it implementation never see the light of the day because of some few power drunk political elites who seek such enactment and implementation as a confrontation to the male gender dominance in politics, governance,  leadership, policy formulation and decision making.

Even the 30% affirmation which was in partial fulfilment when women were considered for appointment – Nnenadi Usman, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwezili, Prof. Joy Ogwu (Nigeria permanent representative at the United Nation), performed credibly well and they have won gold medals, while a small number of them performed woefully and almost ran the nation economy aground by their corrupt practices and deals.

Women given political appointment have a plain path than those who rose to position of leadership through electoral processes – Rt. Hon. Patricia Etteh  was elected speaker of the House of Representatives in the 6th National Assembly – allegations of misappropriation and embezzlement, the proceeding impeachment and arraignment in court and the favourable judgment that cleared her of the grave allegation which led to her impeachment by those who thought it is a taboo to their religion and cultural belief to bow for woman especially in the hallowed chamber where it is a norm.

However, 70% of women have performed very well in their leadership positions despite the fact that women who are involve in political contest/activities faces more confrontation especially from women like them who aligned themselves with the male candidate(s) to intimidate, discourage, humiliate and even paint them black in order to silence them and eventually push them out of active political participation. The event that led to the proclamation of the  8th National Assembly still fresh in the minds of Nigeria as Senators elected on different political parties, political leaders and interest group made plans supposed leadership of the Assembly, unfortunately only two women – Senator Biodun Olujimi (Senate Deputy Minority Whip) and Hon. Binta Bello (House Deputy Minority Whip) made the list as principal officials – 2 out of 17 in both the Senate and House of Representatives, their positions are the lowest among the principal officials in the National Assembly. Aisha Alhasan, the popular Mama Taraba made a kin contest in  the Taraba State governorship election in 2015 – a victory that could have promote women political participation, and hope for woman leadership.

Kogi State which is a replicate of the Nigeria political and geographical setting had not given adequate representation and participation to the women, however, the present government in Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello has shown interest in women development and empowerment, and also promotes women active participation in politics and governance by appointing woman in the highest position in the state for the first time – Dr. Folashade Arike Ayoade, Secretary to the Government of Kogi State, and many other women appointed into the state executive council and appointment at the state and local government levels.

However, appointing women may not actually satisfy the yarning of the women for an active political participation. Some women like Hajia Halima Abubakar Audu, late Chief (Mrs.) Comfort Aiyepeku, Mrs. Grace Gunwa amongst others who have contested at various election on different political parties have a story to tell. In all their struggles, none among them was able to make a victory in the elections. They were not adequately supported, and eventually made to bow out of the political terrain of the state.

As activities to the 2019 election unfolds, many aspirants are submitting their letters of intent prior to the 2019 general election. The Not too young to run  bill passed by the National Assembly ignites youth participatory roles in politics.

Also,  the new faces of women in Kogi politics for the 2019 is not likely to be the usual business of contesting for recognition but majority of the female aspirants from the three senatorial district in kogi state are resolute, focus and determine to give a challenge to their male counterpart.

As women shows interest to contest election in Kogi State, fellow women should embrace the struggle and give support in giving a winning votes to them. Men is expected to give the women a trial and hopefully observe how their home management expertise could be brought to politics.

Kogi state could also join the states in Nigeria which selected female as deputy governorship candidate in previous election. Women active political participation should be encouraged in Kogi State as the events to the 2019 election unfolds.

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