The order is gradually changing and women have woken up from their slumber. They do not want to be condemned to the kitchen anymore. They are now standing tall and daring to do what is traditionally seen as the turf for the men. Women have become more active in political issues than ever before as a result of political re-awakening and awareness. Despite the difficulties they face, women have continued with their political ambition and have recorded some measure of appreciable political achievement even with limited support and resources at their disposal.
The advent of democracy in 1999, after over two decades of military rule ushered in a fresh opportunity for women to rise up to the occasion once again. Although, the number of women representation in elected and appointed positions is still low compared to what obtains in other parts of the world, an appreciable amount of progress have been made, owing especially to the efforts of a few women who took the bull by the horn. One of such women is Hounourable Binta Masi Garba from Adamawa State.
Hon, Garba is a woman of many achievements. From her failed bid to represent Kaduna South Federal Constituency in 1998, haven advocated for the rights of millions of women, she contested again in 1999 and emerged victorious, thus making her the youngest legislature in the national assembly. She served in this capacity from 1999 to 2007 after winning re-election for the same seat. Her success as the legislator representing Kaduna South Federal constituency drew the attention of her compatriots in Adamawa, her home state where she was asked to come and contest again for the same position in 2007, this time around representing Madagali/Michika Federal Constituency under the PDP. She won and served at the lower House of the National Assembly until 2011, where her fourth bid failed to see the light of day. Despite her failure to return to the National Assembly in 2011, she didn’t rest in her political ambition. In 2013, became the chairman of the Adamawa State chapter of the APC, which effectively made her the first woman chairperson of a major political party in Nigeria, having defected to the APC as a result of the factionalisation in the PDP. It was under the platform of her new political party that she contested and became the Senator-elect who will represent Adamawa north senatorial district.
Honourable Garba is contesting for the presidency of the senate in the eight session of the National Assembly. Her achievements have therefore put her as a strong contender who needs to be given all the support she needs to emerge victorious. She has taken the path considered fit for men alone. She has entered the jungle with many of these men and still came out victorious. She has been tried and tested; she has the pedigree and integrity which is a rare find amongst many politicians of today. Her excellent performance as the chairperson of Adamawa State chapter of APC which led to the party’s victory in all the state’s three senatorial districts, six House of Representative seat, herself defeating an incumbent governor who contested the senate seat with her as well as the governorship seat and victory for the party in the presidential election is unprecedented.
Although, her gender can stand as one of the reasons why she should be given a chance to prove that women can also serve in positions of leadership and turn out successful, Hon Garba is not vying for the Senate Presidency on that premise. She is contesting to become the next senate president because she is as qualified and well experienced as any of her male contenders. Her sterling performance is not only in the political battle field. The three time member of the lower chamber representing two different federal constituencies, the first and still the only of its kind in Nigeria’s history scored so many marks in the house that gave her the requisite knowledge of legislative duties. She was the first Vice President of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) as well as the first parliamentarian to start poverty alleviation program for the women and youths.
Binta herself has said she is better qualified and has a lot of things to offer the Nigerian people that will give them the confidence and reassurance that change indeed has come and has come to stay for good. She has set three main legislative agenda, which she will pursue vigorously if elected. These agenda include education for the girl child, maternal care, which government must ensure is free from at least pregnancy to five years, and agriculture for women.
Fellow Nigerians, the time for change has come. Let us throw in our support and rally behind Senator-elect Binta Masi Garba. Women can lead too.