Senate 2015; Turn Up For Our Women By Kazeem Sulaiman
Today, many countries of the world are making remarkable efforts to eradicate gender inequality and discrimination in politics, thereby bringing women out of background relegation in nation building. In Nigeria, the unimpressive percentage of women participation in Government is considerably low as compared to what obtains in other nations of the world. The representation of women in the 2003 election, was very poor only 3 women made it to 109 members senate house, while 21 were elected in 360 members lower house of representatives. As at today, the number of serving female Ministers, Senators and members of the House of Representatives is still believed to be few as compare to developed countries across the globe though improved numerically by 3% percentage.
Women have some potentials and rights to contribute meaningfully to the development of their country, via responsive motherhood and able participation in governance amidst others. Therefore, the Nigerian government should work towards achieving gender equality in the coming political dispensation which should however, starts with the legislators and the entirety of the democratic governance, increase women participation and access to politics. It must be realized that the role of women as home makers cannot be down played in that it equally has an extended impact on their responsibility in service, the women touch anywhere cannot be matched.
Historically, a couple of women political activists such as, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, Mrs. Janet Mokelu and Ms. Young were members of the Eastern House of Assembly, late Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, though not a full-fledged politician, was a very strong force to reckon with in the politics of the Western Region, and Hajia Gambo Sawaba waged a fierce battle for the political and cultural emancipation of women in the North. These struggles were in 1957, the pre-independence era of Nigeria. One can say that the earlier mentioned women of substance built the foundation on which the present days women are building on and also played viable political roles in Nigeria in spite of all the limitations and encumbrances. Interestingly, evidences are available to prove that the Nigerian women have for long been playing crucial role in political life of the country, and this has contributed in no small measure in shaping the political system of the nation.
It is on record that the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida led military government marked a kickoff in the history of women struggle in Nigeria politics when the then first lady, Maryam Babangida institutionalized the office of the first lady in 1987. She became the first working First Lady and launched the “Better Life for Rural Women” program. Such propelling service she put up left an indelible challenge, and only credence will suffice to other women who have made impact in the country’s political scene include, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, who is believed to have saved the nation of billions of Naira as a result of her affluence in the world bank and as a public officer under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency. Mrs. Obi Ezekwesili also laid a roll up sleeve in the history of Nigeria politics. Prof. Dora Akunyili, the NAFDAC boss performed credibly; was a leading light for the women and Nigeria until her death. She led the fight against adulterated pharmaceutical drugs; her name can never be forgotten in the annals of history. There are armies of women in politics even presently that have done very well and are still performing excellently well.
Despite the difficulties faced by women like Sen. Oluremi Tinubu in politics, she has never dis-continued with their political ambition, contributing enormously to the political and national development in her own way as the challenges militating against her are above prescient. She sees leadership not as a battle with the men. Nigeria is though yet, to have a female president but as female lawmakers, she is a proven amazon for Senate leadership at the next 8th Senate kick off. Inarguably, Sen. Tinubu could be said to have recorded some measure of appreciable tract as the wife of a successful political icon, an accommodating woman and as well as achievements in her political fields of endeavours, hereby meeting her political objectives with limited support and resources at her disposal.
I must say that the involvement of Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, who represents Lagos Central Senatorial District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), an educationist, administrator, philanthropist and Officer of the Order of the Niger, exemplary First Lady of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, during which period she founded the New Era Foundation; a non-profit organisation, dedicated to youth development, girl-child education, women empowerment and inspiring young persons to excellence in national politics. Nigerian women are beginning to participate more actively in political issues as a result of political re-awakening and awareness. She is a front-line advocate of more women participation in politics and matter of national growth and development. She believes a sustainable and dependable nation nation will thrive with women admiral torch. This unfolding is against the believe of a majority of the men whose chauvinistic disposition are preoccupied with the notion that decision making is exclusively for the men folk while women are to be instructed on what to do.
In recognition of her achievements and contributions to societal upliftment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu has been honoured severally locally and internationally. Among these are the National award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger [OON]; Fellowship of both Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo and College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti; Member, Board of Trustees of Kings’ University, Ode-Omu; Ghana Noble International Award for Leadership (2004); Gambian Diamond Award for Immense Contribution to the Emancipation of People from Poverty (2005); many citations and chieftaincy titles. In appreciation of her contributions as a role model, the AFAO/WAWA (Association Des Femmes De L’Afrique De L’Ouest/West African Women Association) named the Oluremi Tinubu Women Training Centre in Gorom, Senegal after her.
On the above note, if Liberia’s head of state Ellen Johnson Sir-leaf could make history as Africa’s first female president, Senator Aisha Alhassan, the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Taraba State could have garnered a frightening amount of supports and votes as a result of her meaningful contributions as a serving Senator, at the just concluded troubled polls, Senator Hillary Clinton could be given the handful of opportunities to made a positive impact in America’s politics, and also the Republican Party’s presidential candidate John McCain could pick a woman, Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska as his running mate for the U.S election, Nigerians also look forward to the giant of the African continent to give women who have proven integrity and tact a leadership position on the road to “change county”, and Sen. Oluremi Tinubu whose constituency development initiatives include: Post-Secondary School Scholarship Scheme [PSSS] –Annual disbursement of N100, 000 to 26 beneficiaries for four years, and 624 students of tertiary institutions receive N10, 000 as book bursaries.
- Grants to help 650 beneficiaries within her constituency to re-capitalize their businesses.
- Provision of maintenance grants to alleviate the plight of the elderly(Elderly Citizen Assistance Scheme).
- Sponsorship of Youth Empowerment and Skills Acquisition Scheme (YESAS) to enable more youth in her constituency to become economically productive and self-employed.
an opportunities to serve as Deputy Senate President in the 8th Senate Presidency, for she has attested to be tested and trusted in the discharge of her marital responsibilities, societal responsibilities and her constitutional responsibilities amidst others.
Conclusively, the above could be seen as the strong factor women constitute in the political parlance of any nation and can be a turning point for the generality of Nigerian women. For development of any kind to be successful, a vantage position should be accorded the women, as they constitute larger proportion of the country’s population. In this regard, they should not be left out in the issues of decision making that bothers even on their lives as a people.