Why Nigeria Has Lowest Representation Of Women In Politics
Nigeria has the lowest number of women participation in government all over Africa. It also means that is the lowest number of women in parliament on the continent. That number has drastically been dropping in this decade. In the 36 states of the country, no woman was elected governor. In 2019 the story remains the same.
Nineteen states had no females slots on their National Assembly either on APC or PDP platforms. These states are Bauchi, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Sokoto, Taraba, and Zamfara.
An estimated nine to fifteen women will serve in the 9th Assembly, making up three to four percent of all the 360 members in the House of Reps. Seven or eight women will serve in the 9th Senate and thats 6.3 percent of the senators.
Sherif, the sole host on Morning Crossfire remarked that it is sad and troubling, and worth talking about.
He examined the reasons behind the relegating of women to the background in Nigeria's politics. He also examined issues regarding this negative trend by looking at the past and present times. It was determined that things were better in the past with women active in leadership positions.
Principal Counsel, Joyce Oduah & Co, Barrister Joyce Oduah, a guest on the Morning Crossfire show said that the situation is really sad. She alluded to the Women Conference organized in Beijing China, which participants as advocates on a global scale agreeing to give women at least 30 percent chance in politics and other pivotal areas. "But you find out that it has been really difficult," she said.
Oduah blamed the Nigerian culture as the primary culprit. Nigerians, according to her, see women as people that would be relegated the domestic areas. They are saddled with tasks of taking care of their children or their husbands. It has even gone beyond that, she claimed.
Do women really need help from society, from the men?
One crucial area brought up by Oduah is that when married women want to join politics, they are at the mercy of their husbands and if the women is a well-behaved woman, she would listen to her husband when he declines from letting her achieve her dreams in polictics. Only few men would allow their wives to take up positions in Nigeria's political dispensations.
According to Rotimi Sankore, In-House guest on the show, who began by pointing to the role of government, the problem of women exclusion from politics did not start with the present Buhari administration. He further clarifies that all the challenges in Nigeria are cumulative. Sankore said only the government in power at any particular time can fix the problem. It is impossible to go back to past leaders for solutions to Nigeria's problems, whether they are dead or alive.
Sankore believes that the problem of women exclusion in government is indeed a serious one which needed attention since 1999 in Nigeria.
What could have been responsible for this?
Sankore responded that there is absence of equal opportunity as many people believe that women are not capable. But women are actually capable but are not given the chance, said Sankore. The problem did not start from nominating people for offices. It starts with equal opportunity for education, incomes, etc.
Other problems attached to this issue is the case of child marriages. Nigerian women have been marginalized, a good number of them have been beaten, raped, and have been made to believe that they as women must be in total subjection.
In the case of property or wealth transfer, women lose out as many states in the federation do not recognize women's rights as far as inheritance from parents to children are concerned. It does not matter even when the women are educated.
Which women can go out to vote when they could just be locked inside the room and the 'oga' goes out with the key? That was a question Sankore asked.
Yet, many Nigerians fail to recognize that there are serious consequences when women's rights are violated. Joining again the conversation, Barrister Oduah referred to times when the situation was different. She mentioned Queen Amina, who founded Zaria, and was actively a soldier. Another woman was Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, Moremi, Margaret Ekpo, and some others.