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The women after Buhari’s job

The women after Buhari’s job

In Africa, the political terrain is a male-dominated landscape. Over time, the women folk’s representation in politics has been abysmally low. 

In Nigeria, statistics showed that the overall political representation of Nigerian women in government is less than seven per cent. On the global scene, the world had its first elected female leader in 1960 – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike. But Africa’s chance of an elected female president didn’t come until 2006, when Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, contested the country’s presidential election and won. Interestingly, out of nine female heads of state and government that Africa has had, only two, Sirleaf and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius, were able to secure an elective vote to lead their countries.

The rest assumed their positions in acting capacities. The thinking for most African women is that the political terrain is too rough and murky to navigate, and that is not far from the reality. They believe that the males will usually take the fair share ahead of them. For them, the issues are not farfetched. They are confronted by gender-based attacks which include being sexually harassed, labelled “prostitutes” or “concubines,” considered inferior, the absence of financial backing, among others.

They are also confronted with cultural and social factors. However, in the face of the damning statistics that enunciated the glaring under-representation, women have been undeterred as they have continued to make their voices heard and impact felt especially in both elective and appointments. In Nigeria, the race for the plum job of the land, the presidency, has not been quite rosy after several attempts made to follow the steps of the electorate in countries like Liberia, Germany, Botswana, among others,who voted for female leaders.

The closest women came in a bid to lead Africa’s most populous country was at the 2015 general election, when a professor of Linguistic, Mrs. Oluremi Sonaiya, almost cracked a glass ceiling with her approach and performance, but she polled 13,076 votes in the presidential election. Prior to Sonaiya’s voyage, Mrs. Sarah Jubril, a former presidential aide, had contested the presidential election, when she was on the ballot in 2003 on the platform of Progressive Action Congress (PAC), but lost to former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She subsequently contested the PDP primaries in 2007, but got only one vote.

But with a heightened appetite to change the narrative and recital of women in elective offices, especially for the presidency in 2019, a number of women have decided to throw their hats into the ring to vie for the top job of the land. Already, the 2019 race, is crowded across the parties and at the last count, no fewer than 40 people have indicated interest to contest the election against the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is expected to emerge as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Ahead of the 2019 election, five women have signified interest to run for the presidency. But, for them, the first hurdle is how to get their parties nod. They include Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, Dr. Elishama Ideh, Barr. Eunice Atuejide, Prof. Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies and Princess Oyenike Roberts.

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