Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A Case Study Of Niger-Delta Politics...

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The agitation by women to be given equal opportunities in politics and governance is neither news nor a light matter that can be easily swept under the carpet, as call for this inclusion has picked up momentum over the years hence the move by political parties to allot certain slots or positions to women and the increase in political and ministerial appointments.

However, considering the political reality with recourse to the recently held primaries by different political parties across the country (with emphasis on the Niger Delta), one cannot help but wonder if these minimalist inclusion of women so far has been a political stratagem to douse the tension while status quo remains the same to the critical eye.

In the recently held primaries in Niger-Delta states, few female aspirants were recorded and even fewer scaled through. Two most notable are Barrister Nnenna Anozie of Fresh Democratic Party, who was the consensus candidate of the party delegates at the governorship and legislative primaries at Enugu State, thus making her the first female guber aspirant in the state.

In Delta State, in a very interesting albeit unexpected turn of events, Honourable Evelyn Oboro defeated Senator Ighoyota Amori during the legislative primaries for the senate seat, even though all bets were in favour of Senator Amori.

However, in Rivers State the story appears to be different. Most of the party flag bearers emerged through selection by party leaders and leviathans. Suffice it to say that there wasn't a level playing ground for women as they were given compensatory roles of deputies in a hypocritical move to "strike a balance".

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In the recently held Local Government elections, not one woman was selected to run for the position and none won, rather they were selected to be deputies. These unsavory development begs the questions: were equal opportunities given to women? What are the challenges that inhibit women from political success and recognition?

What can be done to salvage the situation? In order to answer the aforementioned questions, the attitude of women to politics must be critically analysed as therein lies the monster. It is worthy to note that the female population is far greater than the male in Nigeria which makes it more ironical that women struggle to achieve political support and relevance even from their fellow women when they have amazing voting strength. In consideration to the intimidating female population, how many women are registered party members? How many women bought the forms for the party primaries into different positions?

The truth remains that the number of women who are registered party members are infinitesimally nanoscopic compared to the female populace and worse still, only a microscopically miniscule percentage of the diminutive number are active members in these political parties. This sad reality and flagrant display of pococurantism by the female populace has proven detrimental to the female political progress. Few women indicated interest in contesting for a position and even fewer bought party forms for the primaries. Many have understandably blamed the ridiculously preposterous prices of these forms as the reason for their insouciance. Furthermore, at the risk of playing the devil's advocate, it is expedient to note that certain variables and qualities are considered by party leaders and godfathers when selecting the bourgeois aspirant for any position. Variables like level of participation, commitment and dedication to the party growth is brought into play, visibility in party activities, palace intrigues and organisational structure are brought to bear. Strength of character and the grassroots influence which the aspirant wields in his constituency are strongly considered.

How many women in different political parties fit into this mould in all honesty? A clear attitudinal analysis of women in politics will reveal a different disposition and approach to politics by women which will guarantee political stagnancy unless it's decisively dealt with. Women in politics treat politics like dinner which is already prepared and ready to eat. Most of them have failed to understand that politics is like alacarte. You place an order and wait till the process is completed and the meal is served. The dinner mentality has made them only interested in the here-and-now instead of the rather more fulfilling "there-and-then". This dinner mentality is the major catalyst to their preoccupation with the immediate things and conquest while ignoring the expediency of grassroot politicking, party contributions and participation, consistency in making opinions known in issues of national, economic and political interest, fervent campaigns and constituency projects.

These are foundational and more fundamental to building personal capacity, strength of character and influence in political parties and the nation. These things create awareness and make one's name a household name in the country. Dino Melaye no matter how controversial is a household name and has his own followers. Ben Bruce has made a name with his Commonsense TV/radio broadcasts. How many women have carved a niche or created awareness for themselves through their own special way prior to elections?

Most of these female aspirants and deputies are virtually unknown to the masses. How then are they expected to be receptive when they know literally nothing about the aspirant? This has spurred the belief that women in politics tend to soar on the wings of political godfathers who endorse them for political positions hence their nonchalance to work out their successes. Contrariwise, men in comparative analysis treat politics like alacarte. Years before the election, they have already begun making moves. Investing heavily in political parties, familiarizing themselves with the powers that be, being opinionated about national issues (opinions bothering mostly on the controversial to bring them more awareness), they play the opposition card depending on the side they belong (ruling party or not). These are the process they employ while patiently waiting for the meal to get done and served alacarte.

Generally, men treat politics like business. They invest in it, go through the process and await your day to enjoy the success and resultant gain. During the election, both primaries and general elections, the men make the loudest noise and are more aggressive in the campaigns. They go into communities literally begging for votes, they invite people for town hall meetings to dialogue with them, they make fake attempts at giving accounts of stewardships, they give the masses sense of importance while trying to gain their sympathies. Women in politics need an urgent reorientation on how the game of politics is played. There must be a transition from the dinner mentality to alacarte mentality. They must become more participatory in their political parties, they have to understand the intrigues of grassroot politics and adopt it. They must become visible in the political sphere. Any day women in politics see politics for what it is and understand its intrigues, the political maze will become alot less complicated. When they master the game and play, they will definitely win.

This article is not targeted at sweeping the concerns of women in politics under the carpet, rather it seeks to passionately excavate and expose the root of the challenges and stagnancy while suggesting better ways and reforms.

Women, arise!

Written By: Mr Smart Uzoechi is a media person in Port Harcourt.

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