Monday, 5 November 2018

Gender And Political Inclusion:The Rivers State Scenario... Article By Pius Dukor

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The recent Anambra State 2018 women’s summit that witnessed the wife of the vice president, federal republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency Dolapo Osinbajo was a wake –up call for women in the country irrespective of their political affiliations to be more pragmatic and be more conscious than ever before to be involved in party politics.

Notwithstanding, some political pundits might dismiss it as a mere political gimmick to eulogies the women and win cheap popularity. On the contrary, the statement share some similarities with the “I have a dream” by Martin Lurther King Jnr. and “I can” in the Barack Obama Sloganeering ideology, in America before he was elected President. This can only be achieved and actualized if the women grow above petty women politics and embrace the spirit of oneness. The lucid point I am making is that as the 2019 general elections get closer, it is imperative for Nigerian women including Rivers women to participate in politics with total zeal, vigor and charisma, definitely on a full scale. 

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That was the marching order of the Vice President’s wife. It is important to mention that the women in politics must find alliance and collaborators that will sensitize the male counterpart in the manner that will not jeopardize the idea. We are aware of male egoism and the domineering tendencies which are embellished in his greediness. The fact will not always see men as counterpart but as political jobbers. To boost their political profile, women must pass through the crucible of political baptism and be versatile in current socio-political issues around the world as a pre-condition and prove that they know more than the men. In many climes, women have shifted from their early domestic prowess to supper political gurus in their own right. Most of them are now political leaders and Presidents of countries, organizations and associations to mention a few. In fact, this is rather becoming a women’s world, whereby they take challenges to become pilots, engineers, doctors, divers and geologists. The world is on a fast lane of development and the women of Rivers State cannot be left behind.
Sarcastically, our women have been trained to be airport visitors welcoming guest without being welcomed. They are left with the option of singing beautiful songs at political rallies and at the receiving end of getting cups of salt, fertilizer, rice, wrapper as their reward for their political participation. This nonsensical and poverty infected behavior must stop. However, many believe the political juggernauts who are men have consistently design this metaphor to suit their purpose.

Therefore, Rivers women must be extra –vigilant not be intimidated by the male counterpart or surreptitiously excluded on a mere fictitious accusation that women are not ready to play the game of politics, since politics is not the exclusive right of any of the gender to be manipulated or extinguished by the other. Over the years, the Rivers women have been politically deprived, excluded and placed at kindergarten level of our political space and this marginalization have in no small measure continued to shrink the already narrow space for women and encumbered development in the 23 Local Government Areas of the state. Research have shown that women exclusion from political activities in the various states and local governments levels have resulted into economic strangulation, social dislocation, poverty and stagnation. These has rather compounded and narrowed the space of their contributions to societal development in the political sector. Men who find themselves in this exalted political offices often based the allocation of political offices on flimsy excuses like, school mate syndrome, political loyalty, member of the same association sometime members of the same confraternity. Others are based on nepotism, tribalism among others, without considering the essential element of merit.

Apparently, Nigerian women across the various states, local governments are both physically and mentally strong to move the nation to a high level. For instance, the Aba women organizing in 1929 during the colonial era was a strong indicator of such political will by the women. It is the bitter truth that women manage resources in every strater of their life than their male counterpart, which will help to encourage frugality and reduce spend drift, excessive primitive accumulation by the men in politics. Apart from political depression of women in Rivers State, the issue multiple tax injustice has also crippled local businesses especially at the popular “Oil Mill” Market in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
In the political setting in Rivers State, some women have inadvertently jettisoned the idea of political contestation base on intimidation, harassment, name-calling, threat, lack of financial muscle, out –right rigging and the “step down syndrome”, living politics to be men’s affair. There are doubts whether the women do fund raising to support their fellow female as men do. This have left indelible question on their attitude, love for one another and the quest to be at the top. Furthermore, most women are threatened by political hooliganism, god-fatherism, political patronage and sometime victimization arising from refusal to serve as

“Mistress” to some political bigwig. In all these, youth restiveness and political violence has continued to serve as nightmares to a lot of women who are supposed to be encouraged. Moreso, the men have surreptitiously or bracingly telling the women that politics is a men’s affair either in words or action. Here in Rivers State, in 2015, a woman was given the Deputy Governorship slot under the Social

Democratic Party (SDP), and the good news is the current position of the Deputy Governor of Rivers State Dr. Ipalibo Harry – Banigo which is not adequate, because in the State House of Assembly there is only one female legislator. In the political calculation of how many women are elected into political offices especially, the senate, House of representative member, House of assembly and local government chairman, and their appointment into political offices woman are not there yet. The recent visit by the National Council of Women Society led by their President Gloria Laraba Shoda to Aso Villa to demand political inclusion and 35 percent affirmative action from President Buhari was timely. The automatic ticket given to women as vice chairmen of local government councils in the state by Governor Wike is done out of sympathy and a fallout from their forceful exclusion from participation from internal democracy.

It is sadden to note that political appointments have also not favored the women even in the political party offices that win election, only few women are allowed with the nomenclature of “women leader”. It is important to note that choosing the right women in position of trust is not too cumbersome. Most often, men use cultural practice as a tool to disempower the women from playing the God given role in the political landscape of their state. Therefore, women of Rivers State must jump – start from the shackles of cultural negativity that have perpetually imprisoned them and to a high pedestrian of political positivism and participation.

Conclusively, the gains of women inclusion in politics are very enormous and gamine as this will reduce political assassination and corruption in the political circle. Women in politics will bring the desired change and proper accountability system since they are naturally care –givers even in their homes, and inflation of contracts bracingly displayed by men will be put on check. Most women protect their character and image especially when in a political office, therefore indiscriminate unjustified political appointments must be merited which will promote stability, integrity and progression in the polity.

Pius Dukor writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers state Nigeria.

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