Does Nigeria need a female governor?

Taraba . First female Gov. in Nigeria, Sen. Aisha Jumai Alhassan

All the women in Nigeria who have been shouting for affirmative action in Nigeria are probably happy now the womenfolk have produced the first executive governor in Nigeria.

The term “affirmative action” was first used in the United States in “Executive Order No.10925”,[6] signed by President John F. Kennedy on 6 March 1961, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”

The nature of affirmative action policies varies from region to region. Some countries, such as India, use a quota system. In some other regions, specific quotas do not exist; instead, members of minorities are given preference in selection processes.

In Nigeria, the quota system is used but it is not geared towards favoring Nigerian women per se, but to distribute public offices in both the executive and judicial branches of government amongst the 36 states and/or 6 geopolitical zones and also to distribute elective positions amongst the 36 states and/or 6 zones in the legislative branch.

Affirmative action or positive discrimination is the policy of favoring members of a disadvantaged group who suffer from discrimination within a culture – such as we have in Nigeria.

The question is: are women discriminated against in Nigeria? If the answer is yes – then Taraba state in North central Nigeria has probably opened the way for Nigerian women in politics. 

Taraba . First female gov. Sen. Aisha Alhassan during her senate ministerial screening

Photo: Sen. Aisha Alhassan during her senate ministerial screening.

The latest news trending in Nigeria now originated, not in Jalingo the capital of Taraba state but in Abuja Nigeria’s capital. The Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja nullified the election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The tribunal headed by Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar declared the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan (a.k.a. Madam Taraba, a woman), as the bona-fide winner of the April 11 governorship poll in the state.

The tribunal held that the PDP went ahead to conduct the December 11, 2014 primary in Abuja instead of Jalingo without giving explanation to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The tribunal also held that all votes cast to the governor on April 11 were wasted and declared Alhassan, (Madam Taraba) who scored the next highest votes, winner of the election.

The tribunal ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the governor and issue a fresh one to Sen. Alhassan.

Having one woman amongst 35 other male chauvinist governors in Nigeria is hardly a positive thing in the direction of affirmative action – but as they say, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a step, even if a slow one.

In the legislative arm of government, affirmative action was dealt a blow with the reduction of the number of women elected into both houses of the Nigerian National Assembly. You can hardly blame Nigerian voters – many of them are male chauvinists and their female counterparts.

Nigerian women are to blame for many of the political fortunes or misfortunes of their fellow womenfolk who courageously dabble into the murky and dangerous waters of Nigerian politics.

At last, whether through the instrumentality of a legal process such as the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja which sacked a sitting male governor or the handmaid of God, Nigeria now has the very first female governor.

There is still hope for Nigerian women in politics – the objections and gnashing of teeth of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notwithstanding.

Congrats to Madam Taraba.

By Nnamdi Ebo

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