The National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress APC, Hajiya Ramatu-Tijjani has bemoaned the fate of women politicians in the current administration.
In an interview with National Mirror, she exclaimed that she was really worried with the lack of women leaders in both Senate and the House of Representatives.
She explained that arrangements were made for some Women to take principal offices but due to some problems they failed to achieve that.
She said: In the Senate, we have a candidate that was coming for the position of the Deputy Senate President. And again we have Khadija Bukar Abba in House of Representatives who also showed interest in contesting for the Majority Leader. But then, as long as the zoning arrangement ab initio favoured that, the party was mindful of how some of them could be worked out to support the affirmative action. Because we are very much aware that, the 8th has dropped in women participation, so we want to make it up and augment by the principal offices occupied by the women.
Unfortunately, the quagmire we now found ourselves in the National Assembly has put us in a very difficult and tight corner. In the Senate, Binta Kaoje actually opted to contest. But as you all know again, the Senate of a country is not owned by a political party. There are Nigerians there with leadership capacity who came out to contest. As you said, we ended up with just the position of Deputy Minority Leader. But we don’t know eventually some things could change so that women can hold some strategic committees where they will also participate. But we had hoped, we really hoped that the turnout of events would have been different.
She revealed that they have asked the president to look into the issue and even gone as far as giving him a courtesy visit.
She believes that Buhari will look into the issue and do something to rectify it.
She said: There are many women within the fold that he will appoint in order to do justice in the upcoming ministerial appointments as well as boards of parastatals that we have.
She explained more, that the APC loves its women and has a lot in stock for them.
She said: There are a lot of programmes that will affect the lives of the Nigerian women, especially the downtrodden. There will be support through various empowerment strategies that will reach out to the women at the grassroots through agriculture and other programmes. There is also the need for the amendment of the constitution in areas like the ‘Land Use Act’ as it affects the women, the issues of land acquisition, the ‘Girls Child Rights Act’.
So many of these things were highlighted in the manifesto and the role of women in the society and their capacity building was strongly emphasised. For example, the displaced families and their children will be relocated and empowered. But I will tell you again, I want to remind you, clearly as much as the manifesto came to bear, it is after the re-structuring that Mr. President is doing, because you cannot build on a wrong foundation. These things were not there ab initio. So all the time it has been taken, the administration will have an expedite action, but I know it will be based on the foundation, the re-structuring, the overhaul of the system and that is what he is doing completely now. With a very solid foundation all these other things will come in place through the agencies, through the Ministry of Women Affairs that will also be allowed to operate independently with a budget and all these activities will start to roll into the system and across.
There is this policy by some parties where women deputise for men in some positions. Is there anything that you have done so far to ensure that apart from the position of Women Leader, APC reserves some positions for women?
There is no single party in Nigeria that has such arrangement where a man leads and the woman deputises or vice versa, but we have been agitating for more positions. We want that to be practised in Nigeria. But actually, even in the seventh National Assembly, we struggled to get some of these things and it didn’t get through. I think that is part of the hurdles we have especially with the men not supporting that in totality.
But then I hope that this government today will rise to the occasion by bringing a kind of measure, not necessarily now, to support policies that will encourage the political parties to make it a rule principally where you have the alternative principle of governance. Where you have the male as the chair or the head of an organisation, the deputy should be a woman. It is what we are agitating for. And if you look at it holistically, that is the only way we will be able to get the 35 per cent affirmative action.
The Former administration headed by Goodluck Jonathan had been said to be Women friendly, having given 35% of government appointments to women.