Diaspora Woman leader, Tinubu Support Organisation and Matron, Asiwaju Volunteers Groups, Baroness Tinuke Davies-Kesington on Friday complained about the perceived marginalisation of women in Nigeria, saying the women are not having a fair deal in the country’s politics.
‘’ I will say first, that women, being the majority in the population, are not adequately represented in politics in Nigeria, especially when we look at the important roles that women fulfill in society at large. Yet women have significant influence in politics, as the electorate, as well as in areas such as campaigning and fundraising. Nigerian women, regardless of ethnic and tribal background, are for the most part entrepreneurs. From the woman in the market, to the multi million naira event planner, entrepreneurialism is what defines the Nigerian woman.’’
Speaking to journalists in Lagos, Davies Kessington stated that the cry of marginalisation of women in Nigeria’s politics underscored the imperative of women seeing politics as a calling and service to nation and the people.
‘’To be direct, women in Nigeria have not involved themselves more fully in politics. It is seen as a game for men, seeking power, which of course is a wrong perspective to have, but nevertheless, this is how politics is viewed. Nigerian women focus their energies on being entrepreneurs rather than politics. This is purely a pragmatic choice, as survival and providing for one’s family comes first. Women in Nigeria must see politics as a calling for those who wish to serve their fellow citizens and make life better.”
Davies-Kessington, a strong supporter of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, maintained that no matter the setback suffered by the pro-gender bill aimed at increasing women’s participation in governance and representation, the future of women in Nigeria is bright.
‘’I know that a large number of women, who have interest in politics, would have been discouraged, and disheartened by what happened with the bill in March 2022. Those who voted against increased representation of women in politics, probably even hoped for women to be discouraged. However, I want women in Nigeria to really think. We do not need permission to engage in politics in Nigeria. The goal of politics is to solve existential problems. Women have a large population, and we therefore constitute a large proportion of the electorate. We are the ones that vote politicians into power. We already have the numbers. We just need to organise. We do not need permission. In fact, I think that if we engage in politics, with true enthusiasm, and actively seek to solve the numerous problems in Nigeria that affect us as women, and consequently families, then more qualified and capable women will become an integral part of politics. That would be a good thing.’’
She spoke on culture, religion and the need to balance the scheme of things in Nigeria
‘’Women in Nigeria can equate the balance. Nigerian women function in very high pressure environments. We are mothers, business owners, wives, home managers. We take care of family, and extended family, we negotiate, we teach, we counsel. There is so much that we do as women. And yet, we are able to function at the highest levels, and this is done through balancing all that we do. We do this naturally, and in the field of politics, women can bring a healthy balance. Women are able to see the best way to manage details, and see how to resolve issues through collaboration. Nigerian women will always bring balance, as we naturally collaborate, and seek synergy, rather than think in terms of competition, or power. That is how many men see things, and that is what works for them. The balance will come in the grand scheme of things in Nigeria, when women move forward with confidence, and show the attributes we have that will benefit the political system in Nigeria.’’
The Bola Tinubu’s campaigner stated that the women should not be taken for granted any longer.
‘’Nigeria is a democratic country. Protest and dissenting voices have a right to be heard, especially where there is hurt, anger, or discontent. It must be encouraged. Women in Nigeria need to think deeply. We have numbers and influence over the electorate. We only need to organise, aggregate our numbers, and put forward or support those representatives for electoral positions that support women, and the issues that are important to them. There is no rule that says that these representatives have to be men. The political field is also open to women. Political positions are open to Nigerian women. All it takes is proper organisation.’’
She suggested that current moves to increase women participation in politics should include strategy and collaboration.
‘’I am working with capable women, who are actively involved in politics in Nigeria. I am mentoring young women who are interested in engaging in politics. I am working directly with very competent men, in Nigeria, politicians who advocate and support increased women’s participation in the political system in Nigeria. I am working with a number of organisations who are devising procedures and policies that will encourage more female engagement in politics at both the local and national levels in Nigeria. There is a lot of work I am doing, but I am not doing it alone. It is only through strategy, and collaboration, that Nigerian women can get more involved, and actually do the real work that politics entails.’’
She harped on the need for appropriate organisation.
‘’A large majority of Nigerian women are entrepreneurs. We are natural capitalists. The most important thing that Nigerian women can do, in the field of politics, is to organise. Once organised, we as women, can then focus directly on the issues at hand. Money in politics is just one aspect of the electoral process, as countless aspirants and would be politicians in Nigeria have found out. There is more to it, and Nigerian women know this. Money is just one aspect. Women being organised in Nigeria, is more powerful than money, or a political process that has been monetised.’’
She stated that the main challenges before the current administration were economy and insecurity.
‘’Security is a core issue for Nigeria. Everyone is affected, and the very viability of Nigeria as a country and a functional democracy, hangs in the balance because of security, or rather the lack of it. Terrorism, robbery and murder have no place in a country that boasts such deep, ancient cultures, and highly intelligent and educated people. The lack of security in Nigeria, the loss of life, rampant kidnappings, is destroying the image of Nigeria on the world stage. Nigeria lacks a real tourism industry, because there is a lack of security. Direct foreign investment, outside of the oil and gas industry, is severely limited because of the perceived risk that Nigeria has become. Insecurity is not a new thing in Nigeria. Homes in Nigeria are built like prisons, complete with high walls, steel doors and metal bars on the windows. No one in Ghana or Togo has to live like prisoners in their own homes the way Nigerians do. People in Nigeria are used to living in fear and insecurity. They are so used to it, that they no longer realise just how much fear they have’’
The Diaspora APC leader also made fresh case for proper intelligence gathering, outreach in the communities, where criminals and terrorists come from, in order to prevent further recruitment and social policy to help support young people and put them into positive alternative activities.
‘’The so-called “Giant of Africa”, is now being laughed at, and being described as a pig, wallowing in its own dirt and filth. This is unacceptable, and it has led to Nigerians that live abroad openly insulting the home country in front of outsiders. No Nigerian that lives abroad, no matter what tribe they are from, generally has anything good to say about Nigeria. It has become the norm to curse Nigeria. This is shameful for a country with so much potential, to become a leading nation in the world. This has to do with insecurity, and the economy. For Nigeria to move ahead, in a world that is becoming ever more technologically advanced, Security has to be at the forefront of every Nigeria’s mind, both at home, and in the diaspora. It is the volatile security in Nigeria that acts as an impediment for people to return to Nigeria and contribute. All too often, we hear of victims, and it keeps getting worse. Just look at the full scale military attacks, killings and kidnappings of women and girls in the North of the country. Look at the murder, kidnapping and robbery in the South of the country. This is unacceptable. But sadly, Nigerians are used to living with, and adapting to unacceptable conditions.’’
She also tasked the security agencies on information sharing.
‘’There is a need for better information sharing between different agencies such as the police and the military, and between different regions. There must be a network of correct information gathering, so that we know who the enemy is, how they are financed, who supports them, where they live, who they are related to, who they associate with. To destroy an enemy, you must know the enemy. There must be a shift in the mindset of security agents in Nigeria. The police, military and others must become more motivated, and undertake more training in intelligence gathering, investigation and counter terrorism, so that they can perform their duties more effectively.’’
She emphasised severe penalties for high level criminals, and terrorists, as well as those associated with them.
‘’There is need for punitive and financial penalties for anyone that supports any form of criminality and terrorism. Government must be bold and robust in labeling terrorists, armed robbers and kidnappers as what they are: They are enemies of every tribe and every person in Nigeria. They are enemies and need to be seen as such. The communities need to ostracize them. If the country’s economy is to grow, Nigeria needs security, if the population is to live freely. Nigeria needs security, if it is to be taken seriously as a leading nation in Africa, Nigeria needs security. If Nigeria’s security situation gets worse, while politicians look on, our country will not only be laughed at, but every Nigerian, of every tribe, will be looked down upon, as incompetent human beings, who cannot even live safely within our borders. Robust strategies must be employed to keep citizens safe. Anything less, will be failure, and spell doom for the nation and the citizens.’’
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain advised those aspiring for political positions in 2023 to focus on the country’s security challenges.
‘’The agenda for any new administration must be robust and strategic. There must be competent information gathering and outreach for the disaffected communities that terrorists, kidnappers, and armed robbers come from. There must be stronger legislation to punish offenders and willingness by the government to boldly assert that groups that advocate violence against people or the state, through actions, words or symbols, are terrorists and criminals and they must be punished as such. Armed robbers and kidnappers must be targeted relentlessly.’’
She also appealed to the electorate not to elect ineffective representatives in 2023.
‘’Nigeria can win the battle of insecurity when the mindset shifts from it being a battle, to it being a war. There must be a war waged against insecurity and Nigerians must hold every single politician, police officer, and military officer accountable. The politicians must lead, and be held accountable for keeping citizens safe. If they fail to do this, then Nigerian citizens must be brave enough to ensure that they no longer elect ineffective representatives. Nigerians will continue to live like prisoners, if security is not made a core issue by the incoming government.’’