A Letter To Nigerian Women – Ben Murray Bruce

By the time you read this, Theresa May would have assumed office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

This is even as the United States looks poised to elect another woman, Hilary Clinton, as President of the United States.

Already, Angela Merkel has proven to be the de facto leader of Europe and, through the European Union, has used her influence to save other European nations like Greece and Spain, from economic collapse.

It is looking as if the three most important nations in the West are going to be led by women.

What does this mean for Nigeria and the rest of Africa? It means that women have come of age.

No longer should we consign our women to playing second fiddle roles.

Women are synonymous with good governance and less corruption.

Look at what Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has achieved in Liberia after becoming the first elected female President in Africa. She reduced corruption and paid off Liberia’s external debt that had been accumulated by her male predecessors. She won the Nobel Peace Prize and her previously war torn nation is now a peaceful country well on its way to prosperity.

What about Joyce Banda. Look at what she achieved as the first female President of Malawi. She reduced government spending and sold of her Presidential jet and a fleet of 60 luxury cars. She also sacked her entire cabinet because of a corruption scandal.

Both these women prove that females can perform as leaders and it is high time we empower Nigerian women at all levels of government. When you empower women, you empower a whole community.

Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough women in the federal and state executive councils today.

If Nigeria must make progress, we have to use affirmative action to empower Nigerian women by compulsorily reserving at least 35% of all elective and appointive political positions for women.

It is my firm belief that doing this will improve government efficiency and reduce corruption as well as promote the well being of communities and societies all over Nigeria.

Do you doubt me? Ask yourself who helped Nigeria pay off all her foreign debt between 2003 and 2006? Was it not a woman? Who saved millions of Nigerians from fake drugs? Was it not another woman? Who won Nigeria’s first Olympic Gold Medal? Yes, a woman by the name of Chioma Ajunwa.

The time has come for Nigeria to remove the glass ceiling above the heads of our women.

And make no mistake about it, there is a glass ceiling over women in Nigeria.

Going down memory lane, you may remember Hon. Patricia Etteh, the Nigerian woman who had risen to the highest rank politically so far when she was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007.

In September of 2007, Hon. Patricia was falsely accused of awarding a contract of N628 million for the renovation of her official quarters as Speaker by some of her colleagues and she resigned as Speaker a few weeks later on the 30th of October even though she was not indicted.

In his account of the Yar’Adua years titled ‘Power, Politics and Death: A front-row account of Nigeria under the late President Yar’Adua,, former Presidential spokesman, Segun Adeniyi, revealed that the late president had her investigated over the event and found her innocent of the charges.

The ironic thing is that she resigned and remained in the House and did not plot revenge against her traducers or seek to destabilise the House.

The reason her actions sound very un-Nigerian is because it is un-Nigerian.

Hon. Patricia Etteh proved what is possible when you have a woman in power.

Women generally do not have egos. They tend not to have an over-bloated image of themselves. They tend not to fight to the death. They are not territorial. They also tend to place institutions over themselves.

Is that not what we need in Nigeria today?

And the thing is that having a female governor or President is not as hard as Nigerian women may think it is.

All that Nigerian women need is unity. You see, a women will be a governor or President the day Nigerian women have solidarity with each other irrespective of tribe and face their common problem of male dominance and end it by uniting behind a candidate and giving their bloc vote to her.

Nigerian women do not need power, rather power needs Nigerian women!

Women in politics means politics without bitterness and politics with betterness.

Just look at what Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar achieved as the first Chief Justice of Nigeria. She launched perhaps the most far reaching war against corruption in the judiciary. Under her, the National Judicial Council (NJC) probed a record 23 judges at one instance and recommended two judges for compulsory retirement for corruption related offences.

Justice Mukhtar improved confidence in the judiciary and improved the turnaround time of justice delivery by issuing a directive that no judge could travel out of the country without a written permission of the CJN and could not leave their stations without the authorisation of the appropriate heads of courts.

She also asked jurists who could not deliver a minimum of four judgments annually to prepare to be purged from the judiciary and insisted that judges must commence sitting by 9 a.m. everyday rather than the previous practice where they sat at whatever times they chose.

Now close your eyes and imagine what this Amazon would have achieved had she been President of Nigeria.

And there are many more like her from every part of Nigeria who can do the job better if only we would remove the glass ceiling over the heads of Nigerian women.

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