Africa’s most populous country can produce its first female President in less than two decades, a lawmaker in Lagos said on Saturday, after a tribunal ruled that Mrs. Aisha Jummai Alhassan was the duly elected governor of Taraba State in the April 2015 election. If that ruling stands at the court of Appeal, she will become the first female elected governor in Nigeria in 55 years of independence.
That ruling was controversial and the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, described it as ridiculous, saying that it cannot stand before men and God. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party also condemned it and accused the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress of manipulating the courts.
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, has also said that he will appeal the ruling. He will remain in office until that appeal is determined.
Still, Honourable Segun Olulade, who represents Epe Constituency II at the Lagos State House of Assembly, said the ruling was an inspiration to millions of Nigerian women and an indication that Nigerians might be getting ready for a female President in less than two decades.
“If a woman can emerge Governor in a state where there are millions of men, then a woman can emerge President of Nigeria sooner than expected,” Olulade said.
Out of 36 governors in Nigeria, none of them is a woman, even though women represent more than half of the 170 million Nigerians.
Very few women have also been appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as ministers and some women activists have said that it was a setback to some progress made when women were more visible in government in past administrations.
But Olulade said the emergence of a female governor was a big deal in Nigeria and called on women to play more active roles in politics and governance. He also urged them to draw inspiration from countries like Brazil and Germany where women are at the helm of affairs in governance.
Olulade called on the People’s Democratic Party to accept the verdict “in good faith” and begin to put up mechanism for reforming internal democracy which is lacking in the party.
For those who have observed Nigerian politics for some time, internal democracy has remained an illusion for all political parties, including the ruling APC. Candidates are often selected by corrupt godfathers who then expect returns in the form of favours from the selected candidates.
Primary elections are often seen as a ruse to fulfil constitutional provisions, but the selection is often done with threats and bribes to the delegates.
With no internal democracy, elected officials are often more loyal to the party and godfathers than to the people who elected them. As a result, more than 70 percent of Nigerians have remained stuck in squalor and hopelessness, even as elected officials live in gated houses and crisscross the planet in private jets.
In referring to the opposition PDP, Olulade said impunity, rigging, manipulation and other social vices should be buried if the angry PDP is to see the light of 2019 general elections.
That will be the time Buhari and those who were elected early this year will come before Nigerians again for another mandate.
Olulade and wife
“The truth is that Nigerians are tired of misrule, impunity and lack of vision by a political party that seeks power,” he said.
“Nigerians, more than APC as a party, decided the 2015 general elections by sweeping off bad governance simply because they are tired. By 2019, the powers with the electorate would have grown enormous to determine every polling booth during elections”.