BusinessDay

2023: Seven women who want Buhari’s office

In line with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, seven smart, fearless female politicians have indicated interest to “break the bias” against female presidency in Nigeria by aspiring for the office of the President in the upcoming 2023 general elections.

If any of them succeeds, she would, on May 29, 2023, take over from President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been in office since May 29, 2015.

However, the number of female aspirants pales into insignificance compared to that of their male counterparts which at the last count was 38 across the political parties.

And this is despite the waivers on nomination fees extended to female aspirants by various political parties.

The female aspirants are Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi of the Social Democratic Party; Uju Ohanenye, first female presidential aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Carol Nwosu of the African Action Congress (AAC), Ibinabo Joy Dokubo, also of the APC; Patience Key of the People’s Redemption Party; Olivia Diana Teriela, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and Angela Johnson of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.

Okunnu-Lamidi, who was the first woman to declare her interest in contesting for President of Nigeria in the 2023 general election, said she was motivated by her desire to rekindle hope and make Nigeria work for all Nigerians. Her intention was made known in January this year.

She said her motivation for vying for presidency stemmed from her desire to make Nigeria work for its diverse populace while also harnessing the undoubted power of its teeming youths.

While describing 2023 as a defining moment for the country, the 38-year-old graduate of Business Management restated her confidence in playing a leading role in writing a new history and restoring hope for Nigeria.

On her part, Ohanenye said the number of male aspirants in the race would not intimidate her.

“I fear that men will want to muscle me out, but I am standing firmly for the people I am here to protect. They will want to push me over, but they cannot intimidate me. It has encouraged me,’’ she said.

Ohanenye, a legal practitioner, said there was a need to involve the average person in the country’s governance and create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths.

“Nigerian youths are brilliant and should not be allowed to be engaged in anti-social activities. I am going to localise the construction of roads and many other things,” she said.

Read also: The persistent marginalisation of women in Nigeria

Nwosu of the AAC said if elected into office, her government would give unalloyed support to the oneness and unity of Nigeria, stressing that she was committed to building a united, peaceful and harmonious nation with the ability to accommodate and cater for all her citizens.

She said she would tackle the challenges that have bedevilled the nation’s quest for a strong and stable federation and unlock its potential.

She also pledged to give 35 percent of appointments to Nigerian women, youths and people living with disability.

Despite the interest already shown by these women, political analysts say it is still a far cry from the 35 percent affirmative action approved by the United Nations. The seven women represent less than 20 percent of the 38 male presidential aspirants.

Chinwe Obaji, former minister of education, said she expected more women to take part in politics as that was the only way to wrest power from the men and give women a pride of place in the polity.

“I applaud the women that have indicated interest to contest for various positions in the country as well as their fresh push for more accommodation. With this development, women are expected to make more impact in the 2023 general election compared to their efforts in the previous presidential polls,” she said.

In the last 60 years of Independence, not many women have shown keen interest in contesting for the office of the president or state governor.

In 1999, only two candidates – Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP and Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy, AD/All Peoples Party, slugged it out, with Obasanjo emerging the winner.

So far, 2003 remains the best attempt by women to occupy the presidential villa also called Aso Villa. Of the 20 presidential candidates, two were women – Sarah Jubril of the Progressive Action Congress, and Mojisola Adekunle Obasanjo of the Masses Movement of Nigeria.

While Mojisola Obasanjo polled 3,757 votes at that election, Jubril scored 157,560 votes, the highest any woman has ever got in a presidential election in the country.

Since then, the fortunes of women have been dwindling at the presidential polls. In a pool of 27 candidates in 2007, there was only one woman – Mojisola Obasanjo, who garnered a miserly 4,309 votes.

In 2011, with 63 political parties, 20 of which fielded candidates, there was also only one woman – Ebiti Ndok of the United National Party for Development, who polled 21,2017 votes.

Sarah Jubril’s efforts to be on the ballot did not succeed. She got one vote at the PDP presidential primary.

The 2015 presidential election was not different; Oluremi Sonaiya, a professor, was the only female in a crowd of 14 presidential candidates. She got 13,076 votes.

The presidential election held in 2019 had 73 candidates, including six women – the highest so far in the history of Nigeria’s political system.

As was the case in previous elections, women altogether polled 25,594. While Buhari got 15,191,847 of the total votes cast, his closest rival Atiku Abubakar of the PDP got 11,262,978 votes, with a wide margin of 3,928,869.

The female presidential aspirants were Oby Ezekwesili (ACPN, 7,223 votes); Angela Johnson (AUN, 1,092 votes); Olufunmilayo Adesanya-Davies (MAJA, 2,651 votes); Eunice Atuejide (NIP, 2,248 votes); Rabia Yasai Hassan Cengiz (NAC, 2,279); and Maina Maimuna Kyari (NPC, 10,081) votes.

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