The forthcoming Gen. Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government will, like the current administration, parade many women believed to be influential, FISAYO FALODI writes
The outgoing administration of President Goodluck Jonathan boasts of an array of influential women, who command much respect even among their male counterparts. Apart from the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, who pundit say is always interested in official matters and those who get elective and appointive positions, it is believed that the influence of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, made Jonathan’s administration popular.
The two ministers currently head sensitive ministries in Jonathan’s government.
Likewise, the inauguration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s new President on May 29 will throw up another set of influential women. Some of the women were believed to have invested their energy in the March 28 pre-election campaigns in which the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate won.
The women, parading what may be described as robust credentials, braved all odds to contest elections like their male counterparts to represent the people of their various constituencies or districts.
A few of them, according to observers, will wield a lot of influence in the incoming administration by the virtue of their positions as the wives of the President or vice-president, while others will hold sway because of the offices they occupy in the APC executive committee.
The 44-year-old wife of the President-elect, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, will automatically become the country’s new First Lady on May 29 after her husband’s inauguration.
The Adamawa State-born cosmetologist attended the famous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration.
Though, some people have described the member of the United Kingdom Vocational Training and Charitable Trust and the International Health and Beauty Council as an introvert, she is said to be a consummate politician and strong believer in the project Nigeria. The alumnus of the famous Carlton Institute of London and the Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France did tell everyone during the pre-election campaigns that her husband, if elected, would give women opportunities to contribute to the development of the country.
Hajiya Buhari demonstrated her passion for the development of Nigerian women at a campaign rally in Edo State, where she assured women that her husband would initiate policies that would guarantee their improved living standard.
She said, “I am here to let Edo women know that when my husband is elected into office as President, insecurity, the girl-child trafficking, the plight of the widows in the South-East will be looked into.
“There must be a cultural design that can accommodate the widow. A design that would make the girl-child comfortable wherever she is in this country.
“The portion of the girl-child is to have a high standard and moral society for her to live in, get married, have children, train them and also mould them to become future leaders.”
Little was known about Dolapo Osinbajo until her husband emerged as the APC vice-presidential candidate.
The grand-child of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, is the leader of the Ladies Fellowship of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus House Paris, Banana Island, Lagos.
Described as humble and submissive wife by those who are close to her family, she supported her husband in 2007 to establish ‘The Orderly Society Trust’, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of Christian ethics and orderliness.
While others sought political offices to touch the people’s lives, Mrs. Osinbajo yearned for a different avenue to reach the larger society, especially the poor. She invariably wrote a book, They Call Me Mama.
She said the drive to write the book came from her experiences with some “street boys and men in Lagos State.” According to her, she aims to use the proceeds from the book to sustain her efforts in getting the street urchins off the roads and into homes.
Mrs. Osinbajo said, “My weekly visit to the boys in their hideout under the bridge for several years has filled me with unforgettable stories. Reminiscences of these times are the focus of this book. Our original meeting spot which was lovingly referred to as ‘Under’, today; it has been transformed to the Muri Okunola Park.
“To me, they are beloved children and they call me ‘Mama.’ They are lost, but can be found. That was why I was compelled to write the book and I dedicate the book to everyone who is lost.”
The senator representing Lagos Central is an educationist, administrator, philanthropist and Officer of the Order of the Niger. She was described as exemplary First Lady of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, during which period she founded the New Era Foundation, a non-profit organisation, dedicated to youth development, girl-child education, women empowerment and inspiring youths to excellence.
It was believed that Mrs. Tinubu’s re-election into the Senate in the just concluded general elections would make her become more influential in the next government as she may head one of the sensitive committees in the upper legislative chambers.
As a senator, she hosts a quarterly town hall meeting with her constituents to render accounts of her stewardship and obtain feedbacks on their developmental needs. To date, she has sponsored three bills to provide Social Security for Elderly Citizens; seek the Amendment of the Labour Act to enhance employment opportunities for women and a bill to provide Special Economic Assistance to Lagos State in view of its status as a former capital city and the commercial capital of Nigeria.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Diaspora Affairs, is also considered as a force to reckon with in the forthcoming administration.
The dexterity with which she coordinated the APC presidential campaign alongside a senator-elect, Dino Melaye, had endeared her to the party.
Dabiri-Erewa was first elected into the House of Representatives to represent Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. She also won re-election in 2011.
The former Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity had sponsored a number of significant bills that were passed by the Parliament, including the Freedom of Information Bill; a bill for an act to ensure full integration of Nigerians with physical disabilities and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them; the Nigerian Infant Health Welfare Bill (ensuring every child under five receives free medical care); Nigerian Diaspora Commission Bill; a bill to repeal Nigerian Press Council Bill and replace it with the Nigerian Press and Journalism Council Bill (strengthening the NPC and promote responsible journalism and protect the welfare of journalists in Nigeria).
Dabiri-Erewa did not contest for any elective office in the just concluded general elections. Observers are of the opinion that her performance as Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora as well as her activities during the APC campaign will earn her an enviable position in the incoming cabinet.
Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu
The President-General of the Global Women & Youth Empowerment Strategy will no doubt command much respect in Buhari’s administration by the virtue of her position as the APC Woman Leader.
Like her woman colleagues, Ramatu Aliyu, committed herself to APC’s activities to contribute to the party’s victory in the last presidential election.
Aliyu demonstrated her commitment to the party by mobilising the electorate, especially women, to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
“The collection of the PVCs represents a veritable instrument to ensure that the people, to whom power resides, exercise their franchise in the legitimate pursuit of free choice and popular sovereignty,” Aliyu had said in a statement in Abuja.
Having capitalised on the numerical strength of Nigerian women, the APC Woman Leader told her folks before the election that without the sacred power to vote in a democracy, they could hardly effect the change, which they desire for the sake of their collective happiness and fulfillment.
He said, “Nigerian women constitute over 50 per cent of active voters during elections in the country. It is therefore, important that they avail themselves of the historic opportunity offered by the exercise to strengthen their electoral value and consolidate their demographic advantage, especially as we approach the 2015 general elections.
“Accordingly, I call on Nigerian women to rise in unison and ensure their active participation in the exercise. They should troop out en-mass and ensure that they collect their PVCs so that their votes will not only count but make the difference during elections.
“I urge that in the prevailing circumstance, our women should reaffirm their faith in democratic change and strengthen their resolve to enthrone good governance rooted in popular franchise, free and fair elections and robust democratic engagement.”
Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission declared that the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Mr. Darius Ishaku, won the Taraba State governorship election, the APC candidate in the poll, Senator Aisha Al-Hassan, has demonstrated that she is a force to reckon with in the politics of the state.
Alhassan’s popularity grew after she defeated three male aspirants to clinch the APC governorship ticket at the party’s primary held at Jolly Nyame Stadium, Jalingo, amid heavy security.
If Al-Hassan had won the Taraba State governorship election, she would have become the first woman to be elected governor in the political history of the country.
Al-Hassan, a lawyer by training, rose to become Taraba State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. She was appointed the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on December 17, 2003.
After she retired from service, she won election on the PDP platform to represent Taraba North Senatorial District in 2011, but defected to the APC to seek the latter’s governorship ticket ahead of the 2015 general elections.