The low level of political and civic participation of women in Nigeria is alarming and disturbing. This hinders women from contributing their quota to the development and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Empirical observation has shown that Nigerian women in positions of responsibilities are noted to be hardworking and firm in decision making and have contributed in no small measures to the development of the country. Despite their enormous contribution in economic and other spheres, they have been marginalized in civic and political participation.
The place and role of women in politics in Nigeria is situated in the histories of different nationalities that make up the country. They had always played roles as the kings’ wife and were also tittle holders in the community and contributed a lot to the development of their areas. Moreover, it is expected that both the male and female should have equal rights to participate fully in politics but in practice women face so many challenges, which make their number in politics very low which is not meant to be. Encouragement should be given women to enhance their participation in politics. Until her appointment as Minister of Finance by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on July 15, 2003, only a few Nigerians, outside the economic and financial sectors, knew of DR. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
By the time she left on August 3, 2006, shortly after her redeployment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she had become a household name. Okonjo-Iweala, a product of two of the best American tertiary institutions -Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology- distinguished herself in the Obasanjo cabinet by establishing the Debt Management Office, but more significantly, in 2005 she led the team that negotiated with the Paris Club to secure a historic $18 billion debt relief for the country.
She also engendered transparency in public finances through the publication of monthly allocations from the Federation Account to the 36 states and helped Nigeria to obtain its maiden sovereign credit rating from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. She would also be remembered as being part of the economic team that set up the Excess Crude Account to shield Nigeria from the exogenous shocks of fluctuating oil prices, and drafted the home-grown economic blueprint, the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, which got the approval of the International Monetary Fund in its Article IV consultation with Nigeria.
Like former President Obasanjo, President Goodluck Jonathan fished her out from her job at the World Bank, where she was the managing director, to head the finance ministry, with an expanded mandate to be in charge of the economy.
During her second stint on the job, Okonjo-Iweala helped drive the president’s transformational agenda, especially by instituting fiscal reform, a reduction in recurrent spending to the neglect of capital projects, job creation and ending a regime of deficit budgeting.She also played a key role in deciding what to do with the fuel subsidy regime.
Until recently, Mrs. Omobola Olubusola Johnson was the Managing Director of Accenture, Nigeria – the first woman to hold the position in the country. A Bachelor’s Degree holder in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester, she also has a Master’s degree in Digital Electronics from King’s College, London. She joined Accenture, then Andersen Consulting in 1985. At Andersen, she majored in the areas of enterprise transformation, having worked with boards and management of several banks, including the Central Bank of Nigeria. Women should at least be given responsibility by the government even if not elected. Give power to the women and have a better country.
Adelani Opeyemi, writes from Lagos