By Simeon Mpamugoh
Dr Temple Nnedum is the President General, All State Women Association of Nigeria (ASWAON) worldwide. In this interview, she speaks on the need for the current government to improve political and economic opportunities for women, among other socio political issues.
What is your appraisal of Buhari’s government as it concerns giving women strategic place in governance?
Let me be fair, you cannot compare this government with Jonathan’s in terms of giving women strategic position. Jonathan gave women virtually 35 percent. And I doubt if Buhari’s government can boast of five percent women participation in his government. So, the women are not largely involved and I feel that is why we are seeing a lot of untoward developments taking place in this government. If women are well represented in his government, I can tell you that all the problems the government is facing wouldn’t occur because women can modify and keep things in order.
One of the objectives of ASWAON is to uphold and encourage the principles that strengthen women in democratically elected government, how have you been able to achieve this?
Politics is a personal game. If you feel you can venture into it, just go ahead. The association’s concern is to be informed. In our meetings, we encourage our women, telling them to come out because we think women can make a better home and if they can bring this to bear in politics, Nigeria would experience a turnaround both politically and economically. It is regrettable that since independence, men have always been in the saddle of the country’s leadership yet the country is not moving forward. We feel that what is lacking is for a woman to be the President of Nigeria. Any day a woman becomes the president of the country, you would see that Nigeria would get it right.
What is your advice to women ahead of 2019 elections?
I urge every Nigerian woman to ensure she is armed with her voter’s card. It is the only weapon we have to change whoever we dislike or think is not gender sensitive in governance. It is our voters’ cards we can use to speak. And when that time comes, Nigerian women should make sure they vote because it is when you don’t vote that they use your own quota to rig the election. But if you vote, nobody can rig it as voting makes chances of rigging slim.
What is your take on the recent arrest of your Grand patron, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chairman/Chief Executive, Innoson Motors by the EFCC?
We are asking the federal government to caution EFCC and the Executive Chairman Mallam Ibrahim Magu. We all know that from day one when his name was sent to the National Assembly, it didn’t scale through and the federal government didn’t appoint his replacement. And for the senators to reject him, it shows that they didn’t believe in him. Perhaps he didn’t meet certain criteria for his appointment to be confirmed. I think, the senate is beginning to be vindicated because what they saw in his rejection seems to be playing out. It is like he is fighting back through his several missteps in the corruption fight.
Was the senate’s reaction to the arrest appropriate?
The senators by their status are great people. From day one, they have made Nigerians know that Magu is not capable of handling the job. We are seeing the reason they said ‘nay,’ to his confirmation as helmsman of EFCC. They have in their stand on Innoson matter restated that EFCC under Magu is not doing the right thing. It is therefore imperative for the federal government to intervene to halt further drift. We appreciate the senators for being forthright. We feel grieved because our objective is to foster love, peace and unity among all Nigerians. We have been preaching this by going from one state to another irrespective of the inherent dangers on the road. We go to schools teaching pupils and students on love, peace and unity of the country. We don’t want the federal government to be a hindrance to this effort. We cannot be working towards pulling the country together and the government is splinting it by their actions. By Innoson’s case, easterners are beginning to feel EFCC’s action was to humiliate them. The actions of the federal government seem to be the one dividing the nation. We don’t want Nigerians to begin to interpret government actions that way. It should therefore desist from its ill-conceived actions.
What do you think is the implication of this to international politics?
It spells mockery of our system. The international community would begin to look at us as people who don’t know what they are doing. The mockery is not only to government but also to the citizens. Those who ought to condemn it are not saying anything in the face of this despotic leadership at the Commission. The international community would be wondering if we actually no where we are in the comity of nations. It is a signal of a people under enslavement in their land. We therefore call on the minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan to look into the matter of verbal assault on the wife of our grand patron. I trust her to do something about it and I know there are certain things she cannot condone as a straightforward woman. We believe in her and her role to intervene by stepping in to ensure EFCC apologizes to Innoson Motor’s boss and his family. I know she is aware of the matter and that is why we are appealing for her intervention.