Nigerians are clamouring for a female vice president to change the status quo of an all male leadership. ENE OSHABA looks at why Pauline Tallen best suits the APC flag bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a vice presidential candidate.
Since the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the All Progressive Party (APC) Presidential flag bearer after a much contested party primary, the quest by Nigerians as to who would be a most suitable running mate has been a topical issue since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave the ultimatum on candidates to pick their running mates.
Different dimensions are considered in Nigerian politics from zoning methods within each political party to general geo-political zoning in the country, ethnicity, religion, capability among other reasons. One key area which has however continuously been played down is gender inclusion.
Gender inclusion in governance is the situation where both men and women have the right and enjoy equal opportunities to governance and other leadership positions, this principle is well defined by the Affirmative Action declaration in Beijing of which Nigeria is a signatory.
As lots of speculation are already on the table for a running mate, Nigerians have expressed their views that a capable female running mate is long overdue as this would give all citizens a sense of belonging and most importantly, the need to try out women for strategic leadership positions.
Need for gender inclusion
The world is seriously in need of new ideas for a saner society. This is why there is need for women inclusion in decision making.
A gender expert Abosede Alimi George-Ogan in a paper on ‘The Cost of Excluding Women from Political Leadership: The Case of Nigeria’ stated that the underrepresentation of women in decision-making roles has serious consequences for society, first and foremost because men and women do not share the same policy preferences.
”There is strong evidence that as more women are elected, family-friendly and diverse policy making increases, as seen in such countries as France, Sweden, South Africa, Rwanda and Egypt.”
Recently, Justice Donatus Okorowo, of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the government to comply with the 35percent affirmative action for women, which allows women to occupy 35 percent of all appointments.
Okorowo said the federal government has the obligation to implement the 35 percent affirmative action, accusing past governments of acting in breach of international treaties on women’s participation in government.
He added that the National Gender Policy is not merely a policy statement, but one that must be backed with requisite action on the part of the government.
Women have also advocated for gender inclusion in the federal character as well as constitution reform to remove clauses which are discriminatory to women.
To that extent, having a female as a vice president would show commitment by the ruling party to the demands of women and also put the country on the pedestal of growth.
It is as a result of this that the national president of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala called for a gender sensitive representation in the entire political equation and balancing, stressing that there is no gain saying that this has become imperative.
According to her, “It is against this backdrop that the association hereby appeals to political parties to in the interest inclusive society and development, should consider picking a woman as running mate for the office of president and governors of the respective states.
”The time has come for the promotion of gender equality in political leadership in Nigeria to be accorded the centre stage particularly as we head towards the 2023 General Elections to help reposition the country and properly situate it in its pride of place and position as the giant of Africa not only in size but in involvement in global discourse.”
Why Tallen should be VP
Dame Pauline Tallen, the current minister of women affairs is an astute grassroots politician who has grown through the process and knows the rudiments of politics from her community to the state level both as deputy governor and as minister.
According to stakeholders, Tallen has not only built her career but people around her especially women who are always disadvantaged in the society.
To them, she has remained a mentor to both women and men, through her brilliant approach to issues in the polity, while also having in mind her role as a woman and support to the male gender.
She has built herself as a model structure for all to study and learn from especially when it comes to politics, and has continued to evolve amidst huge challenges women politicians face in Nigeria and also achieved a lot.
In 1999, Tallen was appointed minister of state for science and technology in the cabinet of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. She later became deputy governor of Plateau state in 2007, the first in northern Nigeria. In 2011, she contested for governorship of the state but lost to Jonah Jang. She is presently a member, board of trustees of All Progressive Congress (APC) and was honoured as woman of the year for her contribution to Nigeria at the 10th African Icon of Our Generation Award.
Her political career started in 1976 when she was the clerical officer at Shendam Local Government Council, then later Ministry of Local Government Affairs. In 2011, she joined the Labour Party (Nigeria), then contested in the gubernatorial election of the state. By 1994, she was elected councilor in the state. She was made commissioner in the state between 1994 and 1999.
She had always assured that she remains resolute to serve Nigeria while riding on these foundations to build solid structures capable of yielding strategic progress in the nation’s history.
”At this crucial point in our nation’s history with women’s participation at the lowest ebb with just 6.7% at the parliament, it is my desire to see a better picture with Nigeria taking its rightful place as the true giant of Africa in gender inclusion, she had said recently.
While congratulating the presidential flagbearer of APC in the just- concluded primary, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Fallen said, ”As we prepare for the 2023 General Elections, I am confident that with you as the flag bearer, our party would do greater exploits. It’s time for team work and building cohesiveness to face the task ahead.”