The seemingly arduous search for a suitable running mate for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should be a source of concern to many who are committed and loyal members of the party as well as all lovers of democracy.
Following Tinubu’s victory at the party’s presidential primary election, it is expected that by now, he should be engrossed with his team jointly coordinated by himself and his running mate (not a placeholder) on the strategies for winning the forthcoming presidential election.
I feel obliged to draw the attention of the coordinating teams, the think-tank and other strategic groups within the APC, including Asiwaju and his inner team, governors elected on the platform of the party and the party’s National Working Committee to take a look at one area of possible search for a viable vice presidential candidate that can perfectly match the presidential candidate to win the presidential election in 2023.
This area, which has often been overlooked, is the non-consideration of the female gender by the party. With the benefit of hindsight and drawing from my personal field interactions with women during my campaign as a senatorial aspirant, my honest suggestion and appeal is that a female should be considered as the running mate to Tinubu in order to create a sense of inclusion and balance.
Tinubu is known to be a man of uncommon wisdom and courage, one who sees fartherand better, who also has the ability to see beyond bends and corners. The pathfinder of Lagos can create wider political footprints and usher in another vista in his gigantic political credentials and footages if he gives this suggestion and idea the serious thought and consideration it deserves.
There is a growing feeling that our women have been neglected in political considerations and balance as if gender equity does not count. The womenfolk could attract victory if they form part of the matrix of the APC presidential team with one of them as running mate to the party’s presidential candidate.
After over 60 years of independence and over 36 years of democratic rule, no woman in Nigeria has ever been elected in a governorship and presidential capacity. Why is that so? Being the giant of Africa, Nigeria should provide leadership instead of copying examples and templates of smaller African nations.
Whereas Liberia, Tanzania, Malawi and Ethiopia, all have Africa female heads of government at one time or the other, Nigeria is yet to replicate this, despite her strategic position in the Economic Community of West African States. The great example is Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the Harvard-trained former President of Liberia who went on to stabilise a war-ravaged nation and literally nursed the nation back to survival. Her innate abilities were put to task, rather than her gender.
Women are natural builders, nurturers and managers who easily do well when saddled with high responsibilities and offices. Thus, the women who have held high offices in Africa have contributed so much to the overall development of their respective countries and to our admirations, too.
Despite her catastrophic and avoidable genocidal atrocities, Rwanda is leading in women inclusion in governance in the areas of legislative operations to the satisfaction of many nations. In Nigeria, we are still moving at snail speed, pacing slowly towards the actualisation of 35 per cent affirmative action agreed at the Beijing Conference.
Competent women with good pedigrees and qualifications abound across the length and breadth of this country, such that meets our quest for their inclusion in governance.
It is a truism that the female proportion of votes cast at all elections across the country form a sizeable share, yet they are not adequately appreciated, motivated and compensated by adequate and equitable representation.
Women are naturally loyal to men as heads in leadership positions. The tempering of political power and high office with a simple human touch and ability to multi-task makes the female gender a great political complement. This unique ability is often overlooked and untapped. A good example is happening in Kaduna State where Governor Nasir El Rufai and Dr Hadiza Balarabe are working harmoniously and striking a good balance seamlessly.
There is also a growing awareness, though not on a positive note among women of African descent, of their long neglect across the globe in democratic governance. It is only proper to recognise their importance and give to Ceaser his dues.
Now is the time for women to be properly recognised, for they have often borne the brunt of all conflicts in Africa. We need to balance the equation of inequitable treatment and poor representation, particularly in political offices. This will encourage more participation in political processes and electioneering. The burden women carry as deputy heads of the families is equal to that of a Vice President.
Another undeniable fact remains and that only women are experienced enough to discuss the experiences and challenges of their fellow women when it comes to aggregating gender issues and policy formulation that are geared towards providing effective solutions. It is only natural that we address this critical segment to fit into the global trend in democratic practice.
Now is the time for us to have a female vice presidential candidate, not tomorrow. The level of enthusiasm this topic will generate will be such that it can become the next national topic in the political space and favourably so. This unique and sagacious decision can also be game-changing in the political duel ahead. The differentials and pressure points for victory could come from tapping into the opposition’s blind spots.
The configuration of voting patterns can be changed drastically and beat the contentions and imaginations of the opposition. This should be given the momentum it deserves. This is the time for women to fill that slot and deservedly so, when the men seems to be confused as to whom to choose as Tinubu’s running mate.
This position is meant to be an eye opener to the top echelon of APC whose responsibility it is to help the presidential candidate in making choices and options of the party in the search for a credible woman that will match the opposition and attract sympathy votes as well as swing votes to outwit the opposition come 2023 presidential election.
It is naturally appropriate to give women that role as an honour in submission to the will of our creator. We would have also honoured the memories of our matriarchs and heroines of democracy and nation building. Late madam Magarette Ekpo, Hajia Gambo Sawaba, Hajia Laila Dogonyaro, mama Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Kudirat Abiola, Saadat Ahmadu Bello and others too numerous to mention, who made enormous sacrifices even to the point of laying down their lives for country and democracy.
Asiwaju should have a female Vice President* to complement his effort at boosting the indices of our performance as a nation. This is not about being politically correct but politically expedient in the face of a political choice that electorates will face.
The opposition is very formidable this time around and APC must do things differently to outwit the opposition with substantial margin. It is a possibility that some eligible female supporters in the opposition may even be swayed by the adoption of this suggestion to cast their votes in honour of a female VP Candidate.
Far from a feminist agenda, this is about doing the right thing to ensure that victory at the polls in 2023 will be a mere walk in the park. Women of colour are evolving in the developed world climbing very fast as they are being considered for offices hitherto considered the exclusive preserve of whites and the male folk.
•Mrs Atta is a former Registrar-General of the Abuja Multi-door CourtHouse, FCT-High Court.