When Will A Hillary Happen Here? | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


When Will A Hillary Happen Here?

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Jun 14, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By  Ogaziechi Nnedi


“I know how hard this job can be,

I don’t think there’s ever been

someone so qualified to hold this office

I know Hillary will be so good at it”

–      President Barrack Obama

As I listened to Hillary Clinton last Tuesday make her victory speech after emerging a historic first ever female presumptive nominee of a major political party in a more than two centuries old United States of America, it was with a pure cocktail of emotions. The victory was not just that for a single woman, it was victory for all segments of our today’s world that have been handed the shorter end of the stick by those who erroneously assume higher power and or intelligence. Call it some flawed messianic complex syndrome.

Progress has been made by both men and women in the fight for equity in gender issues but there is still some amazing room for progress.

Watching an ecstatic Hillary recount the hurdles on the way to shattering the elusive glass ceiling was very exhilarating. From women’s names missing on voter registers in America (ironically a country that prides itself as the watchdog of world democracy) to a woman emerging as a presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.  This is quite a valuable and historic milestone.

Flash back to the greatest black nation on earth, Nigeria. A country where a female judge in Abia State, her Lordship, Ifeoma Jombo-Ofor was not sworn in in 2012 as an Appeal Court Judge from Abia State because although she is married to a man from the same State, some perennial petition writers had written to the then Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, claiming she was not qualified to represent Abia State at the Appeal court. Justice Jombo-Ofor had practiced in Abia State for fourteen (14!) years but the petitioners insisted she ought to go back to Anambra State, her birth place to be made a judge.

Amina Mohammed, the present Minister of the Environment was almost not confirmed as Minister in 2015 because some people in Kaduna State had petitioned the Senate insisting that she was merely married to someone in Kaduna state and was not fit to represent the state. They wanted her to go back to her state, Gombe.

Amina had prior to her nomination served as adviser to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, on post 2015 Millennium Development Planning. She had served three Presidents over six years among other development works she had pioneered over her career. She has worked in the field of development for over thirty years both in the public and private sectors.

These two women’s stories perfectly mirror the fate of most women and girls in Nigeria. From the cradle to the grave, the girl child has so many odds stacked against her. From maternal and child mortality to female genital mutilation, lack of education, early marriages to flawed Medicare , the earthly journey of most girls and women have been made very harrowing and retrogressive.

The victory of a Hilary Clinton and her endorsement by President Obama should be very instructive to male politicians in Nigeria who always try to equate femininity with ‘incompetence’ and weakness.

Several female politicians have very sad tales to tell about their participation in politics. There is still the archaic belief that the woman’s place is in the kitchen and that women are just relevant as voters during elections whose ambition should end at being granted voting rights in a twenty first century Nigeria.

Make no mistake about it, there are women who have made their marks in politics but the field has been everything but level. Most men in politics here are always quick to tell most female politicians at any level of contest to either go to their own ancestral villages or that given the do-or-die politics of thuggery and extravagantly unmonitored campaign expenses, most cerebrally more competent women have no chance in hell to succeed in politics.

President  Obama’s endorsement speech about Hilary Clinton not only talks to her or the American people. He has spoken loudly and clearly by pointing out that leadership is about, competence, commitment, sense of judgment, toughness, cerebral capacity, patriotism, humility and other core values that endears and endures around the world.

All these qualities are not gender-sensitive, they are found in both men and women. There are millions of Hillarys in all countries including Nigeria. It takes sense of fairness and equity to realise that. The highly inequitable ratio of men against women in leadership positions should be a thing of the past.

The most agonising aspect of a predominantly male success in our political system is that they ride on the backs of women to leadership positions and create huge systemic problems for women that affect the world’s most vulnerable – women and children.

The success of a Clinton has happened because the United States Democrats have been able to see beyond her femininity and seen in her an individual they can trust the sole Super Power in the world with.

No one is asking for any form of tokenism for women in politics. The point is that the hurdles – brawn, sexism, chauvinism and financial intimidation always  structured to men’s advantage are so retrogressive as it shuts out the best the nation has in abundance. Food for thought folks!