Amina Zakari As Metaphor For Gender Equality | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Amina Zakari As Metaphor For Gender Equality

Posted: Jul 15, 2015 at 7:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ifeanyi Alia


Nigerian women are increasingly and steadily breaking new barriers and grounds in the course of the nation’s democratic journey so far particularly as far as the Fourth Republic is concerned. The unprecedented appointment of Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari, Tuesday, July 2, 2015, as the acting Chairman of Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), by President Muhammadu Buhari, appeared to hit the nation’s political space like a powerful thunderbolt. Indeed, the woman, a technocrat for that matter, Mrs. Zakari has since become a pathfinder as well as torchbearer for gender equality, rule of law, fairness and due process.



Expectedly, women activists, feminists, gender experts have since endorsed the development as indeed good enough for the weaker sex in a highly men-dominated society such as ours. By her appointment, this amazon has scored a number of firsts and become a record (jinx) breaker of sorts. Since 1960 till date, (and we are in the Fourth Republic, in 54 years of Nigeria’s chequered history), we have never thought it good and fit to gamble it by giving a woman the benefit of the doubt to head the electoral body. The best and highest role women have performed and functioned in the Commission was either State Resident Electoral Commissioners or Federal Commissioners of INEC or whichever names the electoral body has had to bear in the past. So, Mrs. Amina Zakari has scored an encore as the first woman ever to break the circle of oppression and dominance in the men’s world at INEC.

Now is it not actually “change” in its spirit and letter to give a woman the rare opportunity to continue from where the University Professor of Political Science, Jega stopped? Interestingly, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has not minced words on its avowed determination to emphasize the issue of merit concerning appointments to sensitive positions instead of federal character or quota system which most experts claim has since foisted on the country a negative and debilitating culture of mediocrity and incompetence.

Again, apart from Jega, no other Northerner has had the privilege or opportunity to head the nation’s electoral body. It has been a Southern affair all the way. So, let Amina Zakari, another Northerner who knows her onions, be.

In that vein, those opposed to Zakari’s emergence either simply because she is a northerner or a female actually miss the point. The issue is: Is she qualified for the position she occupies? What is her pedigree and work experience? Before now, all former INEC bosses were picked from outside the Commission. She is the first person to be selected from the pool of Federal Commissioners; although her appointment in an acting capacity does not matter. The President has both the knife and carrot to make her the substantive chairperson of INEC and the heavens would not fall. So, “why should fools rush in where angels fear to tread”?, apologies to English writer, E.M. Forster.

Madam Zakari has been a woman with both the gift of the garb and substance. A pharmacist by profession, who hails from Kazaure Local Government Area, Jigawa State, Nigeria, she was born on June 23, 1960. She was educated at the prestigious Queens College, Yaba, Lagos as well as Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where she bagged a Bachelor of Science (B.SC ) degree in Pharmacy with Second Class Upper.

After completing the National Youth Service, she worked as a Professional Pharmacist in various hospitals from 1983 – 1996. She then moved into the consultancy field to serve in various capacities as a consultant in Health and Social Services from 1997 up till her appointment as National Commissioner, INEC. She has also served as a Special Assistant to the President and was posted to FCT where she served as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Social Development and Agriculture and Rural Development from 2004 – 2007 when Malam El Rufai, currently Kaduna State Governor, was FCT Minister.