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Wanted: Responsive Women As Buhari’s Ministers

BiafraSay Forum | BiafraSay General | Jobs/Vacancies | Wanted: Responsive Women As Buhari’s Ministers (268 Views)

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If ever there was a contest like ‘picture of the week’, the prize for the last week in January would be won by the Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Mohammed. The picture in which she operated a bulldozer was spectacular not only because she ventured into a vocation preserved for men but also because her status as a minister towers over and above the lowly venture. It was the last Saturday in January and the minister felt the best way to highlight the importance of the monthly environmental sanitation ritual at a time the nation was under the triple threat of Lassa fever, Ebola and Zika Virus was to lead by example. So, there she was, looking dead serious as she mounted the bulldozer in her lemon yellow jacket and customary head gear.

She had toed the path of the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, who a few days earlier was pictured in a 100-metre race; a move that seemed to drive home the saying that if you are made the king of hawks, you must show yourself capable of preying on chickens. As a perceptive Nigerian joked on a social media platform after the Minister of Environment’s act, Nigerians are waiting to see the Minister of Power mount a high-tension pole to fix some naughty electrical problems and for the Minister of Aviation to pilot an aeroplane from Abuja to Lagos.

Of course, Mohammed and Dalung’s actions are in perfect sync with the change mantra on which the present government rode into office. The only worry is that a similar act by the immediate past minister of petroleum resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, in 2008 turned out an anti-climax. Upon her appointment as minister of transportation in 2008, she undertook a facility tour of Benin-Ore Expressway and arrested national attention as she wept profusely in front of cameras in open lamentation of the bad condition of the road.

Explaining why she betrayed emotions at the spot, Diezani had said: “I weep at the sight of everything that shows failure of government in Nigeria. Lagos-Shagamu-Ore-Benin Road is a clear picture of Nigerian state abandonment of its responsibility to its citizens.” She then vowed that she would fix the road, saying: “The challenge for us is to act wisely in dealing with this matter. The error has been made, but I think we can still correct the problem by looking for what will ensure a renewed government relevance not for self-serving or the good of a few, but the good of all.” As it turned out, nothing happened beyond theatrical shedding of tears until she was deployed to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

At the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the former minister fared even worse, going by the revelations of the shady deals that rocked the oil industry while she held sway as minister. So shocking were the revelations that Nigerians, ordinarily the most sympathetic people on earth, were not moved by reports of her battles with cancer. Rather, they are clamouring that she be repatriated from the United Kingdom to Nigeria to answer to charges of money laundering and other allegations of corrupt practices already leveled at her. In October last year, she was arrested along with four other suspects by the National Crime Agency in the UK for money laundering. The former minister was later arraigned before a Magistrate Court and charged with international bribery and money laundering. Her international passport was also seized.

But she is not alone in the big let-down that most of our women appointed to leadership positions have been. In spite of her Brentwood upbringing and her exotic profile as a former Managing Director of the World Bank, the tenure of Dr. Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala has been trailed by dirty controversy. Since she left office in May last year, the former minister of finance has been in the eye of the storm over the mega looting of the nation’s treasury under her watch. Former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke, left office in hazy circumstances following her involvement in the controversial Obama fund raiser. Her successor, Aruma Otte, did not fare better as the staff of NSE were practically at war with her for most part of her tenure for alleged highhandedness and reckless spending.

As minister of aviation, Senator Stella Oduah made the headlines for months after her alleged approval of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities’ acquisition of two bulletproof cars for a whopping N255 million. A presidential panel constituted by the then President Goodluck Jonathan later indicted her for wrongdoing. As the spokesperson of the State Security Service (SSS), Maryln Ogar was a study in professional misconduct as she practically turned herself to the publicity manager of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The clamour for greater involvement of women in governance is based not just on their high population but also on the thinking that the woman folk is endowed with more milk of human kindness and would consequently be more responsive to the needs of ordinary people. But the experience we have had with most of the women so far appointed as ministers and heads of government agencies has been anything but gladdening. The spectacle that has confronted us time and again is that of awfully insensitive women who think nothing of appropriating public funds to themselves, their cronies and members of their families.

Will Amina Mohammed and other women in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet change this ugly trend and live up to the expectations of right-thinking Nigerians? Only time will tell.

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