Please welcome, Madam President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! But, alas! It was just a dream….
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, will be a day forever edged in my memory. It was 24hrs to my landmark 40th birthday and the Presidential elections in the US. I had hopes and dreams of having one of the best birthday gifts ever when I woke up on Wednesday November 9th. However, this was not to be.
Hence, the events of the last few weeks have given me endless dreams and nightmares of what could have been had Hillary Clinton won the elections to become the first female President of the United States of America. It also got me thinking about the implications for Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. These are my thoughts:
- Nigeria isn’t ready for a female president because Nigerian women are yet to mobilize and use their numbers to their advantage within the political parties;
- Unless we have a tsunami attitudinal change in the way we view who a leader is in Nigeria (currently a leader in the mind of the average Nigerian is male); we will not be able to convince the electorate to vote in a female President;
- The political process is still very corrupt, violent, dangerous, cumbersome, manipulative, selective and expensive; women do not belong to the highest circles of these political boys’ club and are not privy to the power games that take place behind the scenes long before the race even begins;
- Succession planning (albeit pedestrian) is still done in the Nigerian political space and women are not lined up in any yet;
- Women must form their own power cycle and use their numbers to command votes behind a strong female candidate of their choice;
- A psychological reprogramming of the millions of Nigerian women who help to elect and re-elect male only leaders in the highest hierarchy of governance in Nigeria is needed if we are ever to break this glass ceiling. These are the women who dance, sing, cook and vote on Election Day and they never get a better deal unlike their male counterparts. They have been programmed to see leadership as a tough place that only men can fill… women like them who aspire to such positions are seen as deviants who break the ranks.
Finally, we may not have broken the glass ceiling into a million smithereens, but women like Hillary Clinton of the US, Eileen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Joyce Banda of Malawi, Meir of Israel, Indira Gandhi of India Angela Merkel of Germany, Corazon Aquino of the Philippines, Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom and our very own Prof. Remi Sonaiya of Nigeria have cracked the ceiling and with more cracks, we will break it sooner than later!
For now, let me go back to the drawing board with my fellow women to strategize during the day while I sleep at night and dream the impossible into possible