The rift over Bianca’s ambition ought not to have arisen in the first place. She belongs to the APGA, the party her late husband
Women participation in Nigerian politics is at present very low when compared with men. It can be safe to say that our politics is truly phallic or even masculine. The women have so long being confined to the women’s wing of the party with one woman as the leader. For so long, they have been in the margins of our politics.
Apart from women, the youths have been marginalized in our politics as they only occupy the youth wing of the political parties before the emergence of the ‘not too young to run bill’ which President Muhammadu Buhari quickly assented to with a caveat that the youths should allow him go for another term. I do not know if the youths agreed with Mr. President.
No woman in the nation’s history has been elected a governor. Women have been elected deputy governors from where some by default became emergency governors. Women in the state and national assembly can be easily counted. There are so many reasons why women participation in our politics is still so low.
Our political party system is highly monetized and militarized. The high cost of nomination forms is part of the problem. There is so much deployment of money and violence in our politics. Although women are said to love money, not many of them can afford the millions and billions of naira spent to be elected to any office in Nigeria. From state assembly to the senate, the journey is so hazardous.
Not so many women are so energetic to engage in the do or die battle of Nigerian politics. The political war is on now and the godfathers and the godsons are fighting dirty over who gets what. Not many women can afford the luxury of nocturnal meetings of our politicians. It is in the night that they decide who will vie for this and that post and who will be substituted and other politicking.
It is in the night that they select members of the kitchen cabinet and sundry aides including those that will always polish the image of their principals, whether good or bad. Another limiting factor for women’s low participation in politics is marriage. Marriage is important for continuity of family and community but in Nigeria, it limits women’s aspirations, be they political, education and economic.
While male politicians have the advantage of having political godfathers, the women are not so lucky because our politics do not have political godmothers as Nigerian literature. For Nigeria to develop like other advanced nations, our politics must be a little bit feminized. It must be made to be gender sensitive.
It is against this background that the recent report that some members of the Odumegwu-Ojukwu family are against the aspiration of Madam Bianca Ojukwu to go to the senate is worrisome. Although Bianca, the daughter of Chief Christian Onoh, the late ex-governor of old Anambra State, is a native of Enugu State by birth, she is also an indigene of Anambra State by marriage.
Both Enugu and Anambra states belong to the central Igbo race or the South-East geo-political zone. In fact, we were once lumped in one state, the East Central State. By all known laws of Nigeria, especially the extant 1999 Constitution, Bianca is eminently qualified to vie for the senatorial seat in Anambra South. If Igbo people can vie for House of Assembly and House of Representatives in Lagos and win election, there is no point saying that an Igbo daughter cannot vie for an election in her state of marriage because she hailed from another state.
In fact, we should have a system where Nigerians can contest for elective positions in their state of residence as being practised in the United States where we hurriedly borrowed our presidential system of government without fully internalizing its tenets. Any individual of the voting age from Anambra South senatorial zone including members of the Ojukwu family are free to vie for the senate post if they wish to do so. The beauty of multiparty democracy is its inclusiveness and mass participation.
Nobody should be excluded from this democratic club on account of his or her gender. Nobody should be discriminated against because of marriage. The rift over Bianca’s ambition ought not to have arisen in the first place. She belongs to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the party her late husband, Chief Emeka Odumeguwu-Ojukwu, Ezeigbogburugburu, was a major stakeholder and a presidential candidate for many times before his demise.
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Bianca’s fate will be decided by members of her party in due course. If she gets the ticket of her party, nobody can prevent her from being elected a senator if the voters want her to represent them. Bianca’s ambition brings to the fore the politics of representation in Igbo land. While some of our representatives in the National Assembly where Bianca is aspiring to go are doing well in representing members of their constituencies, the same cannot be said of all of them.
Some of our representatives are selfish. Some sleep while important issues are being discussed. Some have not spoken a word or two at plenary. Some of them, the roads that pass through their constituency are in a sorry state. A few have tried to rehabilitate some federal roads that pass through their towns and villages. Some have tried in the area of poverty alleviation by providing motorcycles and tricycles to unemployed youths in their areas. We need more than these. We want a change in the narrative of representation in politics.
The South-East needs knowledgeable men and women to represent us at the National Assembly. This is where the candidacy of Madam Bianca Ojukwu readily comes in. We need articulate and selfless people who can feel the pulse of the people to represent us. In all of these, Bianca fits the bill. Let nobody in Anambra South senatorial zone be unduly worried over her senatorial ambition or lose sleep unnecessarily. I think what some people from that area should think of is how to assist her to fulfill such an ambition. If the Ikemba Nnewi was around and she desires to be a senator, I don’t think those opposing it now would even utter a word. Let the people of Anambra South close ranks and allow Bianca this singular honour to represent them. The late husband had done much for Ndigbo and Ndi Anambra in particular. It will not be asking for too much if the people of Anambra can do this in a special remembrance of the former leader of APGA, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
In other zones, this will be given on a platter yet we claim to be the best among others. Let’s demonstrate that we are truly the best and that we value our women, wives and daughters. A Bianca Ojukwu at the senate will never be a disappointment. It will rather be a blessing. Let’s give her the chance and our total support.