By Omoh T. Ojior
Nigeria’s Mothers’ Summit is an annual event in which the mothers and mothers-in-waiting pray for Nigerian mothers and mothers-in-waiting among other issues pertaining to women. The Summit holds in different cities in Nigeria and the world. This year’s summit took place in Awka in Anambra State, Nigeria. The idea that Nigerian women are coming together every year is a progressive idea. But such assemblage should not be for miss-education of the less exposed, and it should not be for the dilution of our unique culture with Eurocentric social paraphernalia or to imitate Euro/western women whose culture and life outlook are different from that of the unique African woman.
One is not ready to discuss here the nitty-gritty of this subject on Nigerian women’s quest for equality with men in politics and what have you. Enough research has been done on the subject of women equality with men, and the argument or women’s quest for equality with men is a western idea and it is un-African. The many Nigerian women who are currently being wrongly recruited by some of the wives of our current politicians, most of who do not have the correct interest and well-being of Nigeria at heart, should look for the book, “The African Woman: Nigerian Perspective, 1993,” by Professor Oriaku Nwosu. It will be very helpful also to the women of Nigeria to make the effort to read another book “African Women and Political Development: A case Study of Etsako Women in Edo State, Nigeria, 2002,” by Professor Omoh T. Ojior. Nigerian women should be very careful not to jump onto the bandwagon of western/European women. African women’s history is quite different from the women of Europe or America.
Yes, Nigerian women have social economic problems just like the Nigerian youths and many men who are not in politics; these three segments of population in the Nigerian nation have an axe to grind with the rulers of Nigeria who are the politicians. The Nigerian state has been mismanaged by Nigerian rulers and their collaborators, the politicians and their “bedroom advisers”; the country’s mismanagement has not stopped, but it needs to stop for all Nigerians, male and female, to gain the benefits of their citizenship of Nigeria. This being the case, Nigerian women should not see themselves as having the same problem with western and European women. Women’s problem cannot be the same world wide as some uninformed want us to believe. There are so many reasons why women’s problems worldwide, are not and cannot be the same.
If there is anything that Nigerian women need as citizens, like others in the Nigerian population, it is equity, and not equality with men, either in politics or in every other thing in the affairs of the nation. What is equity and equality? For the avoidance of doubt, equity means fairness, impartiality and justice, in other words, let there be fairness, impartiality and let justice prevail in everything we are involved in and whatever level we finds ourselves. This is what the Nigerian woman and every other citizen in Nigeria should work for. On the other hand, equality is a state or instance of being equal, in other words, uniform, the same, in size, value, etc. It is important that Nigerian women should be involved in politics by being active participants like other citizens. Women who want to be leaders may do so according to their individual abilities, skill, and natural interest, just as other citizens in the polity and in the political process.
It is important to say that what I saw in the pictures of the 2018 Summit is inspiring and encouraging. The pictures show the culture in the outfits of the women. The dresses are quite representative of Africa. We are proud of the African woman, a reason we must be careful not to allow a miss-step in our politics. Other less advanced African states are watching and following. The political world, especially the Imperialist countries are looking for our downfall hence their secret” hidden agenda” on Nigeria and its people because of our intellect, focus and drive.
To call for a constitutional provision that mandate a 50/50 percentage of women and men in political leadership or participation, in order to be equal with men in positions of political authority is to miss the point. It will interest Nigerian women to know that western women were not allowed to vote in an election before now; voting is a recent thing relatively speaking about western women in politics. One has argued over the years that the issue on this matter is not that women cannot do and do it better than what men do; Oduah, with five armored cars is an example or a better illustration of that, but the question is: can men do everything that women do? The answer is NO. The duality of nature is a permanent order of the Divine. All fingers are not equal, but they work together very well in gripping whatever they hold. The Supreme Architect of the Universe cannot make a mistake for He is perfect in the Natural Science of Geometry.
What the Nigerian woman needs is equity, equity in whatever platform or level she finds herself. There is nothing like equality. Even in Heaven, all Angels are not the same or equal for there are hierarchy among the Angels. And so is all the fingers; they are not the same, but the fingers work together better in their current unequal sizes and positions. If all the fingers were equal in their sizes and length, they would not have been able to grip anything or perform effectively in their current unequal state of being. So it may become in the Nigerian society should women replace the men in a 50/50 ratio in what men have been doing in the socio-political system of today. There is danger in killing the goose that lay the golden eggs. More importantly, Nigerian mothers must see themselves as role models for the-would-be-mothers of tomorrow, the young girls. Ekphei e yo kho okpishia okh yo kho omhi o mhemhi, ogo omo ogbu ukhiomhi ya; it means that when the elderly says that the soup is sweet, the child will scrape the bottom of the pot of soup till it brakes; so we must be careful..
Division of labour seems to be a natural order. The family structure will collapse should the majority of women evade public spheres while the men occupy the home front. There is no current evidence to show that Nigeria will be better off if all the women take to the soap-box. One will argue that the Nigerian woman of the day is her husband’s closest adviser and this being the case; all the looters we see in our political arena today are the same with the women who could not advise their husbands against all the lootings of public treasuries in Nigeria. There is only one known Nigerian wife of a politician, who came to the public with her advice to the husband after she failed to secure the good conscience of her husband in the bedroom, she is our Nigeria’s current First Lady; I doff my hat for her being a true Nigerian woman and a true mother. She told the world that she did not belong only to the kitchen and the other room. May God bless our First Lady Aisha Buhari for Nigeria.
The Nigerian women with high spiritual energies, often stronger than that of the men, should, when possible, be allowed to concentrate on raising a high energy great population of well behaved and culturally alert citizens as the mothers of the home. On the home front, our women should not canvas for the leadership because normatively, there cannot be two captains if the ship must progressively get to the shore and safely too. Those who have natural callings for politics, such as the late Madam Kuti, Margret Ekpo and the lady Afegbua of our pre-Independence era and First Republic respectively, should be able to canvas for political leadership positions. Motherhood with the encompassing responsibilities is not a mean responsibility. As a result, our women must have good education to enable them man the home front properly and effectively without other additional disturbances..
Let us be careful. Many of our allies are our adversaries in everything, politics and economics; let us not imitate them or listen to their advice that are always meant to derail us from our advancement towards our destiny as Nigerians and Africans; they do not wish us well because of what we are naturally endowed with. They see us as naturally superior in most things which is why we are the envy of the imperialists of Europe and the West, the so-called advanced civilization. Our women have been our savior because they have kept holding together our home front and our family system. It is important that Nigerian mothers and mothers-in-waiting know that it is one of their responsibilities to ensure an enviable population for Nigeria. A large population is always good for Nigeria because the chance of survival is greater compared with small population. Beware of foreign agencies that promote foreign and anti African methods of family planning because Africans have a better and healthier family planning method. The Imperial Powers’ agitations for women empowerment in Africa, are a direct affront to our needed population development. This was clearly exposed at the United Nations Population Conference in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. The decision reach by the UN was, “gender equality is a key to curbing population growth.” And the TIME MAGAZINE in its headline put it simply, “More Power to Women, Fewer Mouths to Feed.” (See Ojior, African Women and Political Development: A Case Study….. 2002, p.275). A word is enough for the wise.
In some of my serious treatises, I have called on our authorities to bring about a policy that mandates monthly monetary benefits for the Nigerian unemployed house wives, as a way to recognize the importance of the role of motherhood and the family with its all other advantages and benefits, in our polity. It is my appeal that Nigerian Mothers Summit should table and discuss this proposal, in the next assembly. Our women should stop comparing themselves with the women of Europe and the western nations, for African women are very unique in their natural state of being and their ways of life incomparable to those who are lamenting while tanning their bodies to become the Ebony and Brownies of African-look-like.
Finally, Nigerian women whose husbands are in politics to convert the wealth of the people to their own private and personal ill-gotten wealth, at the expense and regret of the children of the country, who have nowhere else to go, must understand that they the women are damaging the future of their very own children. Nigerian women of politicians must understand that when your husband with your support, send their own children, your children, to overseas institutions to prepare them to return to Nigeria to take over the running of the state, at the disadvantages of the children of the less opportune citizens of the country, there is a big problem. Especially that your husband-politicians refused to provide adequate educational facilities in the country for the children and the youths who cannot go out of the country to obtain good education, it is injustice, un-equitable and wrong. Also, remember Nigerian Mothers’ Summit, that when one throws a stone up, that the stone must come down; that when your husband-politicians wrongfully deny other children the same opportunity they seek for their own children, who are your children, that the Law of Retributive Justice will take its course; and remember that every day is for the thief but one day is for the owner of the house, and all the citizens including the youths, are the owners of Nigeria. You have the opportunity now to rethink what advice this organization must give to your husband-politicians.
- Ojior, Professor of Political Science, is Executive Director/CEO of Onima Institute for Tradition and Development USA, Inc