2019 Elections: Are Nigerian Women Really Ready for the Task of Being President?

2019 Elections: Are Nigerian Women Really Ready for the Task of Being President?

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Nigeria embraced democratic rule since 1999, but not until 2003 did she record her first female presidential candidates in Dr Sarah Jibril and Late Major Moji Obasanjo.

Jibril, however, remains the only woman to have been consistent in her quest to be Nigerian president. But even that bold move has been unsuccessful – her embarrassing single vote in the 2011 presidential elections where she squared up against the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan is all too fresh in the memory.

Since then, there has only been a smattering of women who have vied for the highest office in the land, what’s more, they have done very little to shake up the male-dominated political system.

Professor of French and KOWA Party candidate in the 2015 presidential elections, Remi Sonaiya could only pull a discouraging 13,076 representing 0.05 per cent of the over 67 million votes available.

Judging by the performance of the women who have dared to attempt to break the glass ceiling where the presidency is concerned, the forecast doesn’t look too good. Nonetheless, the recent clamour for more women in politics especially against the backdrop of gender equality and the women’s movement has begun to yield fruits.

This is evident in the already unprecedented number of women who have declared their intention to run for the office of president come February 2019. At the last count, at least four women have thrown their hats in the exclusive ring of presidential hopefuls.

National Interest Party (NIP) candidate Eunice Atuejide, Elishama Rosemary Ideh of the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN), Funmi Adesanya-Davies, (who’s yet to declare her political platform) and the most experienced of them, Remi Sonaiya of KOWA Party have all stepped up to be counted as the race to the office of the first citizen gathers momentum.

While four female candidates are still a far cry from what could be considered an ideal representation for women in a presidential race that already has not less than 14 men contesting, there’s no doubt that it’s an improvement from what obtained in previous elections.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that women are grossly lacking invisibility on the national scale due to poor representation where they can influence policy decisions. The stats are highly skewed in favour of the men. For instance, out of 109 senators who currently make up the 8th National Assembly, only seven are women. The irony is that women constitute more of the voting population compared to men, yet this has not translated to visibility or voice share in key electoral positions.

This challenge–a consequence of a patriarchal, male-dominated society – is partly, yet significantly responsible for the marginalisation of women in policy-making; a factor whose effect trickles down to children who are mostly in their care.

Furthermore, Nigerian women contend with a cynical society where the pervading belief remains that the female gender does not possess the grit, trickery, and even financial muscle to wade through the murky waters of Nigerian politics let alone take a successful shot at being president.

Nevertheless, as the women’s movement grows and more women become increasingly knowledgeable of their rights and the strength in their numbers, we are beginning to see a change in the apathy that the womenfolk used to have for electioneering. Besides, other African countries who cannot boast of having more than 50 million women who can come together to get one of their own in the ultimate seat of power have proven that it is not impossible to have a woman at the helm of affairs of a nation, even one as complex and as large as Nigeria.

In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first elected female head of state in Africa. Since then, Joyce Banda of Malawi (2012), Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic (2014), and Ameena Firdaus Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius (2015) have all replicated that feat and called the shots from the topmost post in their countries. If Nigerian women need some inspiration to be more ambitious politically, they can look up to these trailblazers of their ilk.

The journey will not be an easy one. As the paradigm in mindset shifts, and, the downtrodden masses grow increasingly wary of successive underperforming governments led by men, they just might decide to turn to the untried gender – if only as an act of rebellion.

But beyond the calls and steady advancement of women in every major field, the question many still ponder is, “Are Nigerian women really prepared for the arduous task of being president? Can they shed the toga of frailty and emotionalism they have been defined by to succeed where their male counterparts have failed?”

It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold.


NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute.





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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.