During the campaigns of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Bola Tinubu, one of his promises was women inclusivity. In his written and signed manifesto, “Renewed Hope 2023: Action Plan For A Better Nigeria,” he stated that he would push for legislation to increase women’s participation in government to at least 35 percent of all government positions. This is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Goal Five aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
According to Tinubu’s document, it reads: “This legislation shall also mandate the federal executive (particularly the cabinet and core senior advisers) to reserve a minimum number of senior positions for women.” So, after his inauguration as president, APC National Women Leader Betta Edu expressed confidence that women will finally get 35 percent of the positions in Tinubu’s cabinet. She was confident that they will be given 35-percent affirmative action by the president. It will also cause women to be empowered from the grassroots all the way up.
Ministerial nominees don’t match his promise in the manifesto.
However, the president’s ministerial nominees do not match his proposal. Tinubu has started sending lists of potential ministers to the Senate. After the 28-person list that he sent to the upper legislative chamber a week earlier, Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, presented Nigeria’s Senate with an additional list of 19 ministerial nominees on Wednesday, August 2, 2023. Many people anticipated the list for various reasons, such as watching for those who have been touted to be favorites for certain positions. However, one other reason is to see the number of women present therein.
There had been seven women in the initial list, representing 25 percent of all the names on the list. Those who had advocated for more female representation in governance and who expected Tinubu to be true to his words were quite excited. This was largely because the list was not exhaustive and there was hope that the subsequent one will contain names that will make women representation reach or go beyond the 35-percent mark, which the president set by himself.
Only 18.75% representation has been achieved so far.
Surprisingly, the second list had only two female nominees out of the 19 names forwarded. One of the women, Maryam Shetty, was later withdrawn by the president. She was replaced with Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure and a new nominee, Festus Keyamo. This addition took the overall number of ministers to a record 48. Out of all the 49 nominees, only eight were women. This amounts to only 18.75 percent and approximately a half of the target percentage. Women who made the list are Doris Aniche Uzoka, Iman Suleiman Ibrahim, Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, Stella Okotette, Nkeiruka Onyejocha, Betta Edu, Hannatu Musawa, Lola Ade John and Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure.
All of these women have impressive portfolios. Some of them are as follows. Betty Edu is the national women leader of the APC and a former commissioner of health in Cross River state. She became the chairman of the Cross Rivers State COVID-19 Taskforce in 2020. Hannatu Musawa served as deputy spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council and is the recently-appointed special adviser on culture and entertainment economy. Lola Ade John is currently the Principal Consultant at Novateur Business Technology Consultants, which she established in 2014. She has a bachelors in computer science. Born in Kano, Mariya Bunkure is a family medicine consultant at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Uzoka is a career banker with over 20 years of experience at Zenith Bank, Nigeria.
Jonathan’s government achieved a 31% representation.
While Tinubu’s women representation is still at below 20 percent, the administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was able to achieve 31 percent. The 13 women in Jonathan’s 41-member ministerial cabinet include: Hajia Zainab Maina, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, Omobola Johnson Olubusola, Hadiza Ibrahim Malaifa, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ama Pepple, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, Viola Onwuliri, Ruqayyatu Rufai, Erelu Olusola Obada Sarah Reng Ochekpe and Olajumoke Akinjide. Meanwhile, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, representing Niger East Senatorial District, gave credit to the president during an interview. However, he also said gender sensitivity should have been considered more.