Nigerian women in politics

1.1.Background to the study

Nigeria, a country located in the West African sub-continent with a projected population figure of over a hundred million people of various customs and traditions spread around the 913,070 square kilometers landmass of the nation. Nigeria has many ethnic groups. The large groups include Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa/Fulani. The various ethnic groups have been able to influence their environments through their cultural beliefs and unique leadership perspective. In prehistoric times, the region that later became known as Nigeria was noted for the establishment of kingdoms and empires which were the symbol of magnificence and sphere of influence. The Yoruba and Igbo kingdoms were governed by kings known and regarded as Oba and Obi respectively. While the Hausa/Fulani empires were governed by Emirs

Politics have been defined in countless ways by several scholars and academic materials. Aristotle, who is regarded as the father of politics, defines politics as a noble activity in which men decide the rules they will live by and the goals they will collectively pursue. It is also worthy of note that Aristotle further expresses that “humans are political animals” implying that, ‘political animals are those who live together for some common functions. David Easton1defined politics as the authoritative allocation of values for a society. Okoye2 observes that politics concerns the behavior of groups and individuals in matters that are likely to affect the course of government. Within these definitions, it is basic to understand that politics is for humans and expected to cut across all genders without preference. The fundamental question therefore is have both genders ever been equally represented in the political environment? 

Politics which is the art and science of government; political activities, beliefs or affairs; factional scheming for power have over centuries been dominated by the male gender of the society. In Nigeria, Hussaini3 noted that the likes of Emotan, Queen Amina of Zaria, MoremiAjasoro, Chief EfunsetanAniwura, EfunroyeTinubu, FunmilayoRansome-Kuti, Peace UzoamakaNnaji, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, and HajiaGamboSawaba, among others, have proven that women are capable and uniquely equal to the task of politicking in Nigeria society.

Since independence, there has been an upward motion in the participation of women in politics. For instance, in 1992, Nigeria witnessed the appearance of the first female presidential candidate, Sarah Jibril. Besides, the constraints imposed by the protracted period of military interregnum and dictatorial rule, there were quite some factors that render the level of political engagement of women in democratic politics marginal or at best tokenistic. Obafemi4 opined that even as military politicians consigned political policies and decision-making to mere military appointees from among civilian middle-class elite, it could still be stressed that female representation was nominal concerning participation in elective and appointive positions since independence.

Moreover, there are women actively running for political offices in Nigeria, especially from 2004 till date such that we had the first female governor in Nigeria Dame Virginia NgoziEtiaba who govern Anambra state for just 3 months (November 2006 – February 2007). Women categorically must go the extra miles to canvass for support and also gain acknowledgment of political lords (godfathers) who most often are men. Agharagwo noted that godfatherism in Nigerian politics is an old hat issue. It can be traced back to 1960 when the first generation of Nigerian politicians, through certain constitutional arrangements wrestled political power from the British who granted Nigeria independence on October 1, 1960. More importantly, godfathers in the Nigerian context are money bags, with economic and political connections to influence matters for entrenched preliminary interest.5

With the various and obvious factors that have sustained unequal patterns of relationship in favor of male gender in socio-economic and political terms; Obafemi6 considers that gender theories and policies largely focus on the constraints, obstacles, and struggle of women to redress a culture of subjugation, subservience, and essence of reconstructing those patterns of relationship in favor of the female gender. 

Lagos state like some other states in Nigeria, such as Anambra, Plateau (producing the first female deputy governor of northern Nigeria), etc., have subsequently allowed women to participate in politics even to holding top political office such as the office of Deputy Governor. For instance, there was an unbroken reign of women in Lagos state from May 29, 2007, to May 29, 2019. Though other political tenures saw women into the seat of power, for twelve (12) years which is equal to three political terms, women such as Sarah Adebisi Sosan, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, and Oluranti Adebule became the 13th, 14th, and 15th Deputy Governor of Lagos state respectively. 

Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the focus of this research, is a Nigerian politician. In 2003, she was appointed as the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. This appointment lasted till 2011. In the same year 2011, she became the deputy governor of Lagos state until 2015. In 2016, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire became the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals. 

Given the above introductory, this study will examine women in politics from 2004 to 2019 with particular reference to the political activities and impacts of Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire during her public service as the deputy governor of Lagos state, the opportunities, and constraints of women in politics between 2004 and 2019.

1.2.Objectives of the study 

In Nigeria, the political ideology seems to emphasize and favors a particular gender, the men. Meanwhile, many have attested that this is as a result of cultural and religious influence in the domain of politics rather than the true ideology of politics which has no peculiarity for sexual characteristics but the willpower and competence to lead and direct the course of a nation or a group of people aright. 

This study intends to divulge the historic imprint of women who had had the opportunity to serve the nation through politics. 

This study aims at finding the veritable delineation of politics practiced around the world and that which is obtainable in Nigeria. 

This study tries to elucidate the limitations of politics and political participation of women in Nigeria’s political affairs. 

This study is to serve as a portrait to portray the unique leadership virtues and impacts of Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire during and after her election to serve as the deputy governor of Lagos state from 2011 to 2015. 

This study tends to educate its readers on the need to consent to women’s full participation in Nigerian politics. 

1.3.Scope and limitation of the study 

This study focused on women in politics with interest in the political administration of Princess AdejokeOrelopeAdefulire, who served as a Commissioner (2003 – 2011) and Deputy Governor of Lagos State Nigeria (2011 – 2015). The period of this research is therefore between 2004 and 2019. This period is significant in Nigeria’s political history as it covers four political administrations and the research outcome reveals the political opportunities and seats of power that were occupied by women during this political period and the various impacts of this engagement. Limiting this study is the unavailability and accessibility of sufficient written materials and records on women in politics. 

1.4.Research methodology 

Historical research methods will be applied to acquire information for this course. The historical methods to be used in this research work are not limited to primary and secondary sources of information. Primary sourced materials to be used include an oral interview, personal diaries, minutes of meetings, and more. Secondary sources to be consulted during this research include published and unpublished works such as articles, journals, internet materials, thesis, projects, and more. 

1.5.Literature review 

The purpose of this subsection is to review the available secondary works on this particular topic. However, it has been noted that secondary material is scarce in favor of this work. 

“Nigerian Political Culture: The Saga of Militarism”7 by Okeke V.O.S and Ugwu C focuses on military rule in Nigeria, especially from January 15th, 1966. The researchers’ paper addresses questions relating to whether Nigerian political culture is a creation of militarism. It considers the militaristic political culture in Nigeria and raises critical questions on the role of the Nigerian constitution in permitting the entrance of the military in governance. The researchers acknowledged that the role of the military in Nigerian politics has generated a lot of heated debates; adding that the great question is, why has the military not only undertaken its traditional function of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity but has a vested interest in the administrative role and politics. Though the researchers did a good job in analyzing the political culture in Nigeria but failed to women in politics. However, the research is significant to this study as it clarifies the military government in Nigeria and its reflection in present-day democracy. This among other factors has been identified as factors limiting the political privileges of women in politics. 

Ebegbulem J.C’s “Ethnic Politics and Conflicts in Nigeria: Theoretical Perspective”8 in Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences approaches Nigerian politics from the ethnic point of view. The researcher observed that Nigeria is confronted with problems that have resulted in the dramatic upsurge in ethnic conflicts which is a by-product of ethnic nationalism and political demands based on ethnicity. The researcher further stresses that from the colonial period to the return to civil politics since 1999 Nigeria has witnessed the resurgence of political demands along ethnic lines; the liberalization of the polity and the expansion of the political space appear to have provided an additional fillip to these ethnic demands. The researcher’s findings show that after decades of colonization by the British, military rule and military dictatorship, including the centralization of power and resources that accompanied it, groups and communities that hitherto felt excluded and marginalized are seeking to be accommodated. The researcher’s work sought majorly to examine ethnicity and ethnic conflict in Nigeria from colonial to post-colonial eras, and x-ray the injustice of ethnic politics in Nigeria. It also delves into a panoramic overview of ethnic politics in Nigeria since independence after a conceptual approach as presented by scholars on the concept. Though significant to the study because it elaborated on some political issues that might have limited the participation of women in politics, the researcher’s finds were peculiarly on conflicts, political unrest, and ethnic favoritism in the political sphere. However, this research goes beyond that to examine how all these factors affect women in politics. 

FaladeD.A’s“Political Participation in Nigerian Democracy: A Study of Some Selected Local Government Areas in Ondo State, Nigeria.”9 InGlobal Journal of Human-Social Science examined the extent to which the citizens are involved in political activities. The study adopted both qualitative and quantitative means of data collection. A questionnaire titled Political Participation Attitude Scale (PPAS) was the quantitative instrument used for the study. A Focus Group Guide on Political Participation (FGGPP) was used to obtain qualitative data. Three research questions were raised and answered in the study. The findings of the study revealed that 57% of the participants were not actively involved in political activities. Also, there was the effect of gender on political participation. 30% and 13% of males and females respectively were highly involved in political activities. Also, 38% and 12% of males and females respectively were regularly involved in the voting exercise. Also, it was discovered in the study that the majority (53%) of the respondents had no confidence in their political leaders. The researcher noted that there is an urgent need for formal and informal approaches to political education in Nigeria. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should put machinery in place to ensure the mass participation of Nigerian citizens in the coming 2015 general election. The researcher provided a well-researched scientific analysis of political participation in Nigeria’s democracy but was limited to a period before the 2015 election. This research will take the study further to 2019. 

Agishi T.V’s “Women Participation in Party Politics in Nigeria: Challenges and the Way Forward”10 in Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review examines women participation in party politics in Nigeria. The researcher explains that party politics in a large number of cases is the launching pad into political positions in most democracies. The researcher’s observations from past and present practices reveal that women’s participation in party politics in Nigeria has been marginal, especially when marched against their numerical strength. The researcher further examines the powerful political positions as exemplified by the lives of Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Queen Amina of Zaria, Margaret Ekpoof Calabar, and Funmilayo Kuti. But stated however that there is a need to move from history and improve as well as increase women participation to ensure equitable power-sharing among the genders in the Nigerian polity. Though the researcher shared the history of women’s participation in politics, there were several figures considered without a particular period leading to information overload. This research hence discusses women in politics with peculiar attention to Princess Adejoke Orelope. 

Brown G.M’s “Nigerian Political System: An Analysis” in International Journal of Humanities and Social Science11 attempted to capture the Nigeria Political System from a historical perspective. The researcher’s analysis shows that Nigeria’s centenary history, which spans from the colonial era through the period of independence, has witnessed some challenging situations – ethnicity, corruption, violence military intervention, civil war, and electoral malfeasance. Despite these challenges, the researcher has observed that people are still managing their union with the hope of building a strong and united nation, with a stable democracy that would stand the test of time and compete with other developed democracies in the world. The researcher added that the centenary celebration should be a time for reflection on missed steps and opportunities so that Nigeria will truly become the giant of Africa. Brown’s research concentrated on Nigeria’s political system, though mentioned several challenges but neglected the problems faced by women in politics. Thus, this research will base on the ideas share in the research shed light on the existence of women in this political system. 

Olaniyi, L.Kand Umar, M.B’s “Democracy and Succession Problems in Nigeria: The Fourth Republic Experience”12 in International Journal of Arts and Humanities (IJAH) emphasis on leadership succession as a problem facing Nigeria since 1960. The mode of transfer power from one government to another is always accompanied by tension. This tension according to the researcher is anchored on the fact that leaders are imposed. This problem was attributed to the persistent interruption by the military, since 1960. With the inception of democracy in 1999, there was positive hope about leadership succession in the country, but the reverse was the result as all elections conducted were seriously accompanied by tensions. The researcher further revealed that despite the potential of democracy in ensuring smooth power transfer, the failure of political leaders to observe the rules guiding the process portrays democracy as an incompetent system. It is also revealing that the majority of politicians did not believe in the ethos of democracy. The researchers, therefore, concluded that orderly transfer of power depends on the wishes of political leaders, and for succession to be orderly; and recommends that all the parties involved in the process of conducting political processes should be committed to the rules of the game. However, the researcher failed to distinguish women and their political activities in his research, this research will justify democracy and succession problems in Nigeria affects women. 

Abdulsalami M.D’s “Historical Background of Nigerian Politics, 1900-1960” in Journal of Humanities and Social Science13 examines the intent and purposes of Colonial Masters in the West Africa region particularly the entity now called Nigeria. The researcher used an analytical framework to expose how the 3 (three) dominant ethnic groups out of 250 ethnics and heterogeneous groups rule themselves before the coming of the white man. And how the colonial master used traditional rulers to carry out their indirect rule system to achieve their Economic, political, Educational, and religious purpose in the regions. The researcher also considers the rising of the elites groups, the agitation of self – government and the granting of independence in 1960 also the Republican Constitution of 1963. Though the researcher painted a clear picture of the historical background of Nigerian politics, the researcher neglected partially the contribution of women to Nigerian politics and the emergence of women to politics. This research paper will find answers to this underlying. 

Bouchat C.J’s “The Causes of Instability in Nigeria and Implications for the United States”14 stresses that understanding the political economy of Nigeria is needed to reveal the root causes of its many ethnic, religious, economic, and political problems and address them for the long term. The pressures now weighing on Nigeria could fracture the state along deep fault lines if rampant corruption and partisanship continue. The researcher emphasizes that the United States, in a mutually important partnership with Nigeria, should assist in specific but indirect ways to help Nigerians overcome their political economy problems, which could serve both the interests of the United States and Nigeria. Within such assistance, the researcher underlines that the role of the U.S. military is particularly delicate, but needed through focused aid to specific programs and sharing of expertise, all best managed through employing units that are regionally aligned to Nigeria or West Africa. The researcher’s major concern was the international relationship between Nigeria and the outside world, the research was less concerned about who leads. This research will focus on political leadership with a major concentration on women in politics. 

Dagne T.’s “Nigeria in Political Transition”15 In Congress Research Service Issue Brief for Congress, analyses the transition from military to civilian rule in Nigeria. Accordingly, the researcher stated: On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha, the military leader who took power in Nigeria in 1993, died of a reported heart attack and was replaced by General Abdulsalam Abubakar. On July 7, 1998, Moshood Abiola, the believed winner of the 1993 presidential election, also died of a heart attack during a meeting with U.S. officials. General Abubakar released political prisoners and initiated political, economic, and social reforms. He also established a new independent electoral commission and outlined a schedule for elections and transition to civilian rule, pledging to hand over power to an elected civilian government by May 1999. In mid-April 2003, President Obasanjo was re-elected, and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won a majority in the legislative elections. The elections, however, were marred by serious irregularities and electoral fraud, according to international election observers. This research is however concerned about the transition of political power in Nigeria, little attention was given to the emergence and the neglect of women in politics, an aspect to which this research will do justice to. 

Uwa O.G et al.16 “Political Participation and Gender Inequality in the Nigerian Fourth Republic” in Global Journal of Political Science and Administration observed that women’s participation in politics is a contentious issue in Nigerian political life. Over the years marginalization has characterized women’s participation in politics due to various inhibiting social, cultural, and religious forces. These forces affected women’s perception of politics leading to a very low level of political interest, knowledge, and activities of women in politics. Nigeria’s politics became male-dominated almost making the women virtually politically invisible. However, the researcher uncovers that various moves to inculcate skills and knowledge that will liberate women from abject poverty (socially, economically, and politically) are on. These will go a long way to increase and improve women’s participation in politics in Nigeria. According to the researcher, women are believed to have an exciting political prospect in Nigeria. The issue of inequality has therefore been perceived by different people especially the women folk as an attempt to erode their fundamental rights. In short, Women’s Participation in Nigerian politics is a topic of importance. The researcher added that despite the challenges women are facing, it was discovered that women activism and advocacy, education of women, positivity on the part of successive governments towards women empowerment, and interest of women to participate in politics are getting a lot of positive energy. However, the research focuses more on the problems and less on the achievements attained by some privileged women in politics. This research will be addressing this issue competently. 

Lea Zoric 17 “Strengthening women’s political participation” draws attention to the population strength of women around the world and how they are consistently underrepresented as voters, political leaders, and elected officials. The researcher identified that within the international community there is almost universal agreement that gender equality is, in it, one of the ultimate development goals, as well as a major driver of human development. A certain ratio of women in decision-making positions is crucial, not just for equity reasons, but also for incorporating women’s perspectives into policy and decision-making and achieving the positive changes we envisage. In identifying women’s limitations the researcher noted that women’s lack of access to education and economic and political engagements is often deeply rooted in and hampered by cultural, religious, or traditional norms and values. Hence, women’s empowerment not only requires socio-political reforms and technical capacity development but also often requires men and women to change their mind-set. The researcher considers programs designed to provoke positive changes in the government sector and also to directly target the female population and empower them. However, the researcher lacked a case study making the research a generalized finding. This research presents a case study to better portray women in politics and their contributions to national development. 

Oloyede Oluyemi18“Monitoring Participation of Women in Politics in Nigeria” elucidated that Nigeria has been recording low participation of women in both elective and appointive positions. This is a growing concern to many Nigerians. However, concerted efforts have been made by the government and non-governmental organizations to increase the level of participation of women in politics in line with the declaration made at the fourth World Conference on women in Beijing, which advocated 30% affirmative action. The researcher noted that in Nigeria, the extant National Gender Policy (NGP) recommended 35% affirmative action instead and sought a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35% of both elective political and appointive public service positions respectively. The underrepresentation of women in political participation gained root due to the patriarchal practice inherent in our society, much of which was obvious from the pre-colonial era to date. Although the research monitors the participation of women in politics in Nigeria, the research was however limited to theories with very limited examples of Nigerian women who have successfully ruled the country at a different point in time. This present research will look into the gaps. 

In the book, “Gender and Development in Nigeria: One Hundred Years of Nationhood19” by Soetan, F and Akanji, B; the authors shed light on the performance of women in parliament in Nigeria between 1999 – 2015, female political participation, the gender gap index between 2006 and 2016. The authors observed that in terms of policy intents, the achievements of gender equality are an accepted development goal in Nigeria. The book further examines the relationship between genders and Nigeria’s development in the past one hundred years (1914 – 2014) of its nationhood and updates it to 2017. However, the authors fail to address more current situations in women in politics and as it concerns this research. 

In the book, “Through the Gender Lens: A Century of Social and Political Development in Nigeria”20 by Soetan, F and Akanji, B; the authors look at how colonialism has enabled or hindered the roles of the state in promoting inclusive development in general, and gender equality, in particular, in the process of nation-building. In this edited volume, scholars analyze a host of policies, strategies, and programs, as well as empirical evidence, to expose how types of governance — from direct colonial rule in the country from 1914, through her independence in 1960, a Republic in 1963, and to different post-independence governance periods — have influenced gender relations and the impacts of these on Nigerian women. Diverse sectorial perspectives from education, health, culture, environment, and especially politics, are presented to explain the level of attainment (or otherwise) of gender equality and the implications for Nigeria’s road to sustainable development. However, the researcher observed that the facts in this text are very limited in the period and it is on this note the researcher will be building on. 

Usman Bugaje21 in his work titled ‘Muslim Women and the Question of Politics’ sought to provide answers to questions on the participation of Muslim women in politics. The author identifies that Nigerian politics is western in both its origin and objectives. Significantly, he further pointed out that canvassing for a political post in the manner it is done in Nigeria, is a product of a western culture that runs contrary to Islamic political culture in which power is not given to those who seek it. The author equally pointed that some Muslims usually feel threatened by the invading Western culture and unable to re-examine issues in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Usman however concluded in his work that Muslim women ought to participate in politics, if only because of the obligations they owe to establish the commanding of good and the forbidding of evil. Though the author attempted to justify the political ambition of women as a worthy course; the author concentrated on Muslim women and was guided by the doctrine of the Quran than what is socially obtainable in the present society. This research paper, however, does not intend to be religious biased and through the help of Usman’s findings provides evidence and significance of women in politics.