Nigeria: How Nigerian Women Will Vote the Presidency in 2019

Voter voting at the Rivers State re-run relections (file photo).
11 December 2018

Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari warmed herself into the hearts of most Nigerians by her uncommon understanding of the intricate webs that are defining her husband's Presidency.

Aisha Buhari's special interview with a correspondent of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) exposed her subdued anger with the establishment's frustrations with her husband's loss of control over his administration.

Immediately Aisha's interview was aired on the foremost international radio station, heads turned, not only the facts she disclosed, but also the frustrations she felt about the nepotism, which her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, was espousing after his historical election as a civilian president.

Unwittingly, Aisha was setting an agenda for the 2019 general election, especially when she remarked that if called upon to lead another movement, she would decline to join in mobilizing Nigerian women to vote a particular way.

As if she saw tomorrow, President Buhari did not waste time to announce his decision to seek another term in office despite the obvious shortcomings alluded to by his wife, especially the sidelining of the critical playmakers that worked for the 2015 monumental electoral triumph over an incumbent president.

Although Aisha has not publicly denounced associating with her husband's aspiration, she has not left anyone in doubt, through her body language that she still stands by her conclusions in the BBC interview.

For instance at the recent conference organised by Buhari Support groups in Abuja, the wife the president regretted that after he was elected by more than 15 million Nigerians, President Buhari became a hostage of two unelected, but powerful individuals.

The president's wife actually tongue-lashed Nigerian men, who she accused of lacking balls, regretting that instead of fighting to retrieve their country, they took turns in paying nocturnal visits and to bootlick the same enemies of democracy and good governance.

Also during APC's affirmative convention to ratify Buhari's selection as consensus presidential candidate of the party, Aisha enjoined Nigerians to shine their eyes, lamenting the widespread impunity, inducement and violence that characterised the party's primary elections.

Going by Aisha Buhari's depositions, inclusion and empowerment represent the most crucial issues for Nigerian women if they are to reap the fruits of democratic governance.

On those two critical planks, it could be safely argued that Aisha has subtly declared that contrary to the position of the Presidency cabals, among who are the two persons she complained about, there is vacancy in the Presidency.

An unmistakable perspective to Mrs. Buhari's advocacies is that Nigerians reserve the right to express their preferences through the ballot in true display of patriotism devoid of narrow personal interests.

Aisha Buhari does not seem to be particular about gifting her husband with a second term if that would amount to reinforcing failure.

According to the activist first lady, "2019 is not about us, but about our children, their future and Nigeria."

Her advocacy, therefore, is of a Nigeria democracy that guarantees gender inclusion, but which also take cognizance of the unborn generation.

Another woman, who decided to walk in Aisha's steps is Hajia Aisha Jumai Alhassan.

Mrs. Alhassan, the immediate past Minister for Women Affairs, also told a BBC correspondent that if Buhari announces his intention to seek another term in office, she would humbly inform him that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is the preferred one.

Although the minister did not receive instant punishment for her boldness to express her political inclination, the APC primary, which her namesake and president's wife complained about, caught up with her, which led to her forced defection to the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Although, the national leadership of the ruling party played a fast one on the frontline female politician popularly called Mama Taraba, she made her point in a very poignant way, telling the world that President Muhammadu Buhari does not deserve a second term at the Presidency.

Not long ago, another prominent, bold and courageous female politician, Hajia Aisha Yesufu, did a short video message in which she repudiated President Buhari's endorsement of Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, after the governor was shown in video that went viral accepting gratification from an alleged contractor.

Hajia Yesufu, who is a co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls, wondered why a president that came to power on the promise of anti-corruption should condone such a compromising behaviour from one of his associates, stressing that something must have gone wrong with the president's understanding of the implications of his public demeanour.

In an earlier video message, Yesufu had urged the president to take some time off to take care of his failing health, pointing out that it was not a must for him to continue in public office for its sake. The woman also noted the lack of brilliance of Buhari's performance.

Senate Minority Leader, Abiodun Christine Olujimi, has said as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned, there was no credible alternative to the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, stressing that the incumbent President Buhari has nothing to point to as his achievements in office to convince Nigerians to re-elect him for a second term.

The Senator, who represents Ekiti South Senatorial District in, contended that since Buhari cannot address Nigerians, it is evident that the President has failed to deliver on the mandate given to him by the electorate.

She said: "President Buhari does not have anything to campaign with as his achievements in the last four years.

Maybe that is why he has been finding it difficult to address Nigerians.

The situation in the country at present requires a leader with vision and ability to put things right. That is where the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, comes in."

The Senator noted that the electorate would focus on ability to deliver on promises made and past record as the basic considerations for their choice in the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

On her part, leader of 'No-Woman No-Vote' campaign, Senator Florence Ita Giwa, decried the exclusion of women in the current electoral process, saying that candidates that do not reflect the interest of women or have women on their ticket would not receive the votes of Nigerian women.

Speaking during the inauguration of 'No-Woman No-Vote' campaign as part of the 2018 International Year of the Girlchild, Ita-Giwa lamented that "women have been systematically edged out of politics and governance in what appears to be a concerted effort by the political class that is dominated by men."

She disclosed that the recent primary election cycle has taken Nigeria right back to the stone age, where women were regarded as nothing, but property for the propagation of the human species through reproduction.

Perhaps in a bid to reverse the retrogression in gender inclusion, former Vice President of World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, not only announced her intention to contest the 2019 presidential election, but also mounted a vigorous campaign that brought her into strong reckoning.

A major plank of Ezekwesili's presidential chase is her promise to get 80 million Nigerians out of abject poverty, even as she accused the incumbent and his main challenger, Atiku, of repeating old mistakes that plunged the country into the world headquarter of poverty.

In an interaction with journalists in Lagos, Ezekwesili stated: "I want to reignite belief in Nigeria's greatness by leading a government that would make clear promises to citizens and deliver on them, not like the current leadership, which spent its first year in office denying all the promises it made to get into that office."

The former Minister of Education also rued the lack of accountable and visonary leadership in the country, insisting that the next geenral election affords Nigerians the golden opportunity to reject reccycled leaders that plunged the country into backwardness.

While accusing President Buhari of devaluing the lives of Nigerians, Ezekwesili urged Nigerians to vote for a presidential candidate, who would place their wellbeing as a priority.

On the co-relation between Nigeria's poor development pedigree and the nation's political structure, the presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) said Nigeria's current federal structure was not working.

Ezekwesili declared: "Entire communities and even local government areas in this country have been driven into hunger and poverty, as their sources of livelihoods are completely wiped out due to insecurity. The value of a Nigerian life has been devalued and cheapened. The structure of a federation is its skeleton. A functional structure gives shape, support, and aids the movement of the federation. No wonder Nigeria is handicapped under this dysfunctional structure."

While the women have chosen to speak truth to power, it is left to be seen how far Nigeria women can reflect their aspiration and yearning in the voting pattern in the forthcoming general election, especially against the ignoble injection of vote-buying.

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