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Will Lagos miss having a Female Deputy Governor in 2019?


On November 5, the Lagos chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) endorsed former Commissioner for Works, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, as the running mate to its governorship candidate in 2019, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The Chairman of the party’s Lagos Chapter, Mr Tunde Balogun, described Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat as an incredible team that would amplify development in Lagos if voted for in 2019.

Mr Sanwo-Olu also applauded the choice of Hamzat as his running mate, saying he was confident that Lagos would be more enriched with Hamzat on board.

“Dr Hamzat and I have been players in the same political matters for many years. We have been friends and brothers for close to two decades. He is a man of deep intellectual knowledge. He is a man of the high level of integrity. He is a man that I have worked closely with in different services.”

Amongst all the states in Nigeria, Lagos is one of the six states with a female deputy governor presently and also the state that has produced the highest number of female deputy governors since 1991. Alhaja Lateefah Okunnu was the first female deputy governor in Lagos state in 1991, and was the first woman as a deputy governor in Nigeria. 

Nigeria is yet to boast of a female President, Vice president. This is in spite of  the National Gender Policy formulated in 2006 to promote 35 Percent Affirmative Action for Women in all areas of governance. The policy is simply acknowledged on paper and has not been implemented with Nigeria ranking worst in the participation of women in politics in Africa.

Most aspiring gubernatorial candidate for Lagos state under the auspices of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Lagos have always had a female running mate. It was, therefore, quite surprising that Mr Sanwo-Olu will break the tradition of giving women a fair representation at the state level of governance. However, it is not just about equity in representation. It is about the impact and influence of these running mates to the socioeconomic development of the state.

Apart from his much-touted brilliance, the reason Hamzat, an analyst said, is obvious. “He contested against Ambode in the party primaries in 2014. The powers that be in the party favoured Ambode over him. He came second in that primaries. Again, the party leaders asked to step down for Sanwo-Olu. Picking him as Sanwo-Olu’s running mate is like compensating him.”

Although the office is widely considered as a ‘spare tyre’ because deputy governors are considered important, mainly when the governor is over-engaged and delegates some responsibilities to them. Essentially,the functionality of deputy governors depends on the caprices of their principals.

Most of the deputy governors of Lagos state have proven to be effective ‘Plan B’ for their principals by dutifully executing tasks assigned by the governor. However, the past two administrations in Lagos state since 1999 have shown that most female deputy governors don’t expend more than one tenure compared to their principals who enjoy the luxury of two terms in governance.

The office of the deputy governor is in charge of supervising the Office of Civic Engagement and the Ministry of Education. It coordinates the Local Government Chieftaincy Committees and supervises Ministerial Portfolio as may be assigned by the Governor especially the Ministry of Women and Poverty Alleviation. However, some deputy governors have also conceived developmental projects which have contributed greatly to the success of their bosses.

While the office of deputy governor may be an attractive portfolio, it is bequeathed with elusive power. It is believed that Section 130 of the 1999 Constitution is responsible for the hollow authority the office of the deputy governor wields. It created the position of deputy governor which can be compared to an amoeba, a constitutional entity without any significant shape and political root.

Regardless of whether the deputy governor is male or female, the office holder is still considered a dignified subordinate who is constitutionally idle with a precarious influence, and without a security vote, his or her poise in office is determined by the whims of the power-puffed governor.

This report is undertaken with support from Code For Africa to amplify the Gender Gap conversation

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