‘Politics is the art of the impossible, made possible’
Otto Von Bismarck once said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” Some qualify that it is also the art of the impossible.
Indeed, anything is possible, as seen by the huge shake-up in African Gender Politics this month, most recently this week with Ethiopia electing its first female President, not to mention Prime Minister Aby Ahmed appointing new female ministers and enabling the country to be the first African country with 50 per cent female ministers.
Then earlier there was the unprecedented candidacy announcement of Oby Ezekwesili, who’s campaigning as “the anti-establishment candidate,” and labelled by the ACPN as the “hope” candidate, in a similar fashion to Obama, back in 2008.
Sadly, Nigeria is ranked far lower than nations such as South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Mauritania and most recently Ethiopia among countries that encourage women to engage in politics. Rwanda with its parliament being top in the world in female representation at over 60 per cent deliberately increased women in decision-making roles and the country is progressing well economically, despite its recent dark and genocidal past. Perhaps the presence of women will in itself prevent the country from ever repeating its atrocious history.
Where African politics is concerned, we are often looking at impossible situations that need to be changed, and in many parts of Nigeria, that’s the case. But how can we expect change, without getting down to the crux of these matters? Meaning, community level politics, where locals can get together and discuss and decide what their needs are. There is too much power politics in Nigeria; it’s more about power rather than policy change up top. We need the balance of a bottom-up approach, and this is where we need women to get more involved.
Mothers, the people concerned about the wellbeing of their families, having access to healthcare, getting their kids to school… Women’s approach to politics is usually less about power and more about trying to solve social problems. Of course there are exceptions to this rule but women tend to try to solve community level issues, and not just women’s issues. Some may doubt the electoral power of Ms Ezekwesili, but she’s well-known for leading the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, a former education minister and a former Vice President of the World Bank’s Africa division and she’s setting a great example.
When it comes to politics, women generally want to get involved in social matters worldwide and there are more female celebrities becoming ambassadors to international organisations and travelling down to communities to “mother” them, be it for a short and temporary while. Because this is what women are good at.
So, wake up, ladies of Nigeria. If you don’t get involved, nothing is going to change. Politics is the art of the impossible, made possible. Let’s turn our impossible situations into possible solutions. Nigeria, we have a lot of catching up to do. We women also have to help ourselves. I believe Nigeria will accept more women bringing more to the table, but we have to engage ourselves. The men are not going to force us to do so. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has hailed female politicians as being more “trustworthy” and recently pointed out that “no nation will become great when half of her population ends up only in the kitchen and ‘the other room’, or get disproportionately discriminated against in the higher echelons of corporate management and in governance.”