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Gender, politics and corruption: The Nigerian case

02 December 2013, 12:44 Nwanneh Emmanue Madu

Women are resourceful and hardworking being. History has exposed the female gender as an agent of change and nation building. Is there anything a man can do that a woman cannot do? Invariably nothing because women are fast learners.

As a result of dogged spirit of achievement bestowed on women, the national gender policy was formulated to promote 35% affirmative action for women. A policy which gave the present day women an edge over women in the pre-democratic era.

In the past, even though women were not given much chance to partake in the governance process due to the shackles of pro sexist customs, they have unarguably given the present day women a run for their money in terms of quality service delivery and proper representation anchored on accountability and transparency. The exploits of the pre-democratic women in Nigerian politics is one thing that has enriched Nigeria's political integrity and feminist archieves. Queen Amina of Zaria; Zainab of Dekina, Lokoja; Queen Idia; Hajia Gambo Sawaba ;mrs Tinubu of Lagos; Moremi of Ife land; Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti, to mention but a few are women who have triumphed beyond all odds to fight against corruption, bad governance, promote human right, prevent single sex politics and sacrificed themselves as the political forerunner for Nigerian women in politics.

Since the inception of democracy in 1999, especially since 2011, the number of women in the governance process has been on the increase. This is evident in the number of women in the national assembly, government agencies, departments and ministerial positions .Just as light was about to shine at the end of the  tunnel following the gradual cultural liberation by women, came a bigger tunnel known as corruption ,a syndrome to ethics and morality. Corruption, despite the innate firmness of women resistance to immorality and shame have been able to arrest their conscience and rape their moral power. Since the inception of democracy in Nigeria, women have joined the race for corruption and just as the dew have no respect for the trees, corruption has no respect for gender.

The first female speaker of the house of representative, Patricia Etteh was dethroned as the fourth most powerful official in government following a corruption allegation involving   N628 million. The first Female minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison Madueke is not also free from corruption scandal as she was accused of withdrawing #30.9 billion in five days from December 26 ,2007 in order to beat government 31st December deadline for returning of unspent budget allocation to government treasury when she was the minister of transportation.

Obasanjo Bello was also in the same canopy as she was accused of N3.5 billion contract scam which she allegedly awarded to her company when she was the commissioner of health in Ogun state. On the same gender and sector but at federal level, professor Adenike Grange, a former minister of health and 12 others were charged by EFCC on the ground of corruption following N300million unspent fund belonging to ministry of health which was shared by the accused under the instruction of the minister. Minister of aviation,Mrs Stella Oduah was not left out by the dew of corruption as she allegedly bought two budgeted  BMW armored cars at an exotic price of N225 million. For some inexplicable reasons, government has still decided to keep the beautiful minister in her cabinet as the call for her removal from the office by the masses does not cut an ice on government.

Corruption which has become the latent function of women involvement in governance process is growing with the speed of light. Women that was perceived as an indispensable gender in nation building have joined their male counterpart in looting with impunity. Following the gender struggle with corruption as the umpire, can one say that indeed women can do what men can do? or is morality gradually fading away? maybe is a change in societal role  or our own definition of gender equality.

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