By Benjamin Komolafe
Before I start this discourse, let me confess that I’m an incurable and pathological apologist of affirmative action. Affirmative action is that principle of democracy that encourages and even give express opportunities for women to occupy very sensitive political offices especially in Africa where women are denied such opportunities.
In the last two decades I have participated in struggles and advocacy towards the consolidation of this noble principle.
I remembered how I and other like minded comrades supported the governorship aspiration of Hajiya Aishatu Alhassan popularly known as Mama Taraba of blessed memory when she emerged the Taraba State gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and candidate of United Democratic Party (UDP) in 2019 general election.
After she lost elections in 2015, we also took part in the litigations that ensued up to the supreme court to ensure justice was dissipated in her case although we lost out the court process.
In the same manner, we did not relent in supporting the iron lady of Lagos State and the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Madam Kofoworola Buknor Akerele during her sustained and prolonged face-off with her Boss and governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In the same vein we also supported Virginia Etiaba when she became the acting governor of Anambra State for three months and also extended and defended the former speaker of Nigeria’s house of representatives Patricia Etteh when she came under severe allegation of corruption.
I made reference to these poignant and powerful events in history to showcase our struggles to defend women in politics so as to shore up their participation in the politics of our dear nation because I’m an incorrigible supporter of women in politics.
It is in this stead that I felt highly elated and ecstatic when news filtered that an Adamawa woman Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani has defeated five men including the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the immediate past governor of the state, Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow and some serving and past lawmakers.
My joy knows no bounds as another Amazon was on the cusps of making history in the annals of our democracy.
The fact that the woman has displayed great courage, mettle and political grit in the politics of her home state by winning decisive elections including house of reps and senate made me to have convictions that at last, Nigeria is poised for a female governor.
The fact that the woman hailed from the conservative Fulani creed from Yola South local government of Adamawa State all made the spectacle of her victory heart warming.
But as I was exuding and enjoying the feat made by the Amazon two particularly distasteful stories about the election hit me like a thunderbolt.
The first one has to do with over voting during the party primaries that returned Binani as the gubernatorial candidate of the most potent opposition political party in Adamawa State. I learnt that while 1009 delegates were accredited, the election recorded 1011 votes meaning that there was over voting.
Although this may not be the fault of Binani, the issue has the tendency of affecting her candidature as constitutional provisions stated that whenever over voting is recorded during an election, the process has to be repeated meaning a fresh party primary has to be conducted to rectify the a anomaly as the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may capitalize on the situation to invoke the courts to bar the party from participating in the general election.
The second infraction which is the most dangerous one, is the widely reported allegation that EFCC operatives caught two of Binani’s henchmen in vote buying scandal.
Section five of Nigeria’s constitution which describes vote buying as a criminal enterprise may be invoked to quash Binani’s gubernatorial ambition which may become a sore anticlimax to our quest from having the first female governor from the northeastern Nigeria.
But it is hight time the APC as a party put its acts together to save an impending disaster because unless the two issues are investigated and resolved, the party may lose its chances of participating in the gubernatorial election in 2023.
Komolafe, a human rights activist writes from Yola.