The Ground Zero

by Opeyemi Ajayi
Hajia Gambo Sawaba

A few years ago, a pandemic stuck our world, it’s effect totally changed the way we interact.

In the midst of the catastrophe brought by Coronavirus, Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum conducted a research analysing how political leaders of about 194 countries responded the unprecedented health challenge that emanated from COVID 19.

The result shows that countries led by women had fewer death rates from the virus compared to nations led by men. Female leaders responded faster and communicated better about the reality of the season compared to their male counterpart.

Leadership of any society is a serious issue that must be handled by capable folks; as Nigerians, we’ve seen the effect of incompetent leaders in our national life more often than not.
It has been proven that women’s participation in decision making benefits the society tremendously.

Women generally prioritise education and effective health care more than men.

We live in society that has made it quite difficult for women to emerge in certain positions.

Deciding not to educate a girl child, deciding not to elect an individual on the basis of gender or refusing to appoint the best in certain political positions simply because they are female is like Tobi Amusan deciding to only run with one leg at the next Olympics.

There are untapped capacity and talents amongst Nigerian women that we desperately need in government and around our political space.

One thing about Nigerian women in political leadership is that they hardly play to the gallery, they are either fantastically corrupt or excellent performers; they hardly bite and fan you at the same time unlike the male gender.

Years ago, a giant once lived in Nigeria who was way ahead of her time.

I believe we need to learn more about her life and understand how she stood for social justice despite the level of dehumanization that she suffered.

We need to use her story to broaden the horizon of our young female.

Hajia Gambo Sawaba was born in 1933, she was married at the age of 13 but joined politics at 17 in the northern Nigeria. Her path was very rough.

History has it that she was the most jailed Nigerian female in her time mostly from trumped up charges.

She actively and openly advocated against child marriage, unpaid labour and unfair taxes. She canvased for female education and full voting rights.

Unlike most people, she spoke up when necessary against evil; she organized and led protest against barbaric decisions that affected the society when others cared only about themselves.
She didn’t live just to take care of herself and family, she lived so that every Nigerian can fulfil purpose, no matter the gender.

She has 16 prison sentences to her record, she was arrested so often that she always kept a blanket with her every time as she was always ready for detention.

Her hair was shaved off with broken bottles countless time just because of her desire for a better society.

She was stripped naked and flogged publicly.

Her front teeth were pulled out during torture at a time.

During her lifetime, she once noted that blood has flown through all the openings in her body due to torture from the government of her day all in a bid to silence her.

With where Nigeria is today; the level of gender inequality that we are experiencing; can we imagine what Nigeria would have been without the activism of people like Gambo Sawaba in her time?
We need more women in active politics and government.

As the Nigeria’s President-elect once said in a widely circulated video, power is not given, it is grabbed and snatched.

Gender equality in our political space and public administration will definitely bring about a better Nigerian society faster than we ever thought.

To achieve this in our lifetime, we need to speak up against evil; organize, lead and or participate in protest when necessary.

Nigeria has the capacity to become the most desirable country to live in on earth if and only if we decide to embrace the virtues of gender equality, respect for the rule of law, social justice, free market enterprise, science and technology.

God Bless You!

God Bless Nigeria!!

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