Naija Women Can Play The Game Too!

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

In today’s Nigeria that has been severally described as a man’s turf, one is not that surprised that the Nigerian woman has come to prove that she too can get her skirts wet in the mud and burn her bra if she really wants to play the dirty game of politics. No, I do not mean it that way that they are proving to be dirtier, slimier political bitches and are a chip off the lady macbethan stock. No, no, and no. What I mean is that the Nigerian men folk who see the political turf as their own playground are getting bullied and outsmarted again and again whenever push comes to shove. While the Nigerian women folk seem to realize it faster than the male that the game can be a mere mind game where subterfuge can be employed and deployed, the guys just think it is all chutzpah, chauvinism, iron and blood.

First of all, take a look at what our women are doing in the game of football in Africa. While the men have never under any circumstance effectively established and stamped our so-called giantness on the field of play, our women have shown the stuff they are made of by establishing and stamping their manhood in the game. They have outplayed all other African women by winning convincingly the African women Cup of Nations and have gone right ahead to represent us very well whenever there is a world cup for female football. FIFA recognizes this no mean feat and has promised our Amazons that they can get a million dollars if they win it again in the competition taking place in Oghara in Delta state. Trust our babes, they just handed a two-nil bashing to their boastful South African opponents, their greatest rivals. They ravished another African team by six goals to nil and are already in the semi-finals. This may finally be a confirmation of that what-boys-can-do-girls-can-do-better song our sister-school used to sing in those days. I don’t intend to be rude, boys, but isn’t it time we recruited some of our women to play the game for us whenever there is a crucial football encounter?

Then look at what happened in the Ekiti football field. As soon as the once all-powerful Fayose ran into hiding with his tail tucked in smugly behind his legs when his waterloo was imminent, it was his deputy, a woman that held fort before his governorship collapsed like a pack of cards. That iron lady successfully challenged Friday Aderemi’s claim to being governor of Ekiti State in the wake of the impeachment of her boss. If that lady had not stood her grounds with a rhetorical candour that floured the dour, drab, inarticulate Aderemi, the political history of Ekiti State would be very different today. Even when it seemed that the house had successfully impeached Fayose, she was still talking and still challenging that illegality which led to the declaration of a state of emergency.

And what Peter Obi hardly realized that led to his fall are two cardinal principles of political participation: one, there are no permanent friends in the game and you don’t give your deputy too much room. If you do, you give them the instrument with which they outmaneuver and outwit you. Pundits of political participation always advice that we must give our deputies what in football parlance is called ‘close marking’. Peter Obi was confident that a state of emergency would be declared in Anambra if he kept talking like the Ekiti woman did in challenging the legality of his impeachment. He was confident that his deputy was an ordinary widow and school teacher seemingly without the nerve and savvy to run a volatile state like Anambra. The smart woman too gave her former boss an aura of false-confidence by issuing press statements that indicated that she was not interested in serving the state without her boss at the helm. But what is the situation today? Peter Obi the banker is now in our history books and has been stepped aside by a woman who now holds the record as Nigeria’s first female governor.

Dora AkunyiliA lot of the confidence that the outside world reposes in Nigeria today has to do technically with the gallant efforts of two Nigerian women – Dora Akunyili of NAFDAC, and the former Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala. Dora could have compared to any American wartime general. She waged a relentless war against the merchants who produced fake and substandard products and succeeded where the guys had compromised their balls. If you ask the average Nigerian who they think should be our next president, 85% would mention Dora Akunyili instead of either IBB or Kalu or Donald Duke. Mrs. Iweala too: she worked tirelessly to earn the confidence of those that are known as ‘creditor nations’. Our so-called creditors knew that a cancellation of those debts would be just another chance for our leaders to siphon more money to private banks in Europe and America. They needed a face they could trust with the responsibility of directing the attention of government to areas like primary health care, schools and rural infrastructure with relief that would come with a cancellation of a crushing debt burden. It was Iweala’s face, not Obasanjo’s they saw. She presented the bespectacled visage of a serious accountant or Economist coupled with that sweet smile that neutralized the doubts of those who claimed that we owed them money. But you see, as soon as the debt was cancelled and there seemeth to be some shadow of hanky-panky in the works, the astute Iweala dumped her employer to keep her integrity intact.

The way things are now, I don’t think it is out of place for us to concede that a woman’s brain is not an organ of her sex. A brain is a brain. A heart is a heart. A liver is a liver. It is how one develops the vital organs (mostly the brain and the heart) that make the difference. If we keep saying that women are weak because of their physical configuration, how else can we reconcile this with how much they have held their own against us?

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