Before the nomination of commissioners in Kwara State, all of the 35 elective offices are occupied by men.
The leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kwara State left women, who are more than 50% of the population without any representation. This means that all of the 24 state assembly members, 6 federal house of representatives members, 3 senators and the governor and deputy governor are all men.
By all indications, this did not only go against the 35% affirmative action for women, as recommended by the United Nations, it also goes against 1% affirmative action, if I may use that term. While some people might claim that, it is not the duty of the political party to force women candidates into elective contest if they are not equipped to walk their way up themselves, what must be noted here is that, women candidates who stepped into the race during the election were forced out through all sorts of funny tactics.
One such woman, Mariam Joy Adeniran had to resort to public protest to reclaim a mandate she sort, to no avail.
Seeing that women have been completely shut out of the system, many individuals and organisations raised a concern about the unfortunate marginalization of women and one such group is the ‘Kwara Must Change’.
On May 27, 2019, the leading pro-democracy group, Kwara Must Change demanded that women be given a minimum of 50% appointment, as compensation for their loss in elective offices.
Kwara Must Change, which held the first women summit, to discuss the marginalization of women and proffer a way forward noted in its communique that, since women have been denied opportunity in elective offices, thereby failing to meet the 35% affirmative action, the group said that women should be compensated with 50% position in appointed offices.
Kwara Must Change stated that its demand, which was made less than 24hours to the inauguration of the new government was to ensure that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has as a top priority, the compensation of women through an appointment.
The Governor, who received Kwara Must Change’s demand at the time promised to look into the recommendations with the hope of upholding it. True to his promise, he sent a list of four women commissioner nominees, including the 26-year-old Joana Kolo.
When the first list of four (4) women commissioner nominees was sent to the Kwara State House of Assembly, it was seen as a step in the right direction. But more importantly, the additional nomination of five (5) women commissioners, taking the percentage of women nominees to 56% is not only a step in the right direction, but it is also a testament of Governor Abdulrahman’s belief in the capacity of women, as builders of the nation.
Let me note that, the nomination of 9 women out of 16 commissioner nominees has not completely undone the marginalization of women. If we are to put it into ratio, we can say that we still have a 5/1 ratio in favour of men.
So far, there 45 male officeholders, compared to just 10 women. 35 of those men are in elective offices, 3 are now Chief of Staff, Secretary to State Government and Chief Press Secretary, while the remaining 7 are now nominated as commissioners.
Women on the other hand only have 10 office holders, 9 of which are commissioner nominees and the remaining 1 currently occupying the position of Kwara Internal Revenue Service Chairman.