I get backlash for appointing more women in cabinet - Abdulrazaq

Date: 2020-09-28

Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has said he receives backlash for appointing more women in his cabinet.

His cabinet is believed to have the highest female representation in the country – with nine women out of 16 members.

However, the governor said his gesture had been attracting backlash, particularly from men who believed they should occupy the positions the women were holding.

Abdulrazaq stated this on Saturday at a webinar organised by the Women in Management, Business and Public Service, a non-profit based in Lagos.

The webinar, which was monitored by our correspondent, had the tag, 'The Women in Politics Dialogue.' The session was moderated by the Senior Partner, Acropolis Consulting, Simi Fajemirokun.

Speaking on the theme, 'Get off the sideline: 2023 & beyond,’ Abdulrazaq explained why he appointed more women in his cabinet.

He said, "When I started my business in the oil sector, it was women who worked with me. I've never employed a man. The men I employed were drivers and clerks. But in terms of managing my business, it was mostly women, and I knew how effective they were. They could multitask and manage things properly.

"So, in politics, my thinking was also to have more women in the cabinet because I want to deliver to the people. (But) you get backlash from men who believe the positions women are occupying should be reserved for them.

"They may say, 'No second term for you; we are waiting to see how you will cross the hurdle again.' But for me to leave a legacy, I should first forget the second term. I have four years to deliver to the people. This is why I ignore the backlash. As I speak, several people are not happy but we need to engage one another and not have a glass ceiling for women.”

The governor encouraged women already in government to pull other women up and support one another.

Also speaking at the event, the Senate Minority Leader and senator representing Ekiti South District, Biodun Olujimi, said funding was a major barrier for women in politics.

She said, "Raising funds and political parties' structures are the biggest barriers for women because we don't have associations that are strong like those by men. Anyone who wants to go into politics, who wants to be taken seriously, must have their own finances. They must be able to fund their campaigns. They must be financially established.

"People will wake up in their homes, call you and ask for money. If you say you don't have it, that's the end of the show, and it’s a big problem for us as women. Until women come together as an entity and support one another financially, we won't succeed."

Beyond financing, Olujimi also said there should be laws that could assist women to do well in politics.

Also, the senator representing Rivers West District, Betty Apiafi, said women could make an impact in politics, asking them to start at the grassroots level.

She, however, noted that “toxic masculinity” usually prevented women from coping in politics.

"It is a risk women have to take on; they can survive. It’s like a woman starting a business. We have to learn to compete,” she said.

Also in her submission, the Founder, Gender and Development Action, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, said Nigeria had to do more to include more women in governance and take a cue from smaller African countries like Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Angola, which already had more women in government.

While opening the session, the Chairman of WIMPOL, Kemi Ogunyemi, noted that the programme's goal was to increase the representation of women in public office through influence and advocacy.



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