To most people, a woman in a position of power is the devil’s advocate. Most cultures put men in the drivers’ seat, and women and children as passengers. For some strange reason, in the Nigerian context, men did take the driver’s seat, they then drove the nation to hell and back, and are now asking for directions.
Life in Nigeria was so much simpler in the 50’s.
Lack of development and infrastructure? Blame the cold hearted colonial masters. Lack of education? Blame it on low levels of civilization. What about socio-economic development? We hadn’t finished trading and interacting with the neighbouring village, so no one even fully understood what the term meant.
Everybody knew their status and place in life. Men wrestled, fought inter-tribal wars and sat at village council meetings to plan more wars. Women worked the farms, sold the produce, organized the markets and ran the home fronts. Then came independence, and Britain could no longer be blamed. The village council meetings became federal executive council meetings, and tribal enemies suddenly became colleagues. What’s worse, infrastructure needed to be put down in your erstwhile enemies village, and wars had to be stopped because they impeded economic growth.
Since their primary jobs as village protectors had become redundant, men came back and took over farming, sales and marketing, the new production plants and so on. Women were thus relegated to just the home fronts, and if they were lucky, the teaching profession. The evolutionary skills of thrift, prudent management of resources (Whether scarce or abundant), which nature had honed over thousands of years, were now discarded and left to rot. The devil finds work for idle minds, right?
In comes the so called age-old profession. Women knew there was power in their feminity, but most didn’t know just how powerful it could really be. Men knew there was power in riches, but most had no idea how intoxicating and corrupting that power could be. And so, we are all sitting in a confused rut, trying to grope our way into a meaningful 21st century existence. 35% of the presidents ministers and special assistants are women. Most of them are laying claims to skills they no longer possess, and nearly all the male ministers are scared the women might perform better than they can. Most people think that with the exception of a handful, majority of the female ministers, and the male ones for that matter, are not competent enough to run the ministries given to them.
Did the president deliberately hoose half-baked female assistants, so that they will not end up performing better than their male counterparts, and showing them up to the world? Nigerians pleaded with Mr. President to choose seasoned technocrats with proven track records to help him get the country out of the free fall to hell on which it is bound. But ,what the hell, if he goes against the wishes of his PDP supporters club, or the first lady’s cabal of friends, with whom will he spend his leisure time, or where will he lay his head at night?
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister, is touted to be the main person most likely to deliver in the whole ministerial set-up. A really tall order, since no one can be an island all on their own. Whats’ more, she will have to contend with jealous back biting colleagues, and unrealistically high expectations from a Nigerian public that probably only God can impress. All things work together for good, we are told by the holy book, even the advocates whom the devil presents to us.
All in all, it is disheartening to note that while countries around the world are tackling the challenges of the 21st century, seriously trying to reverse the trend of the global recession that has ravaged world economies, a cabal is busy in Nigeria entrenching mediocrity, corruption and terrorism. Yes! To most people, women in positions of power are the devil’s advocate, but I personally think that the devil has had his hands on our women long enough. Now, let’s see what Jonathan can do with them.