Shocking: Nigerian women protest a chance of attaining an increased representation of women in government

With an increased conversation around inclusivity in the Nigerian government and the criticisms President Muhammadu Buhari continues to face for his “gender-biased” cabinet, which he will inaugurate today, it is surprising that some women will protest one of the few windows allowing them to be represented in the government.

Yesterday, thousands of women in Taraba state reportedly embarked on a peaceful protest across the streets of the state’s capital, Jalingo, to object to the ruling of the governorship election tribunal which removed Darius Ishaku as governor of the state in favour of Aisha Jummai Alhassan.

On Saturday the 7th of November, the tribunal declared Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the gubernatorial election on the grounds that Ishaku was not sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party, as demanded by law.

Under the umbrella of PDP Taraba, these women marched through major streets in the state capital chanting in Hausa “Darius mu ke so”, interpreted as “it is Darius we want”. They also chanted “All we are saying, give us justice” before converging at the state’s Women Development Centre to speak with journalists.

The Special Adviser to the state governor on Finance and Banking, Hajia Fatima Hassan, spoke on behalf of the women; she said they are unsatisfied with the judgement of the tribunal and therefore hope that the Appeal Court “would look at the merits of the case.”

Furthermore, she mentioned that the tribunal cannot impose another governor on the state. “The tribunal cannot go through the back door to snatch the mandate we gave to our governor at the polls.” She also challenged the ruling of the tribunal saying that if Ishaku was not validly nominated, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wouldn’t have presented him to the electorate, printed ballot papers for the election and, subsequently, declared him winner.

The women raised a few other issues and called on President Buhari to urgently intervene in the matter as a man of justice.

While this development may surprise a few who would have thought that women will be the most happy to have their counterpart in office, it is important to note that these women clearly speak for their party and not the entire state. Reportedly, there were celebrations across Nigeria and in Taraba when the tribunal passed its judgement on Saturday.

However, these celebrations were interrupted by violent crises spearheaded by individuals speculated to be PDP supporters in Taraba state. The country eagerly anticipates the outcome of the most talked about election tribunal case this year, after Wike and Amaechi of Rivers state, for the obvious reason that it may produce Nigeria’s first female governor-elect.

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