2019: Six first-time female politicians test waters for elective offices

As the 2019 general elections draw nearer, many aspirants have been declaring intention to run for elective offices at various levels

Among them are six female aspirants are on board with varying chances, challenges and political clout.

Mrs Mimi Adzape-Orubibi, a former chairman of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), will be vying for the senatorial seat of Benue North east against Senator Barnabas Gemade who presently occupies the position.

She graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) with a degree in Economics and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.

A seasoned tax expert who put in many years at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) where she was a senior manager before her appointment to serve the Benue State government, she was recently sacked by Governor Samuel Ortom following his perceived fracas with her ‘godfather’ Senator George Akume.

But her entry into the murky world of politics may likely face turbulence because of the latest friction between Akume and Ortom.

Her chance looks bright though, given her philanthropic disposition.

One of the challenges which might frustrate her ambition is her marriage to a Rivers State man. Tiv tradition, she now belongs to her husband’s tribe.

Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, a lawyer, social entrepreneur and the founder of Builders Hub Impact Investment Program, is eyeing the Kogi Central Senatorial District seat in 2019.

Akpoti’s father hailed from Okehi in Kogi State while her mother is a Ukrainian.

The mother of three children said her first challenge was the choice of a platform which conforms to her political ideology, being a social democrat.

She also identified gender and acceptability of her capacity to lead people due to the conception about religion and culture that women are not supposed to serve in leadership capacity in Kogi Central as another major challenge, saying Kogi State has the tendency of marginalising women.

Akpoti, who also mentioned the issue of godfatherism as an obstacle to her ambition, said most candidates that have godfathers have either lost their voices or have their voices tied down through the decisions of the godfathers.

She said, “It’s important for me to maintain my voice in its truest and purest form so that when I become a senator, I will be a true advocate of issues that concern humanity. That is why people say you don’t have the kind of money to spend, get a godfather. I believe that with what I stand for, and the changing dynamics of politics, people at the grassroots can now decide what kind of leaders they want – whether they want a true leader that stands on his or her own capacity to serve or a leader that is relying on a big man or some big godfathers somewhere to sponsor them.”

Akpoti, who also identified the ignorance of people as another arduous task, said people don’t understand that it is their right to determine their future.

“I think their ignorance is still based on the fact that they have been deceived for too long. So, it’s like what is she coming to say again. We have been told this over and over again. That is the perception of an average Nigerian electorate. I have really spent a lot of time talking to them that they shouldn’t give up and that it will be different this time around. There is need for voter education.”

Habiba Balarabe Suleiman is eyeing the House of Representatives seat for Kokona, Keffi and Karu federal constituency of Nasarawa State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Suleiman said unlike the notion that female politicians were being are against, she had been getting tremendous support from all and sundry.

She said her main challenge was finance, as she has been spending money since the declaration to contest.

Suleiman, who is the founder of a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) known as Fatima Zara Foundation for Orphans and Less Privileged, said demands from these categories of people had skyrocketed since she indicated interest.

She will contest the primaries against four others, including her cousin.

According to her, she has tried to avoid getting any political ‘godfather’, explaining that most of the people who planned to support her would emerge after the primary election.

Although Dr Elishama Ideh hails from Ewohimi in Edo State, she is more popular in Lagos following her long stay there. This has largely made her intention as a presidential aspirant popular on social media.

She is contesting on the platform of the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN). Elishama who lost her husband, John Ideh, in 2004, said the incident had rather toughened her.

At a recent outing in Lagos, Elishama vowed she would defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in a free and fair contest if she eventually wins her party’s ticket.

Lately, Elishama has been actively involved in the activities of a socio-political movement – Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM) otherwise known as the third force. Whether she stands a chance or not, would be determined in the days ahead.

Pastor Margaret Inusa of the Glorious Life International Church Jos is from the central part of Plateau State.  Inusa remains the only female governorship aspirant on the Action Democratic Party (ADP) platform. She said the challenges she had been encountering were enormous.

She said once a female decides to run for any political office, she is seen as irresponsible, adding that women are viewed as people with less ability and potential.

“So, it takes a lot of courage as a woman to vie for any political office in Nigeria,” she said.

Pastor Margaret, who said lack of financial support poses serious challenge to women’s participation in elections, however stated that her chances at the primaries were bright by God’s grace.

She also expressed optimism on her chances in the 2019 governorship election after winning the ADP primary expected to be conducted through the Option A4 system to ensure transparency.

Little is known about Fateemah Aduke Muhammed’s political history. However, her posters and banners are spotted in various places in Ifako-Ijaiye LGA of Lagos State. She is nursing the intention of going to the House of Representatives.

Though Fateemah has indicated that she would be vying for the position on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is not certain if she would have a smooth run as another bigwig of the party, Otunba Olufemi Shosanya, has also declared for the same seat. – Daily Trust.

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