Have you ever underestimated the power of women? If your response is in the affirmative you’d better have a rethink, in view of the enormity of influence that some women resident in the nation’s capital city, Abuja, wield. BANKOLE MAKINDE chronicles the achievements of some of these women and why they are considered as power brokers in the capital city.
NOT even the most aggressive among male chauvinists in Nigeria can undermine the worth of these women. This is because they have proved, at different times, that womenfolk are, not in any way, subservient to their male counterparts, and that the subjugation of women by men is unreasonable.
To put it succinctly, their roles in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in recent times have aided the interrogation of male chauvinism and the erroneous belief underpinning gender hegemony discourse, which often, situates women on the periphery of male-dominated society.
Though in feminine physique, the like of the coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala; Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison–Madueke; Housing Minister, Ms. Amma Pepple; Minister of State for Defence, Chief Olusola Obada; Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina; Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, and many others, have further reinforced Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique using it to make a statement that nothing is wrong with femininity.
Starting with the nation’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, her generosity was said to have helped to improve lives of numerous people in Abuja as well as some other states.
Through her pet projects, A. Aruera Reachout Foundation and Women for Change and Development Initiative, she is said to have made impact on lives of many Abuja residents, especially women who have no means of livelihood.
Calculated, focused and determined, Dame Jonathan is seen by many residents of Abuja as an enviable figure who often feels the pulse of the downtrodden and influences government decision to help the helpless.
The Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has succeeded in terrains hitherto regarded as exclusive preserve of men. Her grasp of finance and economy-related matters is not in doubt, hence her “discovery” by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who first appointed her as the Minister of Finance.
Widely regarded as “Madam Economy” in the capital city, Dr Okonjo-Iweala isa power broker who wields a great influence in President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison–Madueke, is another powerful woman who calls the shots, not only in the ministry she oversees, but also in Abuja, where life is shaped by political influence and patronage.
As an Izon woman, her phenomenal intelligence has often been displayed. Though high up the ladder, she is reputed to be humane, hospitable and kind-hearted.
Minister of State for Defence, Chief Olusola Obada, is another cynosure of all eyes in Abuja. She has proved wrong male chauvinists, who believe that certain positions should be reserved for men.
Since her appointment as the Minister of State for Defence, Chief Obada has shown that women cannot be found wanting, even in positions considered as highly sensitive.
For Hajia Zainab Maina, the Minister of Women Affairs, being good-natured has endeared her to many people in the city.
Her office, for instance, is said to be one of the few places that visitors frequent, as Abuja women often besiege it to ask for assistance or favour.
She is often referred to as the “goodness of women” in Abuja, while men, who want things done for them by Abuja women, are said to seek for her favour and assistance.
Ms. Arunma Oteh, the Director-General, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), is also one of the important women that set the tone of things in the city. She is a technocrat and one of the power brokers in Abuja who have the ears of the president.
Though she is having a running battle with some politicians, mostly males, her brilliance and or intelligence is never in doubt.
Ms. Ene Ede is the toast of the downtrodden in Abuja, due to her simplicity, forthrightness, truthfulness and sense of purpose.
She was said to have given birth to her first child at the age of 13 and has not allowed that to inhibit her from being the rallying point to all women who suffered similar fate that befell her.
Through her NGO and philanthropic activities, Ms. Ede has assisted and helped to rehabilitate many women in the city whose hope of living a meaningful life has vanished.
Secretary of the FCT Social Secretariat, Mrs Blessing Onuh, daughter of Senate President, Senator David Mark, and Reverend Sarah Omaku, the resident pastor of Worship, command the respect of womenfolk in the FCT. Both of them are seen as epitomes of success, and the assistance they render to many in the city has often received commendation.
The former Special Assistant to the former Minister of FCT, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Hajia Amina Salihu, is another powerful woman in the FCT. She is the Executive Secretary, the Coalition for Change (C4C), an umbrella registration organisation for all non-government organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria. She is a force to be reckoned with in the city, as she similarly takes actions that affect the fortunes of many in the FCT.
Among the very few women in the FCT who combine business with politics is Hajia Basirat Nahibi. Her political influence is even said to go beyond the country as her footsteps have been seen in some African countries where she wields a lot of influence as well. She is a multimillionaire businesswoman, who owns al-Bashir Interior Decors in Abuja, where most affluent people shop for their household furniture.
Madam Nuoma Ezedike, owner of the eatery, Orange Garden, is also another powerful woman. She has succeeded in turning the eatery into a rallying point for the crème de la crème in the city FCT where issues of the day are always discussed.
Irrespective of the opinion anybody may hold, Abuja women, especially those in the positions of authority, are role models whose contributions to the development of the city have been invaluable.