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Isioma Osakwe: A Man to Rule Queens?

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Governor Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa State made history last Friday by appointing a man named Aliyu Bello Aliyu as the first …. wait for it… male commissioner for Women’s affairs!
The news apparently seemed to have a humorous element to it because soon after it broke out, there were responses like:

“There’s nothing wrong with that, a man is always better at managing ‘women’s affairs’ than a woman! ?”

Err, say what?!

Well, check back with me in the year 5016 because I am still trying to find my funny place!

Let’s picture this:
The Federal Government has implemented a plan to cater for the issues and inherent problems facing the Nigerian man. To re-enforce this agenda, the FG has set up a ministry- The Federal Ministry of Men’s’ Affairs- at the state and federal levels to address these issues and to gainfully empower the Nigerian man.
The race to appoint a minister for this new, but important parastatal begins and amidst the whole confusing melee, a woman is appointed to head the Federal Ministry of Men’s Affairs!

This illustration is something that will never, ever happen in the history of Nigeria till the world ends; because sadly, but true, we live in a patriarchal society that will never see the need to implement a ministry that caters specifically to the affairs of the Nigerian man.

Even if (maybe after this article) a need arises to set up the ‘Federal Ministry of Men’s affairs’, there is no way in Hell, Jupiter and Saturn that a woman would be appointed to head that parastatal. That is just downright unthinkable and laughable!

So why is this recent appointment in Adamawa State considered a funny development and not leaving a sour taste in our mouths?

The Third Millennium Development Goal set by the United Nations is to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women all over the world. The ministry of women affairs at state and federal levels, are seen as symbols of gender balance and aim specifically to promote gender equality and the inclusion and empowerment of the Nigerian woman. The ministry handles issues affecting women and are traditionally headed by females which of course cannot be contested because who better to head this ministry than a Nigerian woman who clearly understands the needs and pains of her fellow Nigerian women?

It is painful, therefore, that this recent appointment by the Adamawa State governor has been taken with kid’s gloves and with laughter on our faces.

By ignoring this development, are we categorically saying that there are no women in the whole of the Sunshine State who are suitable and capable enough to take on this role?
How can we think that a man can fully understand the peculiar societal issues and inequalities experienced by the women of Adamawa state?
Isn’t it she who wears the shoes that knows exactly where it pinches?

It is easy to say that a man may be able to understand what a woman goes through but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot. A man might love his woman to the depth of his soul, but he will never be able to fully understand and experience her pains (inclusive of menstrual pains and childbearing pains) and the hurt of being viewed as a second fiddle in the eyes of a patriarchal society.

To put this succinctly, a man has no business heading the ministry of women affairs and it is sad to watch Adamawa State go 4 years backwards in the state of its women affairs.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Gstockstudio1

 

Isioma is an Economist, a Chartered Stockbroker in progress, a writer and an advocate for women empowerment and gender equality. She likes to describe herself as an ‘unapologetic feminist’ but her mother advices that ‘womanist’ may be a more appropriate description. Isioma hopes for a better society that recognizes the true worth of a woman and one that upholds the basic human right of every man, woman and child. In her spare time, she loves to read, write, indulge in her dreams and imaginations, listen to rock songs and stare at herself in the mirror! Yep! She loves herself like that! She blogs at: isiomaculture.wordpress.com

34 Comments

  1. Obyandrews

    September 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Lovely write up…..

  2. Ajulo Ayodele

    September 3, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Lol, true talk doe, laughable.

  3. Harmony

    September 3, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I guess the Pope will soon be heading the Catholic Women Org (CWO), Adamawa State too ?

    The view of the author is spot on. Anyone cud easily relate with the isiomasm in the Isioma Culture!

  4. Author Unknown

    September 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I disagree with you Isioma. There is nothing humorous or ridiculous about it. If a man is competent for the job, and sensitive towards women’s affairs, I’m sorry, nothing wrong with a man being at the helm and doing a damn good job of it. Same for a woman heading a fictional “Ministry of Men’s Affairs”. It’s fine with being an advocate of gender equality, but good judgment has to trump sensitivity simply based on gender. Every man was born of a woman, and woman born of a man. No gender is really that removed from the other. It has to start from appreciating your girl child as much as you do your male. Once we get that part right, all else will fall in place…organically.

    • Shalabam

      September 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      I see something wrong.
      Adamawa is a northern state and is the society is predominantly partriochal in nature. Women are often seen and not heard.
      Men don’t get down and dirty to know where the women need help. The stand on the fence and rationalise everything… No passion or real understanding..
      Women are oppressed

      A medical dr friend of mine served near there and told us woeful stories….
      Women whose husbands violate them… Women whose husband bite their breasts…

      The story is long…

    • Author Unknown

      September 3, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      There is no doubt that appointing a woman in that role LOOKS good, and probably encourages a shift in societal attitude. My point though is that appointing a competent man in the same role is not detrimental to the objects of the establishment any more than appointing a competent woman. It’s like saying a health minister should be a doctor, or that a sports minister be a current or retired sportsman, when the tasks and duties of the role are managerial and administrative.

    • Manny

      September 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      [Women whose husbands violate them… Women whose husband bite their breasts…]
      There are plenty of them in the south too you know?

    • Ann

      September 4, 2015 at 7:41 am

      I don’t see what competence has to do with this. I’m sure there are equally competent women who could have been at the helm of affairs, truth is this man has never been a woman and therefore couldn’t possibly know what it feels like to be a woman in Nigeria no matter now empathetic he can be to the treatment of women in Nigeria he can never actually know what it’s like to live the experience.
      It’s like appointing a white man to lead a panel against racism when he has absolutely no idea what it actually is to be discriminated against as a minority.

  5. Tolulope Aluko

    September 3, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Nice write up isioma,my very own Pamela.This sickening issue can be traced back to the Islamic culture (my point of view) and not being biased.where its believed that women shouldn’t be at the forefront. This appointment is perturbing and the earlier the better women start seeing and acting like they are vessels. I’m also of the notion that the various institutions in the society should follow due protocols and not being prejudiced.

  6. Josh

    September 3, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Well, we live in a world where the Catilyn Jenners exist and the line dividing the genders is getting blurred, the only surprise is that this is happening in Africa, Nigeria in 2015, this is an insult to the whole of the female folk in Adamawa, ‘if the owner of the house does not know where the broom is, an outsider would be called to find it.’

  7. Anonymous

    September 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    @Author Unknown 8:27 I totally agree with you but only In an idealistic society will that idea hold. In an idealistic society, a woman will be able to head the affairs of men and vice versa. But let’s be true to ourselves, in the event that there is a ministry of Mens affairs, a Nigerian woman will never be allowed to run it. Let’s not joke around. You know it and I know it. So if that is the case, why should a man run the affairs of women? This is a patriarchal society that will live in not an idealistic one.

    • Author Unknown

      September 3, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      I hear you @ Anonymous. I don’t believe in utopia anywhere either. However, problems of this nature are not as complex as we make them out to be. It is a deeply rooted one though, hence my suggestion that the idea has to be nurtured.

  8. Fiyin

    September 3, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Whew! (Isioma, im relieved! i had my fingers crossed because I thought you might have written something that could land a few people in jail.*i mean you*) That was properly written…and soo true. Okay, keep fighting for women. There can never be enough ‘womanists’.

  9. A Loco Viva Voce

    September 4, 2015 at 7:39 am

    This is a very laughable situation indeed. I mean starting from the Adamawa state governor to the first lady and anyone else who supports this, this is the most sadistic thing anyone can ever do.

    Oh well, let’s just hope other states don’t follow en suite. Otherwise, we might just be moving downwards to the 20th, 19th, 18th century and so on.

  10. Jomebishop

    September 4, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Nice article…troubling issue. There is no rationality that justifies a man being the head of the ministry of women affairs. It is administrative…so is the position of head of women fellowship in churches and religious outfits and you don’t see men heading such positions. It is a thing of great shame and only greed will allow any man accept such a position. Women are being marginalised too much especially in this north. A woman can not come to seek medical care unless her husband approves!!! We really need to change a lot in our approach to how we treat women.

  11. Oluwatoyin

    September 4, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Isioma, you were on point.
    Thinking out loud, Is it not the same Adamawa state government that appointed Atiku’s daughter as the commissioner of health and in which she offered to forfeit her salary and allowances for use in revitalizing the health sector in the state. How come, all of a sudden, Adamawa is void of women with capable hands to wear the cap of ‘commissioner of women affairs’? Selecting a man to head that sector is a big misfit and breeds gender inequality. How long we will continue to deprive the feminine gender? We have accepted the fact that there will always be more men than women in a political cabinet, so why deprive us of the few positions that are meant to be ours.
    Biko! Adamawa state government, Please re-think o

  12. Anne Nwaogu

    September 4, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Dis is real crap! These ppl r purely anti feminists n r making a mockery of women. Do they think women r unable to handle their matters amongst themselves. A man Cn only antempt to fulfil d physical needs of a woman Bt nt d psychological n co. Let’s throw away sentiments, a man should never be head of a group of women except he is a transgender………. The fairy queen father…… *SMH*

  13. Anne Nwaogu

    September 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

    **attempt ** typo error. Oops……

  14. You fumble

    September 4, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Isioma, you fumble.

    You just displayed your ignorance and feminist stand. You didnt write in context.
    You just displayed how ignorant you are like americans who think “Africa is a country”

    Have you even been to a typical hausa state?
    Do you know how it works there?
    Do you know their political affairs is guided by their religious values?
    Do you know there is a limit to what women can do in that region?
    Do you know the comissioner is not the first to govern the ministry of women affairs?

    Go to a northern state where you dont see women during the day
    Go to a northern state where the women themselves will not attempt to come out, even if you persuade them
    Go to a northern state where the ones that come out are covered head to toe
    Go to a northern state where women wouldn’t even come out for census, immunization or elections (except for the last election that their own is contesting)

    Next time when you want to write, do a bit of research and dont be fumbling and showing your extremist point of view.

    When Okonjo Iweala was Minister of finance, did you see anything wrong with her ruling the men in the ministry?

    When Dezieani was minister of petroleum resources, did you see anything wrong with all the men under her?

    when Aruma oteh was DG SEC, saw anything wrong with all the men doing yes ma yes ma?

    You all should suck it. You can go and rule yourselves

    • Blessedheart

      September 4, 2015 at 11:47 am

      I really don’t get your point. All the points you’ve listed here just give credence to the fact that a woman is more suitable to cater for women affairs. Seriously, think.

  15. Anne Nwaogu

    September 4, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Hmmmmmmm………. For Dat man to have contested for d position in d 1st place, he seriously needs to be checked. We may be dealing with another caithlyn Jenner here.

  16. Missy

    September 4, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Fantastic write up. I think the appointment is spiteful to say the least.
    I was at a party once and the MC goes ‘Who run the world?!” All the gbogbo feminists were quick to shout “girls!”. Then he goes “who run the girls?!” And the men didn’t miss a chance to shout “Men!”. I didn’t find all that funny. I don’t find this appointment funny either.

  17. Jamce

    September 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

    This article and the arguments for a woman to head women’s ministry is in my view myopic and tend to defeat the very idea of gender equality. Gender equality, if I understand it, is not about creating a ministry for a particular gender, it is not also about the gender that heads a particular ministry, it is about according every gender their rights, privileges, roles, opportunities, responsibilities on an equal basis without a bias. It also includes taking the respective physiological make-up of each gender into account in playing their respective roles on an equal basis. For instance, equal access to education, development, work, working conditions, positions and offices, respect and protection for each gender’s physical and emotional needs on an equal basis. It is to work towards removing the social cultural prejudices and practices that work against gender equality and introducing socio-cultural values that enhance gender equality and protection. It is not the purview of one gender to achieve these.

    We had OMPADEC and now Ministry of Niger Delta (which in my view are unnecessary). What have they achieved? If the proper principles of governance and development are developed over the years in Nigeria, we would not need any special ministry or agency and also a person from that region to head the ministry or agency. All that the existing ministries would do is to take into account the development needs of every region into account and execute them. All we have done is to create “chopping” centres by duplicating ministries and agencies unnecessarily.

    • Blessedheart

      September 4, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Women still need their own ministry in Nigeria today because of the situation of the country. We’re still trying to overcome the relegation of women in many spheres of life. That has to be fixed before we start talking about gender equality at all.

  18. Blessedheart

    September 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

    By the way, Ondo is the Sunshine State. Adamawa is supposed to be the Land of Beauty…

  19. 2cents

    September 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    The truth is there ought to not to be ministry of women affairs if the feministas will be fair.
    Where is the equality for both sexes that you demand for if you keep fighting over who head such women affairs ministry.
    It baffles men when such feminist propaganda proclaim with utmostncertainty that men and women are equal which is laughable considering the fact tat they still claim attention and favour from govt while the men move on.

  20. johnbull

    September 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Bullshit!!!isioma this is bullshit!u feel you know too much!look ehn!oprah that your emulating get one guy wey dey sample her for corner, even if she’s saying she will never get married!!,all the feminist in the world are still married and have men above them so shut up and live your normal life!you and this your stupid feminist ish!might make you single for the rest of your life fool!!!

    • Truth Teller

      September 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      @ John Bull Sexist alert, go back to your cave, this is 2015!

  21. HarmyMD

    September 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Ok that’s a really nice write up, kudos Isi dear! Well, (Isioma’s gonna have my head for this one) personally, I don’t think it’s really much of an issue whether or not d minister has a uterus or doesn’t. I think it’s more about what work he or she can put in. Let’s not let d name “ministry of women affairs” throw us off, it’s still a government parastatal which is charged with advising the government on policies and issues affecting women. It shouldn’t necessarily be a woman in charge so long as it is performing the tasks for which it was established in the first place… My point basically is that if really a man is vetted and seen to be best qualified for the job, then by all means. PS, if no one hears from me again after this, check Isioma’s basement…

  22. Danidee

    September 4, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    On the debate about competence, isn’t that a word used to describe someone who is well acquainted with and can show considerable skill in the dealings of a subject? How can you head women’s affairs if you’re not… Urm… How can I say this nicely… A woman? The subject matter in question is ‘womanhood’ not ‘petroleum’ or ‘money’, so stop comparing apples and oranges here.
    For the facts in consideration, the fact that the governance is rooted in a tradition that stems from religious rites doesn’t make it anymore sensible. It’s a fact that that’s how they rule, but not an ideal to be applauded or a status quo to be maintained.
    Again, the men are the ones trying to define womanhood to the woman… Probably because we are afraid of what she might become if she realises her full potential by living out her real identity. The saddening… No wait… The most heart wrenching thing is that the women have bought our lie (well, not all of them sha) . Being a woman isn’t doing things Like a man, but as a woman that you are.
    #NuffSaid I’m out.
    *drops mic *

  23. ISEENOWRONG

    September 4, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    With everyone on the tail of Adamawa State Government and his appointments. Let us not forget that we have trusted this APC government to prove their worth. Kindly allow them.
    I must confess, Gov. Bindow has a formidable team in his cabinet, few whom i have met and was very impressed. Let him wear the cap that fits him my people. Remember the northerners are very religious, that has penetrated into their daily lives.

  24. molarah

    September 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I don’t know why I’m not seeing the issue the majority of commenters are seeing it. I believe that a man that is passionate about the cause of women is a better fit for the role of Head of Women Affairs than a woman that is equally passionate about the cause of women. Why, you may ask? Because, who better to tackle the issue of discrimination and marginalization of women than a representative of the perpetrator group. The man would know how to reason with his fellow men and make them see the need to stop forcing their young girls into early marriages, preventing their wives from receiving medical attention, and so on. If a woman tries to reason in like fashion with the men, she may not be able to relate well with them. Besides, who’s to say a woman will do a good job? We have seen several disheartening examples of women in high places making chauvinistic statements like blaming rape victims for their dressing, etc. Abeg, its not everything that needs to get the feminists up in arms.

  25. dayo

    September 5, 2015 at 2:29 am

    …yes Molarah, I think that he must be a very passionate man…so passionate that who ever appointed him thinks he is a woman. It happens to me a lot, oh! when I cry a lot every time I am crying, and crying a lot of people say that I am very passionate, and sometimes they think I am a woman. But then I tell them that I don’t know Caitlyn Jenner, and then they get disappointed and I never get appointed for women’s affair. This bobo must have some “weird-ass” connections. I think his first move as commissioner for women’s affair is to have a sleepover to discuss hidden agenda. Watch out! Mr. Bruce Jenner this is the way to do it…without really doing it!!!

  26. Julire

    September 5, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Calm down boy. Na fight? Learn to appreciate a good write-up and not haul insults on this budding star.

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