I am not one to declare that there is an inherent good in having a female president in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world. Countries with female presidents are not more superior to ones with male leaders. Apart from the “symbolic” effects, I do not see any fundamental difference that such an event would cause. I don’t share the claims that women are better leaders or more capable of “compassion” than men. Any one that paid attention to the last presidential election in the United States would have noticed how ruthless Hilary Clinton was during the democratic party’s primaries. However, I do believe that all humans deserve the simple dignity of being able to strive to achieve whatever it is that brings happiness. The pursuit of happiness is inherent to dignity. So if being president makes a woman happy and the country agrees, I do not see why not. A woman president for Nigeria could either strengthen our democracy or drive us all down to the dark trenches again. One never knows with these things. That is my position.
Like most Nigerians, I was glued to my computer that Thursday watching the spectacle that is the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential primary at Eagle Square in Abuja. The event was filled with our customary pomp and circumstance and minor bizarre episodes. One of the more interesting episodes was the Jubril one. She was definitely not the traditional PDP contestant and I trust that she knew it. Most Nigerians shared this sentiment. Yet, there she was. Putting her name in the hat and attempting to show us all that “a woman can”. What struck me was not her femininity, nor her age, but her courage. It is absolutely courageous to stand there and proclaim to the world that although she has failed many times, she will keep trying. In a country obsessed with the glitz and glamour of success, she knew she would fail; yet there she was, fighting and showing that Sarah Jubril can. And hopefully also that if Sarah Jubril can, then so can any Nigerian with the dedication and sense of service to her country.
Mrs. Jubril’s commitment and dedication to her country is obvious. Her civil service career is dotted with positions characterized by power, albeit the soft kind. She was the Commissioner for Social Development, Youths and Sports in for Kwara State, a coach, and an educator. She was also the Deputy Chairman of Progressive Liberation Party (PLP).
Her presidential aspiration began in 1991, with the then SDP (Social Democratic Party). She lost her bid then to MKO Abiola, which led to his win. She tried her luck again in 1998 against former president Obasanjo in the PDP primary and lost that too. In 2003, she ran as the first woman presidential candidate with the Progressive Action Congress, PAC and she lost to Former President Yar’ Adua. And here she was again, on January 13th, casting her single vote for the self.
Her politics is certainly interesting, although a bit simplistic. Her call to privatize the power sector in 1995 proved ingenious. However, she also advocated for setting up a therapy team” ostensibly to heal Nigeria of her corruption. This was a bit strange and obviously ridiculous. While calling for extensive educational reforms, she also called for “the ethical salvation” of Nigerian public systems.
No one can measure her impact on women empowerment and the political system of the country. However, she serves as the symbol of the Nigerian spirit. Fighting for her chance to be heard with her single vote.