Buhari picks seven women as ministerial nominees, widens gender imbalance in cabinet

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari though may appear to have surpassed the number of women he appointed into his cabinet in his first term with seven female ministerial nominees among the 43 unveiled on Tuesday, he is still a step behind his own record.

If all the seven women in the fresh ministerial list sent to the National Assembly are cleared and appointed, they will represent just 16.28 per cent of the total number of the ministers in the cabinet.

This is a drop when compared to 2015 in when the president appointed six women into his cabinet of 36 ministers representing 17 per cent of the total number of the ministers.

In the list sent to the National Assembly were Sadiya Farouk, Sharon Ikpeazu, Gbemi Saraki, Ramatu Tijani, Maryam Katagun, Zainab Ahmed and Paullen Tallen.

Prior to the release of the ministerial list, gender activists have called on the president to ensure gender balance in his cabinet, like the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who appointed 14 females into his 28-member cabinet.

Women groups in Nigeria in line with the declaration made at the fourth  World Conference on women in Beijing, which advocated 30 per cent affirmative action have asked the president to improve the women representation in his cabinet.

The extant National  Gender  Policy  (NGP)  recommended  35 percent affirmative action instead and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35 percent of both elective political and appointive public service positions respectively.

But despite women accounting for almost the half of the Nigeria’s voting population according to a data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) and forming about 47.14 percent of 39,598,645 of the 84,004,084 registered voters nationwide, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), women’s representation in the current administration of Buhari is declining.

Women in past administrations in Nigeria

Since 1999 till date, perhaps, only one administration has lived up to the yearnings of gender activists asking for gender-balanced cabinet in the country.



    There have been five administrations between 1999 and 2015. Former President  Olusegun Obasanjo occupied the office of president between 1999   and   2007,   late  Umaru  Musa  Yar’Adua  (2007-2010),  President Goodluck  Jonathan  (2010-2011;  2011-2015)  and  President  Muhammadu Buhari who has been in power since 2015 running his second and final term in office.

    In  1999  and  2003  when Obasanjo was the president, out of 47 cabinet ministers appointed, only seven were women which represents   14.89   percent.

    Under late Yar’Adua, there were only six women out of 36 cabinet ministers, representing 16percent of the total cabinet members.

    Women representation in the cabinet received a boost under former president Goodluck Jonathan when 12 out 42 ministers were women, representing 30 percent of the total cabinet members.

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