By Adedayo Ogunleye
Immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has canvassed for the participation of more women in politics, saying that by virtue of their innate compassionate constitution, they remain a critical cornerstone in the drive to transform Niger
Fayemi who spoke at the launching of a new book, A New Kind of Dance at the Women Development Centre in Abuja on Wednesday, said that the task before the nation now is to encourage women, “especially women of integrity” to take an active role in politics and governance.
According to Fayemi, the nation will not record any measurable positive change until decent, patriotic and passionate people get a chance at leadership.
Lamenting the apathy pervading the nation and the dysfunction in governance across all strata, he stated that it was unfortunate that barely three months to the 2015 general elections, there appears not to be a single woman aspiring to contest for the highest office in the nation.
He advised that mechanisms should be built to identify exemplary women who have distinguished themselves in their various careers and to “push them forward for service. “
He reasoned, however, that it is what women in politics do to impact the nation that matters, and not their numbers.
Speaking directly to the author of the book, Amina Salihu, from the podium, Fayemi said “some women who have everything it takes to excel in public service have been shying away but no matter how much they hide, office will hunt for you and find you out.”
“Women leadership is a different ball game- it is indeed a new and different kind of dance. It is primarily about nurture, harmony, responsibility, accountability and therefore the inevitable transformation of our communities and nation.”
Fayemi used the opportunity of the book launch to speak for the first time since he left office about some of his achievements in office! saying that these values were also the bedrock of his tenure as executive governor in Ekiti State.
Giving credit to his wife, Bisi Fayemi, he said it is not by mistake that his administration set a standard by making Ekiti State the first one in Nigeria to ratify the Gender-based Violence Prohibition Law, institute social security schemes for the aged, establish shelters for women who had suffered abuse and to institute family courts across the state.
He also observed that the state, during his tenure, was the only one in the nation to ensure that at least thirty-three (33%) percent of permanent secretaries appointed were women.
The newly launched book titled A New Kind of Dance: Lessons Learnt Working With Women in Northern Nigeria During The 2011 Elections, chronicles the experiences of the author, while mobilizing political support amidst communities in Kaduna State during the 2011 elections.
According to Salihu, the book captures the gains and losses experienced while working with women in Kaduna in the build-up to the 2011 general elections and was also written to encourage women participation in politics as well as identify mechanisms of getting women more active in politics.
The book reviewer, Hajo Sani, founder of Women and National Development’ WAND, an Abuja-based NGO, said that it was sad that despite the fact that research has shown that women make up more than fifty percent of the population in Nigeria, they get nothing more than five percent political participation.
Describing the situation in Ekiti State as a rare and unique one, she described Kayode Fayemi as “a hero of women and community.”
Present at the event were wife of the former Ekiti State governor, Bisi Fayemi, a member of the House of Representatives Mulikat Akande, Chairperson of the advisory board of the Hadis Foundation, Ezinwa Okoroafor, chairperson of the Better Life for Rural Women, Aishat Babangida, and Federal Commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC Amina Bala-Zakare.
The book launch was organized by Hadis Foundation founded by Salihu to provide early start-up opportunities for businesses and innovative ideas with the potential to uplift girls and women. Aiming to connect young initiatives with timely and technical resources, the foundation’s flagship program, Project Nurture, was launched in 2013 and it seeks to empower young farmers in Kaduna State by giving access to seedlings and fertilizer while leasing farm land at no cost to interested participants. According to Salihu, proceeds from sales the copies of the book would be channeled into furthering the vision and mission of Hadis Foundation.