Nigeria-Gouvernment: President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 5, 2011

President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers - In a bid to fulfil his campaign promise of having 35 per cent representation of women in his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan may appoint 13 female ministers in his post-May 29 cabinet, even as women politicians battle professionals over slots."Research has shown that countries with greater gender equality have higher standards of living and significantly more achievements in all facets of the society.

"Reports have also shown that where women leaders are present in critical numbers and are able to participate effectively, economically, politically, and socially, the result is more socially responsive governance," the president had observed recently at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Tank in Abuja.

While the president and First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan were in Obudu, Cross River State, for a week-long retreat, ministerial lobbyists stormed the tourism centre seeking enlistment in the next cabinet.

LEADERSHIP can now authoritatively report that the next Jonathan-Sambo administration would have no fewer than 13 female ministers as a fulfilment of the affirmative action promised the women while they were being wooed ahead of the just concluded polls.

Speaking with our correspondent at the weekend, a presidency source disclosed that, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Jonathan would constitute a 43-man Federal Executive Council (FEC) that would help him implement his developmental blueprint for the nation.

Out of the 43 ministerial positions, LEADERSHIP gleaned that 13 slots would go to the women while men would take the rest.

The presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor, Umaru Musa Yar' Adua, each had 43 ministers with one representing each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and each of the six geopolitical zones.

Should this be the case, the president would have ignored the advice asking him to trim his cabinet in a bid to reduce the cost of governance and free more money for investment in decaying infrasturcture.

"President Goodluck Jonathan would fulfil his 35 per cent political appointments including the ministerial slots to the women and this means there are going to be 13 ministers since he would forward 43 names to the Senate as ministers representing each of the 36 states including Abuja while the remaining six would represent the geo-political zones. And every other appointments to be made would follow suit," said a top government source.

Speaking further, the source who does not want his name in print said: "The only problem is, if the governors or party leadership failed to send women's names to the president as ministerial nominees. But this would not stop him from fulfilling his promise to the women who constituted the largest voting bloc in the country. Don't forget he has power to name whoever he wants as his ministers."

When asked to disclose the intrigues going on and whether the First Lady would be involved, our source, who has been playing a sensitive role since the Obasanjo administration in the State House, disclosed that Patience had been receiving ministerial lobbyists since she returned from the Obudu retreat because she has promised those who campaigned for her husband that their labour would not be in vain.

His words: "The First Lady would play a prominent role in the composition of the female ministerial nominees because of her personal involvement in the campaign that ushered in President Goodluck Jonathan. So many women or groups of women have been coming to meet with the First Lady. So don't be surprised to see names like Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Grace Bent, Kema Chikwe, Hajiya Ciroma, Dame Anenih, Iyabo Obasanjo and a few others on the ministerial list."

He said: "Women are divided over how to go about it; while those who are thoroughbred politicians are going through Her Excellency, the First Lady, some who are professionals are doing their lobbying through other contacts. To the professionals, the slots to be given to the womenfolk should be given to them and not to politicians who would not justify such a confidence imposed in them.

"This group is being led by a woman who is currently occupying a sensitive position where she generates revenue to the federal government (name withheld) but the other group is claiming that they were the ones who worked for the victory of the president."

According to the president, "If South Africa could give 40 per cent of political appointments to women; I don't see why giving our women 35 per cent is impossible." It would be recalled that Jonathan is the first Nigerian leader to appoint a woman as Minister of Petroleum even as he also gave directive to the military to begin recruiting women as combatant soldiers.

Just last week, the president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Salamatu Husseini Suleiman, at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Thank in Abuja, commended Nigerian women for their massive support towards his success in the presidential polls.

"I am assuring you that all the promises made in my manifesto on 35 per cent representation of women in governance will be fulfilled," he said, adding that women have occupied various leadership positions in the country and performed excellently."

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