It is still not clear if Nigeria took notice of it. But it was a major meeting. For the first time, traditional and religious leaders from all 19 states in Northern Nigeria were on the same page with international development partners, representatives of State Independent Electoral Commission, (SIECs), youth leaders, heads of Women civil society organisations, (CSOs), gender focal officers (GFOs), politicians and aspirants for political offices on the imperative for demilitarising Nigerian politics. That is the July 11th, 2018 assembly of stakeholder in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
Politics is too violent for women to participate. This is an everyday narrative across Nigeria. In this regard, some would even go as far as saying that demilitarising politics is an emergency in Nigeria. But, what is the violence under reference? On the spotlight in that claim are not just the different forms of intimidation such as thuggery, setting fire on opponents in response to electoral outcomes, (from ‘wetie’ to Omoboriowo to 2011 in the Northwest) and similar acts of organised elimination by means of physical terror. It also goes to the tradition of fixing caucus meetings for 12 midnight in spaces that will open a typical woman to being labelled as a prostitute if she were to be found at such meetings. That is beside the burden of the nursery as well as obtaining permission of the father, husbands or sundry guardians to attend such meetings. It is such that it could be said that women are not there in politics beyond echoing ululations when required or cheering the men at their moment of victory.
The argument is that this is not good enough because politics is the last thing that should be violent if it is the art of the possible its philosophers say it is. Politics as the art of the possible can only mean one group falling down for the other and the other falling down for it towards a consensus. The elegant name for that is negotiation, something that women across Nigeria do with ease in the haggling that define the market squares where negotiation of accommodation is such a fascinating art. Forget the brinkmanship, the circuitous rebound in pricing, the threat to go away, the hard line posturing that one party or the other might brandish. It is all part of the game. Where politics is anything but the above scenario, then there is a problem and those who say that Nigeria is facing a crisis of domestication of the key ethos, institutions and practices that moderate democratic politics must be right.
Up to this point, everyone agrees that the political space is so violent as to be unsafe for women in particular. The difference now is that there is a movement taking it from there to higher levels, committed to making politics safe for women to participate and make democracy fully participatory. There are many activities that define that emergency status to the issue but none might be as significant as the Jos meeting in question. But it is still a waiting game whether that is the game changer Nigeria has been waiting for. Some of the intellectuals of the Jos meeting such as Priscilla Achakpa are yet to speak on the speak on the specific outcomes.
Some smarter countries have used gender to undermine ethnicity which, in much of Africa, have been the negative rather than emancipatory or positive ethnicity type. What it means is that when gender consciousness is higher among the people, it can drive ethno-regional consciousness to the backseat or or undermine it because, although all two are ideologies, feminism has got a more progressive profile, particularly in relation to democracy. Men and women are all human beings but men and women are scientifically different. None is superior or inferior to the other. Rather, it is a question of difference, difference that matter and which only the presence of women in the decision making process can take care of. So, when caucus meetings of political parties are fixed for 12 midnight, it becomes problematic for democracy from the perspective of gender. Secondly, there is the unsubstantiated notion that women are not as selfish as men. It is an old claim which has, however, come back in recent times that can be read as the handwork of its protagonists was unleashed on the worldwide wonderland. If the video was not an electronic mischief but natural hen and cock, then men have got a major challenge as to why they should not leave the power for women although the problem with the video is the assumption that all mother hen are like that.
All four versions of the video received by various editors of Intervention were the same but, beyond confirming that, there was no confirming whether it was simulated or natural. The voices at the background suggested simulation just as they suggested marveling at what they were keenly observing. Watch it below: