There is no doubt that, as it is, the book has to be quickly re-structured, re-edited and re-issued. But while the author and her minders in politics gets on with that, it is an apt text for reflection on a day like this when the world contemplates the Women Question or, if you like, the women condition. The book is good fit because it presents awesome data on the women condition in politics, the exclusionary implications of which explains other problems peculiar to women as distinct from men.
Coming from the pen of a veteran in politics herself has given the book its own power because in it, Hajiya Mairo Habib is communicating what she has either encountered in the course of playing politics as a woman or what someone in her circuit has. She is, therefore, able to actually write one book treating two subjects. The first is what it means to be a woman in politics in Nigeria and the second is how to make it in politics. In this book, therefore, is what one can call a primer. It is possible that her editors might decide to make two books out of the present one when they get down to taking another structural and editorial look at it soonest, certainly before 2019 heats up.
Hajia Mairo Habib, according to the blurb, has been a Vice-Presidential candidate, (to Chris Okolie) in the now defunct Justice Party, a two-time gubernatorial aspirant in Kaduna State and even under the currently existing People’s Democratic Party, (PDP). She was not elected in each case but she has accumulated empirics about and beyond Nigerian politics.
The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Leeds educated artist is amazed about the dynamics of politics as a whole and the place of women in it. There is a pessimistic view of the animal called human being in politics in her discourse of politics, exemplified, for instance, in the caution about how friends could turn very dangerous to a politician, how easily most politicians tell lies. Here, she is puzzled by whether it is inborn in them or acquired. She cites the ease with which politicians claim to have qualifications which they simply do not have. There is a detailed treatment of how some conmen dupe politicians, first by sucking them into their coverage through innocuous initiatives such as being invited to speak at an occasion, then being asked to bring one’s CV for some forces to push for some appointment for the unlucky politicians and how this process then turns into a money sucking exercise from which the victim finds it difficult to get out. But it is the godfather phenomenon that attracted the most detailed treatment in the plainest narrative of how it works. “Politics without godfather is an uphill task”, the book sums it all up, (p. 53).
However, it is not all about what some analysts would call the dirtiness of politics. There is also the advisory component of the book although the packaging of the book makes distinguishing the sections difficult. But, certainly, the author offers information about requirements for a successful campaigning, (p. 72-3). Far afield, she also offers a listing of the things one must not do in politics. It is an interesting list, sociologically even more so.
Finally, she gives an idea of what a woman sees in politics, particularly what lowly class women go through in the hands of lecherous men or the outright construction of the woman out of the picture when certain political offices are under discussion. Women are simply not thought of when the Office of the President, governorship and the Senate are mentioned.
In the end, Hajiya Mairo’s book is as informative and educative as it is entertaining. It ought to make the society to be able to laugh at itself and plug certain loopholes. All these make the book inviting, what with the splash of pictures in it and the image of a determined woman they present. There is what looks like an appendix in which the names of most contemporary politicians can be found. A restructured version of this book will certainly make it a compulsive text for politicians, students of the Sociology of the Family, Sociology of Women, Gender Studies and, above all, practitioners of international development.