Kwara state is located in the North-central geopolitical zone of the country.  It is one of the first states created in 1967 by the then Military administration of Yakubu Gowon. Kwara State is an old state with great and memorable historical antecedents. Historical antecedents that is unique and unrivalled in every sense of the word. Her politics are patterned alongside the northern political system that is both traditional and conservative.

The above implies that the politics of Kwara State in the larger Nigerian space has always been patterned after what is obtainable in the old Northern region - conservatism.

Conservatism that creates obeisance to all wielders of power, no-matter how watery their political ideologies are. 

One is neither by the above saying that conservatism is a negative political ideology nor opining that conservative leaders are ideologically regressive,  rather, what one is saying is that conservatism provided a fertile ground for breeding of godfatherism, leaders with excessive quest for personal interest, and  some times, weak ideologies.

Tracing the political antecedents of Kwara state from the era of NPN, UPN, NEPU, GNPP, NPP, to that of SDP and NRC, and to the recent era of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) and other less pronounced political parties, Kwara state has always stick to, and abide with any prevailing ideology in the core-north. 

One must not fail to state that Conservatism as a political ideology has this penchant for low women representation (the issue of religion is often use to restrict women incursion into Northern politics).

Women like Hadjia Gambo Sawaba of blessed memory were able to navigate the political terrain of Northern region because they were aggressive, a sort of a woman in the mode of a man. The story of her suffering in politics, on the basis of her gender is in public records.

However, drawing closer home here in Kwara state, woman like Hadjia Abiodun Orisankoko, Hadjia Abebi Akosile, Hadjia Mosobalaje Eleran ( only the former is alive while the latters are late). All these women were in the conservative political camp, which is what Kwara State was known for.

Though, the southern part of the state are always in the progressive camp, however, the participation of women in the politics of the zone may not be well documented to be of note in this discourse.

After Nigeria's return to democracy, especially in the last 4 administrations, the readers may want to ask: are there no women actively participating in politics in Kwara state? Yes, there are women; even during the military era.

Also, in the administration of Rear Admiral Mohammed Alabi Lawal (of blessed memory), Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki  and AbdulFatai Ahmed, few women participated in politics, but they were not allowed to act independently owing to the kind of political atmosphere that pervades the state.

Now, today is here, it belongs to us and we belong to it. And as we mark another International Women's Day, we need to emphasise the obvious and dispel the notion that women are weakling and politically amateurish.

Women worked and still working for the change we are witnessing in Kwara State today. We invested in it, we staked all and withstood the attendant political persecution for the sake of the generation yet unborn.

This is why we are very grateful for the  opportunity and privilege given to women by the present government of the state ably led by His Excellency, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. The rare opportunity given to us to prove our mettle in various political positions, and career appointments such as Commissioners, Head of Service, Permanent Secretaries, and  Directors. 

The question we therefore needs to ask ourselves at this juncture  is that, has anything change for women under this administration?  Are the change sustainable. When I say change, i am talking of a change that is sustainable, which have all the legal and legislative framework to outlive the present administration in the state.

The simple answer is yes, there are changes that give we women ray of hope that the political atmosphere in Kwara is now female gender friendly. 

We can see that Kwara has changed from the old practice of having women, including married ones queue somewhere at odd hours to share and, or partake in the sharing of political dividends. 

It has changed from women leading the dancing group at campaigns, women been elected as women leaders just to make up the number. 

It has changed from the old arrangement where women can only be seen but rarely heard. 

Kwara has changed from managing to select one or two female commissioners to some non-sensitive ministries just to be seen as being fair to women. 

The political atmosphere in Kwara State has changed for women for good, and our women are here, actively participating in every sphere of governance.And like Oliver Twist we are asking for more women to be appointed into both political and career positions, for the state to balance the scale that is unfavourably skewed in favour of men.

With the change in the socio-economic atmosphere occasioned by the fatal COVID 19 pandemic dislocations  women need to like never before, wake up from their slumber and reciprocate the new gesture of our women friendly governor, His Excellency,  Mallam  AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq by not letting our guards down as we move towards another election year. Women in political appointment and those in career positions need to actively support the government to ensure that it survives the unexpected consequences of the new normal foisted on us by COVID 19 pandemic.

We just hope and pray that our partnership with the present administration in the state gets better and with time becomes best because indeed, Kwara is on the right track.

Surely, it will. In Shaa Allah!

An Abridged version of the paper presented at the conference organized by the Coalition of Kwara APC Young Stakeholders (CKAY) on 25th February, 2021


Mopelola AbdulMaliq-Bashir is the Coordinator of the Women Wing, Kwara Must Change.

She can be reached via "mopelolamaliq@gmail.com"

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