Mariam Joy Adeniyi, popularly called Oba was elated when presented a certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the only female member-elect in the 24-member House of Assembly in Kwara state.
She was one of the 36 candidates in the state who won the just concluded elections.
She started off as the councilor representing Shawo South-east and emerged Speaker for Offa local government area on the platform of the defunct Action Congress, (AC).
She also served as special assistant to the Kwara state Governor on Rural Development, special assistant to the Governor on Social Support Services and member, Governing Council of the College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi before she resigned to contest the Kwara state House Assembly election.
Excited by the victory she recorded at the just-concluded polls, scores of women besieged the INEC office Ilorin to rejoice with one of their own who was issued with Certificate of Return alongside with governor-elect, Alhaji AbdulRahman Abdulrasaq of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Regrettably, her joy was cut short when the Appeal Court on April 5, ruled in favour of her challenger in a litigation he filed against her. With the court’s ruling, Adenyi is to lose her membership to her male challenger; a development which does not go down well with her women folks in the state.
Not minding their political, religious or ethnic affiliations, women under the aegis of the Coalition of Women Associations, a non- governmental gender-based group in Kwara state last week raised an alarm against efforts to stop the only woman- elect from being part of the incoming state assembly.
They converged on the conference hall of Internal Women Communication Centre, (IWCC), Ilorin where they addressed the press and threatened to go naked on the street to buttress their protest.
The group comprised of professional women groups such as; the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Medical Women Association of Nigeria, (MWAN), Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, (APWEN), Women in Taxation, Women NLC, Women Pharmacists, Women Bag Makers, Women Bead Makers, International Women Communication Centre, (IWCC), FOMWAN and WOWICAN among others.
At the press conference, the group appealed that Hon Mariam Joy Adeniran be allowed to retain her mandate.
Spokesperson of the group, Mrs Ayobola Olupinla in her address said: “we are unhappy with the recent development of an attempt to shut out the feelings for adequate gender consideration in the scheme of governance as far as the state is concerned in the incoming political dispensation”.
“Specifically, the outcome of the election for the Essa/Shawo/Igbodun constituency of the Kwara state House of Assembly was keenly contested and won by Hon Mariam Joy Adeniran to become the only female member-elect of the 24-member assembly.
“She has been issued a certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and returned elected. As one of us, we are proud of her for the courage, resilience, and doggedness she took to participate in the poll.”
Speaking further, Olupinla pointed out that “with her victory at the poll, Hon Adeniran’s success represents just 4.16 percent of the membership strength as against the 20.14 percent women-membership of the outgoing assembly where five females are honorable members.
“You will agree with us that the percentage grossly negates the 35 percent as recommended by the United Nations (UN) for women slot in elective and appointive positions in governments globally.
“In the just-concluded elections in Kwara state, there is no single woman among the six elected members of the House of Representatives neither is there any female among the three senators-elect.
“Unlike Lagos, Anambra and Plateau states where females are considered to become deputy governors respectively, Kwara state is lagging behind in the area of putting the interest of females in political calculations.”
Olupinla, however, stressed that, “our attention has been drawn to an attempt to cause injury on the women folk by struggling to use the court to snatch the mandate of Hon Mariam Joy Adeniran thereby relegating us to the lowest ebb and allocating zero percent to females in the incoming lawmaking process.
“While we reject the Appeal Court the judgment of 5th April 2019, we call on the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) as well as the State Working Committee of the Kwara APC, to prevail on the plaintiff in the suit seeking to remove the only female member-elect in the Kwara house of assembly.
“We believe this is an arrangement possible within the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in a bid to seeing the current scenario beyond 2019’’, she added.
Also appealing to the president to come to their aide, the Olupinla sad “By this, we plead with the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Nigeria’s First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Kwara APC chairman, Hon Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, Kwara state governor-elect, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the APC national women leader, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa Umar-Eluma as well as all APC stakeholders across the country to swiftly intervene in this matter”.
“Let it be placed on record that the roles of women in the electioneering in Nigeria and Kwara state in particular cannot be overemphasized especially in the O’Toge change mantra”.
“We sadly feel the current development is like pushing the women to the background when it comes to elective and appointive positions. This would certainly not be the best way to reward our loyalty.”
“We, therefore, call on the entire political actors globally to intervene on our behalf in this matter and reverse every step aimed at removing or replacing Hon Mariam Joy Adeniran as the member-elect for Essa/Shawo/Igbodun constituency of Offa local government area, Kwara state before May 29, 2019”.
In her remarks, Hon Mariam Joy Adeniran thanked the coalition for the show of concern and solidarity stressing that, “the action will not only protect the right of one of them but will also secure the future for the women folk and future of females yet unborn.”
She said: “The struggle is a collective task towards the emancipation of women as well as repositioning their thoughts towards encouraging them to be politically conscious and by extension, nurturing our nascent democracy to maturity.
“Women and youths constitute the largest voting populations in Nigeria and this trend had been sustained in the recent time especially with the return of democracy to the nation since 1999.
“The roles of women and youths cannot be underestimated in the political theatre of who gets what, when and how across the nation with Kwara state inclusive.”
Justifying the confidence reposed in her by the electorates who gave her their votes at the poll, Adeniran maintained that she is not a pushover in Kwara politics saying she has all its takes to represent her people well.
For Adeniyi she believes her tribulations are the handiwork of some political gladiators within the party with the aim of snatching her mandate.
“Consequently, attempt to wage war on female gender has been mounted and sponsored by some political gladiators with the aim of snatching my mandate through the court and deny the entire women of the state the right of letting their voices to be heard in the legislation process in the state in the next assembly”.
“I call on men and women of high virtues, APC National Working Committee, President Muhammadu Buhari, First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, international organizations and relevant interest groups to rise to this ugly situation and SAVE KWARA WOMEN from gender inequality and discrimination’’.
“I hereby restate my unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the progress of our great party, APC, towards ensuring that every woman in Kwara gets the desired dividends of democracy through effective lawmaking process in the Kwara state House of Assembly.”