One-on-one with Nigeria's presidential candidate Remi Sonaiya

by Tendai Dube 0

One-on-one with Nigeria's presidential candidate Remi Sonaiya

Nigeria could soon see its first female president, that’s if a credible woman can emerge and prove her worth said Presidential candidate Professor Remi Sonaiya at a US Consulate General hosted event earlier this week.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, the US Consulate General hosted an event “Women in Leadership and Good Governance” where CNBC Africa spoke with Sonaiya.

‘How I got here has never seized to amaze me because I didn’t have plans to become a politician, I knew I had plans to become an academic and that was the line I pursued but then the environment in which I happened to find myself sort of threw up issues, issues about fairness and justice for everybody,” said Remi Sonaiya.

This was highlighted for her when she was teaching at the same university she attended and witnessed the standards go down, from the decay of the infrastructure to the lack of government funding towards education.

Her concerns were that there would be a high chance that her children’s generation would not have what she had.

“When you see the condition of Africa and you realise that we have a lot of resources on the continent, you couldn’t but wonder – how come we are the poorest, the wretched of the Earth like we have been called,” said Sonaiya.

At the event it was brought to the forefront that the US has not had a woman president yet and has only so far had two successful female candidates before, keeping this in mind – how long would Nigeria need to wait to see a woman inaugurated?

Sonaiya encourages people to not compare countries, just because the United States has not found itself at this point, does not mean Nigeria should be dejected she explains by giving the example of Liberia and Malawi which both made history with woman presidents.

On the downside Sonaiya says the country has had a reduction in the number of women elected to the national assembly.

“There is still a lot for women to do in the political arena – where we had maybe 25 women in the House of Representatives in the last house, we now have only 15 in the current house.”

She adds that despite that Nigerian women are making strides and risen to the top of their careers in other areas like business, entertainment and in the public service.

Sonaiya reckons a credible candidate could gain support, “a woman who has proven her worth in terms of what she has been able to do, she might be able to get support because there is a lot of distrust”.

“I emerged as the candidate for the party, that is the very first time in the history of Nigeria that a female has gone on to become the candidate and I believe that we in KOWA Party are committed that ensuring that kind of enabling environment and level playing ground is provided for.”