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Hopes of a woman being elected governor of a state in Nigeria were once again dashed when All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate Aishatu Dahiru was defeated in Adamawa state.
Mrs. Dahiru, who goes by the name Binani, failed to secure 90 percent of the votes cast in the by-election, which she needed to defeat Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At the end of the election, Mr Fintiri asked 430,788 votes 398,788 votes of Mrs. Dahiru.
The first phase of the elections was held on March 18 but was declared without referring to additional elections.
After the March 18 election, Mrs. Dahiru trailed the governor with 31,249 votes. The by-elections, which were held in the 69 polling stations where the elections were cancelled, registered 42,785 voters, and the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) collected in these polling units were 36,935.
So to overcome the deficit and win the election, it meant that Ms. Dahiru needed almost 100% voter turnout and about 90% of the votes cast in the by-election.
That didn’t happen.
The turnout was around 50% and Mr. Fintiri won the majority of the votes, according to the electoral commission INEC.
At the end of the by-election, the incumbent got 9,337 votes and Mrs. Dahiru got 6,513 votes.
Called Binani, Mrs. Dahiru symbolized a ray of hope for women in politics, especially after the outcome of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, which saw women’s representation in the Nigerian parliament drop to the lowest since 2003, PREMIUM TIMES. notify.
Before finally declaring Mr. Fintiri the winner, an officer had it illegally Mrs. Dahiru declared her the winner of the election.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Adamawa, Hudu Ari, on Sunday announced the candidate of the APC as the winner of the election, while the collation of the results of the supplementary election held on Saturday was still ongoing.
The candidate stepped forward read a word of acceptance amid the pandemonium created by the ad.
When INEC declared the advertisement invalid, it suspended the collection of results, Binani on Monday he approached The Federal High Court in Abuja wants to stop INEC from nullifying his illegal declaration as governor-elect of Adamawa.
The court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of the case till April 26.
Another missed opportunity
Although disappointing, Binani’s loss is not surprising, gender advocate Adenike Aloba said.
“The women failed in the February 25 outing and to win now would be a surprise.”
Only three of the 92 women who ran for the Senate in February’s elections won, and of the 286 candidates for seats in the House of Representatives, only 15 have been declared winners.
Her victory, for Mrs. Aloba, would have been a bright spot in a dark period for women in Nigerian politics and for Nigeria and its development aspirations, especially in terms of the 5th SDG.
“Of course, it is not naive to think that this is the beginning of the reverberation of women’s representation in Nigerian politics, but just as the distant glow of the lighthouse inspires hope in a sailor in the middle of a turbulent storm, her victory would be a beacon of hope,” he added.
Like Mrs. Aloba, Bukky Shonibare stated that winning Binani would be a history-making turning point for women’s political representation in the country.
“It is far from the trend of women’s representation in elected political positions, where we have had fewer women, especially in a political party that is one of the two main ones,” he said.
Although Northern Nigeria is seen as a conservative region that restricts women’s rights, including political participation, facts belie such stereotypes. In Adamawa state, women have repeatedly been elected to the National Assembly. Folashade Bent, Mrs. Binta Garba and Ms. Dahiru have been federal members of parliament and the current deputy governor of North West Kaduna State is a woman, Hadiza Balarabe.
In the case of Mrs. Garba, she was elected to the Kaduna State House of Representatives before she switched to Adamawa constituency, a rare feat. He was later elected to represent Adamawa North in the Senate.
Mrs. Aloba described Mrs. Garba as a shining star from the North; “A region often maligned for patriarchal norms, now providing leadership in gender representation is another reason to look forward.”
She wanted the people of Adamawa to give Nigeria an opportunity to test again whether it is ready for female leadership.
“Binani’s victory would have shed light on the bleak and dark horizon of diversity, equity and inclusion in Nigerian politics and governance,” Ms Aloba added.
Binani faced a lot of pushback from conservative sections of Adamawa because of her gender. Some Islamic clerics in the state warned their followers not to vote for a woman to lead them.
However, there were some who argued that Adamawa State was a secular state and a woman could run for public office in the state.
Adamawa is one of the many states in Nigeria with very low participation of women in its parliament. There is only one woman in the state parliament. For the 2023 election, there were only 13 women among the state’s 242 candidates.
Mrs. Shonibare said the loss of Binani is a major setback for the representation of women in the Nigerian political arena.
“Binani’s victory would not only encourage women to dare as Binani has done, but it would be a new status for women, boosting the confidence of young girls in the region who choose to be educated and stay alive every day,” she added. .
Binani’s victory, for Ms Shonibare, would have matched that of Kamala Harris in the US and could have shown that Nigeria may be on the way to more women running for elective political office.
“His victory was particularly decisive given that Adamawa State is in the north-east of Nigeria – a region that has been under attack by the terrorist group Boko Haram for more than 13 years, with a fundamental focus on preventing girls’ education and limiting women,” he said.
Possibility to apply for an election
Binani is no stranger to election-related litigation and is expected to contest the outcome of the election with a case adjourned to April 26.
Earlier in an interview on Channels Television, he asked INEC to look into the results of the governorship elections in some local governments where he disagreed with the number of votes the PDP candidate got.
He accused the governor and the PDP of using violence to manipulate the election, alleging the absence of INEC ad-hoc workers in some polling stations.
Like Binani, like Mama Taraba
Although Binani is the latest woman to come close to being elected governor, others have made similar efforts, the closest being Aisha Alhassan (also of APC) from Taraba State in 2015.
As in Adamawa, elections in Taraba were initially declared indecisive. By-elections were held in the affected areas. The PDP candidate, Darius Ishaku, was declared the winner of the supplementary election and overall winner of the governorship election. However, Mrs Alhassan, popularly called “Mama Taraba”, challenged the result at the electoral court.
the court overruled Mr. Ishaku‘s election and named Mrs. Alhassan as the winner and duly elected governor.
When the case finally reached the Supreme Court, it sided with Mr. Ishaku and set aside the court’s ruling.
This result did not diminish Mrs. Alhassan’s popularity in the state and across the country. He was appointed a minister by President Buhari but eventually defected to the PDP. In 2019 Mr. Ishaku agreed to be re-elected before his death in 2021.
Binani and Politics
It is unclear whether President-elect Bola Tinubu will appoint Binani as a minister when he is finally sworn in and names his cabinet.
However, these elections are not expected to be the end of Binani’s political career, a career that began more than a decade ago.
Ms. Dahiru was first elected as a federal representative, serving two terms from 2011 to 2019, before being elected as a senator in 2019. His performance as a representative was well-received, to the extent that he was a coalition of civil society groups and professional associations. he accepted his senatorial bid.
To secure the governorship ticket for the 2023 election, Mrs. Dahiru defeated former governor Jibrilla Bindow and former presidential aspirant Nuhu Ribadu. Although an initial legal challenge by his main opponents saw him kicked out of the race, he won subsequent legal battles and was allowed by the judiciary to contest the election.
Now he hopes that the judiciary will be able to restore, for him, the mandate that was stolen from him.
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