Role Of Women In The Ilorin Emirate Politics
The issue of women particupation in politics has become the focus of attention in recent times. The general belief is that the women group constitutes the oppressed and the exploited in the sootety. Women require greater attention, since they constitute a large percentage of the population and also contribute to the development of their various communities through active participation in politics.
Apart from these, all over the world today, there is an increasmg assertiveness and awakening in the area of politics. At the international level, the year 1975, was a period of ideas about the roles of women. In Nigeria it gathered momentum in the latter half of the 19805, lt is an accepted fact that the latter half of the twentieth century brought to women the realization that, current concepts of democracy and human rights had been successful in addressing their real issues which in their basic part were shared worldwide. That these issues had direct link to global political and economic developments, and that unless women of the world come together and make oncerted efforts towards meaningful debate and change their vorces would remain unheard and their concerns sidelined.
A searching interaction between national and regional women movements then contributed towards a dynamic international women movement. For the hrst time, women from this part of the world spoke out issues that were culturally consrdered a part of the private sphere. This growrng concern developed into a worldwrde movement as they attracted ore attention and interests over a series of International conferences held during the latter half of the century. From the 1985 adoption of the Nairobi fonNard looking strategies for the advancement of women, to the Beijing conference of 1995, there has been that spirit of total commitment to those salient issues that pertain to women’s development and advancement.
The fourth historic world conference on women took place in Beijing China. Organised under the auspices of the United Nations, the conference which attracted over twenty five thousand men and women was basically to look at the world through “women’s eyes”, and map out realistic plans for equal gender development and peace.
The national policy on women is another effort towards fulfilling the yearning, as well as efforts of federal, state and local government, non-governmental organizations, International development partners, the private sector, concerned corporate bodies and individuals. The major aim of this policy is to integrate women fully into national developmem in order to remove those gender inequalities that have evolved in the some overtime, through structures and processes created by patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.
It is expected to consolidate the largely Silent revolutionary changes already stimulated by past and current women in development programmes.
The policy asserts in the area of politics as follow:
“Women’s numeral strength in the population is not reflected in the political life and deci5ion making process and structures of the nation. They are inadequately represented at the senate national and state legislatures and House of Representatives. At the state House of Assembly and the local government councils, Women were either Completely absent or grossly under represented…’1
Despite these numerous effort, the statistics of Women in government, prepared by the divisions for the advancement of women, March 1992, showed that women still play a minor role in high level of political deCision making in most countries.
In llorin Emirate, the role or Involvement of women in politics reqUires attention. Politics from time has been an exclusive affair of the men folk. The male’s domination in the political sphere of llorin Emirate has greatly been encompassmg. It must be emphaSized here that direct partiCIpation of women in general is a 20th century phenomenon in llorin Emirate. Prior to this time, women virtually played supportive roles which benefited the men folk the more. This is not to say that the womenfolk did not gain out of this especially since they have traditionally been active in encouraging their men folk.
However, a comparison of the benefits to both sides, reveal that the men folk have unparalleled edge. An aspect of the supportive role of women was the direct participation in campaigns, there was no material reward for such, as this was supposed to be an obligation, under traditions and customs from the wives to their husbands. The nearest the women came to being involved in active political practices was in providing the necessarily needed funds for the funding of the political parties. Successful women traders who gave out loans in form of money or material with which political machinery were lubricated, were allowed into decnswn making.
All the same women in llorln Emirate have contributed in no small measure to the political history of the Emirate. Their sterling roles have created a niche in the sand of time. From time immemorial, they have influenced decisions and policymakrng, they have been part of the various political developments of the Emirate. However, these have not been recorded enough. It is believed therefore, that proper documentation of such contributions would go a long way in the reconstruction of the history of llorin Emirate.
1.1 Geographical Location of Ilorln Emirate
The city of llorin lies some 300 kilometers north of Lagos on latitude north 8030’ and longitude east 40 35′ near the southern fringe of deered Savannah and the forest zone2. In the past, the city was surrounded by a wall of about 10 miles in circumference and as much as 20 feet high in some places.
Later development was to transform it into an Emirate, and with the colonial rule into a province. Ilorin province therefore consisted of an extension of a strip of territory situated on the right bank of the River Niger from Jebba to a point opposite Idah, comprismg about 14,430 square miles3. Ilorin provvnce thus incorporated people with different origin, tribes, languages, cultures and beliefs. lt embraced the Ibolos, Ekiti, Igbomina and Kabba speaking people, including the Kaiama, Bussa and Pategi Emirates.
Ilorin Emirate is bounded by the Rlver Niger in the north and by Kabba provmce in the west and south. It shares common boundaries wrth southern Nigeria provinces of Oyo and Ondo4.
The mainstays of the people’s economy were weavmg (a staple industry engaged in by both men and women); bead making, dyeing, pottery, moulding and farming. These were to be the aegesis of various industry and trading activmes in the 19th and early 20th century. This earned it the appellate of “one of the most entrepots of central Africa.5.
Substantially, a large part of the provnnce is located on the grass plains with undulating landscapes well watered and highly agricultural. By the southern Nigerian provincial borders where the elevation is 1,500 feet, there is a watershed with rivers generally running from west to east and flowing into the River Niger. The ecology of the region plays an important role in people’s decision on whether or not to settle within a particular area. It has a ‘mean’ annual rainfall of about 1,318mm (51.9m) which allows its inhabitants to practice arable farming. The mild climate had also attracted the northern pastoralists to the region6.
The topography of the Emirate has also aided historical development, since it is blessed with principal rivers like Awon, Oyun, Imoru, Osin, Oyi, Kampe Osin and Asa which passes through the imperial city7.
Obscurity surrounding its origin not withstanding, by 19th centufy, llorin had become a major stopping place on the trade routes between the North and South. This perhaps explains its significant role as a socio, economic cultural religious and political melting pot in Nigeria.
1.2 Emergence and Establishment of Ilorln Emirate
The emergence of Ilorin Emirate is embroned in so many factors. Prominent among these was the Afonja-Alimi factor. The personal ambition of Afonja coupled with the Jihad movement of the 19th century was to provide a landmark in the emergency of an Emirate called llorin.
Afonja, a descendant of Laderin, and the Aare Onakakanfo (Commander in Chief) of Oyo Empire, following a face off with the Alafin of Oyo, diverted his return journey from Oyo to llorin, an outpost of Oyo Empire. This was not unconnected with his dismal performance in paptunng a town called lwere. At llorin he became established, haven gathered some support he desided to revolt against the authonty of Alafin of Oyo. The revolt was successful However, events later turned against Afonja who met his waterloo.
The reasons for this might not be unconnected with the increasing zeal and excesses of the Jama’a (The Fulani Muslims) whose aim was the final establishment of an Emirate as part of its revolutionary development of lslamic acculturationa. The increasing arrogance and doubtless alarming ambition of Afonja was also a threat to the rulers of neigbouring towns and even his ally, Solagberu. Realizing this and isolated from his natural allies, and dependent upon his Hausa troops and Jamaa, he attempted to come to terms, with the Onikoyi and other chiefs of Oyo, this failed. Finally, he was besieged in his compound by the Jama’a, he fought heroically and died in the process10.
By 1823, llorin Emirate became established. It is however important to point out the fact that it was under Abd Salam that the proper foundation and take off of the Emirate took place. The circumstances surrounding its establishment were unique in the sense that the Emirate was surrounded by hostile neighbours. Ilorin Emirate was therefore concerned with the consolidation of her powers. This was done through military explorts and diplomacy. The first step taken by Abd Salam was the elimination of his rivals in the Emirate. Solagberu and Bako, the first Sarikin Gambari of Ilorin were all eliminated11. This done, a recognition was sought for from Gwandu Emirate to legitimise his position.
The system of government established was based on the Shariah. Danmole however opined that this did not in any way change either the old system of government in Ilorin like what happened in many parts where the Jihad took place12. Meanwhile, political administration of Ilorin in general, was a greater reflection of its peculiar circumstance, indicating its being surrounded by other powerful and rival empires.
The reign of Abd Salam and Shitta (1831 – 1860) witnessed a great extension of the Emirate from Ikoyi Ile to lkirun, Osogbo, Igboho, Saki, lseyin and Oyo. It extended to Kabba, lgbirra, Ifon encompassing Ekiti in the present Ondo State. All these areas were under the jurisdiction of the Emirate. Residents were stationed in each of these areas, each sending tribute to Ilorin as subjects to the Emirate13.
The Emirate was solidly consolidated during the relgn of Emir Shitta (1836-1861) when the combined forces of Oyo and Borgawa were defeated by Ilorin. This was the last blow to the final collapse of Oyo Empire, encouraging further war into Yorubaland. This adventurous zeal by Ilorin into the North of Yoruba land was finally stopped in 1840 at the battle of Osogbo14.
The ethnic pluralism of the Emirate was as a result of the role played by North in offering economic and psychological succour to the deprived, and protection for the vanqurshed in wars. It therefore became the traditional home of so many tribes such as the Yoruba, Hausa, Nupe, Fulani and Kanuri. This cultural heterogeneous feature required a common denominator and unifying factor which lslam readily provided. Thus a unique lslamic culture emerged, greatly influencrng the socio, political and cultural lives of the people15.
Colonial involvement no doubt is bound to dictate the direction of politics. The conquest of Ilorin Emirate by the Royal Niger Company changed the status of the Emirate. The Emirate system of old was a unit of administration under the caliphate, which later transformed to become Northern Nigeria with the proclamation of British dominance. This constitution (Emirate system) later formed the basis of native administration, and sewed as a pivot for the indirect rule system adopted by the British colonial masters.
Not only this, the opening by and large made for the participation of both sexes at different level of the political and administrative set up.
1.3 Areas of Jurisdiction
The colonial administrators not only made some adjustments in the size of the Emirate. They also reduced the area of jurisdictions of the Emir. This adjustment continued and at a pornt in time there were changes in the Nupe and Yoruba sectors. Tsaragi was cut off and joined to the Nupe province, while Oke-Ode was excised from the Nupe province, given its Yoruba affiliation, and merged with Ilorin Emirate.
Towards independence, the boundary was fixed at Erin Ile to the south and Budo Egba to the west. The period 1967 however, brought about the creation of the erstwhile Kwara State. Analysts consider this exercise a product of the hurried programme of state creation, as it grouped into a state, the then two Northern regional provinces of Kabba and Ilorin. It was a group of ethnic diversities, which earned her the name “Miniature Nigeria”16.
The state then was comprised of two provmces, the first being the then llorin provinces, which conSISted of the Yoruba and ethnicised Hausa and Fulani of Ilorin; Nupes of Lafiagi, Pategi, Tsaragi, Tsonga and Baruba of the then Borgu division.
Kabba on the other hand, was made up of the lgala, Igbirra, Bassanga, Nupe and Yoruba of Owe, Yagba, Bunu and Ijumu groups.
Ilorin Emirate therefore happened to find itself among groups that had ethnic affinities with kiths and kins beyond the state or National boundary. It was under this situation that another political development emanated. The local government reform of 1976, which reduced or removed totally the jurisdiction of the Emir over the Igbomina, Ekiti, Ibolo and Baruba sectors of the Emirate, although there is still a great cordial rapport between the rulers and the Emirate. The present jurisdiction now narrows down to five of the sixteen local government areas of Kwara State.
Asa, Ilorin East, Ilorin west, Ilorin south and Moro local governments now constitute the present day llorin Emirate. Their creations came about at different periods in the history of the state.
Asa local government was created in 1976 comprising Afon, Onire and Owode districts. The headquarter is located at Afon, 14 kilometers from the Kwara state capital. It has ten wards and according to the 1991 census figure, a population of 38,788 male and 39,934 females. The major languages spoken are Yoruba and Fulani17.
Ilorin East was created in 1991 with its headquarter at Oke – Oyi. It has four districts, namely Iponrln, Magaji Are, Balogun Gambari Ibagun and Sango. It has eleven wards. The major languages spoken are Hausa, Yoruba and Fulani.
Ilorm south local government, was carved out of IlorIn East local government created in 1996. With headquarter at Fufu. It is made up of Akanbi. Balogun, Fulani and Okaka/Oke Ogun districts, it has ten wards. The major languages spoken are Yoruba and Fulani.
Ilorin West, was created in 1991 from old Ilorin local government, the headquarters is located at Oja – Oba, the commercial nerve centre of the local government. The host to the Emirate administrative seat. It has four districts namely Ajikobi, Warrah osin, Alanamu and Magaji Ngeri. lt has ten wards with a population of 205,567 people. The major languages spoken are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, and Nupe.
More local government, often called the radical local government in the Emirate system, due to its vocal and radical stance towards politics in the Emirate, was created out of the Ilorin Native authority in 1967. It shares boundaries with Oyo and Niger states respectively. The headquarter is at Bode Saadu it has five districts and ten wards, with a population of 86,939 people. The major languages spoken are Yoruba. Hausa and Fulani.17
One can therefore, safely deduce that the old Ilorin, Asa and Moro local government areas are the mam spring of Ilorin Emirate.
1.4 Brief History of Organized Women Participation in World Politics
The right of women to vote in political elections represents the first step in the demand for political equality. It generally came prior to women running and being elected to national political offices and holding major political appointments.
It is on record that as early as the 1600s women have been demanding for their rights to vote, but as an organised movement, it started in the United State in 1848. However, this was met with hostility and violence.18
In 1893, it was the turn of New Zealand becoming the first country to grant women the right to vote in national elections most women organizations in various countries made the tight for suffrage their most fundamental demand. and because they saw in it the defining feature of citizenship they agitated for women, the right to govern themselves and elect their own representatives, asserting that women should enjoy, ndiwdual rights to self government rather than just being the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives of male voters.19
Enfranchisement of women took many decades to achieve, because women had to persuade a male electorate to grant them vote. Still, most men felt that women were not then suited by circumstances or temperament for their vote. Western political philosopher insrsted that a voter had to be independent, unswayed by appeals from employers, Landlords or husbands. It is strongly believed that women were dependent on men and surbodinate to them, and therefore could not be trusted to exercise the independence of thought, which is a pre-requisite in the choice of political leaders. It is also believed that women’s place was in the home caring for the husband and the children. Participating in political activities, it was feared would challenge or jeopardize the assignments of women to the home and might lead to the disruption of the family system. To the priest and Ministers, women should confine their influence to home and children. While labour and socialist panies feared that women might vote for conservative candidates. Specntic interests like Textiles companies, Liquor mining and brewung industries feared women might vote for legislation damaging to their busmess.20
American women, it is believed, were the first in the world to voice organized demands for the vote Abolitionist, actwtsts, Lucretia Moth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton along with several others convened a meeting in Stanton’s hometown of Senecca Falls, New York to discuss the social civil and religious condltlons and rights of women. In the early 20th century, the movement got a boost when educated middle class women queried the reasons for denying them the right to vote when immigrant men, many of whom were illiterate or poorly educated could help choose nation leaders. By this time, women over twenty-one years were given to vote in the same terms as men. Suffice is to say that the first half of the last century witnessed a gathered momentum.21
In Britain, it is believed that women’s bills on right to vote passed second readings in the commons, six times between 1886 -1911 but never proceeded beyond that stage. The organized violence of women in movement was abruptly terminated by the war in 1914. Owing to the work of women during the war, opinion turned in their favour. While 1916, witnessed a conference, which recommended that some forms of women‘s right to vote should be conferred. In 1918 a bill granting lelted Franchise was passed in the House of the Lord.22
Women’s right to vote had been granted at different times and in different places. Norway In 1912. Belgium 1948, and Swnss in 1971. With these in place a new era was opened with women able to vote and be voted for.
When African nationalist movement began to emerge as alternatives to Indigenous and colonial power, the women’s Brigades played sometimes a violent part. In Kenya for Instance, women were vigorous in their fight for independence to the point of going into the forests with the Maumau bands23.
In Ivory coast, there was a general mobilization of African women against the French regime. This kept the nationalist cause active during the imprisonment of its male leaders. According to Modibo Keita:
“in all the French territories women have taken part in militant action with more enthusiasm than men. While the latter are less liable to discouragement, the women on the other hand were less responsuve to offers of place and office and thus less open to corruption”24
In Nigeria, the period of women panicnpation in politics can be classified into the pre colonial, colonial and postcolonlal era.
In the pre colonial Nigeria, women were a great part of the political system of their communities. Nigeria seems to have been particularly blessed wrth women who could establish and build socneties. Among the founders of communities that have become large settlements of the present day Nigeria were the legendary Inkpi of lgala land, Moremi of lfe in Yorubaland and Daura of Hausaland. Apart from these we had women who took absolute charge of state affairs, Queen Amina of Zazzau, Queen Kambassa of Bonny to mention but a few. When it came to wielding great influence on their communities, women like Omu Okwei and lyalode Efunsetan were forces to be reckoned with. In matters of intellectual and literary thoughts women such as Nana Asmau (Daughter of Usman Dan Fodio) held Sway25.
In the colonial era, women individually and collectively were at the vanguard of protest movements. They frustrated various colonial administrations.
In Aba, women demonstration of 1929 sealed the fate of the warrant Chief system. The rumour of a proposed tax on women brought about the mobilization of both lgbo and lbibio women who rose enmasse, followmg the distribution of Omu (palm frond) a distress sign26. The women demanded that the proposed tax be rescinded and that there should be a reduction of taxes being paid by their men. The historical implication of this protest was that, for the first time in the history of any Nigerian polity, women would display a high degree of militancy traditionally associated with male. It was also an eye opener for the men who felt such roles were their exclusive reserves. The political implication of this was the constitutional reforms, which included a more flexible framework for the functioning of local governments, and a more diversified and decentralized type of native authority27.
In 1948, women also acted as catalyst of historical changes which led to the abdication of the Alake of Abeokuta. This incidence was to raise the status of women in the historical process of their society.
“Henceforth, the ruler interested in his throne must count on the support of his feminine subjects, and politicians must accept that the old order has changed kitchen is not just the place for the women28.
In Nigeria, post-independence period had seen women being excluded from the seat of power where policy is developed and implemented mainly because of cultural stereotypes. The believe that the role of wife and mother was more important than a career and that women can not and should not be leaders and managers. These attitudes later became institutionalized in the military and other top policy making bodies of government.
In Northern Nigeria, government party leaders, have the believe that women for religious or cultural reasons could not take part in decision making. However visits to most Muslim countries by these groups later sewed as an eye opener to the fact that it was erroneous. Following this there emerged two women organizations in the North. One of them the women‘s wing of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and the other, the women’s wing of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). The latter got its inspirations from Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, who at that time was the president-General of the Nigerian Federation of women’s organisation. A conference held for the first time under the federation’s auspices at Jos was catalystlc. The women leaders from the North expressed what they themselves thought about the Franchise for their members. Prior to this period this demand had been the reserve of the southern Nigeria women who had often petitioned the authorities on behalf of their Northern sisters29.
1.5 Gender in Perspective
Gender and sex refers to the biological mode of a person referring to whether the fellow is a man or woman. Both words are often used interchangeably and this could be said to be correct in literary terms.
However, in terms of usage, it could be said that there is an ocean of difference between the two terms.
Sex is more of a permanent feature and does not change with time or circumstance. Gender on the other hand may refer to the role being played by men and women in a given society or socio-cultural set up. Gender varies from one culture or society to the other and will also be influenced by a person’s age, class, religion, ethnicity and other socio-economic factors. Gender is dynamic and changes over time. It can be, at the same time slow and resistant to change30.
Grouping or classmcatlon by gender does not often constitute problem in a society. Resentment arise however when this becomes a basis for stereotyping or use as a limiting phrase. Olurode opined that this is so when for no congent reasons women are barred from playing certain roles for reasons of their sex and not due to lack of potentials or skills to execute the roles31.
Three schools of thought have also advanced arguments on gender issues. There are the biological, cultural determinists and materialist determinists.
The biological school posrts that human nature and society are dictated largely by the demands of human physrology and that there is an essential unchanging differences between the male and female species32.
The cultural determinists however asserts that cultural norms and standards of behaviour are responsible for the subjugation of women. According to them, socialization inculcates cultural expectations of male and female behaviour.
The materialists on the other hand agrees that the human consciousness is determined by social class and level of material wealth, rather than a pre-existlng determining factor. This school is dominated mainly by two groups known as the feminist and the marxist33. The emerging ideology of feminism is an antrthesrs of the radical school of thought where women were described as suppliers of labour in colonies and neo-colonies. They were explmted, and as women, suffered under the weight of male prejudices in both feudalism and imperialism34. To a large extent colonial oppression and nationalism show traditionalist tendency of denigrating the image of women under the patriarchal male dominance and female slave culture, including religious, philosophical and historical constraints.
Feminism is therefore a movement and set of ideas committed to the achievement for women of full legal, political, social, economic and educational equality with men35. Women from the feminist perspective were injected with the revolutionary psychology and consciousness zeal. Their role under capitalism is investigated and criticized, thus emerging more forcefully in relation to Marxist and cultural historiography.
The Marxist-feminist group strongly believes that women’s role should not be stereotyped but can be revolutionary. The heroism of the Agikuyu women in the nationalist struggle against British imperialism, the TANU women activists as shapers of TANU organisation and ideology and the Aba women role is appremated in the reawakening of protest movement against colonial rule. The socialist to a large extent believed that somalism alone would put an end to the oppression of women36. All these are painters to Marxist and feminist approach identifying various sources of dysfunction alienating women from her socral, political enwronment. It tries to locate the universal revolutionary strategy towards affecting a dynamic change.
Jennings, M. Kent’s three main classes of explanations can also be advanced for all the various approaches to the study of gender and politics. These are situational, structural and socialization theories.
The Situational theory examines the sources of women’s political powerlessness in their God’s given role of being mothers and wives. This he believes greatly influences or infringes on her maximal partmipation. His structural theory rests the problems on the effect of the economy and the law, that is the equally low female control of the world of business, educational achievements and the various professions. All these it is believed reduced the input of resources that women can make into political exploit. The socialization theory is anchored on the basis that pre adult males and females are not only socialized into different participative roles put that both boys and girls learn that adult political expresston is more of a male than a female gender role37.
Ada Okwuosa view the gender issue from both an intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives. In her own view, the intrinsic factors are elements that are peculiar to women personalities and which results in the political powerlessness. The extrinsic factors on the other hand, are the results of demands of the socrety‘s structure and functions on women. Here she looks at the value-related factors and the social structural factors38.
The works of early 70s (seventies) on sexual politics, which were pioneered by Kate Millet and Ghermaine Greers heralded a more radical women’s liberation movement, analysing history in terms of the oppresston of women by patriarchy, and attacking the pervasive sexism in almost all social institutions and practices. They also challenged sexual stereotyping in all its forms stressing that sharp divide should not be created in a society based on gender. This concept culminated in the women’s movement and the Gay Liberation movement, which identifies hierarchies of power in cultural definitions of gender and in relationships between the sexes.
The women’s movement slogan “The personal is political expresses the need to bring political awareness to sex and gender divisions and recognises the ways in which the attributes of male gender and the cultural norm of heterosexuamy oppress women and homosexual men wnh far reaching institutional and socnal effects39.
Most writers (feminists) emphasise that whereas sex is defined by biology, gender is a systematic soctal construction. They oplne that the construction of living, let alone scholarly analysis is scarcely natural. Cynthia Enloe asserts that:
“Those like myself who believe that militarism is separable from masculinity are especially interested in conscription. It all rested in any man‘s proving his manliness, then government’s conscription efforts would be a lot easier”40.
Among political historians and western feminist political theorists there is the general feeling that gender is a primary way of signifying relationships of power or a primary field within which, or by means of which power is articulated. Gender meaning therefore is often mobilized as metaphors of governance domination and subordination in relation to political power.
1.6 Purpose of Study
The purpose of this work is to examine the role of women in the Ilorin Emirate politics.
A survey of Ilorin Emirate’s history shows that the specmc roles and contributions of women in the area of politics have been largely neglected. The basic reasons for this include, the patrilineal nature of the community which emphasmes the supremacy of men over women, and the religious institutions which it is believed tends to abrogate her role towards non-political activities.
The relatively scanty information in both oral and written sources on the contributions of women to the emergence and development of the Emirate are glaring. The work seeks to examine this neglected theme in Ilorin Emirate political system by retracing the noble roles played by women in the political development of Ilorin Emirate thereby stimulating and inspiring in others, the intellectual zeal for the reappraisal of the role of women in the political growth of the Emirate.
1.7 Scope of Study
This work covers the period between 1955-1999. The significance of this period is in its connection with the era of colonialism, when a lot of colonlal policies had effects on women marginalization and even domestic deprivations. The period srgnaled women reaction to coionlal vtctlmizatlon and discrimination. This led to a growing awareness, changing the nature of women polltlcal activities.
Five local government areas form the focus of the study: Ilorin West, Ilorin East, llorln South, Asa and Moro local government.
1.8 Methodology and Research Problems
Methodology is central to the study of women‘s history. This work relies majorly on primary, secondary and archival historical sources of information. These were thoroughly analysed and examined for consrstency and reliability.
The primary source was maximized to advantage. The Emirate’s reposttory of oral tradition was handy and adequately utilized. This is moreso, when it is noted that the act of writing does not succeed in capturing all the vital information even in literate society. Informants range from local historians, elderly men and women, to women political activists and those in governance, as well as youths with knowledge of the political scenario of the Emirate. The age of the informants ranges from thirty to ninety years.
Secondary sources were utilized. Pubhshed and unpublished works were adopted various articles in journals, and seminar presentations gave sight and were of value to the researcher.
Archival materials though scanty, were relevant and served as background to the work. These are adequately reflected in the bmiiography
The work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is the introductory chapter. It focuses on geographical location and jurisdiction of Ilorin Emirate. The history of organized women participation in polltics. It also contains a review of the issue of gender.
Chapter two takes a cursory look at the position of women in the Emirate, including British colonial conquest and its effects on women in politics.
In chapter three, attention is given to women and politics in the Emirate between 1955 – 1960, particular attention is given to palace politics, water rate and taxation protests and formation of political parties and associations, wlth its effect on women within the Emirate.
Chapter four discusses women and posts independence politics with emphasis on women in active politics and women leadership and governance.
Chapter five shows the changing trend between 1985 – 1999, with the roles played by Non-governmental organizations and the women empowerment programmes.
The research work was not without its problems; the oral sources were not without their own share of it. These were however addressed. Some informants were anxious about the identity of the researcher given the political tension in the Emirate at the time of the research. It was therefore with fear and anxiety that informant gave out information. This is due to fear that probably one belongs to the opposing camp. This fear was allayed by creating an informal meeting and letting them know that it was an academic exercise for the records. Adopting a ‘we’ stand also helped too, creating a sense of belonging.
Challenging questions also open an hitherto “no comment response”. Questions like “It is believed that women have not done anything positive politically in the Emirate” raised spontaneous reactions. To those who believe women have done nothing, the Researcher’s first hand intermation sourced from the secondary sources elucrdated more information. The palace was another brick wall, but this was surmounted through getting an insider who introduced the researcher. Being a “son of the soil” also created an enabling environment. However some informants will not “spill the beans” a reaction to the growrng imbroglio in the Emirate political hierarchy involvmg the Emir and the Baloguns
The oral interview addressed the issue of bias by interviewing as many people as possible thus affording one the opportunity to compare various views.
Archival materials were obsolete and dealt more with colonial activities. There were also difficulties in locating material related to women studies.
lnavailability of published works on women‘s contributions to llorin Emirate politics was also a challenge to this work. This was addressed through relying more on primary and unpublished works which serves as basis for some of the thematic issues raised in this work.
1.9 Literature Review
African historiography shows that specific duties and contributions of women are neglected themes. This is more glaring when one takes a cursory look at African historiography vis-à-vis women. Her roles and activities have been characterized by three main approaches; one she is either omitted or constdered inferior or subordinate to men; two her roles are seen as separate to those of men or seen as active agent in the historical process; and lastly a person‘s gender is seen as a determining factor in the society.
By 1970, there had been growing corpus of literature on African women in history, economy and socrety. However, in their reports they merely mentioned women in the passing without making an in-depth and analytical review of their roles in the course of African development. They also failed to consrder women as a distinct biological specte worthy of being recognized and apprecrated41.
Susan Geizer‘s TANU WOMEN: Gender and culture in the making of Tanganyika Nationalism, is another work on gender and politics. According to her, there is the omission of the role played by Tanzania women as the broad base of TANU support and of TANU women activists, as shapers of TANU organisation and ideology42. She highlighted the role of the TANU women to articulate their involvement in aspirations for and expectations of the political growth of their society.
Geizer paints the picture of women actiwties in the 50s as self Employed Muslim urban dwellers often divorced with few children and no particular ethnic consciousness, whereas most urban men were afraid of identifying openly with TANU because of their role in colonial system. The women on the other hand had no vested interest in colonial system, thus making them a force for populanzmg the nationalist cause.
Schlegel Alice‘s mate and female in Hopi thought and action, examines some of the features of socral and political organisations and ideologlcal system that are related to the high evolution of women among the Hopi, and the equality they enjoyed With men.
Jennings M. Kent gives three main classes of explanations advanced in various studies on gender and politics as situational structural and socialization theories44.
On the Nigerian scene, the period 1960-1975 witnessed a number of studies about women carved out by academics irrespective of creed and nationality. These works serve as basis for further works on the history, ethnography, demography and economic activities, and status of women as a separate category. These research works were either fragmented, uncoordinated or generally focused on localised case histories and a empirical studies. A lot of these materials were unpublished, since they were in the form of Seminar Papers or dissertations.
Among the Pioneering historical works were those of Awe and Mba which paved the way for more indepth research works Anadiume, however came to conceptuallze gender but it is regarded as narrow in terms of empirical data45.
With the declaration of the United Nations decade for women (1975-1955), interest in women’s studies heightened. The first national conference held in 1971 at the University of lbadan, brought together scholars from different disciplines, working in the area of women studies. In 1977, notable African women scholars also formed the assomation of African women for research and deveiopment (AWARD).
The aim was to promote and project the autonomy and integrity of research on, and by African women. In 1979, the teaching of women studies in Nigeria Universmes was initiated at Ahmadu Bello Universny Zaria with a course on women in society.
By 1982, a women movement was formed with the name Women in Nigeria. It has been able to articulate a powerful feminist socialist posture on issues, representing itself as the voice of the oppressed masses of women. Various publications and seminars were sponsored with the focus on the study of gender relations. It recognises that gender relations take place within different productive clauses and rejects the notion of the commonality of women within Nigeria46.
Mba detailed historical account, touches on women’s participation in politics throughout southern Nigeria. This work focuses on the political organisations and activities of African women in southern Nigeria. She observes that twentieth century Nigeria government whether colonial or independence has exercised control over important national resources, because women have been only marginally involved in government.
Awe also examined the parallel line or dual genderebased political institutions of the Yorubas and opines that the lyalode society was concerned with the running of the affairs of women.
Mba and Awe contend that role differentiation based on sex existed to varying degrees in the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial societies of southern Nigeria, and that the self images and actions of the women were frequently sex based, hence the need for a separate study of women47.
Works of Lai Olurode and Yorm Oruwari were attempts at analyzing Nigerian women traditional roles, changing roles and contributions to societal developments.
Olojede lyabo enumerates the apprecuable profile of women polmCrans. She believes that the level already attained is still a long way from what ls due to them based on the numerical strength of women. She identifles three forces in this regard. The cultural perception of the people, which portrays women political activities as undesuable, the obvrous disunity among women politicians: and the monetizatlon and violent nature of the political process48.
While works on llorin Emirate political history abound, studies dealing with women particrpation are relatively few. The tendency had been to ignore or give less attention to the political participation of women, as compared to those of men in general.
S. Whitaker’s work focuses on revolution and counter-revolution in the Emirate system. The implementation of these reforms, it noted, reached its peak in May 1957 with the constitution of the central council. It examines the pre-British llorin and the early British and Southern Yoruba influences on the Emirate. It dwelt at length on the llorin Talaka Parapo-Action Group grand alliance, and the effects of these on political developments in the Emrate49.
J. Hogben et. al is a survey of the political history of the Emirate, tracing its origins present boundaries and concluding with its transformations into the British colonial territory. It gave a general overview of the history of the Emirate, particularly the various changes in the Emir’s council coupled with the considerable political tension in Ilorin between 1956 to 195850.
Smith concentrated more on the political and military relationship of Emirate and her Yoruba neighbours, culminating in the signing of treaty with the British ascendancy51.
Temple’s on the other hand is a study of the political, judicial and geographical set up of llorin provinces shedding light on the historical antecedents to British ascendancy. Like Whitaker, Dudley dwelt extensively on the Talaka Parapo in Ilorin Emirate politics, its formation aims and importance to the Emirate politics52.
L.A.K. Jimoh gave an in-depth account on the history of the Emirate, though little attention was made of women, where it was, it was to show the economic and social roles of women53.
Various unpublished works on the Emirate also focused on Ilorin Emirate politics Danmole’s “Fromm.Emirate” gives considerable attention to the establishment of the Emirate with emphasizes on its administtatlon and Islamization of the region54. R. A. Olaoye focused on the involvement of women in the distribution of the finished work of the weaving industry. His other work opened healthy discusswns on the pattern of British administration in Ilorin Emirate during the period covered by his studies.
These literatures examine the polities of the Emirate, which was a salient factor in the political consciousness of the Emirate. However, these works have not focused on women roles in the politics of the Emirate.
The Changing Trend 1985 – 1999
5.1 Women Empowerment and the Role of Political Parties
The negligible number of women in politics had hindered the exertion of any real political influence in the society. The inability to protect this interest has raised a consciousness among women about the need to organize for mutual benefit.
This new consciousness had led to the formation of a number of women associations. These associations were playing an undeniable political role in helping to bring many issues to the attention of government and the public. They have also been vocal in the struggle for social and political equality of men and women.
As the Emirate approaches a new phase, it has a strong sense of being on the threshold of extraordinary new challenges and a wide range of new possibilities. Not just the challenges of technology and communication impinging on their lives, but the growing consciousness among women of their rights, and the sharp realization that they are not only entitled to a better quality of life, but that such ideal is achievable.
Women are now questioning the earlier models which marginalized them. They are asking if there are no alternatives towards the realization of their vision. They are looking for such basics as genuine self-governance at all levels, for equality of political opportunities and for freedom from gender discrimination. The pressure may not be uniformly strong now but it is increasing as the New Year’s advance.
There is no denying the fact that women play important roles in the campaign and mobilization for support for their parties. Yet they are rarely seen occupying decision-making positions in these structures. It is stated that less than eleven percent of party leaders worldwide are women. Although political parties possess resources for conducting electioneering campaigns, women do not benefit from this. The selection and nomination process within political parties is also discriminatory. In that male characteristic are emphasized and often become the criteria for selecting candidates. Prejudices still inhibit and prohibit politically inclined women from integrating them selves into their party’s work. This leads to an underestimation of women as politicians by those who provide money for campaigns, thus further hindering women from being nominated.
At this level the participation of women can be measure from their numbers at the common membership level, their representative in decision making bodies, and the number of vacancies given to them in general elections. While parties have no clear records of membership, women’s representation in the decision-making bodies is still quite inadequate. In me 1998 elections, two women contested for councillorship of about sixty Vacancies. At the House of Assembly the two female candidates fielded were eventually told to step down for male candidates “for the interest of me party“. So far there is no women representative in the House of Assembly.
These minimal representations of women at all levels reflect the inadequacy of the commitment of political parties and the ineffectiveness of any attempt to bring women to the mainstream of political arena. One of the main reasons often cited by political parties for the near invisibility of women in representative bodies is their reluctance at coming into the political arena. This claim is belied by the fact that a number of women applied for party tickets. Thus indicating their willingness to contest. If some seats were not filled it could be primarily due to the more influential male politicians of these areas, subject to the patriarchal, cultural and social biases that pervade the society which actively discourage women’s participation. However, the changing trend now is the growing awareness of the vital role women are playing in political exercises. Today, virtually all the political parties have created women wings, and the institution of Women leader. All these are at the local government district and state level.
5.2 Women and Non-Governmental Organizations
The emergency of women organizations had to a large extent influenced women participation in politics. It has focused on the sensitization of women, encouraging giant strides in different areas including politics. These organizations, have shown that what is needed in this country is not gender but competency.
It is felt that since women gracefully fought for emancipation in all fields of development, nothing should stop them from venturing into politics. The growing awareness by the various organizations including nongovernmental organizations, has greatly enhanced the position of women in the Emirate.
Non governmental organizations combined both gender and class awareness and thus can offer the women from the Emirate leadership in the struggle for political changes and at the same time champion the struggle for economic justice.
Activities of Women Opinion Leaders Forum (WOLF), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), National Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ), the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) can not be overemphasized. The Women Opinion Leaders Forum (WOLF) for instance was established primarily to play a new and energizing role in bringing women and youth who are leaders in many fields into elective and appointive offices. It had been supportive to some female contestants in the Emirate2.
Apart from this, most of the NGOs support income-generating activities by providing credit, training and advice to women. Despite their heavy social responsibilities, women continue to carry out these activities while at the same time participating in politics. One of the objectives of these NGOs is to raise awareness that the woman is complementary to the man, breaking the barriers that prevent women from taking decisions without men and showing that women can not only bring ideas, but can participate and ask questions. All these are making women to feel that they are the managers of their own development.
With the NGOs, women no longer sit in the background to take whatever comes, but also speak out to get help and to help their fellow women3. The active campaigns to eliminate discriminatory laws are rubbing off on the women position. Gradually, more women are becoming involved in politics and competing with men in almost every field in an attempt at strengthening their social and political standing.
Governance is now taken up women as Directors General, Members Board of Directors, Commissioners and Head of Departments.
Today they have worked as active pressure groups for law reforms. It has been seeking to ensure that the constitution embodies law, which offers equal opportunities, and stimulate economic development for women. It believes that it is important that women should have the right to be as fully involved as men in all aspects of public life, and to be treated equally4.
The NGOs in some quarters are being seen as a threat. Some men stop their wives from attending meetings because they think they are gossip outlets, and avenue to learn the dos and don’t about their rights. All the same, some of the NGOs have not involved some its target group in any participatory way. The inability of inviting the rural women to express their views and aspirations have the effect of distancing, if not alienating rural Women who are not able to identify directly With them.
However, the transformation of the Situation from ignorance to enlightenment has had effect on womenfolk both within and without Seeing the development process at work has brought a shift in people’s views about group formation and NGOs activities from an extremely negative to a positive position. The NGOs still have to mount a greater tempo by further reaching out to the women who are politically shy, and those who still feel that politics is about getting peanuts and crumbs from politicians who use them as steps to achieve their ambition only to discard them later.
5.3 The Balance Sheet
The status of women in the Emirate has changed dramatically. With numerous women’s organizations engaged in various activities aimed at empowering women, they are beginning to be active agents of changes. Though there are still some resistance among members of the older generation.
The tradition of a male dominated society, which kept women in their places as submissive, obedient and silent of the fathers, husbands and male relatives, began to take a new dimension in the post Independence era.
Prior to 1979, women in the emirate were not granted the Franchise It was believed that the extension of Franchise to women would constitute an intrusion into their religious and cultural beliefs. However after much agitation by women, the Federal Military Government in 1976 passed an order that enfranchised the Northern women. Another factor, which further enhanced the participation of women in the second republic politics, was Section 3a(1) of the 1979 constitution; which stipulates that women shall not be disadvantaged by reasons of their gender. Though the involvement of women in the second republic was not aggressive, there was great improvement when compared with the first republic dispensation. In 1979 military organized elections, more of the political parties had female at the top echelon. Those women were only fixed to the women’s wings of the political parties to continue to act as mobilizer and vote catchers. Great women in the Emirate played the role of mobilizers and women leaders, participating actively in the campaign trails. The likes of Abebi Akosile, Alhaja Omotoshe and others performed creditably well and it was the beginning of goodies for the womenfolk. The results of 1979 election showed no women representation in terms of administrative or elective posmon but their voting power did not go unnoticed5.
Politics since independence, had been characterised by the incessant struggle between military and civilian regimes. One would have expected that the civilian regimes will be all involving, but the military regimes have shown greater sensitivity to the plight of women by involving them in decision making structures. The Better Life for Rural Women and the Family Support Programmes despite their shortcoming of tilting (awards the elites, greatly enhanced the cause of women through effective use of propaganda. thus made women to become more assertive.
Before the ban in politics was lifted in 1990, several women had benefited from political appointments since the Federal Military government instructed that each governor should include at least a woman in the state Executive Council.
In the present dispensation (the fourth republic) women still constitutes a far cry from its expected number. In the Emirate, only a female candidate is in the senate, out of one hundred and nine members, and she is representing Abuja. At the House of Representatives only a female candidate representing Ilorin West and Asa constituencies. No female governor, no female deputy governor no female house of assembly member and only two female councilors. This confirms that in the present dispensation, the
Emirate IS still lagging behind in entrenching women politically despite the fact that both men and women strive tirelessly to build the Emirate.
The role of a new women association (The educated women in politics) can not be overemphasized, this organization had helped and is helping in further understanding of the grassroot politics The association formed by educated women politicians was inaugurated in 1995. Part of its aim was to close the disparity between the active grassroot (non-literate) women politicians and the educated women politicians6. It also seeks to address the non-challant attitude of educated women to politics. It is believed that the role played by grassroot politics can not be overemphasized. For women in the Emirate to develop politically, there has to be a merger and understanding between the non literate active female politicians and the educated women politicians. This association so far had been serving its purpose. It had been able to produce two female commissioners, five active female politicians as Board Members and two female party secretaries a novelty in the politics of Harm Emirate politics7.
From these, one can not but appreciate the role of education. Education to a large extent determines the political inclination of an individual. It had proved to be a catalyst to women participation in governance. Its possession had greatly influenced more women into politics and governance. Their level of education had put them at par With their male counterpart. It had also changed women attitudes towards politics, which was seen initially as the exclusive reserve of men. The only level they felt at par with is on associational interest group they believed then that, this was the only area from which they can function. This had given way to women who are aspiring and arousing in themselves and others the need to be active.
Given this progressive trend one can not but appreciate the fact that the future is bright and there is a great hope that women in the Emirate are warming up to the top of the Echelon and are looking forward to female deputy governor, governors and even commissioner of police. The future seems brighter, since most of the obstacles militating against the women are being scaled through. The increase in the number of educated women has shown a social revolution. We now are having a crop of educated women embracing politics. Politics is now courting women sensitizing them to the need to embrace the culture of being heard and seen. Women are becoming enlightened and educated, given way not only to socio and economic power but political power.
Historical accounts have shown women exploits in the area of politics Women in Ilorin Emirate have been revealed as historical actors, their organized or unorganized public political roles are well known. As catalyst of history, women have penetrated virtually all places and all aspects of human endeavour.
Women’s role in the political history of Ilorin Emirate dates back to the establishment of the Emirate system. The women then played very meaningful political roles in the palace system; as advisers, ardent loyalist and counselors. They wielded a lot of influence on their husbands, sons and brothers. In the modern political era, women also play outstanding roles in the politics of the Emirate. The pre and post Talaka Parapo era witnessed the glowing role of women as agitators against water and obnoxious tax rates. These actions were to later affect the welfare of the people. Politically, the post independence era created a new crop of women playing active role in the politics of the day both as active electorates and contestants. Women also worked as dedicated bureaucratic career officers, holding positions of chairmen, commissioners permanent secretaries and directors. All these roles have been a process of making important contributions that are sharpening policymaking.
Despite these, very little attention had been focused on them. From the political history of Mom Emirate, findings show that participation of women in politics is not in proportion with their teeming population in any given political system, the participation of both male and female enhances the development of such a society Gender, as we know plays a prominent role in the definition of power; since its meanings are mobilized as metaphors of governance, domination and subordination in relation to political power. Where arguments are raised for gender role, these can not be isolated from the environment. The causes and effects of environment’s strains and adaptation on gender are better imagined than experienced. Reassessing our environmental responsibilities in the light of changing conditions and recognizing the right of the other gender, as an individual to exist and contribute would boost the development of the Emirate. There is the need to harness the potentials of male and female, and to indoctrinate the young ones who are surely the future of the present generation.
Factors inhibiting women participation are surmountable. It requires the skill of using its advantage to the fullest. The possessions of education, sound economic base and development have allowed for greater women participation. Since no man is an island, the Emirate can not afford to remain unwashed by the raising global currents it needs to address the Issues in ways that are in harmony with the international perspective and universally accepted ways. If it does not do it now it might be compelled to do so later.
Equal participation of both men and women in decision making is a prerequisite for effective and genuine democracy. Findings show that even major decisions that affect their lives in the form of laws and policies are made primarily by male membership bodies With Virtually no women participation. This is a major reason why so many of the values and norms are discriminatory and why most policies marginalise women. While it is important for Women to have a decisive voice on issues of interests and concerns to them, it is equally vital to have their perspectives and views reflected in other decisions, in other spheres and at all levels.
The Emirate women need to make the ultimate demand for equal opportunities for men and women and a full representation in government as a right. They should in particular, strive harder to enter in their droves into politics and into all decision making bodies. This will bring their resourcefulness and intuitive potentials to bear greatly on the system. So long as women playing these roles are few, so long Will the values of society continue to be formulated to their disadvantage. Making funds available to the various political parties to support candidates in the process of election would go a long way in ameliorating the plight of women in politics who are usually starved of funds. Organizing trust fund for aspiring women politicians, is also a veritable method of evolving effective women participation in politics.
There is also the need for more enlightenment campaign through organization of workshops, seminars and radio programmes on the need for women to participate in elective politics. Here women in journalism should contribute positively towards the realization of the objectives through their write-ups and enlightenment. so as to spur more women and allow for the infiltration of best quality women into active politics.
Despite the new surge into elective positions by women, which is a far cry from their representation, the sky seems bright for greater women participation in the Emirate politics.
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