Buharu’s 33-Man Delegation To The US: The Absence Of Female Representation

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Delegation to the United States of America pose with former President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.Image: Sahara Reporters. President Muhammadu Buhari is back in the country from his four-day official trip to the United States of America and in my view, just in time to be reminded of certain campaign promises he made which ensured his victory. The President was in Washington, USA, on Sunday, July 19, 2015 with an entourage of 33 men. The delegation was literally made up of men; and if that doesn’t sink in, it means that his delegation to the United States of America was entirely devoid of a woman. This rubbed me some type of way. So many thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to look at all possible angles for excluding women from a delegation of such international importance. Many people who know me think that I am overly critical of President Buhari so I tried to be as balanced as possible in my analysis of his decision. I will admit here that in the end, my original perception of the decision to exclude women did not change. I decided to make it a topic on my radio breakfast show. At the end of the show, I felt it was a tie between my listeners. While many said there was no reason why he should have taken any woman on the trip, an almost equal number believed that at least one woman should have been a part that pivotal bilateral discussion with the United States. As a result of that, I decided to write again to the President, with the hopes that, unlike Senator Shehu Sani, he would care about my opinions; even if he did not directly seek my vote and even though I did not vote for him. Here is why I think there should have been female representation in that 33-man delegation to the United States:       1.      The delegation seemed to represent most of the major demographics and sectors of the nation with just one exception; women! Looking at the list holistically, it seemed like the North East was represented by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state and he doubled as a representative of the region most affected by the insurgency of the Boko Haram sect. On the other hand, Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo state represented the South-South region. Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state represented the South-West, Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura of Nassarawa (North-Central), Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo (South-East) and Senator Hadi Siriki of Katsina (North-West) ensured that the six geopolitical zones of the country were represented. That being said, the economic sector was represented by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele. There were ambassadors in that delegation (Paul Bulus; G. B. Igali; and Lawal N.B. Kazaure), a representation of media in the person of Femi Adesina, the special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity and of course the representation of the youth, which was by the son of the president, Yusuf Buhari. Religion was also represented by Pastor Tunde Bakare and the Malam Garba. The list also had top civil servants, representatives from the National Security Adviser and representatives from economic policy and foreign affairs think thanks, according to the PM News dated July 12, 2015. They delegation seemed to be devoid of JUST one demographic; female representation. That should have been a reason to get women on that delegation. 2.      POPULATION STATISTICS Index Mundi put the entire population of Nigeria at 177,155,754 people. As at 2013, the World Bank put the female population of Nigeria at 49.10%. If we factor in 49.10% of the figure given by Index Mundi, we have the total number of females in Nigeria at 86,983,475. That is an almost equal number of females as there are males. In one meeting, former President Barack Obama had four women on his team. The Nigerian delegation didn’t have one.Image: The Guardian.       3.    WOMEN HAVE BEEN EASY VICTIMS OF THE INSURGENCY Since the insurgency, women and children have suffered as much – if not more – than men. This has been documented by Wikipedia in the ‘Boko Haram Timeline’ article. Some of the more tragic stories are seen below; a)      In 2013, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was reported to have said ‘Borno was hit, with about 1.3 million people – MOST OF THEM WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY (emphasis mine) – in need of aid’; b)      In February, 2013, an attack on polio vaccinators left 9 women dead; c)      Four months and a day after that attack, precisely June 9, 2013, 9 children were killed in Maiduguri. On the same day, 13 students and teachers were killed in Damaturu; d)      Less than a month after the preceding attack, more than 42 people were killed by Boko Haram gunmen in a Yobe School. This happened on the 6th day of July, 2013; e)      The attacks continued on September 29, 2013, in schools in Yobe, with one in Gujba College, where more than 50 students died; f)       In 2014, the attacks of children came in early on February 25. The attacks happened at the Federal Government College, Yobe State. 59 students were massacred; g)      And the story that really made Nigeria an epic failed state was what happened on April 15, 2014; the kidnap of 276 female students from Chibok, Borno State. 216 girls are still in captivity 466 days (as at post) after they were kidnapped. Though this was the most important story to the international community, there were much more women kidnapped, raped, married off to members of the insurgent group and killed. The rescue of about 256 girls from Sambisa Forest, the Boko Haram stronghold, was a clear testament to that; h)      Between June 20 and 23, there were attacks in Borno State where at least 70 people were killed and 91 women and children kidnapped; i)        And finally, on November 10, 2014, 46 students were killed

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