Friday, 6 March 2009

Nude Women, Wandering Conscience

By Hakeem Babalola
Nigerian Affairs

Nude Women
In protest against the re-run governorship election in Ekiti, a group of women clad in white expressed their dissent with their breasts exposed. They walked round Ado-Ekiti breasting the storm - of election rigging. According to reports, only the elderly women allowed the public to see the two soft fleshy milk-secreting glandular organs. The youths among them protested with their clothes on. Perhaps they are not as naive as the elderly. They probably know the game better than their elders, and so it was unnecessary for them to entertain the on-lookers with their boobs (no pun intended). Thank God the younger women did not emulate their elders in this regard otherwise such nude amusement would have caused confusion more than Iwu's INEC. It would have hijacked the purpose and seriousness of the protest and that would have been disastrous, even more than Madam Ayoka Adebayo's zigzag resignation letter. Adebayo is the Ekiti Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) who said she was pressurized to do against her will.

This is not the first time Nigerian women would remove their clothes in protest. In 2004, scores of half-naked elderly women in Akwukwu Igbo, Oshimili local government area of Delta State, protested political developments in the state (Champions). In 2005, some Bayelsa women decided to protest naked in support of their son, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Bayelsa former governor who was widely reported to dress like a woman in an attempt to escape the British police arrest over money laundering. In 2008, women of Obodogugu-Ogume community in Ndokwa area of Delta State protested naked over inter-ethnic crisis (Vanguard). And we should not forget the 1929 Aba "Riot" when our courageous mothers protested against injustice of that period.

I quite understand the need for women to voice their opinions and express themselves in anyway they know by taking active part in the politics that will promote development in their country of birth, including nude protest. I have no problem with such show of solidarity, especially when elections cannot be adequately conducted even at the local base. The Ekiti re-run elections were expected to run smoothly considering the fact that it involves just thousands of votes, but the so-called Nigerian factors prevented that. Such "arrant nonsense" may have been a bitter pill to swallow for our women in Ekiti, hence they must strip naked. Oh, my goodness, a group of women going naked in public as a protest should be taken seriously. Such action means violent anger. Hum, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I hope Maurice Iwu and his INEC officials are watching and listening attentively. For where?
I repeat, I do not bear any grudge with the naked women in Ekiti. However, I am constrained to ask a question, a subtle question that I think could defeat the purpose of their action. Now, was the nakedness a gesture of genuine protest or that of fake political protest? I am asking this question because, according to the report, most protesters are connected to the opposition party AC (Action Congress). Although the protesters gathered under the aegis of Ekiti women for Peace and Development, "they were led by a former commissioner for Women affairs in the state, Chief Ronke Okusanya, while the deputy governorship candidate of the Action Congress, Mrs Funmilayo Olayinka and wife of the governorship candidate, Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, joined the procession".

So these naked women were saying categorically that Fayemi be declared winner of Ekiti gubernatorial re-run. Did these women act on their own volition or they were just baring and dancing to the political drum of AC chieftains? Instead of out-rightly supporting a certain political party, these women should have naked for fairness and justice and equity. They should have avoided been coerced and used as a political pun. Did someone or a group of people coach them? What if the other party had also organised women to protest nude? Our women should not allow themselves to be manipulated by either party. By the way, what did Okusanya achieve during her tenure as Commissioner for Women Affairs? I believe only genuine protests either nude or fully clothed will actually send a clear message to the rouges that dominates both PDP and AC.

Wandering Conscience
Who would not fall in love with a 74-year-old woman whose conscience directed her to reject all pressures to manipulate the results of Ekiti gubernatorial re-run. Initially, the octogenarian had won the hearts of many Nigerians for tendering her resignation letter instead of succumbing to undue pressures from wherever. For standing her ground, she was quickly declared wanted by the Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro. She later met with Maurice Iwu, the controversial INEC chairman. Subsequently her letter of resignation was rejected by Umoru Yar'Adua, the president who has been chewing due process since his appointment as Nigerian president. Wait a minute; did Auntie Dora take her re-brand brigade to Ekiti? She must do that kia kia (urgently).

By resigning her appointment as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Madam Adebayo had spoken her mind even though she later rescinds her decision. Now that Madam Adebayo has said that she's still a member of Iwu's family, there is problem with her inconsistency. I am afraid she might have helped set a political fire waiting to engulf both parties. Losing party may use her words as an excuse for its lost. Madam Adebayo needs to search her conscience again and summon another courage to tell the nation from where the initial pressures came from, but even if she did that, who would believe her story? And that, I think, is where the danger lies. Well, eminent Nigerians are solidly behind her. For example, our Prof. has issued a warning that nothing must happen to her. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has also associated with her saying, she should be left alone.

Obviously, Madam Adebayo had seen or heard something that shocked her conscience before she made up her mind to resign as Ekiti Resident commissioner. Her resignation letter purports to express a courageous woman whose Christianity background would not allow her to go amoral to the extent of deceiving the voters. And so she pen a poignant resignation letter to the commander-in-chief, Alhaji Yar'Adua of PDP who refused to accept such impromptu and suspicious letter saying, although he would like his PDP party to win but the will of the people is more crucial to the sustainable democracy than attempts to impose the might of the federal authority against popular aspirations. God talk but where is the action?

"It is with heavy heart that I am writing to inform you of my resignation as the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ekiti State. In accordance with the rule of law, the on-going election in Ekiti State was supposed to be the election that will enhance the image of INEC, electoral process in our dear country Nigeria and the whole black race. Unfortunately, the circumstances changed in the middle of the process; therefore, my conscience as a Christian cannot allow me to further participate in this process".

And so Madam Adebayo's agony began. She had to choose between being a heroine of democracy or that of democrazy. Unfortunately, Madam Adebayo, in my view, chose the latter after meeting with her boss, Iwu, who is being publicly condemned as a partial umpire. The pressure Madam Adebayo had initially rejected came back to taunt her, because after meeting with Iwu, she announced she was still the honourable Resident commissioner. Why did she change her decision so quickly? Isn't her advanced age a plus for courage and wisdom? Nigeria's environment is definitely a case study. A "do or die affairs" that has destroyed almost every good thing.

Although Madam Adebayo laughed off the rumour that Tinubu gave her N200 million, she needs to tell the truth nothing but the true story of what transpired before, during and after her resignation. The only option left for this 74-year-old grandma to serve as part of the solution, is to tell Nigerians what she saw or heard which hasten that "heroic” resignation letter. Anything other than this may cause further disorder and extreme confusion. I believe her conscience as a Christian cannot allow her to do that.

Copyright 2009

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