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New dawn in Bauchi as more women come into governance

Women’s participation in governance recently received a boost in Bauchi State with the appointment of two new commissioners into the cabinet. Although one of them…

Women’s participation in governance recently received a boost in Bauchi State with the appointment of two new commissioners into the cabinet. Although one of them recently resigned, the executive council has six female members, the highest recorded since the state was created. 

Governor Bala Mohammed last week swore-in two female commissioners bringing the total number of female commissioners to seven out of 21 commissioners. Those sworn-in were Hajiya Amina Muhammad Katagum, who was appointed Commissioner for Rural Development and Special Duties, and Dr Jamila Muhammad Dahiru, Commissioner for Education. 

Other female commissioners in the cabinet are Dr Asma’u Ahmed Giade, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Maryam Garba Bagel, Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hajiya Zainab Baban Takko, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, and Hon. Hajara Jibrin Gidado, Commissioner for Women Affairs.

Hon. Sa’adatu Bello Kirfi, Commissioner Cooperative, Small Scale and Medium Enterprises, resigned her position on Wednesday after the removal of her father as Wazirin Bauchi allegedly on the directives of the governor.

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Bauchi State has largely been viewed as a conservative state that observes cultural norms and tradition which abhors delegating leadership responsibility to women. Despite its considerate literacy level that produced hundreds of educated women in Bauchi, the state government in the past usually engaged few of them in positions of authority.

Observers say that successive administrations, including the military regimes, assigned few women in the cabinet in Bauchi, especially the position of Commissioner for Women Affairs, which is seen to represent the women folk.  

The immediate past administration of Governor Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar had appointed three female commissioners towards the end of his tenure in 2018.  

Daily Trust findings revealed that very few women contested and won election in the history of the state due to the cultural norms and tradition in Bauchi State, a situation that discouraged women from participating in the electioneering process, thereby placing them at the background in leadership positions.   

Checks also revealed only Hon. Maryam Garba Bagel had contested and won election as Member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly (Dass Constituency) from 2015 to 2019. Bagel was also appointed as Director General of Bauchi State Sustainable Development Goals from 2019 to 2020 

However, things have since changed for the better for them. Currently, the state Chief Judge is Justice Rabi Talatu Umar. One third of the State Executive Council are women, three permanent secretaries are women as well as some heads of agencies and other political appointees in the state. 

Bagel was subsequently appointed by the governor as Commissioner, Ministry of Commerce and Industries from 2020 to 2022. She resigned in 2022 to contest for the House of Representatives. 

Aminu Katagum was first appointed as Special Adviser on Women Affairs and NGOs to Governor Malam Isa Yuguda from 2011 to 2012 and elevated by the governor to Commissioner, Ministry of Commerce and Industry from 2012 to 2014. 

Hajiya Zainab Baban Takko, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, was until her appointment, the Chairperson of the Bauchi State Meat Production Company.  

This development was greeted with commendation to the governor by gender advocates and other activists within the state. 

A public analyst and State Coordinator of Journalists for Public Health and Development Initiative (J4PD) Elizabeth Kah described the appointments of more women in positions of authority as a welcome development. She said it was a step towards affirmative action. 

Kah said the decision will serve as motivation for girl child enrollment, retention, transition and completion in schools.  

“The expectation is for these women to impact positivity on leadership and decision -making in governance. They should be role models to women and should bring up more women-oriented programmes and policies. 

“They should see themselves as women who were appointed to contribute to the development of the state and not an opportunity for them to rub shoulders with the men. They should be modest in their dressing and conduct considering the culture and religion of the state,” she said. 

On her part, a chief magistrate with Bauchi State Judiciary, Magistrate Amina Garuba Ahmed, said the development is portraying positive change in Bauchi. 

She said: “We are looking at competency now not the traditional way of appointment that we followed before. I think irrespective of gender, the appointment was based on competence and track records of their antecedents.” 

Commenting on the implications of more women in positions of authority, Amina said: “More women means that decision-making will be well grounded in the sense that it will have a gender lens.  All decisions and the process will have participation of all genders, which means things are going to improve more. 

“I expect the female commissioners to deliver because they are placed in those positions not because they are women, but rather competent; their track record has shown that they can deliver. They should represent women well and make sure they deliver their oats of office and they should not allow themselves to get involved in any issue of corruption or get derailed from their objectives of occupying that position. 

“They should also encourage more women and mentor them because they must have some qualities to portray to be able to reach that level. They should not let it get lost; they should groom more women and mentor them so that those qualities they have, these other younger women too will start developing them.” 

She said this might be the beginning of a new dawn“if we do not allow a vacuum to be created, after this set of women that have been appointed leave the office. If we want continuity, we have to continue the grooming process and mentoring process so that other women will be empowered then we will not have a vacuum when this set is retiring. We will grow from there and have more gender equality in all appointments and all places of administration in the state.”  

The new Commissioner of Rural Development and Special Duties, Dr Amina Muhammad Katagum, said: “All thanks be to Allah for the opportunity and we are much grateful to the governor because we have now attained the 30 per cent of women in the cabinet of the state. We pray for wisdom and we pray that we deliver as expected of us.” 

“I feel okay because this is not the first time I have held public office. We feel that we are going to deliver. We women always uphold the trust that is bestowed on us. We women don’t betray, we always make sure we deliver when given the opportunity and I believe that is what His Excellency saw. The people should continue to support us; they should be cooperative and In sha Allahu we will deliver.”  

The Bauchi State Women Leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hafsat Adamu, said the appointment of seven commissioners in the state cabinet was a turning point for the revival and emancipation of women. “This is what we lacked in the past because women are the majority in casting votes but they were not entitled to leadership positions. 

“By the Grace of God, this is the beginning of a new era for empowerment and liberation of women in Bauchi. Very soon we will have a female deputy governor, elected senators, members of the House of Representatives and State Assembly as well as other political positions in the state. We are also confident that in the future we will have a female governor in Bauchi. 

“Women have been yearning for a leader that will change the narrative of women being left at the background of leadership but God has brought the messiah to address the gender imparity and empowerment of women to attain their potential in life.  

“We are extremely happy because in the past, the state cabinet was dominated by men but having more women in the cabinet will bring about sanity in the system and based on our cultural traditions, women hardly confront men in positions of authority, but when we have women in such positions, we approach them with our problems and issues that bother on women challenges with ease. Women collectively are going to vote for Governor Mohammed to consolidate the giant stride he has so far achieved.

“Let me tell you, these women were appointed based on competence and their track records because almost all of them held different government positions and performed credibly well before being appointed as commissioners. They are women that were tested and had proved their competence. The issue of cabinet is not the only one because the governor has empowered women leaders in all 20 LGAs with vehicles to carry out their duties,” Hafsat added.