Home Interviews Exclusive Interview: This administration led by President Buhari is still trailing behind in the inclusion of women, says Jiritmwa Morgak  Goyit 

Exclusive Interview: This administration led by President Buhari is still trailing behind in the inclusion of women, says Jiritmwa Morgak  Goyit 

Exclusive Interview: This administration led by President Buhari is still trailing behind in the inclusion of women, says Jiritmwa Morgak  Goyit 

By:Gbenga Teejay Okunlola and Joy Gofwen

A-CHOICES: We know you are a youth and a strong voice when it comes to advocacy on gender issues in Plateau State. However, we will like you to tell us a little more about yourself. Tell us a bit about your educational and family background.

JIRITMWA: My name is Jiritmwa Morgak Goyit, I am from Plateau state. What exactly qualifies as little about me? (Laugh) I am a young woman who was not born with a silver spoon but thankfully, was born with a spoon. I am lucky to have had educational training, I have a masters in women’s studies two diploma certificates, a first degree, and secondary school, and have attended a couple of training in respect to advocacy and how to handle issues of gender and other issues that have to do with girls, women, and, young people in general.

A-CHOICES: Recently you contested for a seat at the Plateau State House of Assembly to represent Kanke Local Government. What’s the motivation behind your declaration?

JIRITMWA: For a couple of years now, I have engaged in modest advocacy and philanthropic activities at a personal level.

That has availed me the opportunity to come face to face with the deep-seated problems people, especially in my constituency face ranging from the need for interventions in the area of education, healthcare, ethical reorientation, and the like. This, to my mind, would need some level of high intervention which will require a platform hence my venturing into a contest.

A-CHOICES: Do you believe that having women in political leadership provides a different kind of voice?

JIRITMWA:  Undoubtedly so, we cannot quantify the resource call woman and the different valuable contributions she can bring to the table.

So since there is a general consensus that we cannot with the same approach to a problem was created solve it, then it is just natural and for nation-building to bring or allow more women on board leadership spaces to contribute to solving some of life’s challenges.

Women world over come to the table with different perspectives on issues and how they can be handled hence, it is in the interest of progress and development that we should deliberately have more women in the conversation.

A-CHOICES: The level of female participation and representation in Nigerian politics is low. Sexist, political cultures combined with gendered economics and household inequalities are seen to be the main barriers to women’s participation in governance. Is that true?

JIRITMWA:  To the affirmative. Women have the passion, energy, wisdom, and competence to participate actively but the biases you mentioned continue to hinder them and in turn deprive nations, societies, and communities of benefiting from their contributions.

A-CHOICES: What barriers are still in the way of optimal participation of women in the political process in Nigeria?

JIRITMWA: These barriers differ from place to place hence we cannot put one above the other in a general discussion.

While some women have it all well for them, they could be faced with a lack of funding, others have funds but social constructs and beliefs are their barriers. So all forms of human-made barriers hindering women’s active participation in politics need to be eradicated by all and for all.

You see some set of people holding so strongly to certain religious or cultural beliefs then using them against women but are willing to step it down if it has to do with the daughter, sister, or wife of the elite. So that is why I said it should be eradicated for all and by all.

A-CHOICES: What is your assessment of women’s inclusion at different cadres of governance by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?

JIRITMWA: This administration led by President Buhari is still trailing behind in the inclusion of women, which is not to say there are no gains or women’s inclusion.

What my school of thought would expect is that as we progress as a nation, our achievements even in areas of women’s inclusion should be on an increase and not remain the way it was or retrogress. So there is room for more engagement. And don’t forget, all these calls are for the good of all and not just the women.

A-CHOICES: Which Nigerian governor would you commend for exemplary demonstration of walking the talk when it comes to appointment of women to decision-making positions?

JIRITMWA: Kwara state governor has mine and Nigerian women commendation.

He has not just appointed many competent women in his cabinet but also factored in the fact that there are also young women who can do the job.

A-CHOICES: Would you say there is a difference in behaviour in politics between men and women? Is there a common ground that can be exploited by women?

JIRITMWA: The major natural difference in behaviour between men and women is that women strive towards perfection; due diligence and the desire to see things done just the way it is expected. And I think that is a good ground to meet because the aim is to govern with due diligence in other to bring the desired result to the people regardless of gender.

A-CHOICES: Are there issues around women’s political leadership that concern you?

JIRITMWA: Yes, a couple of them.

I am concerned that women are not held, judged, or allowed the same standards as men.

A woman is summarily demised on the basis of her gender. Not given a fair hearing and a second chance etc.

I am worried that the age-long myth of using women as custodians of patriarchy is taking its toll on them thereby hindering their optimal participation in political leadership among many other concerns. 

A-CHOICES: Talking 2023 elections, what are your expectations from the agents that would supervise the electoral process such as, the INEC, the police and other stakeholders like the media and other observers?

JIRITMWA: Nothing more than the general call for patriotic engagement from them all. We all need a nation that works for all; hence, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the country we desire is brought to reality. Opportunities such as this are the chance we have to change the course of our country so, I expect that they do their job with due diligence for the benefit of the country.

A-CHOICES: A lot is going on right now in the country, the security challenges in every part are biting hard among other issues bedeviling the country. Do you think we are ready for 2023?

JIRITMWA: That’s a tough one but as an optimist and a believer in God for his mercy, I think if we continue the conversation around holding everyone responsible to his or her duty, things can improve which will include our security situation.

A-CHOICES: What is your message to the voting public in the face of these challenges you just talked about?

JIRITMWA: We owe ourselves the duty of getting a voter card, planning to go out and vote then holding those elected to account for the mandate given to them. This can be done through civil engagements, community actions, and the like. As I said earlier, this is the opportunity for us to change the course of the country in the right direction; our yarning for good governance can only be seen in our involvement in the electoral process. 

A-CHOICES: Let’s talk about the youth and the rising rate of unemployment. Do you think the current administration is doing enough to bridge this gap? And what do you think the government can do to change the narrative? 

JIRITMWA: Not so much has or is been done to get our youth population engaged.

If we have a stable power supply, it’ll translate to jobs.

Subsidy on major agricultural products will encourage the youths to venture into agriculture.

When good roads and transport systems are improved on then, the youths themselves would create meaningful engagements and by so doing, the narrative will be changed in a significant way.

A-CHOICES: How differently do you think the President can handle the increasing level of insecurity?

JIRITMWA: Insecurity can be tackled in my opinion, by bringing the perpetrators to justice. By so doing, it will serve as a deterrent to others. 

A-CHOICES: Gender-based violence is a common social problem in Nigeria, how can we get rid of these menaces? 

JIRITMWA: Name-shame them. Most times we cover up for the perpetrators which in turn gives them and others room to be violent again. But when we call them out for what they are, others will not tour that path. We also need to support and seek justice for victims and also help them walk through the healing process. And we should also reward those who go out of their way to speak and act against it.

A-CHOICES: How do you think we can encourage women that face abuse of any form to speak up?

JIRITMWA: Assure them of their safety.

Discourage all forms of stigma because most times, people stigmatise these victims which in turn hinders a lot of them from speaking up. So, as a people we to deliberately discourage any form of stigmatisation. We must also provide social, emotional and economic support to them.

A-CHOICES: What is your take about the Muslim-Muslim ticket the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is pushing?

JIRITMWA: That did not come to me as a surprise because the APC has not hidden its bias on religious interference with issues of governance.

What I did not expect was the blatant insult to Christendom and deliberate attempt to divide us while living room for all kinds of suspicion.

It is an affront and a somewhat statement to say you have no stake in the affairs of the country but can play second place.

A-CHOICES: Do you think religion is an important factor in Nigerian politics?

JIRITMWA: We have sadly made it so. Ordinarily, one’s performance should have little or nothing to do with the faith they profess but in Nigeria, we continue to join politics with religion which has proven to be a clog in the wheels of progress.

A-CHOICES: For what are you most thankful in your life?

JIRITMWA: For life itself. All the people and opportunities God has allowed my way.

I started by saying I was not born with a silver spoon but not without a spoon and I am thankful to my parents for that (spoon). I come from a very humble background while growing up, even the thought of gracing the pages of a magazine as yours was a tall dream poor I should not even think it but here I am.  I do not take any of this for granted. Thank you, thank you, and thank God.

A-CHOICES: What is a typical week like for you? How do you relax?

JIRITMWA: Hmmm. I am just getting out of a campaign suggesting that I have had long weeks none stop of intense engagement. Though all of that is now subsiding.

Well, I relax just as it comes because I have not had the time or the luxury to get a deserved rest, perfect relaxation, or a vacation.

But in all, I am thankful for good health and a sound mind. I am also thankful for the support system I have around, particularly my family. 

Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola

London, UK


Author: Kangmwa Gofwen

Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria