Meet Hafsat Abiola: Woman Rights Activist’s fight for democracy in Nigeria

Village women in Nigeria. Image Source: Wikipedia

Hafsat Abiola, daughter of Moshood Abiola (president- Nigeria 1993) has been a determined Woman Rights activist of Nigeria. In conversation with Peter Clottey, she shared her aim, her ideas about how she wishes to see her state of Ogun and Nigeria in the coming few years.

Hafsat Abiola. Image source Wikimedia commons
Hafsat Abiola. Image source Wikimedia commons

Expounding her work, she said “Nigerians are very supportive and excited to have a democracy, but in many respects people don’t know how to use the democratic system. So what my NGO does is- a ‘community scorecard’ .”

Community scorecard is a method in which they take up local issues and conduct surveys on the services of the state in terms of education, healthcare, protection of markets, etc. and bring the representative sample together with the state and the local governments so that they share, see how people perceive their performance and their government as a whole.  And then the government has a chance to respond and explain the challenges they face and to know what the people expect from them.

Being the inaugural person in-charge of the Millennium Development Goals Portfolio (the UN Global), she was assigned to achieve goals for a particular state out of which one was the women empowerment and gender equality. Smartly, she worked with the women in the cabinet on how they can increase the number of women in the local government. They decided to go with a ‘sponsorship platform’. Due to certain positions, they could talk to the party leaders and the gatekeepers about how they could proudly have more women on board as there were 300 positions targeted.

We had about 3 women at one time, we worked and were able to get 54 of them in the 2014 elections, and now from the experience we had we want to use my NGO to replicate this nationwide” she says.

There is also a documentary on Hafsat’s Abola’s life titled The Supreme PriceWhen asked about how her NGO plans to deal with the northern part of Nigeria, hardest hit by the Boko haram, she says “we have a large network of 500 men and women to inform us about the latest happenings, and I learnt that women eyewitness these problems but because they had no access in politics to really make sure that they could raise an alarm or could be heard or the path could be changed in the government’s direction”.

According to her, what actually helps the economy of a state is investment. People are seeing that women in the Ogun local government are making a difference. “When later on, my younger sister or any other women from my state goes to the local government and asks for some support, people would willingly help them knowing how I or any other women has worked in the cabinet”. This is far from the traditional governor rule which involves just the monetary factor and does not help the economy.

“Yes we’ve seen that good leaders can make a difference because we have seen our governor. So yes! Go forward, go and try. This is what we want to do across Nigeria” says Hafsat Abiola summing up her dream.

-by Vrushali Mahajan

Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram. You can reach the author at twitter- Vrushali Mahajan