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The power of the media in global politics cannot be over-emphasized. It is even more exciting with modern technology and the social media. It is therefore very interesting the varied value citizens put on the media. Modern global politics has benefitted very much from the media even if individual politicians often berate the media when they are on the receiving end in terms of criticisms.
Of all segments of the society, politicians seem to be the most beneficiaries of media as a tool for their trade. From campaign periods to governance and policy narratives to the people, the media is a veritable tool between governments and the people. More often than not, the role of the media is underrated by politicians across the globe but one thing is clear, without the media, there will be no viable democracy.
It is therefore obvious that very often, in other to seek some form of populism, many politicians shoot themselves on the foot by a wrong use of the media. One of this instance just manifested with the action of governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state when he recently called a press conference to supposedly ‘reconcile’ a couple after the viral video by the wife, one Dr. Ifeyinwa Angbo who narrated the abusive behavior of her husband, a Channels TV reporter, Pius Angbo over the six year period of their marriage.
The governor displayed complete disregard for the social and global import of domestic violence by treating with levity a gross case of gender based violence in a state that is signatory to the VAPP law in and he is equally a member of the governors’ forum that declared zero tolerance to domestic violence. At what point then did the urge to showcase his ‘peace and reconciliation’ skills did the governor do the right thing in the wrong way and at the wrong time? Why the precipitate media show of a ‘reconciliation’ that ought to have been preceded by other state backed processes of the abusive husband?
The Roundtable Conversation had a chat with Dr. Gabriel Tivlumun Nyitse, a veteran journalist and a Mass Communications lecturer at Bingham University Nigeria. To him, the governor did the right thing but he would have rather he made it a private affair. In the African context, family arbitration is allowed when couples have issues in their marriages so it is not wrong that he intervened. Again it is not impossible that the governor was approached to intervene.
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However, Dr Nyitse believes that the governor’s intervention does not prevent government agencies in charge of handling such issues from doing their work. He believes that the governor’s intervention has nothing to do with the agencies carrying out their constitutional duties. The man ought to be invited if they feel he has broken any laws. However, no one should discountenance the fact that the Nigerian society seems to be tolerant of domestic violence which is deplorable.
It is obvious that most cultures seem to take it as a given that physical abuse can be tolerated in marriages. The governor was acting the regular script of handling domestic abuse as a family affair that arbitration solves but it is not always the case. Most men that abuse women or vice versa never seem to stop except in cases where certain actions are taken by those involved either getting the security agencies involved, getting therapies or getting some form of restraining order on the violent party.
Nyitse believes that the socio-cultural issues of how we raise our kids, the stigma on single, divorced and separated spouses often make individuals stay in violent relationships. Children must be deliberately raised to be respectful of each other and given no advantages based on their gender. The home must be the training ground as it has been established that kids that grew up experiencing violence are often more likely to be violent often getting into cult groups in schools to express themselves and logically carrying such attitudes into relationships.
Asked how the violence against women to him affects the gender parity in Nigerian politics, he said that the Nigerian political space again is too hazardous for women. Women can come into politics through a deliberate policy of inclusiveness like giving them political appointments through which they can grow and garner experience and the financial muscle to contest elections. He particularly loves the idea of the 35% affirmative action if adhered to because women can organize the men to vote for them. In politics, no one gives you power. Women must begin to build structures. Women should go out and contest with men.
However, it is regrettable that most women do not have the resources for campaigns and election expenses. We are yet to get to the position where Nigerians begin to put value on ideas and then more women can be given a chance in elective positions given that most women have the capacity to lead. The physical violence in Nigerian politics should not however scare the women away as that could be a tactic for excusion.
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Aisha Yesufu is a business woman who teaches financial literacy to empower people to be financially independent and also have a voice to demand for good governance. She is an Active Nigerian Citizen who demands good governance, justice and equity. An Aisha is totally disappointed with the media glitz that a governor Ortom employed in a clear case of wife-battery. It did not help matters that his wife stood by him as he publicly ‘intervened’ in a clear case of a serial domestic violence perpetrator who never uttered a word in self defense or offered any apology.
Governor Ortom virtually institutionalized battery by his media conference involving an abuser. The woman standing with the couple did not act as a protector of women. The victim was the one apologizing on behalf of the perpetrator of violence against her. What it shows is that we are a society that victimizes the victim. What they have done with that singular act is to give credence to every abuser. Every victim that was reason to speak out, to voice discontent was shut down by the media display by the governor and all those involved.
The leader, meant to protect the victim victimizes the victim by that singular action and it is almost an everyday act. It is important to let women come out from abusive relationship. Women must begin to own their humanity by standing up to abusive men because to Aisha, there is not so much of power- based violence as there is abuse of every form of power. A man abuses his physical power by beating up a women but in cases of women with more physical ability, physical abuse is normally absent. If a women is financially stable or richer than a man, there is usually no financial abuse. So women must empower themselves to escape abuse of any sort.
Aisha believes that even women seem to be enablers of violence because they are always the ones persuading abused women to go back to their abusers and in most cases the result is often homicide. She is however happy that the socio-religious conditioning for women to accept abuses and the men’s sense of entitlement seem to be waning with the modern generation. It cannot be business as usual.
Women must realize that if they do not come into politics, nothing would get done. Women must stop asking men to bring them to the table. Do not play the woman card, be human and fight for power because it can never be aerved a la carte. If you fail, try again. If the President could fight for twelve years to be president, then women should equally learn to fail and get up and re-contest after all he who is down need fear no fall. Women must begin to re-strategize.
Aisha recounted an instructive experience when she was campaigning for an Oby Ezekwesili presidency and her longtime customer told her he would not vote for a woman president. She immediately terminated their commercial relationship and the man realized his folly but very late.
She believes that women must shrug off the emotional blackmail from men who try to beat down women off the political space by calling female politicians prostitutes. To her, everyone must brace up to reject tags that are mere psychological abuse to tag women. Be ready to go for nocturnal meetings be ready to crate your own table.. Women must create our own tables. Do not seek for space, create your own space. The people must choose who to serve them. Aisha feels that affirmative action is very limiting.
The men use the blackmail to scare women. When a man does something wrong, other women are tarred by that but men are handled on their own merit. That has stop. Women should realize that the men always want women to go take bullets for problems caused by men during protests but when it comes to political leadership they realize that women should be seen but not heard.
Patriarchal instincts make the men to misinterprete the holy books in all religions and even the African traditional religion because the men benefit from such interpretations. It is high time the women begin to retrace their steps from the socio-religious conditionings that empower just men to be in leadership and to abuse women . Women themselves Aisha insists must show that the old ways must give room to new thinking .
Women should seize this moment .The greatest tyrants we have is our parents who often insist on the old ways . So the woman in the viral video is already brutalizing the children by doing the video in their presence and the father beating the mother in their presence is an abuse too. The idea of saying you are staying in a relationship because of the children is wrong because you damage the children in the process.
More women are the ones who persuade the victims of domestic abuse to return to the perpetrators. The governor that made a media show of a domestic abuse case must be the push women need to own their human space and fight to economically and politically empower themselves. That way, the abuse of power by the men would stop because presently they have everything to gain and may never voluntarily give up any of those powers.
The dialogue continues…
The continuing debate on national rebirth
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