How Betty Faced Discrimination in People National Party
Betty - The Female Politician
Betty made a name as a professional and a considerable number of female nongovernmental organizations felt that she would be a good representative of the female gender in the nation’s political arena. She had several laurels to show for her achievements – national and international. Being that female politicians were not common and men dominated political positions, Betty was advised to run for elective post hence she had distinguished herself and was liked by many Nigerians. The National Career Women felt that Betty was a credible candidate. But she had two battles to fight – getting the approval and support of her husband and getting the party’s nomination to run.
Convincing male dominated People National Party of her capability to run and win election in his constituency was a Herculean task. She had spoken once or twice of moving over to Universal Party to continue her political career, where, the prejudice against female politicians was not so strong. She was a very determined young woman, and wasn’t the type that could be got rid of easily.
During one of the fierce debate in the party’s national headquarters, her opponent in the party, Babatunde said, “She wouldn’t have the intestinal fortitude to encounter opponents from other political parties.
“I think you have a point there,” Chief Bayo said.
Chief Bayo’s statement struck a blow at a cause dear to Betty’s heart. It gave fresh ammunition to those male supremacists who claim women were to naïve and childlike to deal with political issues.
“Women have a difficult enough time in this man’s world. The justice women deserve they will attain one day.” Betty turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, followed by Mrs. Peters, her friend and confidant. She had always considered the party’s refusal to accept her as a candidate as absurd – another example of masculine pride. Why shouldn’t her run?
“This is what comes of letting women have their own money. They do what they wish instead of what men tell them to do,” Babatunde stated. “The flame of freedom burns in their hearts,” he remarked with a certain degree of sarcasm.
“Chief Bayo is an unmitigated asshole, but I don’t believe that anger and foul language serves your cause, Betty. Tactful persuasion will be more effective,” Mrs. Peters advised.
Her husband did not approve of Betty’s political ambition. “Our politicians are corrupt. You cannot reform Nigeria overnight, Betty, don’t break your heart about things you can’t help.”
“I will do my best. No venture no success.”
“Politics in this country is dangerous because of the violence that many politicians engage in. They don’t like to lose. They want to win at all cost, thereby making winning an election a do-or-die affair.”
“I’ll deal with the situation when it occurs. No man owns monopoly to violence. But I will do my best to canvas for votes in a civilized manner and not indulge in violence.”
He also felt that female politicians were sluts who engaged in extra-marital affairs with their male counterparts in order to win nomination. There was every reason for Josiah to be unnerved. Betty from any angle and every detail was beautiful – rounded hips, trim waist, square little shoulders and well molded face.
When all attempts to discourage Betty failed, Josiah got into the habit of assuming that Betty was involved in extra-marital affair due to Betty’s late nights political activities. The fact that he had no proven facts had not lessened his suspicions and she knew he had tried to conceal it from her that he had been prowling the venues of political meetings and events looking for evidence that she was having an affair with one of her political colleagues.
“I don’t like the way you come home late these days. What are you up to? Is this all about politics?”
“This is an unprovoked and unwarranted accusation,” Betty said. Her cool response only made Josiah angrier. “I have been attending political meetings and that is all.”
Betty was never able to stay angry for long. Betty sat up and crossed her legs. “I’m sorry, darling,” she said cheerfully. “I shouldn’t have accused you of spying on me. It’s your turn to apologize.”
“For suspecting me. You know I love you and will never be unfaithful.”
Betty had a dangerous habit of rushing in where angels feared to tread, and this particular cause could lead her into real trouble. Somehow, God only knew how, her husband, Josiah would have to keep her away from danger.
The women in the nongovernmental organizations could not see why Betty should not be allowed to vie for an elective post. “Ambition and intelligence and the love of learning are not limited to the masculine gender,” one of the women complained.
“She is the only one of the female member of the party who is interested in elective post. It would be a pity if she were prevented from achieving her ambition only because she is a female,” another woman complained.
Betty went home straight after she walked out of the party’s headquarters. Betty was about to take her seat at the table when her maid entered the dinning room. Her look of frozen disapproval warned her, even before she spoke, that she was displeased about something.
“There is someone from the police to see you, madame. I informed him you were not receiving visitors, but he insisted.”
“Madame?” Josiah repeated. “Not me?”
“Yes, sir,” the maid replied.
:”Nonsense!” Josiah jumped up. “It must have something to do with your political activities. I told you to keep off politics,” he addressed Betty in tones of icy reproof.
“I assure you, darling nothing untoward occurred,” Betty replied. “Where is the gentleman, Grace?”
Josiah led the way and Betty and Grace followed.
The man was not in uniform. He was short, stout individual, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. Josiah came to a sudden stop. “Good God!” he exclaimed. “It’s worse than I thought. What have you done, Betty, to warrant a visit from the commissioner of police?”
It was indeed Ambrose Jones, with whom they were well acquainted socially as well as professionally. He hastened to reassure Josiah. “It’s your wife’s evidence that is wanted. The matter is of some urgency, or I would not have disturbed you at this hour.”
“Hmm,” Josiah said. “It had damned well better be urgent, Ambrose. Nothing less than cold-blooded murder would excuse your visit.”
“Now, Josiah, you are being rude,” Ambrose said. “It was good of the commissioner to come round himself instead of summoning me to his office. You ought to have deduced from his attire that he was called away from dinner party or evening social event, which would not have happened, had not the situation been serious. We are about to have dinner, Jones, take a chair, if you please, and join us.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Ola, but I’m pressed for time. If you could tell me –”
“Nothing is to be gained by haste, Commissioner.” Taking advantage, of the thunderstruck silence that followed, Betty said, “I hope you will do better with a glass of brandy.”
“I think, Mrs. Ola, that I’ll take advantage of your kind suggestion, brandy. Please!”
Josiah walked to the bar. Removing the stopper from the decanter, he splashed brandy generously into a glass. The commissioner having been supplied, Josiah poured another brandy for himself and retreated to a sofa, where he sat beside Betty. From time to time, a spasm of rage distorted Josiah’s handsome face.
As the commissioner sipped his drink, Betty continued, “However, your presence suggests that, a crime has taken place, and that that crime is connected to me, since it is me you wanted to interview. It requires no great stretch of the imagination to reach the only possible conclusion.
The commissioner, having imbibed a sufficient quantity of brandy, cleared his throat. “Mrs. Ola, I came to inform you of a startling piece of news which reached me scarcely an hour ago, and I want find out what you know about it.”
“What is the news?” Betty asked.
“Mr. Edwards, your opponent in the upcoming election was adducted this evening. The whole action had been planned with the precision of a military operation. And I leaned that you disagreed with him this afternoon about nomination to run for an elective post in your party.”
“I hope you don’t suspect I had anything to do with it?” Her brown eyes shone with tears of rage.
“I have not said that. But I will like to hear if you know anything about it?”
“I’m just hearing of it from you and I don’t have anything to do with his adduction. I totally abhor violence in any form.”
After a number of questions the commissioner was partially convinced that Betty had nothing to do with Babatunde’s adduction. “You should take steps to protect yourself,” the commissioner advised before he left.
“I have a lot of political meeting this week I shall come to your office to apply for police protection tomorrow morning.”
“You are welcome.”
Josiah interrupted Betty with a vehement remark, “Oh, come, Betty. You surely don’t intend to resume your political activities as if nothing had happened?”
“Yes. I do not intend,” said Betty, “to allow anyone, male or female; friend or enemy in human form, to stop my political ambition.”
Babatunde was released on the fifth day after a ransom of ten million naira was collected. After he regained his freedom he decided to quit all political activities for some years. Betty was sent for by the party leaders and told to take up the nomination as there was no longer an opponent.
“When I think of other women, whose aspirations are high and who have no opportunities, I am inspired to pursue my political career with vigor. Women need to be heard. Women need to be educated. Literacy is the first step toward emancipation.”
“You feel what all decent individuals feel when they contemplate the unfairness of our political arrangement. Chief Bayo agreed with an affectionate smile at Betty. “You are one of the few who cares to act on your feelings, so our party has decided to give you a chance to proof yourself.”
Betty was very happy. She had jumped the first hurdle. The joy did not last because she narrowly survived an assassination attempt.