Former Nigeria President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan is of the opinion that the “winners take all’ syndrome in politics has made the Nigerian political environment a very tough and dangerous option.
Jonathan made this known at a youth foundation programme hosted by the founder of TOS Foundation, Osasu Igbenedion in Abuja, adding that the scenario even made politics very difficult for women to actively participate.
He lamented that “political parties are desperate to win elections and as such will want to field the male candidates for elections at the National Assembly, Governorship and presidency where the winner takes all syndrome is the practice.
The former leader, while speaking on the factors affecting women’s participation in the country’s politics and governance, added, “Nigeria political environment is very tough and because of this option of the winner takes all, it is a very dangerous option. People feel that on the average, men are stronger in terms of struggling to win these elections.”
According to him, “They believe that considering our political environment, something that has not yet been sanitized properly, that it is easier for men to play more rugged politics with all kinds of night meetings. They felt that men can do better.
“So political parties are not very willing to send women, not that they don’t allow the woman because they pass through the primaries but since you must win elections to take advantage of the numbers in terms of proportional representation, political parties are not very willing to send women.”
The former President also noted that undue intervention of the judiciary in the selection of government leaders in the country is not good for the growth and development of the nation’s democracy.
He said, “In Nigeria today, the judiciary selects political leaders and this is not the best. The ballot papers should be the basis of selecting political leaders. If it is the judiciary that will select, it means that we are not yet there.
According to him, “You commended me for the number of women that were in my government at the center at that time. Yes, it is true.
“But the Nigerian political environment because of this option that the winner takes all, it is a very dangerous option and people feel that on the average the men are stronger in terms of struggling to win those elections.
“They believe especially in our own political environment that has not been sanitized properly that it is easier for men who are more rugged. So, political parties are not very willing to send women, not directly that they will not want to send women because they pass through the primaries.
“So during the primaries, women are at a disadvantage. I know that I personally tried to increase the number of women in the national parliament as a President but I didn’t succeed. But the appointive positions that was in the hands of the President.
“I remember sometimes I threatened the Governor: ‘if you don’t give me a woman I will come and pick a woman from your state. In that situation, they will reluctantly give me the name of a woman. Because the governors themselves want men that they believe will be political assets.
“I remember in the 18th Century in Britain when they were just struggling to come up one economist wrote a classical essay with the title: ‘planning for our grandchildren.’
“The government took that essay seriously and they began to think differently. It is not planning for somebody who is already waiting to die to survive. Somebody waiting to die can die but the younger people that are coming up are those that will change society.
“So a government needs to face the young people and women and this is the segment of society that appears to be marginalized to some extent.”