Opinion: Stella Oduah – Ethics, gender and corruption

by Adeolu Ademoyo


So the Stella Oduah-gate is the latest illustration of the inequity, stench and putrid unity of patriarchy and matriarchy in Nigeria’s public affairs. And because she was openly caught in the act pants down Princess Stella Oduah is only the most recent public face of that immorality.

The allegation that Princess Stella Oduah, the minister of aviation is implicated in the armored car corruption where 255 million naira of public money has been allegedly looted has raised a different issue, which the Nigerian public may overlook in haste. That issue is the question of ethics, equity in gender representation and corruption.

Thus the question is: with and beyond Stella Oduah-gate what kinds of ethical questions ought to and how best to advance gender equity in Nigerian public affairs? Are all forms of “gender” equity morally just?

Gender equity in public and private matters is a legitimate and justified rejection of patriarchy –both in substance and form where patriarchy is the male domination over society’s values and resources. But though we accept without reservation that   gender equity is a legitimate rejection of patriarchy, we often over look matriarchy, which is an obverse of patriarchy in the sense in which it is female domination (where it happens) over society’s values and resources. No doubt we need to pay closer attention to the details of the two for they do manifest differently when they do. But let me quickly clarify here that while some women are matriarchs, not all women are matriarchs. Also, while some men are patriarchs, not all men are patriarchs.

Nigeria ranks low globally in the area of gender equity, a lack of equity politically and economically structured against women. Therefore the quest for gender equity ought to be a legitimate agenda of rational and moral men and women in Nigeria.  However, in view of the gradually proven allegation against the aviation minister Stella Oduah this may be where the consensus ends and we firmly draw the line especially with regard to what gender equity means and the ethical face of this otherwise legitimate equity.

There are two explanations for gender equity-one is genetic and the other is sociological and by extension for me spiritual.  I accept fully the social and spiritual explanations for there are moral, political and economic dimensions to them. This is because gender domination of women is about power and its structure in society, and God cannot create human for domination of any type, for God creates us to cooperate and flourish with equity.

On the other hand I had always rejected and still reject the genetic explanation of gender equity.  The gradually proven allegation of graft and corruption against Stella Oduah and other so-called high profile women in President Jonathan’s government who sit tight barefacedly on corruption-given their protection by the President- in spite of the open revelation of graft and corruption against them has strengthened my rejection of the genetic explanation.

The genetic explanation defends the allocation of values and skills based on biology. In other words the false argument is that women would be better leaders and managers just because they are women. This is not saying that women and in this case Stella Oduah got her job as minister on the basis of the genetic explanation. What I am saying is that there is the presumption that because women have the so-called  “milk of kindness” in their hearts they will be better leaders.

The error in this view is proven by the high profile corruption against our high profile women in President Jonathan’s government-for the evil and sickening nature of these women’s corruption is radically antithetical to the so-called “milk of kindness” women presumably have as a result of their biological constitution.

On a positive note however there are cases, which contradict the genetic explanation beyond our Nigerian shores. For example, beyond the local, today, I wager to say that Mrs. Hillary Clinton if she will run is the best candidate for the American presidency. America will be making a huge mistake if she runs and she is not elected, though I think Americans are smart enough to catch Mrs. Clinton’s non-biological impeccable socially derived and tested leadership credentials such that Mrs. Clinton will definitely win if she runs. She will be bringing to the presidency the finest political, leadership and moral credentials of all time. But to appeal to her gender as the reason why she is the best and should be the next American president will be silly and bluntly put unintelligent. So those instances- both negative and positive – put to rest genetic explanation with regard to the intersection of gender and leadership qualities.

Sadly, Nigerian politics and politicians beat a different path. Like all things because we never make the ethical prior to the political this affects the way we perceive gender equity and its representation. For us everything is “political”. And in this case that so-called   “political” in Nigeria is defined by how to share resources and loot them.  Alliances are formed in that process; one of which is the unity of patriarchy and matriarchy in Nigerian public space. Public theft and the consistent looting and raiding of public treasury by men and women define that unity.

And given that we never advert our minds to the possibility of a different paradigm where we see things from the ethical standpoint, Nigerian male politicians and so-called rulers consciously look for the worst out of our women as trophies of “equity” in gender representation. Please do a fact check on President Jonathan’s government and confirm for yourself.  That someone whose ministerial position speaks to gender equity (which is a legitimate quest) will sink so abysmally and shamelessly into petty and un-dignifying corrupt practices must alarm anyone.

So the Stella Oduah-gate is the latest illustration of the inequity, stench and putrid unity of patriarchy and matriarchy in Nigeria’s public affairs. And because she was openly caught in the act pants down Princess Stella Oduah is only the most recent public face of that immorality. In other words, the immoral and putrid network –fed by the indecent alliance between patriarchy and matriarchy-runs deep in the Jonathan presidency. Unfortunately, this has shown that female politicians are proving to be  better  and more deviously creative in  the un-ethical practices of  male politicians.

However, despite the unholy alliance between patriarchy and matriarchy, which has presented an immoral and dubious face of gender equity by bringing forth the worst of our women to public affairs, gender equity is a legitimate and necessary agenda. This is because it is a necessary and given ethical thing to do. No argument. No quibbling. It is just the right thing. But in doing this, genetic justification is unhelpful because it self-serving, and is capable of serving all that is unethical in society.

Therefore, the true gender equity must be driven by an ethical project in public affairs, where the ethical is made to trump the “political” as presently poorly conceived in Nigeria. This way the dubious and unholy alliance of patriarchy and matriarchy, which produced Princess Stella Oduah and the Stella Oduah-gates and other gender, induced corrupt gates right inside President Jonathan’s Aso Rock and under his belly and watch will be truly subverted and rested.




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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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