One of the biggest news stories of the last week was the surprise suspension of Maria Ude Nwachi. Nwachi is a lawmaker, representing Afikpo North in Ebonyi State, one of the few lawmakers who was voted into office purely because she was strongly supported by her constituents. She is by no means a ‘regular’ female lawmaker, her entire tenure in the Ebonyi state House of Assembly has been trailed with unfounded but persistent rumours that she ran a prostitution trafficking ring abroad and made her wealth that way. Afikpo chick as she is more commonly known has not let that or the patriarchal gaze of her fellow lawmakers stop her from living fully, photography being one of her main interests. Nwachi is very hands on about her interests and routinely is photographed on photography walks in plain clothing, without an entourage or security.
It turns out that the male members of the Ebony House of Assembly have long seen Nwachi’s decision to wilfully pursue her hobby in photography as demeaning to her office as a legislator and disgraceful to the house itself. They have issued a series of warnings to her, and when she refused to comply with them owing to how ridiculous they are. In a motion filed by Hon. Joseph Nwaboshi and seconded by Hon. (mrs) Okpo Franca, both lawmakers pushed for Nwachi to be suspended from the house for a few weeks as punishment for her refusal to abandon photography which she tentatively uses in her grass roots activism.
It is quite interesting that in that same time, Senator Dino Melaye has featured in a music video by rapper Kach, who is the son of petroleum minister Ibe Kachikwu, a song that praises Melaye’s wealth and mocks other Nigerians. This is not even considering his feuds with the governor of his state Alhaji Yahaya Bello and the videos he has put out mocking his senator, or his extravagance or celebrity mongering. No one suspended Hon. Gudaje for his series of embarrassing interviews where he was exposed as uncultured. Ms. Nwachi seems to be the only one whose productive past time is worthy of punishment.
Nwachi’s office as a lawmaker should offer her power and immunity to pursue her interests and render her immune to outside interference, instead it has opened her life to scrutiny from men who would ordinarily have no say in her actions and is limiting her ability to her life as fully as possible.
Until Dino Melaye and Hon. Ganduje are also suspended for ’embarrassing’ their prospective lawmaking offices, we can call this what it is, another round of thinly veiled misgogyny.