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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Brothers and Sisters

So I am winding down for the weekend but I am not as excited about the end of a work week, maybe because I miss my fun bobs pals, one is climbing a mountain in Taraba and the other is presenting her collection at a fashion show in Senegal.

Yesterday, I the attended the celebration of the 15th anniversary o THE NEWS magazine. The quartet of Kunle Ajibade, Femi Ojudu, Bayo Onanuga and Dapo Olorunyomi remain my journalistic heroes through thick and thin. I am particularly fond Mr. B (Bayo Onanuga) who is one of the most decent and honourable human beings walking God's soil. Some of the best hands in the industry have passed through the fires at the ICNL (parent company of THE NEWS, defunct TEMPO and PM NEWS) and their very successful alumni are scattered across an impressive range of endeavours and countries. The story of THE NEWS is documented in the scholarly Wale Adebanwi's new book.

Even as I demurely celebrated with my brothers (according to Mrs. Asiwaju;-)) it occurred to me once again that the Nigerian media space is so very testosterone driven in a way that is almost extinct in the context of present realities. I will not be so mean spirited as to accuse the boys of holding or pushing the women back (although I could slap a certain oily sexist professor who insists on acting like a cross between Dauda the sexy guy and a Sunday school teacher in buba ditto the idiotic advert executive who cluelessly pats my back with his patronizing my dears urgh!) but the media like politics can be so structured that it is very hard for women to thrive.

This is not a whinny cop out but the truth is that like politics, Nigerian media (a curious animal with dual personalities of bravery and moral bankruptcy) is often almost unknowingly unidirectional and dinosaur like requiring the sort of wily foxiness that most women are not good at.

I guess this is true of most industries in a restructuring democracy (optimism people) such as ours but I can only speak of the media, politics and sports where I have experience.

Look at what is happening with some of the women in government present and past. Professor Nike Grange is a seasoned health academic and professional and even her worse critics are loath to submit that she is corrupt. However she has to work in an environment of endemic corruption without the required experience of dealing with civil servants men and women who have perfected the art of graft. She paid for her naivety with loss of her job but at least she was honourable enough to resign. Remember the housing minister Mrs. Osomo? Now cue in madam due process Dr Ezekwesili and Dr Okonjo Iwealla, who also resigned as minister as some point. I don't think anyone could reasonably doubt their qualification and commitment in office but as the ongoing probe shows, these women are perhaps only just discovering or shall we say openly alluding to just how corrupt the system they operated under was. This situation is true for men as it is for women but it is more difficult for women to operate in and it is not only a hindrance but also a deterrent.

The fact is that Nigeria will not completely leverage the full talents, abilities and skills of her female population under a system that is so unfriendly, unnatural and near impossible for women. This is evident in the lack of depth, richness and flavour in many spheres of endeavour that a rich gender balance would have ensured.

Hopefully the probe will be followed by prosecution of all indicted men and women so that gradually we might begin to evolve to system in public and professional lives which favours knowledge, ability and skills above wily cronyism and corruption. It is only in a fair, just and equitable system that most especially women can thrive.


'Yar Mama said...

It is to the credit of the women ministers that they resign honourably( with the exception of Osomo and Etteh) rather than wait till they are kicked out. The Nigerian civil service seems to be a place where stellar reputations and careers go to die...

Anonymous said...

Funmi, pls dont compare Nike Grange to Ngozi ..... Ngozi resigned with dignity...

Nike Grange had to be forced to go. As far as I know, this investigation began in December 2007, why did she not have the honour to resign then ???

Also, the Minister of State for Health also "resigned"...Is he not a man?

Honestly, corruption is a deterrent for both decent men and women to get involved in politics. Nike Grange in my own opinion was very silly !!! There is no how 300million naira will be unspent and you as Minister would be aware of it and they tell you that normally it is distributed and your alarm bells wont ring particularly as your Oga Yaddy had declared that unspent money should not be spent/shared.

The lesson is that we must continue to be cautious in all we do and no matter how old we are, one act can diminish all our previous achievements..

Titilayo said...

"She paid for her naivety with loss of her job but at least she was honourable enough to resign." - Funmi, with all due....that is the most is the most sycophantic and condescending statement I have ever read. It’s a shame that gender seems to be an excuse for her incompetence. The woman failed, yes not unlike many of the incompetent men we have in government. But what has gender got to do with her? She simply failed and paid for it. As women lets not make excuses for those who have failed, I would rather we praised those who succeed. Dr. Dora Akunyili is also a woman..

TheAfroBeat said...

First time on here. Great blog!

iNTERESTING take on the testosterone-driven world (media, politics, sports, public and private sectors), i wouldn't say this is unique to Nigeria in any way. I will say that there definitely have to be a few sacrificial lambs who forge the way for woman-kind and we've got a few now (Akunyili, Ezekwesili,among others) but most certainly need a lot more.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or have I just read a rather sexist piece ... Admittedly, it is still early in the morning and I may still be half asleep.

Lets not re-write history, Nike Grange DID NOT resign honourably, she was KICKED OUT... Is it not a co-incidence that on the same day she allegedly resigned, her Minister of State also resigned, the govt also suspended all the civil servants involved ....

Jeremy of naijablog even blogged the reports in the newspapers that Yar'Adua was going to fire her last month, the resignation story is just to save face.

Atinuke said...

I was quite disappointed with some of what Oby and Ngozi said ... I really expected much better from them!

Secondly, even if I take your point that Dr Grange resigned honourably although we all know that Yaddy directed that she and her deputy to resign ... what would be say about Dr Grange's Personal Assistant who was part of the plot and is also a woman?? What would we say about our distinguished Senator Obasanjo Bello who is also a woman and is alleged to have received 10m and all she did was tell security to bar journalists from her office..

These women are shaming us now. Thank God for the Doras, Ifueko, Allisons etc.

Anonymous said...

FI, what is stopping the ladies from actually coming together to create an online magazine or even a live newspaper/magazine or anything that will serve as a platform for young female talents to be nurtured, mentored and let their talent flourish..

I wont buy the excuse that men have all the resources in Nigeria. We women need to stop spending an arm and a leg on expensive aso ebis and to appear on thisday style... my 2 cents

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ all, as l said over and again in the piece, this system is near impossible for all, men and women, especially the women and how "righteous" you remain might unfortunately be dependent on the leadership style of the number one. That said l did not intend to exenorate Grange, just point to potential traps for the unwary.

Anonymous said...

Funmi, I didn't know you are a blogger. Stumbled on your blog today. Thanks for the kind words about me. I now know where to catch your thoughts on our macho system.

Whole Truths said...

An inept and criminally wicked leadership, combined with a barely literate and knowledgeable electorate can only be a recipe for a failed state! These people too like to 'Thief'! Madam did not resign! She was faced with the prospect of being fired, 'Biodun Shobanjo style! Funmi!! Stop being a sexist feminist!! The woman na Thief!