Who imagined that a woman would emerge as the gubernatorial candidate of a strong political party like the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the north-eastern state of Taraba? Taraba state is one among the northern states highly known for women apathy in politics. As a matter of fact, women participation in politics in Nigeria is apalling when compared to their counterparts in the western world. Even within Nigeria, the northerners who are predominantly Muslims, believe that a woman is subordinate to the man, and her existence, work, decisions and actions, are supposed to be at the pleasure and ratification of her husband. Among the largely uneducated northern population, such believe is so crude that a woman who actively participates in politics is seen as a "loose woman without piety". Apart from plateau state which once had a female deputy Governor, no northern state ever enjoyed that feat. Worse still, there are only a handful women in the National Assembly who are from the north. The same thing applies to State Houses of Assembly in Northern Nigeria. To sum it, women marginalization in the political circle in northern Nigeria knows no bound.

Against all odds, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, popularly referred to as Mama Taraba, broke the jinx when she became the first female senator to contest and win a senatorial seat (Taraba North) in the state, by scuttling the re-election bid of the then incumbent senator, and defeating the immediate past Governor of the state. As a senator, she delivered the dividends of democracy to her people, who could knock at her door any time with their problems. She added colour to the political office and and restored the faith of Tarabans in the office. As a result of the amazing love she got in return, her gubernatorial ambition received widespread support. The former judicial worker became a senator under the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), but haven perceived that she will be a victim of the imposition spree on-going in the ruling party nationwide, she decamped to the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and later to the APC from where she contested the 2015 gubernatorial election.

Sen. Aisha's chances were brightened by the decline in internal party democracy within the PDP, which led to the imposition of the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the state. As expected, dissatisfied party members decamped to the APC and worked towards her victory at the polls. On another note, Taraba state was not exempted from the other northern states blown by the wind of "change", and Aisha was the alternative, or the "change" clamored for. And the last straw that broke the carmel's back was the victory of Gen. Buhari at the presidential election. His victory signified the victory of all the candidates contesting the gubernatorial election under the All Progressive Congress in the north. Little wonder APC cleared 16 out of the 19 northern states, many of which have been under the rule of PDP since 1999.

Thus, Aisha gave in a good fight and for the first time in sixteen years, the opposition came close to snatching power from the ruling PDP in Taraba state. This is further buttressed by the fact that Taraba gubernatorial election conducted on April 11th was declared inconclusive because the margin between her and the winning PDP candidate was meager and not up to the number of cancelled votes. This called for a re-run which was scheduled and duly conducted on the 25th of April. Darius emerged as winner with a margin of not up to a 100,000 votes. However, Mama Taraba attributed her defeat to the irregularities in the electoral process, and declared her intention of challenging the results at the tribunal.

From the just concluded election, one can verily assert that Nigeria is yet to overcome it's challenge of electoral irregularities, even with the improvement witnessed as a result of the introduction of card readers. In the light of this, Buhari's victory at the polls was not without irregularities, but which were not sufficient to lead to the cancellation of the results. Jonathan understood this, that was why he called and congratulated him, and refused to challenge the result of the election in court. This trend was emulated by defeated senators and Governors. Thus, the 2015 elections ushered in a new Era of politics without bitterness where losers accept defeat in good faith. Besides, from the presidential and National Assembly elections conducted in Taraba state, PDP was on lead. This means that whatever the grievance of Sen. Aisha and her party supporters, Tarabans are content with the PDP as their party. To this end, irrespective of any minor irregularity, Aisha should know that the majority of Tarabans are in support of PDP and the candidature of Ishaku Darius.

When will a woman be elected as a Governor in Nigeria? Tallen contested for the Gubernatorial seat in Plateau state, but couldn't muster any reasonable votes. The same thing happened to Gbemisola Saraki of Kwara state. Aisha came on board and her election was keenly contested. Darius' victory was not given him on a plate of gold. Thus, she came, she saw and she almost conquered. Her courage, confidence, and doggedness, serves as a catalyst for greater women participation in Nigerian politics. To many, she has not lost, as her victory is only delayed. I believe that in no long time, a woman Governor will emerge in Nigeria, and that will be the time that her victory would be perfected, as Sen. Aisha has given the women folk a hope that what a man can do, a woman can do same.

About the Author:
 Author Photo Bandawa writes from Abuja, Nigeria. You can follow on twitter @NBandawa

E-mail: ntayibandawa@gmail.com