First, it was in 1910, when the women of Agbaja, Kogi State stayed away from their homes – for a month in protest due to suspicion among them that some had been secretly killing pregnant women. Their collective absence pushed the village elders to take action to address their concerns.
Again in 1924, 3000 women in Calabar took to the streets to protest a market toll imposed by the colonial authorities. In the southwest of Nigeria female organizations such as the Lagos Women’s Association., Nigerian Women’s Party and Abeokuta Women’s Union were formidable pressure groups that talked the talk and walked the walk.
Then came November 1929 when what is now famously known as the women’s war or the Aba Women’s Riot started. This protest encompassed women from six ethnic groups (Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Efik, Ijaw, and Igbo.
On December 2, 1929, more than ten thousand women demonstrated at Oloko, Bende against the restriction of women in government, the enumeration of men, women, and livestock by the acting district officer. This event at Oloko was to spread to most parts of the Eastern region within the next four weeks in the Ogu Umunwanyi or Women’s War of 1929.
From November to December, women from Owerri to Calabar looted factories and destroyed Native Court buildings and properties along with the property of members of the Native Court. The modus operandi of the protests also involved ‘Sit-in’ by the women. During the events, many warrant chiefs were forced to resign and 16 Native Courts were affected most of which were destroyed. It was the first major revolt by women in West Africa.
In 1930 the colonial government abolish the system of warrant chieftains and appointed women to the Native Court System. These reforms were built upon by the African women, and have been seen as a prelude to the emergence of mass African Nationalism. The independence we see in Africa today happened because the women of Nigeria challenged the status quo a long way before the men found their voices.
Dear Nigerian Women,
It is 2021 and the evil in our land is far much worse than what you fought for in 1929. The burden of the Colonial Masters is a walk in the park compared to the burden of our current rulers.
This country you nurtured is being desecrated as the blood of the innocent freely flows on our streets. Unborn children are hacked from their mother’s wombs, kids are beheaded, mothers are raped and slaughtered. Your men, your fathers, your husbands, your sons are dying in their thousands. They gather on social media sing lullabies of yesteryears. Their lands have been stolen, their crops and possessions destroyed as they relocate to Camps for IDPs. Your children have to pay back trillions of dollars in ill-advised loans.
Dear Mothers, hundreds of children are in kidnappers’ dens while your men pretend, they don’t know. How can any leader, man, or woman freely sleep when their children are in captivity. Only a mother’s love can dare this evil. Only a mother’s love can confront this monster. Only a mother’s love can defy the division of tribe, tongue, and religion. Your love is a universal language that man can never understand.
Dear Women of Nigeria, rise up in your millions and fight for us. Fight for the cowards you call father, husband, son. Fight for your daughters so they are not taken into captivity. The women of Agbaja stayed away from home to protect pregnant women. The women of Aba shut down the town to protect the widows, children, their husbands, and their families. You have done it before, and you can do it again.
Maybe as you lead, your man will come out from their hiding places. It is now THE WOMENS’ WAR. Shut your kitchen. Stop the school run. Shut him out of your room. Amplify your voices on social media.
Protest if your priest is preaching anything other than the children in captivity. Shout down the Imam who doesn’t condemn this evil. Let your government know that there are women in the land. Drown out every other noise on social media with your protest. Let the world know your breast aches for your child in captivity.
Let Buhari know that your nine months of labor is a lifetime of love and care. It is your war. Fight.”
A member of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria who is now resident in the United States of America was sufficiently provoked by the video to deliver the following indictment:
“Isn’t ironic that men willingly destroy and prevent women involvement, but want to cry back home to their mothers to help fix it like little boys. And then after it is fixed they forcibly take it back and destroy it again. It is never in the nature of the woman to allow what she has built to be destroyed. Men do that all the time.”
Be that as it may, we have a sacred duty that compels us to listen carefully to the women (especially women accountants). They wield enormous power and influence, especially at night !! We would be shocked by the number of coups d’etat that owe their origin to the wives who challenged their husbands to prove that they are not weaklings or lackeys who are forever content to remain as number 2; 3; or 4 in the hierarchy of power and privilege.
We cannot dismiss with a wave of the hand the claim, by one of our leading female chartered accountants, that Nigeria’s problems have acquired spiritual dimensions and that what we require most urgently are powerful prayers to neutralize the demons and monsters who are driving us at full speed to anarchy and chaos. They have even resorted to assassinations ahead of the 2023 elections. What are at stake are the soul, spirit, and mind of our nation.
What women accountants are expected to bring to the task is a crusading spirit with the healing touch to a nation that has been seduced by power and self-destruction. Instead of peace, prosperity, and security what is on offer are pain and sorrow inflicted on a daily basis – in linear dimensions until recently when impunity and mendacity went nuclear.
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN] must be in the vanguard along with other concerned professionals to pull our nation back from imploding or cascading into the ravine of disintegration. Our votes must count. In the meantime, SWAN is entitled to call for a ceasefire before matters deteriorate any further.
At the personal level, while I was at KPMG for thirty-four years I had the privilege of working with female chartered accountants so I can claim that I know the staff members of SWAN are made of. I cannot mark my own scorecard but I believe that our firm was transparently upright, utterly professional, and always acted in what we believe was in the public interest. Of court, there is a price to pay. I have neither pension nor gratuity but I am thankful that my reputation and integrity are intact, otherwise, I would not have been invited as the Guest of Honour. The KPMG brand is now being brandished by the former Arthur Anderson of Euron fame. What is important is not to abandon faith or lose hope in your chosen profession.
In his book: “A Stranger In Their Midst”, retired Justice Charles E. Archibong (ex-St. Gregory’s College) delivered a stinging verdict of disdain and disillusionment on his profession – law and the judiciary.
“Why should a judge direct proceedings even in criminal trials when he is, or should be an integral part of the criminal justice system? Sit back and get counsel to waste your time and the resources of their clients. The government particularly does not count costs. What is the judge’s concern? He has been bought and paid for by the public purse. A judge’s job consists largely of “being there, just being there.” You show your hand at the end. Maybe in three years’ time or maybe never as you are posted out and another judge starts the matter de novo. No matter how much time whoever takes to get nowhere, you do not hurry things along. You keep your trap shut. You are paid to allow lawyers and parties before you waste your time and that of others and oversee a misallocation of public resources without twitching a muscle. It is called judicial composure. Your pension depends on it.”