Welcome! This is HNR. Mrs. MojisolaOluwa Alli-Macaulay
Mojisola Alli-Macaulay, member representing Amuwo Odofin LCDA in the Lagos State House of Assembly, started her foray into politics as a councillor between 2010 and 2013. She defeated an incumbent to win the Lagos State house of assembly seat in the 2019 elections. In this encounter with Hannah Ajakaiye, she shares her experience as a female politician navigating Nigeria’s tough political terrain.
BEFORE joining politics, Alli-Macaulay worked as a broadcaster at Radio Lagos Eko FM. She moved to Television Continental where she worked as a senior marketing executive in the special project unit. It was from here that she was inspired to pursue a career in politics owing to her ambition to change society for the better.
“Joining politics was destiny calling. Naturally, I never liked injustice and I’ve always questioned systems. I like an ambiance of civility and order because I’ve been to places around the world and seen how people live. When the opportunity came to contest as a councillor, I won and emerged as the deputy house leader of the Amuwo Odofin legislative council,” she told The Nation.
Nigeria has often been ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for female representation in parliament. Discrimination, lack of will and shortage of female candidates are factors aiding shrinking spaces for women in the country’s political landscape. Sharing thoughts on her participation in the 2019 election which brought her to her current position as a parliamentarian at the state level, Macaulay recalled a bitter-sweet experience.
“I had to work very hard to break all boundaries, it was really difficult. I had to surmount antagonism from members of my party and also work on being accepted by the public. Elections don’t come easy as there are always issues and challenges and being a woman, it’s always a different story. I had confidence in myself and that kept me going,” she stated.
In the Nigerian political sphere, politics and money are like Siamese twins. Although nomination and expression of interest form is sometimes made free for women; that does not make for an exemption from the astronomical amount of money spent on campaigns. The sad trend is turning governance in Africa’s biggest democracy into a ‘venture’.
“When you emerge as a candidate to run for office, the first thing people ask you is how much do you have? If somebody says good morning to you and you respond, the next thing they are asking for is money. I had to put some of my belongings on distress sales because I constantly needed money,” she lamented.
Juggling care duties with the demands of a political career in a society steeped in patriarchy is a factor which often debars women from seeking political offices in Nigeria. For some, it’s a hard choice between the home and public service. As a married woman with children, Alli-Macaulay confessed that it is important for married women who want to contest elections to first get the blessings of their husbands.
“You have to get the blessings of your husband first because you are going to face a lot of challenges and he’ll be your rock. Once you have a rock behind you, you can face anything, and even confront the devil. Some women feel they can do it alone, no way!” she said.
Her admonition for women aspiring for public office is to start from a lower cadre, as it affords them the opportunity to learn a step at a time. Recalling her encounter with a woman with less than six months experience in politics aiming to contest a seat in the parliament; she said women often make a mistake by aspiring for high positions once they join politics.
“Sometimes you don’t have to start from a high position, you can start from being a supervisory councillor so that you can have a learning curve. Learn the tricks of the trade, get to understand what politics is about, have the opportunity to be accepted first,” she counsels.
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