Appointing a Female Chief of Staff Will Certainly Elevate President Buhari – Gender Experts

By Ogechi Okorie

Abuja – As behind the scene jostling continues in the on-going tussle and quest for a new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Presidency sources have tipped Dr. Hajo Sani, OON as the next replacement to the late Mallam Abba Kyari.

Meanwhile gender experts have said appointing a female to the role will be a ground-breaking, glass ceiling-smashing achievement which will certainly elevate President Buhari to a new level of greatness and possibly recoup much of his credibility in the eyes of women both in Nigeria and beyond.

Inside sources in the presidency disclosed that President Buhari might not sustain further crises that have sandwiched him between his wife, Hajia Aisha and his closest associate and uncle, Mamman Daura. Consequently, the president is now searching for somebody who is very close to the wife in other to avert future crisis.

The sources further revealed that presently, all attention and advice have drifted to one side, which is that of the First Lady as the other side has obviously, failed Nigerians due to greed.

This became very evident especially when some facts began to emerge that the president was highly disappointed and full of regrets over certain developments that have since dragged the presidency into some very embarrassing matters. “Mamman Daura does not see him like before”, the sources stated.

Speaking on Hajo Sani’s qualifications with regards to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, the sources who are close to the Presidency, described Hajia Sani as “an excellent woman and silent achiever in every sense of the word.

“She is a very educated woman with an admirable capacity to deliver on set goals. An educationist, author and policy analyst of a rare style, she served as the second minister of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development from 1997 to 1998. After her national assignment, she founded Women and National Development (WAND), an NGO that focuses on the education of the girl- child as antidote to the numerous problems and obstacles facing women, and was elected Secretary General of the West African Women Association (WAWA), in 2001.

“Hajia Hajo Sani joined the Society for Family Health (SFH) in 2003; the largest NGO focusing on Public Health issues in Nigeria until her appointment as Senior Special Assistant, SSA to the President on Administration In 2015 till date. A PhD degree holder in Public Administration and Policy Analysis, she is also a prolific writer and author of several books.”

Nigeria has never had a female Chief of Staff to the president.

Dr Liz Ewumi a gender expert and sociology lecturer noted: “It is a promising development for the country that a woman is even being considered for such a role in a patriarchy. More heart-warming is the fact that the individual in question, Dr Hajo Sani OON, is a highly educated and accomplished woman who has held high profile positions including as a cabinet minister and currently as a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration. I honestly hope it comes through for her and for Nigerian women too.”

She further pointed out that the appointment of the Chief of Staff to the President is a matter entirely at the discretion of the President. “It is not a Constitutional role, it is more of a housekeeping role.

“Secondly, it is under President Buhari that the office of the Chief of Staff has for the first time since independence attracted such prime attention, as it did under its last occupant, the late Mallam Abba Kyari.

“Thirdly, appointing a female to the role will be a ground-breaking, glass ceiling-smashing achievement which will certainly elevate President Buhari to a new level of greatness and possibly recoup much of his credibility in the eyes of women both in Nigeria and beyond.

“Recall that quite early in his tenure, he made that unfortunate and ill-judged remark about his wife’s role being in the other room. Appointing a female, particularly one with all the requisite qualifications and experience, against the odds, will not only redeem his own legacy but set a whole new benchmark in gender diversity for leaders in Nigeria and beyond.”
Other women activists equally view this as a welcome development if it sails through. They however, expressed concern that one of the promises of President Buhari during his presidential campaign was to make his cabinet gender inclusive yet till date, low representation of women continues to trail political office in Nigeria.
He told Nigerians that women will make up 35 percent of his cabinet as part of his commitment to take the country to the ‘Next Level’. Only seven women made the ministerial nominees list of 43. About 16 per cent. This was no different from the six women out of 42 nominees he appointed in 2015.
Although the proportions of women in elected positions increased slightly between 1999 and 2007, from an average of 2.3% across both houses of legislature to 7.8%, these small gains had stopped by 2011.

As at the 2015 election, Nigeria had 20 women out of 359 in its lower house (5.6%) and 7 out of 109 in its upper house (6.4%). This put the country at 180th in the world (“Women in Parliaments: World Classification,” 2019).

Following the 2019 elections, women made up 7.3% of the Nigerian Senate and 3.1% of the House of Representatives.

No state governors are women (NWTF, 2019). The number of women serving as ministers and appointed executives is also very low, with 11 of the 636 appointed executives between 1999 and 2015 being women (17.5%) and 15% of ministers in the same period (NCWD, 2016).

The World Economic Forum (2018) Global Gender Gap report measures ‘political empowerment’ in terms of the ratios of women to men in ministerial and parliamentary positions, as well as number of years as head of state over the last fifty years. Out of a total of 149 countries, Nigeria is ranked as having the 139th largest gender gap in ‘political empowerment’.

According to Dr Emeka Okengwu, an economist and public affairs analyst, what should matter is whether the candidate possesses the qualifications and experience for the job. “Dr Hajo Sani has both the experience and strength of character for the job.”

From South Africa, Bonnie Feadi opined: “I think women should be given a chance. Men generally have failed the country where empathy is needed and alongside sound economic judgment.”

In the United States, the White House Chief of Staff is an Assistant to the President of the United States.

The Chief of Staff oversees the Executive Office of the President (EOP) of the United States. This office was created in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and is responsible for a variety of critical functions in support of the president’s work and agenda.

The duties of the White House Chief of Staff vary greatly in each administration, according to the needs and desires of each president. The position typically plays both a managerial and advisory role that encompasses several important functions:

• Select and supervise key White House staff
• Control access to the Oval Office and the president
• Manage communications and information flow
• Negotiate with Congress, executive branch agencies, and external political groups to implement the president’s agenda.

In fulfilling these duties, the Chief of Staff oversees and coordinates the efforts of the following offices within the EOP and White House Office:

• Council of Economic Advisers
• Council on Environmental Quality
• Executive Residence
• National Security Staff
• Office of Administration
• Office of Management and Budget
• Office of National Drug Control Policy
• Office of Science and Technology Policy
• Office of the United States Trade Representative
• Office of the Vice President
• Domestic Policy Council
• National Security Advisor
• National Economic Council
• Office of Cabinet Affairs
• Office of the Chief of Staff
• Office of Communications
• Office of Digital Strategy
• Office of the First Lady
• Office of Legislative Affairs
• Office of Management and Administration
• Oval Office Operations
• Office of Presidential Personnel
• Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs
• Office of Scheduling and Advance
• Office of the Staff Secretary
• Office of the White House Counsel

The average term-of-service for a White House Chief of Staff is less than three years. Many White House Chiefs of Staff are former politicians and many continue their political careers in other senior roles.

Beginning with George Washington, each president employed a private secretary, but it was not until President Buchanan’s administration in 1857 that Congress created an official office called the “Private Secretary at the White House” and funded the position. During President McKinley’s administration, the official Secretary to the President was designated.

The Secretary to the President was a respected government office held by highly talented men and considered worthy of cabinet rank and an oath of office. The role combined personal and professional assignments that were highly delicate and required great skill and discretion. In contrast, the Appointment’s Secretary served to control access to the president and manage the president’s schedule.

In 1939, during President Roosevelt’s second administration, the foundation of the modern White House office was created. Congress, at President Roosevelt’s request, approved the creation of the Executive Office of the President, which reported directly to the President of the United States.

In 1946, the position of Assistant to the President of the United States was established and charged to oversee the affairs of the White House. In 1953, President Eisenhower re-designated the position as the White House Chief of Staff. This new system was not fully adopted immediately, however, as President Kennedy and President Johnson retained Appointments Secretaries.

The Chief of Staff became a permanent fixture of White House administrations beginning with the Nixon administration in 1968. Every president since has designated a White House Chief of Staff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *