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Does Kano have the highest women inclusion in governance as Ganduje claims?

Claim: During the official commissioning of the Office of the First Lady of Kano State, an official statement posted on the official Facebook page of the Kano State Governor claims that there are more women inclusion in governance in Kano State than any other state in the country. 

Does Kano have the highest women inclusion in governance as Ganduje claims?

Findings show that Lagos and Kwara states take the lead in terms of number of cabinet composition and of percentage in relation to the  National Gender Policy of 35% affirmative action of women in public governance and leadership. Deploying this as the major yardstick, we conclude that the claim is false. 

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Kano State governor, Dr. Umar Ganduje, commissioned in August the Office of the First Lady in the state  as part of his commitment to improving the life of women, strengthening their political inclusion and participation in governance.

The commissioned Office of the Wife of the Governor is located at Ten Chalets section of the Government House, Kano.

He said the office is dedicated to women development in Kano and as compliment to the effort of his wife, Prof. Hafsat Abdullahi Ganduje who, according to the governor, works tirelessly for their empowerment.

In a statement on his Facebook page titled Office Of The Wife Of The Governor: When Readiness To Serve Came Before Office,  shortly after the ceremony, the state government claimed that there are more women included in governance in Kano State than any other state in the country. 

“Prof Hafsat Umar Ganduje has been at the forefront of campaigns for women inclusion in governance. The result is that there are more women in governance in Kano State than any other state in the country,” the statement reads in part. 


This fact-checker tried to reach the state government to contextualise the meaning of its assertion that there are more women in governance in Kano than any other state, but the effort was abortive as calls put through to the Press Secretary to the Kano State Government, Abba Anwar, were not answered. Follow up SMS and WhatsApp messages were also not responded to.

However, Fatima Musa Aliyu, the Acting Executive Director, Bridge Connect Africa Initiative (BCAI) , an organization focusing on women’s rights and girl child education among others, explains that indicators for women inclusion are usually judged based on the specific focus of a program. 

If you say an economic programme for example, you would be looking at indicators like, is there a task force in the team, if there is, what is the gender balance, if it is in the workplace, are there provisions for menstrual pads, is there maternity leave and so on,” she explains. 

However, in terms of governance and inclusion, she said that cabinet composition is a key indicator: “In this case, you would be looking at how many women commissioners are there in the cabinet, what is the composition of the top tier management who take decisions on behalf of women, how many percent of the appointment goes to the women, these are all things about governance and inclusion that are indicators. People would want to look more at the executive positions, because it is a reflection of the society in terms of gender bias and every other thing.” 

Based on the foregoing yardstick, findings by PRNigeria show that on 5th November, 2019, the Kano State Government swore in its 21 member state executive council and assigned portfolios to them with only two females – Dr. Zahara’u Umar as Commissioner of Women Affairs and Dr. Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure as Commissioner of Higher Education – making the cabinet, representing only 9.52% of the cabinet makeup which is far below the formulated National Gender Policy of 35% affirmative action of women in public governance and leadership. 

Further checks show that states like Lagos have a higher number of women (14) in their cabinet and Gov. Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State was recognized for being the first state governor to include 14 women in his cabinet representing 40% of the cabinet make up. 

Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, a Nigerian women’s rights activist, president of the human rights groups, Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Campaign for Democracy has in reaction to that, urged other state governors to emulate Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State by ensuring an increased number of women in their cabinets.

NAN reports that Gov. Sanwo-Olu had in August 2019 inaugurated 35 commissioners and special advisers into the state executive council out of which 12 were women.

One of the three governor’s nominees, who was declined confirmation by the Lagos State House of Assembly, was also a woman making the number 13.

The governor had earlier appointed a woman, Mrs Folashade Jaji, as the Secretary to the State Government bringing the number of women to 14 altogether.

Similarly, in March 2020, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Governor of Nigeria’s north-central Kwara State, was reported to have gone down in history as the first African leader with the highest number of female cabinet members and political appointees. 

This is because nine of his 16-person cabinet picks are women, way higher than the 35% affirmative action sought by the Beijing Declaration. 

Even though the total number of cabinet make up varies between 16 and 35 depending on states in terms of number of women appointees, Lagos remains ahead (14) followed by Kwara (9) but in terms of percentage based on total number of cabinet members, Kwara is ahead with 52.25% followed by Lagos with 40% while Kano (9.52%) lags behind on both factors. 

Furthermore, out of the 36 States in Nigeria, only 4 have Deputy Governors that are women namely;

·         Ogun State: Mrs Salako-Oyedele Noimot Olurotimi  

·         Rivers:  Mrs Ipalibo Gogo Banigo

·         Kaduna: Mrs Hadiza Balarabe

·         Enugu: Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo

This is approximately 12% representation and below the 35% affirmative action for gender inclusion in Nigeria, and Kano is nowhere near the record. 

A cursory view of State Cabinets across geopolitical zones reveals the following statistics from six samples of each geopolitical zone in terms of gender inclusion. 

Lagos (South-West)

The Lagos State cabinet led by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu has thirty-five (35) members with 14 female members.

This represents a 40% gender inclusion level which is commendable and above the 35% affirmation agenda. 

Akwa Ibom (South-South)

From the Akwa Ibom State cabinet which has 21 members, only two (2) women made the list which in terms of percentage distribution is about 10.5%.

Imo State (South-East)

In Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha inaugurated his 17-man cabinet with two(2) women making the list like Akwa Ibom state.

This translates to 8.5% in terms of gender distribution in the cabinet. 

Kaduna State (North-West)

Governor Nasir El-Rufai inaugurated his 11-man cabinet which has four(4) women in the list.

This number shows that the gender representation is 27.5%

Borno State (North-East)

The Borno state cabinet has 22 members and out of the executive council, there  are two  (2) women in the list.

This by gender representation is 11% and again very low when it comes to 35% affirmation in terms of participation in governance. 

Benue State (North-Central)

From the North-Central with focus on Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom’s 15-man cabinet, has two (2) women in the list like Akwa-Ibom, Borno and Imo states.

This makes a gender representation of 7.5% which is far behind the 35% affirmative action.

Lawyers, journalists, gender rights activists and political scientists in Kano all confirm that the state is not the most gender inclusive state in Nigeria in terms of governance as claimed. 

Zainab Nasir Ahmad, a gender rights activist and executive director Youth Society for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Social Vices (YOSPIS), thinks gender inclusion in Kano State is a great challenge.

“From the side of women I can say the chances are not there as they are suppose to be, the female gender is struggling because of lack of support people that can pushed them up. On the other hand, the current kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, once narrated how some women were denied top positions because how tasking the job is and there are complaints from the married women based on the reasons that they can’t leave their husbands to actively participate in public space due to cultural barriers,” Zainab said. 

Another women rights activist and reporter with Guarantee FM Kano, Hannatu Sulaiman Abba, blames the situation on misconceived religious perceptions and societal norms. 

“Many women have been bullied, mocked and embarrassed just because they go into politics as a career,” Hannatu quipped. 

But Barrister Nura Ahmad Muhammad, a Lawyer and founder of Mufarka Youth Initiative, explains this further, saying the expectation upon every woman in Hausa Land is to be a good wife, decent, chaste and obedient.

“It is a restriction in the eyes of the modern world but culturally alright in the Hausa community, this is cultural relativism. What is important is to keep adjusting culturally in terms of women’s engagements in Hausa land, accepting changes that are morally good and important to our day to day activities. Moving with time and accepting changes facilitates progress.

At the same time we need to preserve our culture, package it well, showcase it globally and always be proud of it. Our culture is our identity, we can’t afford to lose it,” he stated. 

Nigeria is Africa’s largest and most densely populated nation with over 180 million people of over 250 ethnic groups.

According to the World Data report in 2017,  the population of women was 94.2m, constituting over 45% of the population. 

This shows that women in terms of population spread are critical in the development of the nation.

This is not reflected as expected in the distribution or participation of women in sectors like energy, business, banking, capital market, health, politics, governance and technology etc. 


In terms of percentage of inclusion in line with the 35% affirmative action and even in terms of total number of cabinet make up, Kano State is not the most women inclusive state in governance as claimed by the state government. Deploying this as the major yardstick, we conclude that the claim is false. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with PRNnigeria to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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