Partners for Electoral Reform (PEF), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), says election of leaders of the 9th National Assembly must be based on competence and not gender parity.
Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chairman of PEF, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , in Abuja.
He was reacting to calls for reservation of some leadership positions for women in the assembly.
According to Nwagwu, leadership should not be based on the fact that somebody is a male or female, but on records of the person’s capabilities and competence.
“What I think is that people have to put out their best foot, in the National Assembly. It is a contest among colleagues and I am not sure that colleagues will be interested in gender.
“The reason for electing a leadership has to come from a feeling of competence and acceptability by both males and females in the national assembly and not from benevolence.
“The word ‘give’ devalues. When they give you something it devalues, the person who gives you takes superiority, once you are given something, people don’t tend to value it and they will think you got it because you are a woman.
“So for the purpose of respectability, I think it is important that we begin to do much more work in terms of capacity building for prospective leaders; whether male or female. I don’t come from that point of `let us give women,” he said.
Nwagwu said that though he knew about affirmative action and percentages for women that happen in other countries, but said that leadership should be based on capabilities.
He said that the call for women to be given positions due to the fact that they lost elections from the party primaries should not arise because there were other party platforms they could have contested on.
He said that there are 91 political parties and they could have gotten tickets from other parties adding that parties did not matter because if they were acceptable to people from their constituencies, they would be voted for.
He said that the impression that once one ran on some dominant party tickets he would win is not true, because powerful politicians have lost elections in popular parties because their people did not think they were important males or females.
Nwagwu urged women to come out and play the political game because their gender is neither an impediment nor a hindrance, because even men have their impediments.
He advised women to build their capacities and competent levels, saying that, that way they would be considered for appointments.
“This meant that you don’t sit in your house when other people are struggling for something and just expect that because you are a woman, so it comes automatic,’’ he said.
He said that Nigerians always take advantage of everything in the country, ranging from religion, gender and so on, adding that what matters is competence, capacity and ability to deliver.
“That is where I stand, whether you are a man or a woman I am not too bothered about that,” he said.