Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as worrisome the low representation of women in governance and leadership in Nigeria.
He said this on Tuesday during the Public Presentation of a report on the 2019 general election by the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF) in Ibadan.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme was organised by NWTF in partnership with Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) with support from MacAthur Foundation.
The report has as its title ‘Women’s Participation in the 2019 General Elections from an Accountability Perspective: Kano and Oyo States Under Spotlight’ was unveiled at the event.
Yakubu, who was represented by Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, an INEC National Commissioner, said there was no doubt that effective participation of women in electoral process matter was key.
“This has become worrisome as women’s participation in governance and leadership is not only an essential prerequisite for removing gender inequality but also the attainment of basic human rights.
“During the elections, only five out of the 73 candidates who ran for the position of president were women.
1,668 men and 232 women vied for the 109 senatorial seats, while 4,139 men and 533 women contended for 360 seats in the House of Representatives.
“At the end of the election, only seven women won senatorial seats and 11 were elected into the House of Representatives, while four were elected as deputy governors,’’ he said.
He said that the huge efforts made by INEC to support the participation of women in electoral process did not succeed in addressing the decline of women’s representation in politics.
The INEC boss assured all of the commission’s efforts towards advancing the electoral process, pledging to consider every recommendations in the report and those already submitted to INEC.
Also, Hajia Saudatu Mahdi, the Secretary-General, WRAPA, called for collective efforts in sensitising women and the youths, saying things were not working properly in Nigeria because more than 50 per cent of Nigerians had been excluded.
“When I say 50 per cent, I mean women and youths. Women and youths are excluded from our governance structure and the only way we can take them in is when we can speak the fact,’’ Mahdi said.
According to her, it is worrisome to have over 50 per cent of the decision makers in the country at an age over 60 years.
“The business of governance is the business of everybody and that means accountability. We must as a forum of citizens be able to hold our leaders accountable and we must also be accountable,’’ she said.
Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi, Chief Executive Officer, NWTF, said the report was a product of Gender and Election Watch created by NWTF for advocacy, accountability matters and to advance continued progress of women.
She urged women and youths to always participate in all developmental agenda across their various societies as well as the electoral process to ensure accountability.
“Whether we like it or not, election is only an aspect of our governance, it is the determining factor because once the election is ended, we have the people in government for another four years.
Fijabi said that Nigerians must join hands with INEC to make the electoral process work, adding that women can only emerge where the electoral process is devoid of corrupt practices.
“The reality is that INEC will continue to try its best, but we citizens need to understand. The more people sell their votes to their buyers, it reduces the chances of women emerging as candidates.
“The reality is that women do not have the matching power. We, all are critical stakeholders in Nigeria’s electoral process and need to make it work,’’ she said.
In their remarks, Mr Mutiu Agboke, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), charged women as well as youths to participate actively in electoral process.
The duo also called on the people to always participate in other societal agenda, saying such was a way to be more relevant to attain leadership positions.
Dr Roselyn Musa, a Consultant, Gender and Development, as well as Mr Jide Ojo, Executive Director, OJA Development Consult, reviewed the contents of the reports presented.
NAN reports that the event was attended by representatives of political parties, religious leaders, women groups, representatives of government agencies and the media. (NAN)
Edited by Abigael Joshua/Bayo Sekoni
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