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Women, Party Politics And Elective Positions (2)

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This is the second edition of Barrister Nkechi Ugboaja’s paper at a workshop in Port Harcourt. The first part of this paper was published on Monday, March 15, 2010.

 

Of the three arms of government, to-wit, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary only the first two are provided to be filled under a democratic government by election while the last is by appointment by the first i.e. the executive. Thus elective positions in Nigeria of today are the executive and legislative arms of government running through the 774 Local Government Areas, 36 states and Abuja and the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. Instructively, these elective positions are to be contested for by individuals under the structure and ambit of political parties.

Thus, it may be proper to say that party politics and elective positions are partners in the wheels of safe and efficient democratic Government. They strongly have a linkage with one another. We may note that political parties began in Nigeria with the introduction of “elective principles” under the Sir Clifford constitution of 1922 it was the said elective principles theory in 1922 that gave birth to Herbert Macaulay’s Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP), which contested and won all three seats allocated to Lagos in the 1922 legislative council election. This is only to demonstrate the inter play of political parties and elective positions. Thus party politics relates to the intrigues in party administration and choice of parties electoral candidates and positions.

Curiously, we have laboured to find any iota of justification for the perceived discrimination against women in party politics and elective positions in Nigeria but none could be found, at least, from the legal or constitutional point of view. We then ask, are women actually excluded or discriminated against in party politics and elective positions? Is the issue of gender bias a product of women’s sins of omission? Are cultural disabilities still affecting women in this millennium? Or are there socio-cultural than legal impediments necessitating the enquiry as to whether women can cope in party politics and elective positions in Nigeria? Is party politics chaotic and dirty as a game? Of a fact, there may be intrigues, manoeuvering, blackmail, slander, gangsterism in party politics, but is it enough to scare women?

The topic of our discussion again recognises the dominance and full participation of men as overlords in party politics and electoral conquests in Nigeria. Why now the quest for women involvement, one may want to ask.

It is a notable fact of history that in our traditional societies, women were rarely able to hold political office because they were considered too weak and emotional to exercise responsible leadership positions. Women in many of our societies have no right of audience at the village square where it is the prerogative of the men to speak, decide and legislate on issues that concern women. Nor are women entitled to any form of inheritance at the death of their spouses. More still such women are thrown into penury after being subjected to all sorts of traditional indignities like shaving of heads, drinking of the water with which the corpse of their dead spouse has been washed.

However, the exploits of Queen Amina of Zaria and Oba Orompo of the old Oyo kingdom in the 16th Century clearly demonstrate that it was not totally unheard of for women to assume great political power or influence in more elaborate and centralised states. A Unicef situation Assessment and Analysis 2001 reports that when the British colonial administration extended the hitherto highly restricted franchise to southern Nigeria in 1954, women as well as men were given the right to vote and to be voted for.

Even at that the participation of women in politics in the Southern Nigeria was largely limited to the mobilisation of supporters. Yet it was patriarchal attitudes that limited womens effective participation in party political leadership. While the likes of Chief Mrs Margreth Ekpo and Chief Mrs Fumilayo Ransom Kuti were celebrated in the Southern part of the country, the women in the Northern Nigeria were ostensibly excluded from political and electoral participation until well after Independence in 1960.

A few women like Hajia Gambo Sawaba and Ladi Shehu who defied cultural prejudices and distinguished themselves as prominent members of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) however paid dearly for their struggle for womens political rights. It could be remembered that Hajia Gambo Sawaba was expelled from Kano and flogged at Zaria, sentenced and imprisoned frequently for seventeen (17) times during the first Nigerian Republic. It was not until 1976 that women were finally allowed in the Northern states to fully take part in political processes through a military decree of that year.

Ever since, the agitation for women participation in political activities have remained the local and international campaign by many organizations, Non Governmental Organisations and even Government sponsored Organisations. I remember on this, this, the exploits of late Hajia Maryam Babangida who transformed the hitherto obscure and ceremonial role of the First Lady of Nigeria into a “store house of knowledge and intelligence gathering for the development of complementary public policy and programmes in the work of the presidency.” Mrs Babangida assembled a core of highly public spirited ladies to begin to build the institution of the first lady of the country. With the Better Life for Rural Women (BLP), she engineered and provided tremendous support base and architecture for the mobilisation of women for political participation.

The successive Family Support Programme and the Family Economic Advancement Programmes  of Mrs Mariam Abacha and Fatai Abdusalami respectively equally assisted in the sensitisation of the political participation of women. These campaigns paid off in the general election that ushered in the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency of 1999 though a title percentage of women still got elected into the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly. Apart from patriarchal attitudes, we are strongly of the opinion that political and electoral violence tend heavily to prevail upon women to shy away from active political participation.

These acts of violence always come by way of politically sponsored executions, assassinations, beating, arson, election rigging, intimidation, political harassment with all sorts of weapons, snatching of ballot boxes and election materials at gun point etc. In return, violent activities produce very devastating and harmful effect on the generality of the people. Evil, it is said, begets evil.

The bye-products of political and electoral violence produces the emergence of god fatherism; proliferation of arms before and after electoral battles, lack of reputable, respectable and credible politicians, debasement and indoctrination of youths who are supposed leaders of tomorrow into the cult of violent and militant activities, increase in armed robbery, armed struggle, kidnapping for ransom and all other manner of extortions and criminal behaviours.

It is equally political and electoral violence that has continued to visit this country with economic instability, political apathy by both men and women of goodwill, death of incorruptible loved ones and, more importantly, retards heavily the speed of growth, spread and development of democracy. It further destroys internal party democracy and unfortunately creates a state of fear and near anarchy in the system.

 

Nkechi Yvonne Ugboaja

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Politics

CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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