This is a paper presented by Deborah Effiong at a workshop for “Women in Politics” in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Women’s participation in politics has been identified as a key strategy to accelerate development and empowerment in any country or region. It is therefore not a surprise that the last decade has witnessed various attempts by different countries around the world to tackle the under representation of women in politics.
Women’s participation in politics involves a wide range of actions and strategies which include voter and civic education, lobbying and negotiation skills, media engagements, violence management, leadership training, fundraising and public life skills training.
Prior to now, the role of women in politics was often that of praise- singers, fundraisers, party supporters and mobilisers. The unfavourable political terrain characterised by thuggery, money politics and entrenched patriarchial attitudes have served as a basis for discouragement of many women from participating in politics.
Party programmes and manifestos do not articulate women’s issues, rather women’s wing in political parties are crated without constitutional backing. It is expected that as the political space is getting liberalised due to sensitisation and awareness of female candidature, women’s issues will be given constitutional support by the various political parties.
Women’s political and electoral experiences from 1999 – till date
Research has shown that from 1999 till date women’s political experiences have been distressing. At all levels of Nigeria’s three tiers of government (Executive, Legislature, Judiciary) the issue of women marginalisation and discrimination have continued to persist. In many situations portfolios given to women often reflect the conservative definitions of women’s roles in society. Women are often assigned to Ministry of Women Affairs, Information, Culture/Tourism and Education, none of which can be described as very strategic ministries in terms of their level of influence within the government.
Women’s electoral experiences are nothing different and in many cases wose off. Records show that in 1999 in the South-South 2 women were elected into the Federal House and the entire South-South no woman won elections into the state Houses of assemblies.
2003 – Federal House – 5, House of Assembly (South – South) – 4
2007 – Federal House – 3, House of Assembly (South – South) – 15
The implication of these figures is that women have less than 30% of the seats going by the 1995 Beijing Declaration which states that women should occupy at least 30% elective and appointive positions.
The situation is not different at the Local Government Council elections. Feedback from female aspirants and candidates after previous elections revealed a situation where women have become victims of structural and cultural limitations. Women narrated that the politics of money and godfatherism excluded and deprived them of their fundamental human rights of voting and to be voted for.
Women also asserted that lack of adequate mechanisms to monitor electoral outcomes and protect women’s mandate formed part of the major challenges for women in securing victory at the polls.
At the level of the United Nations there is a growing women’s global activism for increased representation of women in politics. The assessment made by United Nations Development Project (UNDP) at the last Beijing +10 review it was reported that women are still greatly under represented in political positions around the world.
To participate in the political process, women need to enjoy the full exercise of their civil and political rights. The achievement of equality between men and women is an integral part of the process leading to a genuine democracy.
It is clear that some of the barriers which women face in connection with their participation and gender balanced representation in political and public life are due to the structure and functioning of electoral systems and political institutions, mainly political parties. It is therefore recommended that;
*There should be urgent reforms in our electoral and political institutions aimed at promoting and supporting special measures to empower women to participate in politics.
*Government should promote public campaigns with targeted messages to raise public awareness on the importance of a gender balanced representation in decision making.
* Government should ensure the domestication of CEDAW into our legal system.
* Political parties should adopt and promote a gender balance policy within the party and the party’s structures.
* Political parties should review their selection and nomination procedures in order to remove all barriers that directly or indirectly discriminate against it.
In conclusion, International instruments such as the Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW, Optional Protocol and the National Gender Policy should be maximised and strategies to implement them such as advocacy, policy reforms, special measures and affirmative actions should be explored.
Deborah Effiong is of the Gender and Development Action (GADA), Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs.
Ahead 2027: Pro-Tinubu Group Sets Up Structures In APC
The Mandate Movement (TMM), a pro-President Bola Tinubu group in the All Progressives Congress (APC), has set up 37 structures in a bid to enlarge its membership base across the country.
The structures consist of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The national leader of the movement, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, made this known in a statement, explaining that the move became necessary for the ease of administration.
Cardinal Odunmbaku, in the statement, noted that this move was a precursor to the preparations for the 2027 general election.
He stressed that the move aims at ensuring that the APC has strong dominance across communities and towns in every part of the country.
He advised those to be appointed as state coordinators to be more effective in mobilising new people into the ruling APC.
The APC chieftain also used the opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, assuring that the government was taking steps to address the harsh economic challenges.
Benue APC Crisis: Court Sacks Acting State Chairman
The recently suspended Benue State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Austin Agada, has been reinstated by a Makurdi High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese.
Recall that Mr Agada was earlier in the month suspended from office by another Benue High Court in Aliade presided over by Justice Lilian Tsumba following an ex parte motion filed by Mr Moses Agaba against him and the APC after his Ihaje Ward I Executive in Ogbadibo Local Government Area had passed a no-confidence vote on him and also suspended him for alleged anti-party activity.
The suspension was immediately followed by the inauguration of Mr. Benjamin Omakolo from Igoro Ward, Apa LGA as the acting State Chairman during a State Executive Committee meeting of the party presided over by Governor Hyacinth Alia.
However the crisis in the party took a dramatic turn Monday when Justice Ikpambese reinstated Mr. Agada while ruling on a motion by the embattled chairman seeking to set aside the interim order restraining him from parading himself as Chairman.
After listening to the arguments of counsel to Moses Agaba, Mr. Johnson Usman, and that of Innocent Daagba, who appeared alongside Richard Ayilla, George Ushongo, Daniel Sorkaa and John Ifer who appeared for Mr. Agada, Justice Maurice Ikpambese vacated the order restraining him from parading self, function and acting as the Chairman of the APC in the State.
Justice Ikpambese ruled that “under Order 39, rule 3 of the Benue State High Court Procedure Rules, 2023, the lifespan of an interim order is seven days, and since the order was issued on February 2, 2024, it has elapsed by law.”
Justice Ikpambese nullified the appointment of Benjamin Omakolo as acting Chairman and any other appointment made from February 2, 2024.
He accordingly struck out the motion seeking to set aside the interim order of February 2, 2024, as “it has been overtaken by events.”
The matter would be assigned to another Judge by the Chief Judge who would hear it on its merit.
Reacting, the APC State acting Chairman, Mr. Omakolo dismissed the reinstatement of Mr. Agada saying “whether the order restraining him (Agada) from parading himself as the Chairman is vacated or not, the fact that he has been suspended by his Ward still places a ban on him to be able to function as APC Chairman in Benue State. “And it will interest you to know that in the court ruling today, no matter concerning my person or role as the acting Chairman was mentioned.
“So, I still remain the valid acting State chairman of the APC in Benue State. I remain the one who pilots the affairs of the APC in Benue State and the APC family takes instructions and directives from my office as the acting Chairman of APC in the State.
“And even that wrong vacation that was done in the High Court has already been appealed. The person that took him to court has appealed the judgement because it is not correct in law for a High Court to restrain another High Court, a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I have long assumed office as the acting Chairman of APC in Benue State.”
There’s No Changing Bayelsa Gov’ship Result – Diri
Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the State has been won and lost and cannot be changed through subterranean moves of his main rival in the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent governor winner of the election and presented certificates of return to him and the deputy governor-elect, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on November 17, 2023.
Diri, who spoke on Monday during the first year memorial service of his late father, Pa Abraham Diri, at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, said the subpoena to the police to testify as witness at the election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, was diversionary, a waste of time and an exercise in futility.
He said the acceptable standard was the election result declared by INEC and not that of the police.
His words, “they are bringing a police report. They are bringing a police commissioner to come and testify in the election tribunal. We have crossed that bridge long ago. Just as we stopped them from rigging, we will stop them again.
“If you want to subpoena anybody, let it be INEC, which conducted the election and declared the results. The police are in charge of security.
“Let us be steadfast. Our second tenure will be better than the first.”
The governor eulogised his father for laying a solid foundation for him and his siblings.
According to him, his father was being celebrated a year after his death because he left good legacies that were speaking through him and his siblings.
He said: “His impact upon our lives, his children and relatives, is unspeakable. That is why I believe in giving the best education to children, so that whether you are alive or not, they can stand anywhere. I urge fellow Bayelsans to give their children good education.
“What we are doing today is to appreciate God and celebrate the life of our father for what he has done in our lives. Our father guided us very well. All his life was how to discipline and give what he had to society.
“Those of us in leadership as president, governors, Speakers and other positions, let us know that there is a legacy we should leave, which will speak for us when we leave this world.”
Speaking on the topic: “What will you be remembered for?” Rev. Funkuro Amgbare, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Izon of the Anglican Communion, noted that Pa Diri was being remembered a year after his death because he impacted positively on his children and the society.
He admonished all to live a life worth remembering by maintaining their integrity.
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