By EricJames Ochigbo
Abuja – Some female candidates in the just-concluded general elections have decried what they called, “the alarming rate” of women intimidation and voter inducement in the electoral process.
The women spoke on Friday in Abuja at a strategy experiment sharing meeting for female candidates that partook in the polls.
The event was organised by the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), a Non-Governmental Organistion (NGO) interested in improving women participation in governance.
A senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, Mrs Muriliat Akande, said at the gathering that women believed in doing what was right.
Akande, who sought to represent Oyo central senatorial district during the election, said that she planned, prepared and went through the primary elections of her party successfully.
According to her, at the general elections, people were ready to do anything; “ we saw violence, militarisation, voter-inducement and lots more”.
She said that she was the preferred candidate and that her constituents were still in shock that she was not declared winner.
Akande said she felt sorry for the process, adding that if the trend was not reversed, it would get to a point where women would no longer participate in elections.
Also, Mrs Phina Kanu who contested for Abia State House of Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said that she was intimidated during the poll.
Kanu said that it was not easy to show interest in politics as a woman, describing her experience at the poll as horrible.
She said at a point, she and her supporters had to run for their lives as they could not match violent opponents.
`As women and mothers, we will not want to do things our children will not be proud of,” she said.
Kanu, however, urged women to venture into politics on time from secondary school level through the university.
She said women should participate in decision making and help to build associations such as market women and cooperative societies so as to learn the rudiments of politics early enough.
Mrs Christina Ude, who contested for the House of Representatives to represent Orlu/Oru East/ Orsu Federal Constituency of Imo, said she was threatened days to the election.
According to her, days to the election, “somebody called me and threatened to bring thugs to make sure my votes do not count if I do not bring a certain amount of money”.
Ude said that the fellow eventually carried out the threat as her agents were threatened and in some cases, they were chased away.
According to her, in some areas where there are no security agents, everything goes, which is against the guidelines.
Speaking on voter inducement, the candidate said the people got the leaders they deserved and that they should not complain of poor leadership if they took money at the polls.
She said that the electorate knew what was right and what should be done but decided to act otherwise.
The Chief Executive Officer of NWTF, Mrs Mufilat Fijabi, said the essence of the meeting was to beam searchlights on the experiences women had in the general elections.
Fijabi said the forum was also about improving the performance of Nigeria when it came to women participation in politics.
She said that women representation in elective offices had continued to decline since 2007, adding that with the 2019 election results, Nigeria had gone lower in the ranking of nations with women representation.
She said that women as candidates, aspirants or voters had not been fairly treated as a result of intimidation, threats and voter inducement.
The chief executive officer said that female candidates who had made efforts to reach their goals were unable to do so because of how the electoral process went.
She said some women needed “psychological assistance” to recover from the trauma and ordeal they had gone through during the process.
Fijabi said that it would be a disaster when Nigeria no longer had women in elective offices.
She said women were significant in nation building, and that until they were given a fare share of representation in government, development would continue to be slow.(NAN)