The Women in Politics Forum, WIPF, says the mode of party primaries is not enough to bring the needed change Nigerians expect to see in the country’s political process, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly must take electoral reforms seriously.
President of the Forum, Barr. Ebere Ifendu, stated this on Monday in Abuja at the unveiling of an online resource portal for women seeking elective positions in the 2023 elections.
The project, tagged: the ‘Nigerian Women Aspirant Website’, was supported by ActionAid.
According to Ifendu, “We had high expectations that the Electoral Bill would have been assented to by the president, unfortunately that did not happen.
“We are in support of direct primaries, where every registered party member participates to choose their flag bearers, this would have opened up the space and made it more inclusive of women, youth and persons with disability.
“Considering that the mode of primaries is not enough to discard the electoral bill, we therefore call on the National Assembly on resumption to make the necessary changes to the bill and forward to the President for his assent.
“We also urge Mr President to assent to the amended Electoral Bill as soon as it is represented for his assent. 2023 elections are crucial and will determine the future of our electoral process.”
While noting a decline in the number of women elected into political offices from 5.6% in 2015 to 4.7% in 2019, the Forum said all hands must be on deck to reverse the downward trend.
To this end, Ifendu said: “Lots of speculation exists as to why there was a decline in the percentage of elected female officials as opposed to the increase experienced between the 2011 to 2015 period.
“In order to address this decline, several civil society organizations, including WIPF, implementing partners and donor organizations have set different innovative projects to reverse these downward trends.
“And as you are aware, candidates are already declaring interest to contest at various levels in the 2023 general polls, including women. So, the website is set to provide accurate data about women in the poll and to answer significant questions surrounding the increase or otherwise of women’s participation in the Nigerian political scene.”
Speaking also, the Country Director of UN Women, Ms Comfort Lamptey, said the global body had commenced the mobilisation of six million Nigerian women to participate in the continuous voters registration exercise by the end of first quarter of 2022.
“We are already in seven states working to ensure that before the end of the first quarter of this year, about six million women are registered through the INEC platform that is already ongoing,” she said.