By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Country Vice President/National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Amina Agbaje (Mrs) has said that the monetization of the electoral process makes it very expensive and difficult for credible persons in the communities, particularly women and youths to aspire for political party offices and general elective positions in Nigeria.
The FIDA President further observed that low women’s participation in Nigeria’s electoral process has limited their contribution to decision making and democratic growth despite that they represent about 50% of the Nigerian population.
She stated this on Wednesday at a one-day srakeholders consultative forum on the status of gender responsive bills before the National Assembly and the electoral Act 2022 with regards women and persons with disabilities participation in the 2023 general elections held in Kanem Suites, Utako, Abuja.
The National President further stated that “Women and youths who constitute a critical population are aloof or less involved in politics and governance. Adding that they are not also proactively demanding for accountability from the government and governmental actors. She stressed that participation of the majority of the youths and women in politics and electioneering takes the form of vote buying & selling during elections.
Mrs Agbaje said that 1st March would remain a watershed in Nigeria because it will forever be referenced and be remembered in our nascent democracy, where most members of the Nigeria Senate at the Senate Chambers voted against five Gender responsive Bills submitted for its consideration namely:
a) Bill No 35. A bill for an act to provide special seats for women in National & State House of Assembly
b) Bill No 37, A bill for an act to provide for affirmative action in political party administration
c) Bill No 36 , A bill for an act to expand the scope of citizenship by registration
d) Bill No 38, A bill for an act to provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria.
e) Bill No 39, A bill for inclusion of at least 10% affirmative action in favour of women in Ministerial appointments.
FIDA said that based on the majority votes from these members, these gender responsive bills whose beneficiaries are mainly women were rejected. The implication of this rejection indicates the lack of proportional representation for women at the parliament, denial of 35% affirmative action in party administration & leadership positions to women, denial of affirmative action of women into appointed positions , denial of indigeneship by women of their husband’s state after 5 years of being together, denial of citizenship to the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian women amongst others, which has made the struggle for an egalitarian society most inevitable, she said.
In her remarks, representative of the ActionAid, Mrs Mercy John said that the purpose of this dialogue is to discuss strategies on ensuring compliance of the Federal High Court Judgment on 35% affirmation of women in elective positions and re-introduction of the Gender Bills to the 10th National Assembly, to have learning and reflection sessions on what worked, and what failed to work, and to explore possible pathways to chart a new course through the development of a roadmap to take these issue head on when a new National assembly reconvenes. Also we are here today to discuss on the electoral act 2022 and how it can promote the participation of women ahead of the 2023 elections.
Sunduata Post recalls that ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all, defeat poverty, injustices and to eradicate poverty.
ActionAid Nigeria, with support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) is currently implementing this project, themed “The Campaign for the Inclusion of Women and Young People in Political and Governance processes (We You Pro) in Nigeria, whilst supporting the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria is implementing this project in various LGAs and Communities in Abuja.
The representative of the Minister of Affairs who said that though the Minister was out of the country when senators were deliberating on the bill, but that she was monitoring the proceeding and when she returned, she invited some Civil Society Organisations and told them that the legislators do not understand the issue of the women. She advised the women to start talking to their husbands on the need else they will continue to see women as objects to be used. She called for intensified advocacy, adding that the Minister has resolved to organise a nationwide debate of the political office seekers in conjunction with the media so that after elections, media would continue to re-echo the promises to hold them accountable.