{MAGAZINE} Will Women Have Their Fair Share Politically?

 

Sola Jacobs writes on the need to have more women occupy elective and appointive positions as the gubernatorial elections approach in Ekiti and Osun states.

With the political parties’ primaries in some of the states in Nigeria and 2019 general election approaching, women in the country, especially the non-governmental organisations and coalition of women groups seem to be more conscious of the role that women would play in the present and next political dispensations, as some of them had taken it upon themselves to review how women had fared in previous elections.

Recently, there was a gathering organised by the Community Life Project for women politicians in Ekiti and Osun State in Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State.

At the workshop, the fact sheet on women political representation in Nigeria was presented and Really, women are yet to have their fair share and representation in political climate of the country, despite their numerical strength, education, socio-economy contributions to the growth and development of the country, and their role as agents of socialization.

Out of the 109 seats in the upper National Assembly in the 1999 elections women occupied only three seats, in 2003 four seats, in 2007 women occupied nine seats and in the 2011 election it declined to eight seats, in 2015, it plunged further to seven seats.

Ekiti state is lucky enough to have two women to represent the state in the 2015 election, while Osun State has not had any women to represent it since 1999 till date.

The review of the House of Representatives reveals that out of the 360 seats, in the 1999 election, women had 13 seats, in 2003, 21 seats, in 2007 election 27 seats, in 2011, 25 seats while it nosedived to 22 seats in 2015 election. Osun had one woman representative, Hon. Ayo Omidiran in the House of Representative in 2011 and 2015, while Ekiti only had one representative in the 2003 election.

For the State Houses of Assembly, Nigeria has a total number of 990 seats across the states. In 1999, women occupied only 24 seats, in the 2003 election, 40 seats, in 2007 election 57 seats, in 2011 election 68 seats, while it declined to 51 seats in 2015 election.

Ekiti State in 2011, women had four seats in the state and in 2015 election, women had two seats. In Osun State House of Assembly women had a seat respectively in the state legislative house in 1999 and 2003 elections.

The review of women representation in the political terrain of the two states revealed that women had not been better represented, which shows gender inequality in political representation of the country against women, particularly in the legislature. Women are seen to be very important within the political parties but in government, it becomes difficult to meaningfully advance the course of women in Nigeria.

There is perceived inequality between men and women in political representation and despite all efforts made by the civil society organisations and women groups over the years, women’s’ representation in political offices remain abysmally poor.

An analysis of women’s representation in all 5 elections held in the country since 1999 show that the very modest gains made between 1999 and 2007 are being progressively reversed.

At an interactive session, Hon. Ronke Edu Adewoye from Osun State gave reasons why women could not convert their numerical strength, participation in politics and contributions to national development, which include the fact that women have little voice and influence within the parties to determine who emerges as parties flag bearers.

In her opinion, Hon Sade Akinromola, the Chairman of Gboyin Local Government in Ekiti state stated that, women who occupy political positions owe their appointments and elections to the will of the party leaders, saying, “If your leader in the party and state is women-friendly, then they will generously concede some seats to women, but going through party processes, women are only seen as tools to garner votes and campaign instruments in Nigeria politics”.

To corroborate her claims, the state women leader of the All Progressives Congress in Osun, Alhaja Kudirat Fakokunde said that the gender-sensitive governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola generously agreed that more women should be allowed into local governments and new local council development areas administration, a situation that guaranteed positions for more women as councilors and chairpersons of LGs and LCDAs in the history of the state. She said this is unprecedented in the history of the state because the governor recognises the contributions of women to socio-political and economic development of the state.

Women at the gathering agreed that some of them are petty and men use their pettiness to divide them along party structures and politics.

The question arose, does women have the financial muscle like their male counterparts in politics? the consensus was that women are better managers of resources but in political terrain, they can not afford such waste like their male counterparts.

As gubernatorial elections approach in Ekiti and Osun States in July and September respectively, the question is, will women get their fair share in the elections or in the subsequent political appointments?

Addressing this issue, a female aspirant under the Restoration Party, Mercy Ayodele lamented continued marginalization of youths and women by successive administrations, as she noted that if the trend is not curbed, it could be a recipe for disaster and full blow of security crisis.

According to her, women and youths are seen as veritable tools in the hands of politicians who only use them to gain access to the office, afterwards, they are only given token or peanuts for their contributions to the governance in the country.

She wondered why older political parties have failed to field women for leadership positions such as governorship and Presidential positions if truly they recognize their contributions, just like their male counterparts to the National growth and development.

Ayodele therefore called on women to be wise and refuse to be used as tools to attain political positions.

She said, experience has shown that there is no area of life that women cannot excel, talk of business, sports, Science and technology as well as in governance.

She also stressed that women invest resources on people-oriented programmes, and give priority to the health and education of the masses; adding that they also protect the interest of the working class and implement programmes to help poor families among other reasons.

The gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun respectively is a pointer to the fact that women might still not have their fair share in the male dominance political terrain of the states, considering the number of women that have indicated interest to contest. This is so because apart from Ayodele of the Restoration Party, the only woman that has indicated interest is one Mrs. Akanbi Alimot Bolanle from the All Progressives Congress. Will the parties’ primaries give room for women participation?

There is need to have more women representation in our State Houses of Assemblies, House of Representatives and Senate to  prove that women are not used as instruments to garner votes and assume positions but rather as major contributors to good governance, economic advancement  and national development.

Obasanjo Encourages Women To Participate More In Politics

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on Nigerian women to play more prominent roles in the nation’s politics.

The former President said this on Thursday while delivering a keynote speech at the annual Women in Business conference in Lagos State.

This year’s edition of the conference has the global theme ‘Pressing for Progress’, with a special focus on ‘Women in Politics and Nation Building”.

With less than one year to the general elections, the former President believes the progress of any country is equal to the quality of women in that nation.

He, however, noted that power won’t be easy to get by the female gender unless they roll up their sleeves and fight for a place in the political space.

Obasanjo further called on the government at all levels to ensure adequate measures are put in place to guarantee the quality participation of women in politics.

He also disclosed that the Coalition for Nigeria Movement has registered more than three million members.

According to the former President, the coalition is working hard to stop a type of leadership that will engage only kith and kin in the affairs of government in the country.

MAGAZINE: Women Rise To Seek More Recognition

By Sola Jacobs

It was a gathering of women from three major political parties, namely All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party in Ekiti and Osun States respectively. The mission was to appraise how women had so far fared in their parties, either as political appointees or as elected official in government.

Launched in 2010, the coordinating platform is the Community Life Project (CLP), a non-governmental organisation concerned about women participation in governance as a whole via all-inclusive participation in governance.

Majority of the women assemblage in Ado Ekiti for the workshop had been interacting in the last seven years under the umbrella of CLP and it has fostered the bond of sisterhood and friendship which transcend party line to forming a common front. The objective was to demand equal participatory of women in government not only to seek and contest for political offices, but also to participate in good governance by demanding from political office holders how public funds are utilised for the betterment of all and sundry.

As the slogan of the NGO, “Reclaim Naija” is echoed the chorus “Na we get am” also reverberated in the air. The moderator set the tone for the women leaders in the three major parties that were represented at the workshop to give account of how far the women had been able to fare in the male-dominated arena of the nation’s politics and what can be done for the womenfolk to increase their participation in politics.

The coordinator of the CLP, Mrs. Ngozi Iwerre set the tone, that in 2015, it was on record that in Ekiti State, the number of women holding leadership positions with party structures went from 407 posts to 949 out of 8,409 positions.

She added that in the State of Osun, the number had risen geometrically from 533 posts to 2,173 out of 25,985 positions, saying, though women are gaining grounds but there is still the need to do more.

She said, “Nevertheless, in the nation at large, there is a decrease in women participation in politics, as statistics showed that there is 2 per cent decrease from eight per cent to six per cent in the number of women holding political offices nationwide, a trend that must be reversed, saying that though, there is increase in the number of women seeking political offices and this shows that women are not only enlightened but they are equally aware of their role in nation building.

Iwerre however noted that though, Nigerian women have not been given full opportunity due to many factors militating against their full participation in democratic governance which hinged more on cultural, religious and economic values and belief, but believed there is hope for the womenfolk, if they do not relent and if they believe that no matter the party affiliation, voting women into elective posts is the panacea to corruption and decadence that have engulfed all facets of the nation’s life.

Mrs. Sade Faparusi Akinromola, the Chairman of Gboyin Local Government in Ekiti State in her own remarks said that the increase in the number of women in elective posts cannot be associated with political parties’ ideologies in the nation but rather, the interest of the leadership or that of the leaders in those parties.

She adduced her success, as chairman of a local government to the womenfolk in the state, as the nation remains patriarchal in nature and politics is regarded as an undue exclusive right of the male, not minding that there are more women in the nation.

Honourable Romoke Edu Adewoye of the Labour Party in Osun State said that the economic recession had impacted women negatively, as most of them have no financial strength to vie for political posts.

The women leader of the All Progressive Congress in Ekiti state, Mrs. Omolara Bakare lamented that the male dominance at the National Assembly had stiffened Gender Equality bill and the 35 per cent affirmative action plan for women is a mirage.

Reports from the State of Osun, seem to be the most cheering of all, as the women leader of the APC in Osun, Alhaja Kudirat Fakokunde said that women participation in politics had increased tremendously since the assumption of the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the political landscape of the state.

She remarked that in 2015, Osun had 10 women appointed into various political offices in the state, but as at today, 720 women are appointed into various political posts at the ward level; while they occupied 29 posts at the state level; 808 posts in various Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas and 13 posts at the Federal level, as political appointees.

She continued that women had not fared better in political history of the state than now and it is the interest the leadership of the party had in the womenfolk and the commitment to compensate them for their contribution to the development of the state that triggered the development.

Alhaja Fakokunde said, though women still want more, but it depends on the premium the leadership of the party placed on womenfolk and their development.

For women to fare better in the nation’s politics, particularly when the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections are approaching in 2018 and the nation’s general election coming up in 2019, women at the workshop agreed to network with other female politicians across political divides to exchange ideas and strategy on how women can use their numerical and mental strength in all political parties across the nation to secure elective positions for women in any of the political parties.

The gathering also discussed about seeking financial assistance for women who are seeking elective positions. It was also advocated that more workshops and seminars for women at the grassroot level will increase their participation, not just in seeking political positions, but as well pull votes for women who are seeking political posts.

The group also advocated mentoring for young girls and women who want to serve through elective positions, while calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to intensify voters’ education as a means to educate women aspirants and others women in politics. The participants also tasked political parties to intensify education of women on party ideologies and the need for women to be involved in nation building through effective participation in political activities by seeking to hold elective posts.

At the end, the workshop revealed that aside Lagos state, Osun and Ekiti states had taken the lead in ensuring increase in women representation and participation in political activities and appointments into various offices, which is not premise on party ideologies but the intuition and the interest the leaders have in the women development for nation building. This, they all agreed should be sustained and encouraged by all and sundry.

Women Folk, A Major Pillar Of Democracy – Osun Speaker

Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembly, Honourable Najeem Salaam has described women folk as one of vital pillars of democracy in Nigeria.

He made this known on Tuesday while playing host to All Progressive Congress (APC) Women leaders across the local governments in the state in Ejigbo.

According to him, the roles that women play in the entrenchment of democracy can not be over-emphasised, saying, women are better resources manager.

The parliamentarian who hinted that the number of women in the Nigerian voters’ register is higher than that of men, said, this was a reflection that women believe so much in democratic system and working hard to retrench it.

According to him, “A society that wants to grow should not undermine women because women are very useful in the society”.

The speaker then suggested more than 35 per cent Affirmative Action for women in government as being requested, saying, “there is no harm in the women request for 35 per cent of political appointment in Nigeria because of their important role”.

He then appealed to the women society to continue to support the present administration under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to land safely.