- BY CHIDI OLEHI in Abuja•
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Manhood Yakubu has said that Nigerian women need to do a lot more in getting to elective offices, describing their current representations across the country as very appalling.
The INEC chairman, who spoke at the review of the general election seminar on gender participation, said, “It is appalling that despite a general commitment to the principle of non-discrimination as enshrined in Section2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the country falls short of the deserved result of giving males and females equal opportunities to advance socially, politically and economically.
“Evidences abound of several negative aspects of gender relations such as disparities between male and female access to power and resources. These played out in the last general elections. INEC, as a gender responsive organisation and Election Management Body committed to inclusive elections, is interested in interrogating all factors that played out before and during the elections and how it affected women.”
He explained that the 2019 general election activities and engagements showed high level participation of women in the electoral process as aspirants but due to barriers they regressed in the number that won elections.
He said, “only five out of the 73 candidates who ran for the position of President were women, 1,668 men and 232 women vied for the 109 Senatorial seats while 4,139 men and 533 women contended for 360 seats in the House of Representatives.
“At the end of the election, only seven women won Senatorial seats and 11 were elected into the House of Representatives while four were elected as deputy Governors.”
For instance, he said that 12 sub-Saharan countries elected more than 30 per cent women to legislative positions, while Rwanda reportedly have so many success stories and advancement in electing women to more than 60 per cent of its legislative positions.
He said that what was on ground negates the huge efforts made by the Commission to support the participation of women in the electoral process did not succeed in addressing the decline of women’s representation in politics.
This, he said had become worrisome as women’s participation in governance and leadership is not only essential prerequisite for removing gender inequality but also the attainment of basic human rights.
“There is need to start thinking of how things can be down differently for more impact. Such exercise will assist the Independent National Electoral Commission learn vital lessons that could enable the Commission review its policies and programmes and serve as a roadmap in planning for future elections.
“There is also need to review the operational framework put in place by the Commission, identify success factors with a view to consolidating and sustaining them. It is important to note that the reviews are not about the Commission alone but about mutual credibility for a successful electoral process and outcome in the future elections.
“The policy is expected to foster gender balance in the Commission and to stimulate stakeholders in the electoral process to do the same. We will continue to engage with critical stakeholders at various levels to support and interrogate gender issues in politics and political processes in Nigeria. Constructive criticisms and suggestions will be welcomed to strengthen women’s participation in the electoral process.”
Speaking at the occasion, INEC National Commissioner Anthonia Okoosi – Simbine said the overall level of representation of women in politics remains a cause for concern as the number of women elected into national and state assemblies have continued to decline
“The Overall objective of the review is to provide a platform to analyse the 2019 General Elections especially from the Commission’s perspective and to advance the rights of women in Nigeria towards setting an agenda for 2023,” she stated.