By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA — National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo yesterday backed calls by some politicians including Senate President, Senator David Mark, that members of the two Houses, Senate and House of Representatives, who have “performed” in getting the dividends of democracy to the people should be given automatic tickets to return to the House in 2011 for purpose of “continuity.”
Speaking during the inaugural capacity building training programme for female aspirants of the PDP in Abuja on the theme: “Removing the hurdles for women political participation and empowerment,” Nwodo argued that women cannot get 35 per cent participation in political governance if they sit at home, saying “continuity is needed to nurture democracy.
“We have said it at the party secretariat that we as a party want to grow this democracy and in trying to grow democracy, what we need to do is to have some form of continuity and therefore, we will like as many members of parliament who are performing and who are also acceptable in some extent in their constituencies to come back. Unless we do that, we will continue our learning process.
“As for our women’s participation, you can get what is due to you. If you want to get 35 per cent, you would get it, but not by sitting down at home. You must come out to participate. You mustn’t rest on your oars.
“Everyday, we are learning; we would not stop learning. We have to build and consolidate the democratic institution. So, in doing that I think, the next thing I am going to push for is that in returning as many parliamentarians as possible, those who are there who are women, we could at least guarantee their seats.”
He said the 35 per cent women affirmative action in political participation in Nigeria could only succeed if enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
Said he: “There is something I thought you should have fought for at this time, because for the first time in the history of our country, PDP being majority in the National Assembly, being majority in the 36 states of the federation, we have been able to bring some changes that were not possible before. It was only the soldiers that came and gave us constitution but now PDP make constitutional changes.
“But if I was the National Chairman at the time they were preparing the constitution, I would have put the 35 per cent in the constitution. In the country where women representation has been actualised, it was a constitutional matter. If you look all over the world whether in India, Pakistan or Netherlands they have created it in the constitution. Because if you have it in the constitution, it means that out of every three Senators per state one must be a woman. That is the way this thing can be realised easily.
“For now we can do what we can. When we sit down with the leadership of our party, and we begin to look at those parliamentarians, we have to return them due to their performance because we want continuity in parliament and the growth of the democratic institution”.
“We should be looking at those women we can return and how we can actualize our 35 per cent that I promise we will do. The final position which we are canvassing for you is that those women who finally make it as candidates, because of the economic handicap they have, we are going to ask the NEC next week that we should be able to give you some money for your election.”