By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
Barely 24 hours after it demanded gender parity in party administration and control, women in the ruling All Progressives Congress APC have intensified lobby to get at least 108 members in the House of Representatives ahead of the 2023 general elections.
There are, at present, 11 women in the 360-member House of Representatives, but the women representative in the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Stella Okotete, said the women are working towards having a platform that would produce at least three women federal representatives in each state in 2023.
Consequently, the APC women wing has inaugurated a lobby group to parley with party leaders and male politicians across the country.
Some of the female politicians who attended the strategic meeting held Thursday at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja included a former Senator, Khairat Abdulrasak Gwadabe, Chairman, House Committee on INEC, Hon. Aisha Dukku, Hon. Iquo Inyang and the Iyaloja of Abuja, Chief Mrs Toyin Badmus among others.
On Wednesday, the women had demanded the adoption of Option A4 in picking flag bearers of the party in various elections, saying it was the only way to ensure gender mainstreaming in Nigeria’s political space.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen who made the demand shortly after presenting a shopping list to the Prof. Tahir Mamman Constitution Review Committee of the party, also demanded a 50 percent representation for women across all elective positions in the party, saying it is not fair to have only one woman among administrators of the party.
However, speaking after Thursday’s meeting, Okotete said; “In some countries, a certain percentage of the capital budget is allocated to women-owned enterprises, women-owned business promoters. If this is adopted as the ruling party, in government, I can assure you that what we are planning for 2023, the 108 positions minimum in the House of Representatives will be achieved.
“We are hopeful we will go beyond the women leader position to other National Working Committee NWC and State Working Committee SWC positions. That will create traction and visibility. I am sure if we have 35% in the NWC and SWC, nothing will stop our women from being on the ballot for our party. By the grace of God, we have more than one rallying point. I love the men of the party, they are ever ready and willing to support us.
“We are about to start our congresses that will lead to the National Convention. Gone are the days when we only support women for the women leader positions. It is our cry, it is our appeal to the men and I know the party men, a whole lot have met, they are ‘he for she’. They think about us but they just want us to speak with one voice. And I think this is what we are going to do here.”
She said she has partnered with the International Republican Institute IRI to come up with a lobbying strategy to address the myriads of challenges militating against women participation in politics.
According to her, the lobby group will also work towards ensuring financial independence for female politicians in order to close the funding deficit usually experienced by women during election campaigns.
“We need to do a whole lot of work as regards identifying strong women, electable women that can be elected under this platform, the APC.
“We have no reason, no excuse to sit back and allow the normal circumstances or issues derail us or stop us from achieving this. We can only achieve this if we come together, if we speak with one voice if we discontinue the ‘Pull Her Down syndrome (PHDs)’ that I found when I resumed here. We need to discontinue that.
“Can we compete with the men when it comes to funding elections? I can tell you that from this lobby group, we are not just going to lobby for more representation but we will lobby for financial independence of our women at the party level,” she added.