By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, women in the All Progressives Congress, APC, have called for adequate inclusion in both elective and appointive positions in governance in line with the recommendation of 30 per cent affirmative action and National Gender Policy, NGP.
The group, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to assent to the bill promoting women representation and inclusion in politics across the board in the 2023 general elections saying, “the time to demand to be heard is now.”
Participants, who made the call at the weekend during a consultative forum tagged: “Inclusion of APC Women in elective positions: Lagos State As a pacesetter,” held in Ikoyi, Lagos, insisted that women inclusion in policy formulation is important, adding that women are empathic and can provide the needed solutions to the nation’s challenges.
The agitation for eomen participation in Nigerian politics recently has been a topic of importance following the declaration made at the fourth World Conference on women in Beijing, which advocated 30 per cent affirmative action and National Gender Policy (NGP) recommendation of 35 per cent affirmative action for a more inclusive representation of women both in elective and appointive positions.
Former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, in her sppeech stated that people look at women in politics that they are not well read. “But we have lots of professionals in the background. What we are advocating is for us to get the representation that is required, we need to go out as women to the grassroots to know why they need to support women to represent them.
“Because a lot of issues that concern women will not be represented well by men, we are APC, we have promised to do better than the previous government so we should be practical about it.
“At the state and national level, network is key. We also need to lobby. We should not be threat to our men. We are co-workers.”
She however, commended the Lagos State government which has given a lot of opportunities of representations to women in different levels.
She therefore expressed displeasure over the committee appointed at the Local government election where it comprised only the men without inclusion of women and the youths.
She said “our women needed to be represented progressively at all levels without segregation or sentiment.”
In her address, immediate past Deputy Governor of Lagos, Mrs. Idiat Adebule, in her address, stressed the need for women not to be passive but active by coming together and make themselves available for elective positions.
Adebule stated that the women needed to do fundraising to support them as to enable them to embrace the women and help them to assume the leadership position to the national level.
According to her, “I urge our women to present themselves for self-development so that when the opportunity presents itself, they can fit into it and also have opportunities to vie for positions.
“It is only when we develop ourselves that we can be assured of fielding quality, resourceful and capable women. It is time for local government elections, it is the duty of our women to support women participants with their votes and funds. One of the hindrances for women inclusion in politics is finance and I want to charge our convener that whenever we are converging here it should be for fundraising to support our women in politics.
“Women are the majority when you go out to polling booths during elections. This is a good development, which we can use to our advantage. We must mentor people. A lot of people see positions of authority as a showoff but it comes with a lot of responsibilities; which women as home builders are prepared for.
“We must be ready to listen to others because no one has it all. Women are emotionally and spiritually strong. It is not just for us to converge here but we should be an inspiration and mentors to others and support the goals of other women.”
National Women Representative in the Caretaker Committee of the National Working Committee of APC, Stella Okotete said “we are already lobbying critical stakeholders that we need more women in elective positions in Nigeria. There is an adage that says: “if you empower a woman, you empower a nation.” Women are empathic and what can drive the political space right now is empathy, love for one another, love for social development and that is what women of Nigeria stands for.
A member of the House of Representatives, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, who joined the conversation via zoom platform, observed that there is no enabling law supporting women’s political participation.
According to her, “Women know where the shoe pinches but when it comes to matters that affect them, men do the decision making.
Onyejeocha said: When you go outside the country, you see 30 to 40 per cent representation of women in positions of authority but here in Nigeria, we have less than 5 per cent. We are seeking legislation that will enhance women participation in politics. If we have more women in politics there will be less crime and corruption. This is a golden opportunity for us to take the giant leap and if we miss this, we may not get there again.”
Lagos State APC Women’s Leader, Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, who was the convener of the meeting, noted “I am imploring women of noble character to rise up and fight for elective positions.
“This forum is not about long speeches but a day to brainstorm on how to achieve the 35 per cent inclusion of women in elective positions. This is why we have gathered women who have been there and those that have held elective offices to share their experiences and motivate others.
“I am calling on Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to assent to the bill promoting women representation and inclusion in politics. The time to demand to be heard is now.”
Okoya Thomas stated that the objective of the forum was to create a roadmap for the actualization of the 30per cent women representation (Beijing Conference Resolutions) in elective positions in Lagos State.
“Together we can make a great lasting impact to change the political landscape in Lagos State,” she said.
Okoya Thomas, however, said what former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu did in a couple of years back was brilliant and respected when he appointed two women to represent Lagos State at the National Assembly.
She said it has made it very necessary to collate more of their list of women at the forum for presentation to their leaders.
Okoya- Thomas said also that there is need for redress at the local government election plans that there is a lot of complaints among women who got forms and of the facts and political mentality that their forms might likely be dropped out for another.
She therefore, urged the leaders to be compassionate at this level for inclusion and stop the issue of thug of war at the local government level “because it is known that the law part of it is very essential and we are going to push it.”
Okoya-Thomas, maintained that Politically, women have been relegated to the background, despite the tremendous effort put forward by government and nongovernmental organizations
“It is worthy to note that Nigerian women are still being marginalized due to the style of leadership inherent in the country.
“Despite the challenges women are facing, women activism and advocacy, education of women, positivity on the part of successive governments towards women empowerment and interest of women to participate in politics is getting a lot of positive energy.
“This is an indication that the participation of women in politics has a bright future. Therefore, the relevant stakeholders are advised to advocate for the protection of women from abuse, empower them economically and politically and review the necessary legislations to accommodate the growing interest of women in politics both elective and appointive positions.”