…Tells them to reject financial and gift items from politicians
. Says vote your conscience to elect good leaders
….As NILOWV celebrates Silver jubilee
By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA: Ahead of the 2023 elections, the League of Women Voters of Nigeria, NILOWV, said it has concluded plans to embark on aggressive sensitization and advocacy aimed to discourage women from accepting financial and material inducement from politicians during the conduct of the general elections.
The NILOWV, which made this intention known at the media briefing to mark its 25 years anniversary , condemned the incidents of voting buying that characterized the conduct of elections in the recent times, described it as evil that must be erased from the nation’s democratic space.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the President and founder of the League of Women Voters of Nigeria, Dame EstherUduehi, vowed the organization was ready to change narrative, noting that era of politicians attempting to compromise with meager gift like salt, rice and wrapper during elections will soon be the thing of the past.
She said her organization would strive to empower more women across the six geo-political zones and make them strong so as to see the 1k, 2k or 3k offered to induce them by politicians as unattractive.
Dame Uduehi, while lamenting the effect of manipulative tendency of men on women said, though women and youths have the voting force in the country, noting that, even in the rains or sun, they would exercise patience, remain focus until they cast their vote before leaving the poling units.
She said, “When there is an election, and you go to the polling stations, all you will see are the women and the youth. The women will turn out enmass, they will stay at the polling units, even if it is raining, they will still stay there and vote. The only sad thing is that, at times many of them are manipulated by the male society.
“And what NILOWV is trying to do is to educate them, to let them see that the salt, wrapper, rice or whatever they give them is nothing compare to what they will gain if they vote their conscious and vote for the right leaders.
“And especially, if they vote for women who are capable and qualified, we are saying those women that are qualified, that they have been seen their antecedence that they will make good leaders in this country.
“So, we are calling, we are sensitizing them so that they vote for the right leaders, and we are hoping that come 2023, the narrative will change.
“What you are going to be seeing ahead of the coming 2023 general election is the reformation of women attitude towards the vote buying and vote gifting. We don’t need rice, we don’t need the money.
“All we want is good governance. We don’t care about your party; we don’t care about gender, as long as you are ready to give us good governance, we will vote for you.
“We are ashamed, in our country, they are talking ill of us everywhere, but we know we have the brain; we have the hands, capability we have everybody on ground and we are ready for the change.”
Dame Uduehi recalled that, “During 2019, NILOWV engaged with ministries and agencies including the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Nigeria’s election management body, Independent National Election Commission, INEC, National Assembly, Civil society groups etc to examine measures to take to improve policymaking for girls and women; to develop working relationships and partnerships in areas of shared interests.
“NILOWV had an opportunity to engage with Nigeria’s electoral space when we were accredited to observe and monitor elections in February/March and November 2019. We dispatched observers and monitors to states where elections were held, and also participated in data collection for future advocacy initiatives and projects.
“Women arid girls, teenage pregnancies, girl child labor, human trafficking, under-age marriage etc we Initiated interventions with relevant agencies, issued press releases, conducted radio and television interviews, published op-ed pieces and held press conferences.
NILOWV issued press statements on incidents of election violence, including the murder of a female politician in Kogi State, abuse and harassment of a female gubernatorial candidate and observers, during the elections.
“The UN Day on for Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th was commemorated by our chapters with rallies and peaceful marches, banners and social media hashtags to highlight the depth of the problem Nigeria; there were processions to some state houses of assembly, local government offices, markets, motor-parks; members of our teams went to schools to talk about
Gender-based violence, child trafficking/labor etc. state chapters also participated in the global theme of ‘Orange the world’ and ‘Generation Equality’ alongside local partners, to mark 16-day which ended on Human right day 10th December 2019.
“Capacity building programmes were a central part of our focus during the year. National and state officers underwent several training session at Abuja office in line with our efforts to ensure we implement and actualize our mission and vision in Nigeria.
“In 2020, NILOWV signed an MoU for partnership with ActionAid Nigeria as part of the efforts to promote the rights of women and girls in Nigeria.
“The MoU is under the Canadian government programme titled women’s voice and leadership, Nigeria project. The MoU is the commencement of a 5 Year National project in FCT- Abuja with focus on advocacy for gender equality across all sectors of the society; promoting women’s inclusion in government, political and electoral processes.
“The project will also involve the domestication of legal framework to protect the rights of women and girls with a view to enhancing and achieving improved management and sustainability of women’s rights and gender equality in Nigeria.
The project which is to be founded and supported by Global Affairs Canada will take off shortly as one of our flagship project of the year. Our Gender, rights and privileges committee alongside other committees will continue the work to deliberate on principles and policies on gender rights and privileges; and will partnership with other women-centered groups, build a movement to lobby stakeholders and raise awareness on women’s fundamental rights.
“In 2021 NILOWV made significant strides in the drive to achieve its goals and objectives in the upliftment of women through the existing partnership with NDE, which has led to the training of young women under a New Scheme titled Women Empowerment collaboration Schemes (WECS) that is currently belong plotted in several states in the country.”
On the celebration of their Silver Jubilee, which was kick started at the various states and in some cases LGA levels, she said,would be followed by the Jubilee Conference on Thursday 25 November, 2021 with the theme, Nigerian Women Overcoming Challenges In Politics and Leadership which will feature discussions on key national issue.