•Female aspirants speak

By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor

EXACTLY 48 days to the conclusion of primaries for the 2023 elections by political parties, only six female aspirants have joined the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, next year.

According to the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, political parties are expected to conduct their primaries and resolve disputes arising from the exercises between April 4 and June 3, 2022.

Currently, the number of female aspirants is a far cry compared to the 32 men that have officially declared their presidential ambitions. And this in spite of waivers given women by the leading political parties.

Waivers for women

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC,  declared free nomination forms for women aspirants for all elective offices in the 2023 general election on its platform but they are to pay the prescribed fees for expression of interest forms.

The All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, also granted women and youths 50 per cent cut in fees for nomination and expression of interest forms.

On its part the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gave youths 50 per cut in nomination fees.

However, women, who staged protests and came up with three bills to ensure women political empowerment, don’t seem to be ready to take advantage of the waivers being offered by the parties, as it stands now.

The development is raising fears that the road to women empowerment is still far from sight, and that 2023 may be like other years.

Worried by the absence of women in the race, 102-year old Madam Nonye Josephine Ezeanyaeche, also known as ‘living legend’ or “Mama Africa,’ recently declared her intention to contest the presidential election. Ezeanyaeche is from Aguata, Anambra State, and is the founder of the ‘Voice for Senior Citizens of Nigeria.’

The five other women eyeing the country’s topmost job are Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi of the Social democratic Party, SDP; Ibinabo Joy Dokubo, APC; Patience Key of the Peoples redemption Party, PRP; Olivia Diana Teriela, who is running on the platform of the PDP; and Angela Johnson of the APGA.

At a time women are asking for 35 per cent Affirmative Action, the six women represent 15.8 per cent of the 38 presidential pretenders and contenders, who have declared their ambitions

Given their fresh push for more accommodation the women are expected to make more impact in the 2023 election compared to their efforts in the previous six presidential polls.

Women were not on the radar in 1999, when only two candidates, General Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic, PDP, and Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy, AD/All Peoples Party, APP, slugged it out with Obasanjo emerging the winner.

However, women were on the ballot in 2003, which so far remains their best attempt at occupying Aso Villa. Of the 20 presidential candidates, two were women – Mrs Sarah Jubril of the Progressive Action Congress, PAC, and Major Mojisola Adekunle Obasanjo, retd, of the Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN. While Major Obasanjo polled 3,757 votes at that election, Mrs Jubril scored 157,560 votes, the highest any woman has ever got in a presidential election in the country.

Ever since, the fortunes of women have been dwindling at the presidential polls. In a pool of 27 candidates in 2007, there was only one woman – Major Obasanjo, who garnered a miserly 4,309 votes.

In 2011, with 63 political parties in which 20 parties fielded candidates, there was also only one woman – Ebiti Ndok of the United National Party for Development, UNPD, who polled 21,2017 votes. Mrs. Sarah Jubril’s efforts to be on the ballot did not yield dividend. She got one vote at the PDP presidential primary.

In 2015, the poor run of women continued. Mrs. Oluremi Sonaiya, was the only female in a crowd of 14 presidential standard bearers and she got 13,076 votes.

In 2019, in a crowd of 73 presidential candidates, there were six women, the highest so far in the history of electioneering in Nigeria. However, the women fared badly polling altogether 25,594 votes in a contest that President Buhari polled 15,191,847 of the total votes cast while his closest opponent, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP got 11,262,978 votes, an astonishing victory margin of 3,928,869 votes.

The women who part in the 2019 election were Mrs Oby Ezekwesili (ACPN, 7,223 votes); Angela Johnson (AUN, 1,092 votes); Olufunmilayo Adesanya-Davies (MAJA, 2,651 votes); Eunice Atuejide (NIP, 2,248 votes); Rabia Yasai Hassan Cengiz (NAC, 2,279); and Maina Maimuna Kyari (NPC, 10,081 votes).

Will women fare better next year? How many of them will emerge as presidential candidates in the 18 parties that will take part in the election? So far, only five parties have presidential aspirants. Can they beat the men and pick the tickets of these parties?

Why we want to succeed Buhari

Giving reasons she is aspiring, Madam Ezeanyaeche said she has a lot of good plans for the country During a visit to the Management team of the NTA, recently, the centenarian said, “If Nigerians are shying away from political participation, I am ready to contest.”

Caro Nwosu, President of the ‘Voice for Senior Citizens of Nigeria’ quoted Ezeanyaeche as saying, “She has already prepared a manifesto for herself; she has the vision. If the good ones don’t come out to contest…”

The 102-year-old acknowledged Nwosu’s statement as she said in Igbo, “If you have a male or female child, try to train them to surpass your own achievements.”

I’ll build on infrastructures built by APC – Dokubo

Ibinabo Joy Dokubo, the first female presidential aspirant in the ruling APC, said she would improve on the progress made by President Buhari‘s administration, adding that security, education and agriculture are some of the areas she would prioritise, if elected president of the country.

Her words: “I will build on the infrastructural development being witnessed by my party, the APC. I will ensure that once these roads are constructed they are regularly maintained to avoid total collapse. Also, as regards the rail construction, I will make sure we link up the rail lines to all the six geo-political zones to reduce the burden of moving heavy trucks by the roads instead of the rail.

“As a true Bakana, Kalabari, Rivers and Ijaw girl, I will connect the riverine areas to the city.”

God told me I’ll be Nigeria’s first female president – Johnson

Angela Johnson, who is also the first female presidential aspirant on the banner of the APGA, said that God told her that she would be Nigeria’s first female President in 2023.

The Arochukwu, Abia State-born Uk-based preacher, disclosed this when she visited the secretariat of APGA in Umuahia to solicit the support of the party leadership for her presidential ambition.

She promised to make all roads across the country motorable within three months, if voted into power.

“I am being led by God to restore the hope of millions of Nigerians, who have become hopeless in the Nigerian project. God brought President Buhari and sustained him in office that I shall emerge.

“God spoke to me, and I heard him clearly. He sent me to be President, not the Vice President. This is my time. This is the time for Nigerian women to produce the nation’s president. There is a burning desire in me, and until Nigeria’s lost glory is restored, I cannot rest,” she said.

We will make Nigeria work for all Nigerians – Okunnu-Lamidi

Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi, an entrepreneur and youth development advocate, promised to make Nigeria work for her diverse populace, if elected.

She promised to harness the undoubted power of Nigerian teeming youths to unleash the country’s latent potential, which she described as a force to be reckoned with globally.

Okunnu-Lamidi, who is the daughter of former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Lateef Femi Okunnu (SAN), said that youths under the age of 30, who represent about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population, have borne the most impact of bad governance, adding that the youths account for 13.9 million of the unemployment figures which stood at 21.7 million in the second quarter of 2020.

The founder and chief executive officer of Slice Media Solutions disclosed that she is motivated to vie for the presidency because of her desire to restore hope and make Nigeria work for all Nigerians.

I’ll implement three-point agenda of peace, equity, wealth creation – Key

Patience Ndidi Key, who aspiring on the platform of PRP, said her administration will implement a three-point agenda of Peace, Equity, and Wealth Creation, PEW, if elected in 2023.

Mrs Key, a Nigerian in the diaspora, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York.

She said as president, she would give Nigerians the room to hold her accountable for the delivery of the agenda. “From my vast experience, juxtaposing successful national development models across the world with Nigeria’s peculiar situation today, I have identified three core interwoven concepts. I believe the concepts should constitute the focal points of the desired roadmap to Nigeria’s redemption and rapid transformation, namely, Peace, Equity, and Wealth Creation, PEW,’’ she said. The aspirant said she would use her leadership experience of more than 15 years in the U.S. to provide the right kind of leadership for the country. “As a community leader and the former Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation in the United States, I worked with fellow Nigerians and other Nigerian professionals, ethnic, religious, and business organisations.

“I related with the government in power by virtue of my office. These interactions have given me better insights into the Nigerian nation, the issues, and governance.”

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