By Bashir Bello, KANO
As Nigeria mark 23 years of uninterrupted democracy, a human rights non-governmental organization, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, has said that for Nigeria to uphold the pillars and ethos of it consolidating democracy, all groups such as women, youths and Persons With Disabilities, PWDs must be actively involved in the democratic and governance processes in the country.
ActionAid Nigeria’s Programmes Director, Suwaiba Muhammad Dankabo, made this known during a rally organized by the group in collaboration with Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI) and Centre for Information, Technology and Development (CITAD) to commemorate Nigeria’s Democracy Day in Kano.
Dankabo further said that over the years, Nigeria’s democracy has been largely characterised by the exclusion of women, young people and PWDs, in the processes hence the need to change the trend.
She went ahead to say that the cycle of persons were yet to attain the level of inclusion in politics due to poor internal democracy and absence of strategic political agenda on the part of the political parties in the country.
According to her, “Over the years, Nigeria’s democracy has been largely characterised by the exclusion of women, young people and PWDs, in the democratic and governance processes due to barriers and inequalities militating against their participation, which has inadvertently led to the shrinkage of the political space for them to engage in the politics and governance.
“In the same line, it is imperative to note that Nigerian youths and women are yet to achieve the level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics due to leadership deficits, poor internal democracy among the older parties, and the absence of strategic political agenda which poses barriers, that inhibit them from playing a role in national development.
“The participation of Women continue to dwindle in each electoral cycle, despite the fact that women constitute the highest numbers at polling units.
“However, women constitute only 5.4% in National Assembly, 4.6% in State House of Assembly, and 16% in Federal Executive Council . This episode is clearly evidenced in the Kano States house of assembly which has no female representation in all the 40 seats in the assembly.
“On the other hand, the youths who make up over 50% of the Nigerian population have also been side-lined from the political process, they are rather used as agents to perpetuate violence during elections, as patronage-based politics and the weaponization of poverty and illiteracy prevails in our dear nation.
“At this critical juncture it is imperative for us to highlight, that’ which makes our democratic life and expectation significant, because it Is impossible to celebrate a day which marks our democracy without the presence of free and fair elections, which reflects the aspirations of Nigerians, who are eligible to participate in elections by virtue of voting and being voted for, regardless of their age, gender, tribe, and religion. To attain a truly representative democracy in Nigeria, all groups within the population must be actively involved in the governance process in order to uphold the pillars and ethos of our consolidating democracy.
“ActionAid Nigeria is implementing the Campaign for Inclusion of Women and Young People in Political and Governance Processes also referred to as the We-You Project with funding from the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). This campaign seeks to strengthen the relationship between citizens, government, and politicians in Nigeria, with an overarching goal to engender an inclusive and responsive democratic process and outcomes through citizens-led actions in the 2023 general elections.
“On this occasion to mark the 2022 Democracy Day, we urge all patriotic Nigerians including women and young people to join us, in breaking the barriers limiting women and young people from participating in governance and politics in Nigeria. We enjoin all Nigerians to make use of this opportunity provided by INEC, through the Continuous Voter Registration to register, and make their participation count in the forthcoming election, especially as all eyes are on INEC due to the passage of the electoral amendment bill into law and the use of Bi-modal voters accreditation system (BVAS) which is aimed at limiting electoral violence and malpractices.
“Specifically, we urge all political parties to create spaces for women and youths to play active roles within the party to ensure the implementation of the 35% affirmative action.
“On this day, let history have it that Nigerian women and youths have refused to stay quiet in the face of exclusion and rights denial. Let it be known that we salute the courage of women and youth groups present here today who have swung into action to demand for their rights to vote and be voted for, and we call on those yet to join us to add their voices. We hereby encourage the women and youths to work and walk in solidarity, to keep the flag flying. We are strengthened by the knowledge that this struggle for inclusion is for posterity and for children yet unborn,” the Programme Director, Dankabo however stated.