Last weekend’s political primaries saw the emergence of almost 90 per cent male candidacy making it obvious that women are gradually being ousted from the political terrain. JOY YESUFU, in this report, examines factors that mitigated against most women during the process.
Last week was a beehive of activities for all the political parties as every one jostled to get candidates for different positions ranging from state houses of assembly, Senate, House of Representative, Governorship and the big one, Presidential for the forthcoming 2019 general elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier told all political parties that October 7 remains the deadline for conduct of primaries for all elective positions for the 2019 general elections and resolution of disputes emanating from the primaries.
INEC said that the conduct of primaries and resolution of all disputes arising from it must be concluded on or before October 7, 2018 as earlier published in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections. It was noted at the end of the primaries that the highest positions given to women by big political parties were very few senatorial seats.
No woman emerged as either the governorship or presidential candidate of the big parties. The highest position women have attained in Nigeria is deputy governor and such position isn’t really elective but by appointment or attachment. In 2015 former minister of women affairs, Mrs Aisha Alhassan, emerged the governorship candidate of Taraba State under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) but lost out in a fierce contest to the current governor of the state, Dairus Ishaku. Some observers are of the opinion that men actually make the political terrain tough so their women counter parts won’t scale through as they don’t want the women folk to rule them in this clime. Though, Nigeria’s former minister of education and co-founder of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ movement, Oby Ezekwesili, on Sunday emerged the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria.
But looking at history of elections in Nigeria, only the big parties and men alone have had the privilege of holding the number one position in the country. Like one of the holy books says, it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle than for this party candidate to win this exalted position. In a swift reaction to the outcome of the primaries of all political parties held last weekend, the President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Mrs Gloria Shoda, during a press briefing in Abuja, said women were deliberately frustrated and marginalised by the big parties with exorbitant prices for nominations and expression of interest forms including violence. Shoda said chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshomole, during a political summit organised by the council assured women of soft landing and to carry them along at all levels. She said president Muhammadu Buhari also gave them same assurance. “I have been watching the primaries with keen interest. The first thing that struck my mind was the amount women were asked to pay.
“Let me use the two major political parties. Women were asked to pay exorbitant prices for presidential election, #45 million for APC while PDP asked for #12 million naira. I don’t see how women will get #12 million naira not to talk about the #45 million naira. “For governorship, APC demanded for #22 million while PDP asked for #6 million and so on. “In APC, there was no concession for women at all. How do they expect women to fare when there is no concession for them. Women are not money bags, we don’t have much, women struggle.
“We heard that PDP had some concession for women because they were asked to pay for only expression of interest forms while some other political parties didn’t collect money at all from women to encourage them to participate in political processes”. The president of NCWS further said with this type of exorbitant rates for forms, women are not encouraged to join politics at all while questioning Oshomole on motives behind his decision of not giving concession to women.
“If women were given concession in APC, more of them would have been able to contest,” she said. She decried the high level of violence that marred the primaries thereby frustrating efforts of some few women who struggled to buy the forms. “Some of the women managed to buy the expensive forms but the violence that ensued would not allow them go to the venue. It inhibited a lot of women from coming out. The people that would have voted for these women couldn’t come out and the women delegates were also scared of coming out”. She said another thing that frustrated women candidacy was buying of votes stressing that the few women that were able to struggle to buy forms didn’t have extra money to bribe delegates.
“I don’t know where our democracy is going. Where is the inclusiveness that we were promised? Where is the 35 per cent affirmative action? Where is the promise that women will be carried along?”
She called on all women as their national president to vote for only parties that were fair to them during the forthcoming general elections urging them to vote for fellow women candidates even if they are vying in small political parties. She maintained that some parties’ policies indirectly told women that they don’t want them in their fold.
“Women, please vote for only parties that have been fair to women. When you find a woman, even if it’s in the smallest party, please vote for her in 2019. Women support women like yourself.
“My grouse is against parties that have made life unbearable for women in this just concluded primary elections through exorbitant prices, violence and money display. Women are not happy about this at all.”Observers are of the opinion that if only one political party out of the 91 in the country could pick a woman as their presidential candidate, then more needs to be done by their male counterparts as it’s obvious that they are the ones that mostly determine the processes. They are also urging those who have not picked their deputies or vice to look out for women candidates so as to encourage more women to participate in political process and balance participation on both sides.
They maintain that if such process as we have now continue in the political terrain in Nigeria, women will be gradually and subsequently totally ousted from vying or holding political positions.
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