By Constance Meju
As women advocates intensify calls for increased level of appointment of women into public office to bridge the gap fall of elected women in the 2019 general elections, they have been advised to-examine their strategies in line with exigencies in the political arena.
Hon Okorite Carrie-Adiele , former local Government Caretaker chairperson of Degema Local Government in Rivers State told National Point Newspaper in a chat in Port Harcourt that the power dynamics in politics from national to local level has to e understood so that the campaign to ring on more women in appointive positions becomes successful.
“There is need to understand how these things work in the constituencies both locally and nationally. There are persons in positions critical to this drive. I have come to understand that sme key persons must e on your side for you to get appointed and we need to work on such persons”
According to her, among party stakeholders-president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, National and State legislators, party chairmen, ward chairmen, for appointment at state level, you must get the endorsement of your constituency representative in the state House of Assembly and for national positions, your constituency representatives in the National Assembly.
She explained, “While seeking re-election as local government caretaker chairperson in my Degema Local Government Area, I came to understand that among key stakeholders, if your constituency representative in the Assembly is not with you, does not endorse you, you cannot e appointed even if other higher party chieftains endorse you.
“In my case, the deputy governor is key as leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in my local government area but even with her nomination you still need the approval of the legislator representing your constituency in the Assembly to get in. My then representative did not approve my nomination and because of that, I could not e appointed/ It is important to take our advocacy to where it matters,” she advised.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC made puic the outcome of the 2019 general elections, Nigerian women and women empowerment organizations have held several post-election meeetings to review the performance of women in the elections and chart a course to help address lapses observed.
A major observation was the fact that high violence, vote buying by politicians and lack of internal democracy within the main political parties created serious hurdles for women at the polls. It was also identified that women are yet to turn their numeric voting strength into opportunity for voting fellow women into power.
To ensure women’s voices vital for development are included in the 2018-2023 republic, women are demanding 50 per cent inclusion in appointive positions This call is backed y key stakeholders in the women struggle including the National Council for Women Societies, NCWS, the Women Trust Fund, Center for Democratic Development, CDD, among others.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration made up for women’s poor outing with the appointment of a high number of women into all sectors including the judiciary and military. That administration recorded 33 per cent appointment of women as ministers and into key positions before then the preserve of men. The Buhari administration has not followed up on this and his concentration has been on getting northern women, especially Muslims into government.
All Progress Congress, APC women, his party people, complained that AP treated women most unfairly among the parties. To correct this, women are calling for deliberate political will to place women in strategic positions in governance.
Demanding women inclusion in the leadership of the National Assembly in the new administration, first PDP female majority leader In the House of Representatives in the last dispensation, Hon Mulikat Ajkande-Adeola said, “I hope there will be women in the leadership of the 9th National Assembly because it tends to bring about stability but the way it is going now, I have not heard any female name being mentioned.
“If women get the necessary support; it is important that women are considered for such positions in the 9th National assembly”. The CDD has also been canvassing for leadership positions for women in the new Assembly.
Ms Idayat Hassan, CDD director told NAN in Abuja it is important that space is provided for women in the new Assembly.”In the spirit of inclusion, women should be given some of the leadership positions in the National Assembly.”
Commenting on issues of geopolitical consideration for picking candidates, Hassan sais, “ I personally do not understand why emphasis is on geopolitical zones. The all Progressive Congress, APC, must accord women and youths position in the leadership”. She said the quest for gender equality would not e achieved without the implementation of the gender policy provision which demands 30 per cent in appointive positions.
According to the CDD director, that is the only way women representation in government can receive needed boost in the just sworn-in administration. “The just concluded election has opened oyr eyes to the urgency of an affirmative action law to improve women representation in governance,” she noted.
Senior programme manager of CDD, Mr Austin Aigbe added, “The clamour is with good intention. If political parties failed to enhance the representation of women through elective positions, the elected government, in this case, the APC must do the needful to close the gender gap in governance,” .he said the goal should be the appointment of more than the minimum 33 per cent affirmative action.
He said APC must work to ensure it helps enthrones a high ranking female in the NASS as that would earn the Buhari government a better global image which the country badly needs.
According to him, during the ‘Change Agenda’ of the 2015-2019, the APC government did not have a good record of inclusion in governance. “Now that it is ‘Next Level’ let the change begin’, he challenged.
# For the Children#
Constance Meju is a Port Harcourt based journalist and publisher of National Point Newspaper, a human right, children advocate and gender equity activist.