On Monday, female candidates for governorship in a number of political parties vowed to outperform their male rivals if they were elected in Nigeria’s 2023 elections.
They also criticized the majority of officials, especially the governors, for refusing to deliver democratic dividends to the people who elected them.
The female gubernatorial candidates spoke candidly to the media in Abuja during a consultative media parley sponsored by the United Nations Women (Nigeria) and the Government of Canada. The event was organized by Women Radio and Women in Business.
Although the percentage of women in parliament has quadrupled globally from 1995 to 26.4%, this has not been the situation for Nigeria, where women’s political representation has been steadily declining since 1999, according to Beatrice Eyong, the UN Women’s Country Representative.
Hansatu Adegbite, the executive director of WIMBIZ, lamented the underrepresentation of women in politics and government but expressed hope that, if not in 2023, they will have better opportunities in 2027 and beyond for political office, appointment, and administration.
Gladys Ngozika Johnson-Ogbuneke, a Social Democratic Party candidate for governor in Abia State, claimed that the #ENDSARS movement that rocked the country in 2020 was the result of poor governance.
She added that it was time for the government to give security and education more priority because the people of Abia state have endured for 31 years since the state’s creation.
“I watched with much sadness about the protests and movements in 2020. And I heard the stories about what goes on about police brutality in Nigeria. But I was very proud of the Nigerian youths. I was very encouraged that they’d come of age, and that they could now boldly ask questions. So that got me into organizing a zoom meeting with a group of them. And I found myself getting into civil talks and getting into civil political matters.
“Then I was also encouraged by them to come in and do something. We know in Nigeria, even though there is a democracy, we don’t have any government that looks into homelessness, education and any other social needs of the people. I plan to transform Abia State into a modern state. For 31 years, the best done by the people there is not enough.
“I am going to make sure that our schools are digitized. Abia State actually looks like a glorified village. When you go to Umuahia, there is nothing that anybody can copy. I promise to develop the state and do my best.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance’s candidate for governor in Niger State, Khadijat Abdullahi, claimed that despite the state having the greatest land area in the nation, its potential has not been fully realized.
She argued that in order to change the stereotypical view of women, they must step outside of their comfort zone.
“I will engage in the industrial revolution. Niger State has generated a total of about N7 trillion in Internally Generated Revenue and that even goes to the payment of workers. I am worried that there has to be a state of emergency on the water. We have four hydroelectric power systems and at a time, we have powered the all country before and we can still do that,” she said.
Anabel Cosmos, an Action Peoples Party candidate for governor in Delta State, emphasized the significance of changing the narrative to include more women.
She claimed that one of the main things working against women in politics was a lack of funding.
“Women are suffering, our educational sector is suffering. With the little appointment that was given to me in Delta after I contested the governorship election in 2019, I was able to carry out some empowerment programmes in all Senatorial District. But I have decided to change. What we need is money. Let us support ourselves. Women don’t support themselves. Enough of letting ourselves down in the public. We are managers in our homes, so we can manage our different States. I am here to challenge the men that I am going to do it better,” Cosmos said.
Dr. Ebiti Ndok-Jegede, the Allied Peoples Movement’s presidential candidate, claims that if her party were elected, it would reconstruct the nation.
She emphasized the need to revitalize dying sectors but added that for Nigeria to advance, its people must adopt a new perspective on governance.
“Every local government can’t be industrialized in isolation, thereby creating jobs. We can reconstruct Nigeria in very many ways by restructuring the economy of this nation. Inflation is high presently. Nigeria is a rich nation but see where we are today.
“So I’ve mentioned to you restoration, reviving, reconstruction, and restructuring. We need to revolutionize the mentality of Nigerians. You need to begin to think positively that only the best is good for you as a Nigerian and we all have to work today.
In order to advance women’s political leadership in the elections of 2023 and beyond, Eyong stated that the UN is committed to “strengthening our ties with government actors, the commercial sector, the media development partners, and civil society.”
She asserts that women now hold only 3.8% of all elected positions in both the national and state legislatures and that no woman has ever been chosen as governor in Nigeria’s election history.
“Everyone suffers from the under-representation of women and their organizations. Participation of women and girls in decision-making is needed for policies and budgets to effectively meet everyone’s needs and achieve crisis prevention, response, and recovery. When more women participate in public life and policymaking, greater emphasis and resource allocations point to social policies, environmental priorities and issues like health, education, childcare, infrastructure, ending violence against women and overall quality of life concerns.
“Several factors have militated against women’s effective participation and representation in politics, which you’re all aware of, having lived and experienced these challenges. These include limited funding to run political campaigns Economic disparities between men and women often mean that women cannot compete at the same level as men. For example, the cost of running an election campaign in Nigeria is astronomical and yet women in Nigeria earn 36 per cent less than men according to the World Economic Forum. Women are set back even before they begin.
“Women candidates have unequal access to media platforms to run their campaigns and create visibility for themselves. Candidates use mass media for political advertising and expend vast human and financial resources on planning and executing mass media campaigns; unfortunately, most women cannot afford this compared to their male counterparts. In situations where the media covers political activities voluntarily, women candidates are often not considered newsworthy.
“Consequently, they are overlooked. In some cases, the media is used to reinforce gender stereotypes, weakening the chances of women candidates being elected.”
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