• Presidential candidates promise to deliver on affirmative action, promote women’s rights
• We will hold you accountable to promises made, Akiyode-Afolabi vows
• INEC: 70 per cent of new voters PWDs, vulnerable groups
• Not too late to change Shettima, Northern Christian clerics tell Tinubu
• PDP mocks APC over delay in presidential campaigns
• Tinubu: Obaseki reckless for wishing Nigeria will break up if APC wins
Presidential candidates have responded, in part, to the coalition of women groups, which demanded on Monday, that contestants running for next year’s election should lay out their plans for women and girls across the country.
Speaking, yesterday, at the Voice of Women (VOW) 2022 conference and awards, held in Abuja, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, described how shameful and terrible the situation of things in the country currently is. He said the country is collapsing and women cannot be ignored in the rescue mission.
“If anyone says to you that they want to rule this country, let them show you their past record on women’s representation and competency. My tenure as governor had very strong women representation because I understand the value women bring to the table and the state was better for it. I attribute my success as governor to the capable women I surrounded myself with.
“As Anambra governor, I had a female deputy. My chief of staff was a woman. My commissioners for planning, local government affairs, education and finance were women. Also, the state Accountant-General in my tenure was a woman.”
He went on to add that for the country to move forward, women must be engaged in governance and decision-making as antecedents have shown that women can manage finances better. “With the way the country is going, a bag of rice is heading to N60,000 – two months minimum wage, this is terrible,” he said.
Obi noted that the country is riddled with leadership and systemic failure but this can be corrected next year by “giving competent women and youths the chance to right the wrongs. Looking at other countries, especially Bangladesh, elected women into key areas of their economy and it has started showing a massive difference.
“Today, they are at less than six per cent unemployment while Nigeria is in double digits and rising every day. Of the 10 million involved in the textile business over there, 60 per cent are women and the rural women are doing wonderfully in agriculture.”
He added that he would ensure that women, who have been exempted from the helm of affairs so far, would be strategically positioned in his cabinet.
VOW convener and CEO, of Women Radio 91.7, Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, said the conference was necessary to hear what the candidates have in store for women as they have been lied to and subjugated for too long in the scheme of things.
“We hold this conference yearly because we understand that the voices of women are often ignored and are only sought when it is time for elections. We want a different outcome next year, we want to be sought after now and allowed to make decisions that affect everyone after the elections. We want our voices, opinions and expertise to matter, which is why we are asking today what these candidates would do for us before we elect them. The era of use and dump must end,” she said.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was absent. Also absent was the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, although he was represented by his running mate, Kashim Shettima.
Shettima assured Nigerian women that Tinubu’s administration would be friendly to them if voted into power in 2023. Shettima said APC would make equity and fairness to women a top priority of the Tinubu administration.
He said: “The Asiwaju administration will be a government that will be friendly to women. They are the backbone of our society because they constitute over 50 per cent of our total population.”
The candidate for Young Progressive Party (YPP), Ado Ibrahim Abdulmalik, pointed out that women make up half of the country’s population and he intends to ensure this is reflected across all appointive positions if elected. He said over 80 per cent of the people working with him currently are women and the “results we get to speak for themselves. If someone says they would do something, check if they have done it before because actions speak louder than words.”
Action Alliance (AA) presidential candidate, Hamza Al-Mustapha, said he intends to dignify women as their participation in politics is important. He said he would build strong institutions that will foster women in leadership.
Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adewole Adebayo, said he is committed to advancing women’s issues when he emerges president. He noted that it is important to eliminate violence against women if more women must become involved in politics.
Chair of the conference and co-convener, of Womanifesto Dialogue, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, presented the Womanifesto Charter of demands to all the candidates, vowing to hold them accountable to their promises after the elections next year. She added that women are tired of playing second fiddle in the nation’s affairs as the number of women representation continues to dwindle after every election cycle.
“We hoped that a state of emergency regarding violence against women be declared. Our goal here is to increase women’s participation across the board, away from the tokenism we have been offered in the past. Women must be respected in this country going forward and our participation in every single thing should be sacrosanct and non-debatable.”
Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, lamented that female candidacy remains unsupported and pleaded that female candidate must be encouraged and given every support available to excel. She promised that going into the elections next year, she would only work with and canvass women to support candidates that will honour and appoint women.
Representing the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, Senior Special Assistant on Administration and Women Affairs, Rukayyatu Gurin, commended the organisers, adding that this has become timely in airing women’s dissatisfaction with political and administrative representation. She urged women to go with candidates that have shown they have their best interest at heart and would work to better their lots in the upcoming elections.
Director of Programmes for YIAGA Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, added that six parties made commitments to women at the conference and they would all be held to their promises.
MEANWHILE, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said 70 per cent of new registrants in the recently concluded voter registration exercise were vulnerable groups, including Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs).
INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Outreach and Partnership Committee, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, stated this at the Federal Capital Territory PLWD civic and political organising lab, under the aegis of Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) with support from Participate Today and National Endowment for Democracy.
Ajayi, therefore, called on political parties to take the lead in encouraging the full participation of PLWDs as citizens with equal rights in all party processes, procedures and activities.
Executive Director of IFA, Grace Jerry, outlined what political parties should do to ensure inclusion in the 2023 electioneering process. She said: “All political parties must work to ensure that the code of conduct for parties should provide very clear measures to administratively review provisions for all PLWDs in various political parties.
“Political parties should deliberate about the production of their campaign materials to ensure they are in accessible formats to reach different clusters of PLWDs. For instance, braille forms, audio, sign language/subtitled videos, etc.”
Jerry called on CSOs to advocate for the rights of all persons in the political and electoral spaces, irrespective of
gender, disability and age.
NOTWITHSTANDING the composition and inauguration of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), it is not too late for Tinubu to change his running mate, Shettima, Northern Christian clerics have said.
The Northern Christian leaders and heads of different support groups, at a town hall meeting in Abuja, on Tuesday, to review the participation of Christians in the ruling party’s campaigns, warned that it would withdraw the support of millions of its followers across the country should APC proceed with Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate.
They made their displeasure known in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting jointly signed by Lucas Bako, Pastor Dauda Yakubu, Yuguda Augustine, Deaconess Jessica Nuhu, Elder Williams Unogwu, Dr Theodore Uji, Pastor Ambas Kelvin, Haruna Vincent and Bish Emeka.
Convener of the coalition, Lucas Bako, while reading the communiqué, lamented the neglect of Christians, noting that fielding a same-faith ticket in an election is, by all standards, a national threat and one that must not be allowed to stand.
He observed that though the timeframe for the substitution of candidates according to the Electoral Act had elapsed, it is still possible for the party to make a change if they have the interest of Nigeria at heart.
They argued that if the Electoral Act allowed for a candidate to withdraw from the contest by notifying INEC not later than 90 days before the election, the deputy can also make use of the window to resign.
“Neglecting these grievances around the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket for the election could breed further resentment, costing the party its expected victory in the forthcoming election.”
THE PDP PCC, yesterday, decried the lateness of APC’s presidential campaigns despite its “entitlement and incumbency claims.” It, however, commended its presidential candidate, Atiku, for wasting no time in commencing his campaigns immediately after INEC declared it opened last month.
The spokesperson of PDP PCC, Senator Dino Melaye, said “the wide acceptability of Atiku is becoming evidential, incontrovertible and unassailable because of the early commencement of campaigns.
“Since the starting gun was fired by INEC, Atiku, his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa and the party have gained a headstart, while Tinubu and APC are still rehearsing, in the self-conceited misconception of entitlement and power of incumbency,” Melaye said.
Melaye explained that “to be sure, Atiku has not only launched his campaign, but he has also moved from South to North and North to South within two weeks, drawing great and enthusiastic supporters and selling his agenda to Nigerians.”
TINUBU has, however, described the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, as a misfit for the office he currently occupies. Tinubu was reacting to comments by Obaseki that Nigeria would break up should the APC win the next presidential election.
Obaseki had also described the APC as a failure, alleging that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration now prints money and gives it to states as their monthly share from the Federation Account.
“While inaugurating the Edo chapter of the already-destined-to-fail PDP campaign council in Benin, the underperforming, ever-loquacious governor, Obaseki, betrayed his oath of office by wishing for the break up of our country because of his brand of crass partisanship,” Tinubu stated.
Tinubu, in the statement by the Director, Media and Publicity of his PCC, Bayo Onanuga, noted that Obaseki told “his band of jesters that Nigeria will break up if our party wins the 2023 presidential election.
“For a man who swore an oath of allegiance to the sovereignty and unity of Nigeria to be a purveyor of ill-will towards the same country because of partisan politics smirks of total irresponsibility and recklessness unbecoming of a governor who has a constitutionally sanctioned duty to preserve the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria.
“It is worth stating that we are not in any way surprised about Obaseki’s outburst about Nigeria’s breaking. He is, by nature, a divisive, obnoxious and toxic human being that lacks the introspection and contemplation expected of a person occupying the office of a governor. He is obviously a man bereft of any iota of emotional intelligence and perhaps a misfit for the role he currently occupies.”