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, stressing that 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,” Obi said.
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.
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.
Culled from TheGuardian