Features: Challenges faced by Nigerian women, PWDs in politics

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(Last Updated On: 2023-01-08)

By Ibrahim Kegbegbe

Is it not high time journalists started the advocacy against gender inequality and also agitate towards the realization of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in political activities in Africa, especially in Nigeria, the giant of Africa?

Even though there are waivers on nomination fees for female aspirants in all the political parties in Nigeria and the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had also pleaded for an increase in seats for women in both the Federal and State legislatures, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has officially stated 1,524 women in its portal as candidates to be voted for in the 2023 general elections.

In a statement on Tuesday, 20 September 2022, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, added that 11 persons with disability (PWDs) are among those contesting for various political positions.

With the popular saying, “What a man can do, a woman can do it better”, and the street interview our correspondent conducted with most Nigerian women; the PWDs and some men who are not partisans are expecting almost 8 female Presidential candidates among the 18 relevant political parties in Nigeria.

 

“Women are specially created as domestic; social-economic and political regulators. They are sympathetic and have the inner ability to change any unfavourable conditions to favourable ones without stress,” Folashade Amodu from Mushin said.

 

in contradictory to the views of those who wanted more female presidential candidates among the presidential aspirants, the list of the presidential candidates for the 2023 general election, after the political parties had conducted their primary elections, has been published by the INEC: Imumolen Christopher  – Accord Party (AP); Al-Mustapha Hamza – Action Alliance (AA); Sowore Omoyele – African Action Congress (AAC); Kachikwu Dumebi – African Democratic Congress (ADC); Sani Yabagi Yusuf  – Action Democratic Party (ADP); Tinubu Bola Ahmed – All Progressives Congress (APC); Umeadi Peter Nnanna –  All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Ojei Princess Chichi – Allied People’s Movement (APM); Nnamdi Charles Osita – Action Peoples Party (APP); Adenuga Sunday Oluwafemi – Boot Party (BP); Obi Peter Gregory – Labour Party (LP); Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso  – New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP); Osakwe Felix Johnson  –  National Rescue Movement (NRM); Abubakar Atiku – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Abiola Latifu Kolawole – Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Adebayo Adewole Ebenezer – Social Democratic Party (SDP); Ado-Ibrahim Abdumalik  – Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Nwanyanwu Daniel Daberechukwu – Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

 

However, the female aspirants before the primary elections were conducted: Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi of the Social Democratic Party; Uju Ohanenye, an aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ojei Princess Chichi – Allied People’s Movement (APM), Carol Nwosu of the African Action Congress (AAC), Ibinabo Joy Dokubo, also of the APC; Patience Key of the People’s Redemption Party; Olivia Diana Teriela, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and Angela Johnson of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.

 

Ojei Princess Chichi of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) is the only female presidential aspirant, among her contemporaries, who is now the presidential candidate of her party.

 

Are the executives in all the political parties in Nigeria of the same opinion as President Muhammadu Buhari on the First Lady’s criticism of APC governance in 2016 where he said:
“I don’t know exactly what party my wife belongs to. Actually she belongs in the kitchen, the living room and the other rooms in my house.” This was what President Muhammed Buhari told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on October 16, 2016.

 

On Monday, 3rd of January, 2022, I witnessed the presidential declaration of a 38-year-old youth development advocate, Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi, who was the first female to declare interest in running for the office of the president in the 2023 general elections.

Okunnu-Lamidi is the daughter of Lateef Femi Okunnu (SAN), a former Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing, who is the President of Isale-Eko Descendants Union and an elder statesman while her mother, Arinola Omololu, is a businesswoman of Ago-Owu pedigree.

On that day of her declaration, she said, “It is all Nigerians who suffer the effects in one way or another; the blacksmith in Sokoto, the farmer in Ogun state, the trader in Lagos, the fisherman in Bayelsa, the miner in Jos and the sculptor in Anambra. Rich and poor, young and old are all affected by the high and ever-rising cost of living, high youth unemployment, poor healthcare, environmental degradation and even the deplorable state of the roads which we travel each day. All these things make us less safe and less happy.”

Despite her intelligence and competence, She was disqualified by her party in June, as she was advised to go for one of the other positions like the local government chairman, member of the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly.

I had, earlier in March 2021, interviewed Ms Tita Young, the President of International Women’s Society Nigeria (IWS) on the participation of women in politics in Nigeria and the report was published on the 14th of March 2021 on Daily Trust Medium.

The excerpt, that is related to the current issue, from the interview:

Question: How would you rate the overall input of women in the political and economic development in Nigeria?
Answer: The overall input? ‘Significant but undervalued!’. Economically, women do quite a lot. In the formal sector, though you have less of a female presence, they do contribute. However, in the informal sector, though behind the scene, their impact on the economy of Nigeria, cannot be denied. For example, most of those who do farming in most parts of Nigeria are women. Yes, the men do the hoeing, etc., but it’s the women who are the planters and they do the reaping and sorting out. They start small-scale businesses – buying and selling on the streets and at the market and in some cases make enough to educate their children.

They develop skills and master the art of multi-tasking, and they provide child care support which the men would have to pay for if the wife wasn’t there, this in itself is a contribution to the economy as the work they do, can be said to enable men to go out to work.
Politically, never forget the importance of market women when it comes to the vote. Politicians know that they are a powerful force and court them when it comes to elections. Yet, we have never had a female governor. When a woman vies for posts like that, sometimes slur campaigns maligning them become the order of the day, they have even been known to have been threatened with violence.
Question: What are the challenges facing women in society and how can they be addressed?

Answer: The traditional mindset is where vulnerable and less privileged women are excluded from education and are taught to believe that their place is solely in the home. They are still not being afforded the same opportunities of self-expression and economic empowerment to the extent of the men and so they end up being financially dependent on their husband.
Politicians on their part could focus more on women, particularly the vulnerable and less privileged and provide a more enabling environment. The standard of education needs to be raised significantly and the difference between right and wrong, the moral culture, should be introduced into the curriculum. There should be leadership by example! There is also a huge need for a lot more dissemination of information on things like redress and where to go for it and other options, in a language which they understand.

 

A Sensitization Meeting On the Promotion of Gender Mainstreaming and Values For Community Development Through The Media was held at the Al-Muwaffiq Hall, Mushin LGA on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. The activity involved participants and stakeholders such as Religious leaders, Community women leaders, PWDs leaders and representatives from Media Organizations and institutes.

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The activity was a component of a project on “Promoting empowerment of women and vulnerable groups for participation and inclusion in social and economic development in peri-urban areas of Lagos State” implemented by The Institute For Media and Society (A Media NGO) and funded by the European Union Agents For Citizen Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) Programme, managed by the British Council.

The Sensitization meeting also explored approaches to the Effective Implementation of Identified Citizen Driven Responses to the Participation of Vulnerable Groups (Women, Youths, PWDs) in the Electoral Process and Decision Making for Community Development; and engaging the media, a stakeholder that had been identified as a strategic partner.

While addressing the participants, Strategic and Development Communication Specialist, Dr Ismail Olawale, said Nigerian media practitioners; journalists could only break gender inequality by engaging more in the reporting of community issues through which the views of women and people with disabilities could be strategically sent to the government.

He added that men should be sensitized that women are not second fiddles and that they should be allowed to participate in political meetings.

“Women and the people with disabilities are not participating fully in politics because crucial political meetings do take place at night. So, we urge all political parties to always hold meetings during the day,” he said.

The editor of Social Development News, Funmi Falobi, said that to have more women in the political arena, journalists should engage women in interviews deliberately than men.

She added that the media should talk more about the appointment of women in the kitchen cabinets of the government when men are the majority of political candidates.

Falobi said women from the community should always call the radio stations to explain their complaints and always invite journalists to cover their community meetings.

“The women at the top should mentor more women as men do and the women at the grassroots should start practising politics from home and in the community,” she said.

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