We must extract commitments from presidential candidates to get our support – women group vows


By Aaron Ossai

Coalition of women groups operating under the aegis of Womanifesto vowed that all presidential candidates contesting in the 2023 general elections must disclose their plans for Nigerian women to get their support.

The coalition, comprising of over 500 women groups at it’s conference in Abuja said plans have been concluded to meet all the presidential candidates on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 to press home their demands.

The Conference is tagged National l Women’s Dialogue with the theme “Electoral Integrity and Accountability: Towards Corruption – Free Elections.”

The two-day event is funded and supported by MacArthur Foundation and Women’s Rights Advancement & Protection Alternative (WRAPA Nigeria) in partnership with Affirmative Action Initiative for Women.

Speaking at the occasion, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, co-Convener, Womanifesto Dialogue, said it was high time the political class desist from treating women as second class citizens in the country, stressing that “our identity and dignity as women matters.”

She said issues of top priority to women ahead of the 2023 polls are the declaration of state of emergency on violence against women and girl, increased women’s political participation, empowerment, sexual and reproductive health Rights for women, among others.

“We are asking for five concrete issue that the goverment should attend to. For example, on ending violence against women, we had noticed that about 31 out of the 36 states have been able to pass the Violence Against persons (Prohibition) VAPP, law, which was one of the things we put as a demand.

“But today, looking at the 2023 election, we are really alarmed with the extent of corruption that is going on, especially what happened during the primaries.

“We realised that the judiciary also has not been supportive of women. Imagine women were been asked by lawyers to bring N250 million to support their candidacy. The Ebonyi case is also there where the governor who had contested for the presidential primaries came back to hijack the senatorial ticket from a woman and we also have a case of a woman in Rivers state who had won governorship ticket but lost the election and lost the case which went to the tribunal.

“We believe it is time for us to discuss what is happening between the lawyers and judges. We want the 2023 elections go be corruption free. Therefore, this is a campaign that people should vote for women during the election.

“We don’t want to be second class citizens in the country. Our identity matters, and dignity as women matters. By tomorrow, we will meet the presidential candidates taking questions from them but from what we are seeing now, we haven’t seen anyone of them speaking for women”, she stated.

On her part, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Betty Apiafi lamented that she had received an assassination threat from unknown persons because of her position and political activities.

She said insecurity and bad state of the economy would hinder many female candidates from winning elections in 2023, alleging that there is a deliberate conspiracy to sideline women in politics.

Speaking further, Apiafi berated her colleagues for rejecting five gender bills during the last Constitutional Review.

“The more you have insecurity in the nation, the more difficult it is for any woman to win an election. In fact, the other day, I got a phone call from somebody telling me there is an assassin looking for me.

“Insecurity gets bad and worse during elections. So the issue of insecurity and the state of the economy is going to really be a big challenge to contend with during the next electio”, she added.

Also speaking at the occasion, Moji Makanjuola, the Executive Director, International Society for Media in Public Health lamented that despite attempts by past administrations to reach affirmative actions for women, the gender inclusion has dropped from 35 per cent to less than 10 per cent nationwide.

“If we have lost out on elective positions, we can still demand for appointed position and we need to start speaking to it until we get it right. You cannot leave almost 50 per cent of the population behind and think that they have nothing to contribute to nation building. We are not economically empowered, like the men, you know, to be able to compete favourably with them, sh noted.