*Meets PDP, APC leaders
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alahasan, has asked the leadership of political parties in Nigeria to adopt a policy of voluntary electoral party gender quota system as a means of guaranteeing more participation of the womenfolk in politics and governance.
She described the initiative as a deliberate strategy of earmarking constituencies solely for women candidates during an election.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when she led other women leaders in separate advocacy visits to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the minister regretted that Nigeria is still trailing other African countries in the area of women participation in politics.
In her address, Alahasan lamented that Nigeria remains one of the most backward and poor performing countries on the African continent, in the area of womenâ€™s political participation and leadership.
â€œAlthough the Nigerian constitution guarantees equality for everyone in all spheres, women have not enjoyed this constitutional right. As a result, we have been overtaken by countries like Rwanda with 66 percent womenâ€™s representation in parliament; South Africa with 40 percent; Seychelles over 50 percent; Ghana 35 percent and a large chunk of other African countries with over 25 percent. Unfortunately, Nigeria stands at less than 6 percent making Nigeria the â€˜Giant of Africa,â€™ but a midget in comparison to others in this area,â€ she said.
The minister pleaded with the party leaders to join hands with the women even as various political parties commence preparations for 2019 general election.
Apart from seeking gender quota, the minister said women are demanding that APC, PDP and other political parties make womenâ€™s wings within political parties part of the political party decision making structures; formulate strategies for prevention of, and mitigation measure for violence against women in elections.
â€œIn addition to the above measures, permit me to also highlight the need for more sustainable solutions to reverse the trend of womenâ€™s under-representation in politics, which requires conscious efforts to interrogate the numerous factors that suppress womenâ€™s political participation and successful emergence at the polls,â€ she stated.
Responding, National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun, expressed disappointment over the reports, saying: â€œI am taken aback despite our population.â€
He, however, assured the minister that his leadership would ensure an improvement and ensure that more women are given opportunities in political leadership.
On his part, the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the party would rather support the enactment of a law in support of the gender parity in politics and participation in governance.
â€œIf it is in compliance with the law, everybody will comply, but if you leave it flexible, it is an escapist route. Forget about the free nomination form, pay and get the ticket. Let us do the right thing,â€ he said.