Nigeria at 58: Clamour for Intensified Women Participation in Leadership 

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By Mary Nnah

The Independence Day celebration might have come and gone, but it afforded an opportunity to re-intensify the clamour for more women to occupy leadership positions across board. 

This was the view of HRH Appolus Chu, the Egbere Emere Okori Eleme, Rivers State, who chaired a women’s summit recently in Abuja. 

According to the organisers, the summit was a deliberate women agenda to ensure a greater representation and participation of women at all levels of governance.

Tagged, “Increasing Women Participation in Nigeria Democratic Process”, the summit  held in Federal Capital Territory,  was organised by the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), National Council for Women Societies and Women in Politics Forum in collaboration with the office of the wife of the president.  

Chu who applauded the role and contributions of women to the development of the society, described them as effective managers who needs to be encouraged.

Charging them to be confident in themselves and learn to support one another he said: “You would agree with me that women are leading and are doing extremely well in various organisations and in whatever portfolio they are given. 

“Nigerian women are not known for sabotaging government efforts, rather, they are diligent managers. We have seen that mostly from those occupying ministerial positions and other top offices across the federation. 

“One advice I will give to you is to learn to support each other knowing that the men are your major competitors. The energy you would have used to campaign for a man, use it to support your fellow women.”

The summit which was geared towards strategising measures to strengthen women participation in politics and encourage gender equality had in attendance President Muhammadu Buhari and wife, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari.

Chu was quick to applaud Buhari and wife for their contribution and support to women generally, while also commending the president’s anti-corruption crusade. 

He however, did not also fail to commend the organisers for coordinating women from across the federation to discuss the way forward and also to ensure that women were encouraged and accommodated in the scheme of things in the country, especially in the political terrain.

He said: “I must specially than President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife for their support to the women irrespective of political party affiliations. Bringing them together in this gathering truly depicts the beauty of true leadership. 

“I strongly commend His Excellency for his anti-corruption crusade as this has gone a long way rebranding our image in the international community.”

He also advised the men not to use their strength to dominate the women, while also tasking various political parties to accommodate women in their planning, so as to give space for the women to rule.  

“One advice I would give to the women is that you should be a partner to one another because if you do not support your fellow women, you should know that men, who are your competitors in this race are watching and will take advantage of any weakness you exhibit.  

“So you must support one another and the strength that you have been using to mobilise for men, use it for yourselves so that you can set a difference.”

Present at the event were wives of governors, political party leaders, female political aspirants from the 36 states and other concern citizens.

One of the participants, Ms Janet Febisola Adeyemi, a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a fellow of the Geological Society of Nigeria, who has shown interest in running for senate having notably served in Nigeria National House of Representative at several points, said: “One of the critical points is that Nigeria cannot continue to slide down the slope.

“The National Assembly is supposed to be a place for making good laws. We need to revise our laws in Nigeria and make adaptable to the development of our country.”

Another woman, Engr. (Mrs) Roseline Ada Chenge, a female governorship aspirant in Benue State, who has had unsuccessful attempts at politics in the past, but has still not given up hope, shared her bitter experience.

She said: “It has been pains all through. We are grateful our president is here today to hear us. I am re-contesting and this is my third time. I am so encouraged because I know that this time around, our pains will not be in vain.

“In 2015 election, I came second runner-up to Samuel Ortom of Benue State and here I am today still on it because of women. I am contesting to be governor of Benue state come 2019 on the platform of APC and I believe that there would be peace. 

“Benue needs peace and it is only a woman that can give peace to Benue, where every resident will have peace and every visitor will be welcomed and our children will not be killed.”