Promoting Women, Youths in Pursuit of a Better Nigeria

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Politics they say shape the economy and invariably, lives of citizens. While many see it as a dirty game and avoid it, they must however live with the outcome. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that the forthcoming 2023 general elections is another litmus test for the polity, especially for the ruling party, All Progressives Congress and its plans for women and the youths, all in pursuit for a better Nigeria

Ladi Adesanya is a medical doctor. He has been for 15 years. The last time he participated in any electoral process in Nigeria was during the June 12, 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola. Efforts to convince him to either join a political party or participate as a voter have been met with his ready answer: “Politics is a dirty game.”

Adesanya is not alone. Several Nigerians share this view and have distanced themselves from the political process. Unfortunately, as dirty as politics is, it determines a lot of things about the life of every Nigerian.

The economy, for instance, is controlled by the political class. The medical profession to which Adesanya belongs depends on the political class for a lot of things. Really, no facet of Nigerian life is complete with the political class influencing it directly or otherwise.

Decision Making Powers

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Mbang David, is of the view that a patriotic citizen should need no motivation to get involved in politics.

“Politics is the field where decision-makers emerge. The decisions made by political leaders affect each and every one of us, so anyone who wants a good deal for himself and that of his family will be interested in what happens in the political scene,” David said.

Mobilising Youths

David, who is the President of the National Youth Summit Group, is mobilising the youth to embrace politics. The foundation of any good government, he added, is the political party. If the majority of the youth, he added, get involved in the activities of their political parties, it will go a long way in bringing the much-needed energy into the Nigerian project and will instantly change the Nigerian story.

“I encourage my brothers and sisters to hinge on things that give us an advantage. Things like youthful strength, social media and the Entertainment Industry are just a few things we have control of. If we capitalise on these and remain resolute, I believe 2023 will smile on the youth of this great nation and give us an opportunity to contribute to the national development,” he said.

As the country moves towards another general election, there are campaigns for people to participate either as card-carrying members of a political party or as a voter. The ruling APC, for instance, is mounting an aggressive membership drive. It started some months back after Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni took over the leadership of the party in a caretaker capacity.

The Import of Women in Shaping Society

It would be stating the obvious to reiterate the import of women in politics especially when it comes to grassroot mobilisation. This much was made clear at the maiden National Progressives Women Conference held in Abuja last week.

According to Mai Buni, APC parades over 41 million registered members, thus reinforces their position as Africa’s largest political party and of course, Nigeria’s leading political party. “With this, we are confident of winning the 2023 general with huge success,” he said, but not without the help of the women-the grassroot mobilisers.

The Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) National Chairman also urged women to embrace politics and preach the doctrine of peaceful elections across the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“You should enlighten your spouses, children, brothers, in-laws, neighbours and the larger society that we must not see the election as a do-or-die affair. We should promote peaceful elections and service delivery against personal gains.

“Today, Nigeria proudly parades a good number of women at the federal and state levels, as well as in political offices serving with excellence.

“At the home front, you define the future of the country through great values and support to your spouses which helps in shaping the society and modelling the present and future of the country.

“Politically, women have always played key roles in our electioneering process and administration. You remain the best and most reliable mobilisers of support to any political party and its candidates. You have always been there on queue on election days,” Buni said.

Buni expressed gratitude to the party’s women for their support before, during and after the exercise. The National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Women Representative is Hon Stella Okotete.

He said the party was looking forward to more support from the women during its February 26 National Convention and during the 2023 general elections.

He described the APC as the most women-friendly party in the country and vowed that the party would support women’s political aspirations to enable them realise their political dreams.

“We look forward to having more women contesting in the forthcoming National Convention of the party and the 2023 general elections.

“Now, as we approach the convention and move closer to the next general election, l wish to remind you of your progressive role in supporting progressive-minded leaders,” Buni added.

Need for Progressive-minded Leaders

Really, for Nigerians to have a better Nigeria, the role of progressive-minded leaders cannot be over-emphasised. That is why David is urging Nigerians not to stay away from politics because of the state of things.

“There is a popular saying, that goes, “Rome was not built in a day”. This applies to everything great. The economic condition of a country is dependent on so many past, present, and future factors. Nigeria is not different. Even with the global effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria should do better; but I am more concerned on the pathway and direction we are headed.

“The rejuvenation of our railways, expansion of our ports and reconstruction of key road networks, shows we are heading in the right direction. For the first time in a very long time, Nigerians are using the Trains.

“Nigeria has the potential to be one of the greatest countries in the world. All we need is, Patience, Patriotism, and a Plan. I see this administration has a plan, what we need now is patience and a patriotic citizenry,” he said.

Timely Reconciliation

Well, how the APC handles its national convention and subsequent political events will go a long away to assure Nigerians of a better Nigeria.

“Wherever there is interaction, there will be friction. Being the largest black political party in the world comes with its challenges. But trust me, the APC will come out of its convention stronger and more united,” the President, National Youth Summit Group.

Buni and his co-travellers say there is no cause for alarm as far as the convention is concerned. They say nothing short of a world-class convention will be delivered on February 26.

Mayowa Alakija, a chieftain of the party, said: “The differences we have in the APC today is not a big deal; it is merely family rancour because we are one big family. Though there are personal and selfish interests here and there, I am optimistic that at the end of the day, these issues would be sorted out amicably; knowing full well that they would have implications on the party. So, I believe the differences would be sorted out and the convention would hold next month. The leadership of the party would ensure that it happens.”

To ensure it remains a political party that will encourage more Nigerians to join the political train, the CECPC, it is said, is determined to work against impunity and flagrant abuse of the constitution and procedures in activities leading to and during the national convention.

A source told this newspaper: ” The CECPC is ready to set the party structures aright by ensuring compliance with all sacrosanct rules and regulations of the party and the Electoral Act as it pertains to the national convention. The CECPC will build on its relatively successful ward, LGA congresses and state congresses during the convention. We have a stronger membership base now, less litigations and rancour and the convention will be the ultimate achievement of the CECPC and it will give the party the legitimacy to maintain its hold on power across the country.”

An insider said the CECPC is also intent on timely reconciliation of aggrieved members, identification and collation of delegates to the national convention as well as display of the list prior to the convention to avoid another set of rancour.

Many have expressed worry over the readiness of the party for an elective convention. Consensus candidacy is recognised by both the APC constitution and the Electoral Act for the purpose of choosing the National Executive Committee (NEC). This route is seriously being considered as a way of minimising rancour. This, it is believed, will reduce post-convention litigations once units and groups within the party agree to the consensus deal. An appendage of this is the zoning of political offices, which the CECPC is fine-tuning its details. It is the belief of the party’s leadership that zoning and consensus will give the party a united front to deal the opposition another blow in 2023.

CECPC Secretary Senator John James Akpanudoedehe told reporters that zoning had not been concluded.

He said: “I’m here to debunk the fake news going around on the social media that we have zoned offices. We are yet to meet on the issue of zoning.

“The news and rumour making round are fake. We never discussed the issue during our deliberations. People should disregard the story because it is fake news. It is not true.”

The timetable unveiled by the caretaker committee shows that it will receive the interim report of the National Reconciliation Committee on January 31, 2022. It will consider and adopt reports of state congresses on February 2, 2022.

The schedule of activities, which the Secretary signed, also shows that the inauguration of the state executives will take place on February 3, 2022.

The sale of forms to aspirants for national offices is slated for February 14, 2022 at the party National Secretariat while submission of completed forms will take place on or before February 19, 2022

The caretaker committee also fixed the publication of sub-committees for February 19, 2022 and screening of aspirants between February 20 and 22, 2022.

The Screening Appeal Committee, the schedule shows, will hear and resolve complaints on February 23, 2022. The accreditation of statutory and elected delegates to the National Convention will take place between February 24 and 25, 2022 before the National Convention is held on February 26, 2022. The hearing of complaints arising from the National Convention will be conducted on February 28, 2022.

Move for a Better Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari, who Buni briefed before the release of the schedule, is looking forward to a national convention that will produce a party controlled by the people, which analysts believe is a good step towards having a better Nigeria.

The president said: “There is no kingmaker from Abuja. No constituency is being dictated to. All constituencies are supposed to produce their leadership in our party. What other parties are doing is their own business, but we want to make sure that our party members understand that they are respected. It is from polling unit, to ward to local government, to state and after Abuja. So, those who want to be elected at any level let them work for it. Nobody is going to appoint anybody.”

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“Today, Nigeria proudly parades a good number of women at the federal and state levels, as well as in political offices serving with excellence. At the home front, you define the future of the country through great values and support to your spouses which helps in shaping the society and modelling the present and future of the country”