Ahead of the 2023 general elections, female politicians in Nigeria are demanding for special slots of elective positions to be reserved for only women contestants for various positions across the country.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, made the demand at the capacity building for female legislators/politicians and civil society organisations on lobbying and lawmaking in Nigeria, organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), UN Women and UNDP in Abuja.
She said the 360 seats in the House of Representatives and 109 in the Senate are seen as an entitlement of men and they are not letting anyone come in, adding that the seats of the few women in the National Assembly are being contested by 360 men.
The principal officer of the lower chamber, who represented the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, also alleged that the men are also calling on their friends to come and take over the seats of the female legislators and throw them out.
She explained that the women want a situation where they will be entitled to seats. “Give us assurance that these seats will be contested by women, it is not a dash, it is not for free, it will be contested for, but it will just be for only women. Meaning that on the day of the election the 360 seats can be contested for by everybody, but there shall be an additional seat that will only be for women, so parties will field women only”.
In his remarks, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, DG of NILDS, said a report by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) shows “that 2,970 women were on the electoral ballot in the 2019 general elections, representing only 11.36% of nominated candidates.
“In the end, only 62 women were elected, representing 4.17% of the elected officials, representing a decline from the 2015-19 figures.”
According to him, the pandemic had even further worsened existing inequalities as it affected women more disproportionately than men.