Out of the 988 state assembly seats across the 36 states of the federation, only 48 female lawmakers, representing 4.85 per cent, were elected in the just concluded elections, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
The poor outing of women in the just concluded elections has once again brought to the fore, an existential problem, which experts believe would require serious legislation at the national level for a certain percentage to be reserved for the womenfolk in the spirit of fairness.
Those who spoke to our correspondents said that considering Nigeria’s diversity and the struggle to nurture its nascent democracy, women deserve a voice in policy-making, articulation and execution.
Over time, the dearth of women in the country’s political space has generated growing concerns among stakeholders and gender activists.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), women constituted about 47.5 per cent of 93 million registered voters in the just concluded 2023 elections.
But despite forming a bulk of the voting population in the country, women in the country hardly have the chance of being elected into political positions due to many odds that stand against them.
A breakdown of the results showed that some women secured seats in 21 states – Anambra, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Oyo, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Lagos, Adamawa, Ondo, Enugu and Ebonyi.
However, they were not lucky in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Abia, Osun, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states, where only men dominated.
A further breakdown showed that the South West produced the highest number of female lawmakers with a total of 16 elected women from five of the six states in the region. Ekiti State topped with 6 female lawmakers, Lagos and Ondo have 3 each, while Ogun and Oyo have 2 each. Osun is the only state in the region without a female lawmaker.
The North Central geopolitical zone ranked second with 12 female lawmakers across five out of the six states. Kwara State topped the chart with 5 female lawmakers with Benue, Plateau and Kogi producing 2 each, while Nasarawa produced 1.
The breakdown also showed that the South South geopolitical zone produced 10 female lawmakers across five states to emerge third.
Akwa Ibom State topped the chart with 4 female lawmakers, with Bayelsa and Delta having 2 each, while Cross River and Edo states had 1 each.
In the South East, three out of the five states produced 5 female lawmakers. Ebonyi has 2, Enugu 2, while Anambra has one. Abia and Imo states have no female lawmakers.
Like the South East, the North East also produced three female lawmakers from two out of the six states in the region. While Taraba produced 2, Adamawa had 1. However, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi have no female lawmakers.
In the North West geopolitical zone, out of the seven states in the region, only Kaduna produced two female lawmakers, while Kano, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Kebbi states have no female representatives in the state assemblies.
Out of the total number of 30 members in Anambra State House of Assembly, only one female was able to secure a seat.
Mrs Nkechi Ogbuefi of the Labour Party (LP) won the Anaocha constituency to retire the incumbent member, Ebele of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Meanwhile, the only female currently in the state assembly representing Onitsha South 2 constituency, Beverly Ikpeazu, could not make it back to the House.
In Enugu, Hon Princess Obiajulu Ugwu won the Enugu South Constituency while Hon Jane Ene won the Udi North Constituency.
In Bayelsa, the two women elected include Egba Ayibanegiyefa, who won the Yenagoa constituency l seat, and Mrs Ebizi Ndiomu Brown, who won Sagbama constituency lll seat, all on the platform of the PDP.
Bayelsa State has 24 seats in the state assembly, and the INEC has since announced the result for 23 seats, while election is yet to hold in Ogbia constituency ll as hoodlums reportedly disrupted the poll during last Saturday’s exercise.
Benue State has two female state legislators out of 30 seats in the state assembly.
The female lawmakers include Mrs Lami Danladi who secured the Ado constituency seat under the APC while Mrs Becky Orpin also under the APC, won Gboko-East constituency.
In the 25-member assembly of Cross River, only one woman, Rita Ayim, under the PDP, was elected to represent Ogoja constituency.
In Delta State, Marilyn Okowa and Bridget Anyafulu are the two female lawmakers elected into the state assembly.
Marilyn Okowa, who is the daughter of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, won on the platform of the PDP to represent Ika North/East constituency.
Okowa, now Marilyn Daramola Gbolahan, was before her election the Senior Special Assistant on Girl-child Education to the governor of the state.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Law from Lancaster University (2013) and the University of Nottingham (2010).
On her part, Bridget Anyafulu was elected to represent Oshimili South constituency. The 56-years-old child rights advocate, lawyer and ex-Nigerian Olympian, was the immediate past Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Community Support Services in the state.
In Ekiti, Mrs Bolaji Egbeyemi Olagbaju was elected to represent Ado constituency 11, while Okuyiga Eyiyato Adeteju won for the Ayekire/Gbonyin constituency.
Olowokere Bose Yinka won to represent Efon constituency, while Ogunlade Maria Abimbola was elected to represent Emure constituency.
In the same vein, Fakunle Okiemen Iyabo won the Ilejemeje constituency seat, while Abimbola Solanke secured the Moba 1 constituency seat.
In Edo State, Maria Edeko Omozele is the only female member-elect in a legislative arm that produced 23 males.
The lone female in the 24-member assembly won the election to represent Esan North East 11 constituency on the platform of the PDP.
She resigned as Commissioner for Social Development and Gender to contest the state assembly election.
Oyo State has two female House of Assembly members-elect out of 32 seats.
Forty-seven-year-old Olajide Olufunke Comforter is a first time member-elect, who contested and won under the PDP for Ibadan North 1 constituency.
Bisi Oluranti Oyewo Micheal from Ogbomoso North constituency is the second female who won on the platform of the PDP.
She is an alumnus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and holds a master’s degree from the University of Ibadan.
She used to be a nursing assistant in the United State of America.
With her election, she has become the second female lawmaker that will represent Ogbomoso.
Taraba State has two female members-elect out of 24 state assembly seats.
Hajiya Batulu Muhammed from Gashaka constituency won the election on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), while Borinica Alhassan in Bali constituency won the election under the platform of the PDP.
Nasarawa State has one female state lawmaker-elect who secured a seat out of the 24 available. Hajara Ibrahim was elected under the APC to represent Nasarawa central constituency.
Two female lawmakers in Plateau State won the election into the state House of Assembly.
Happiness Akawu won Pengana constituency, while Salomi Tanimu won Pankshin South, alll under the PDP.
In Kogi, two women won out of the 25 state assembly seats.
Mrs Comfort Ojoma Nwuchola won on the platform of the APC to represent Ibaji constituency. She was said to be a senior special assistant in the present administration in the state before she won the position.
Also, Mrs Omotayo Adeleye-Ishaya, a member of the APC, won in the Ijumu constituency.
Five females have been elected to the 24 seat-assembly in Kwara State.
Rukayat Shittu from Asa Local Government Area was elected to represent Owode/Onire constituency, while Arinola Lawal from Ilorin East Local Government will represent the Ilorin East constituency.
Also, Medinat AbdulRaheem from Moro Local Government Area, was elected to represent Lanwa/Ejidongari constituency.
Aishat Babatunde-Alanamu won for the Ilorin North-West constituency, while Mariam Aladi won for the Ilorin South constituency.
Speaking on her election, a female lawmaker, Rukayat Shittu, said she could not afford to disappoint her constituency.
“I don’t have to be the best in my constituency, but I should be wise enough to bring together the most qualified people to work with. I will be guided by four cardinal responsibilities of a lawmaker: representation, legislative advancement, executive oversight and constituency outreach, although the last one is not a core responsibility for the legislative arm,” she said.
Out of the 26-member assembly in the state, four women have secured seats.
Those that won include Selong Precious Akamba for Urua Offong Oruko constituency; Etim Itorobong Francis for Uruan; Onofiok Kenim Victor for Oron/Udung Uko and Ukpatu Selinah Isotuk for Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo constituency.
This is an increase from the previous two female lawmakers elected to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2019.
In Ogun State, two females were among the 26 newly elected members of the House of Assembly. They are Bolanle Lateefat Ajayi for Egbado South constituency and Bakare Omolola Olanrewaju for Ijebu Ode constituency.
Ajayi is returning to the assembly for the second time, while Bakare is a first timer.
Ajayi is a renowned teacher and philanthropist. She was trained at Egbado Teachers’ College, Ilaro and National Teachers Institute (NTI/DLS), Kaduna, Ilaro campus, Ogun State.
She previously served as a class teacher, assistant head teacher and head teacher.
In Adamawa, Kate Raymond Manuno (PDP) won to represent Demsa constituency at the state assembly. She was first elected in 2019, then re-elected in 2023.
In Ondo, three females won seats in the House of Assembly in the last election.
They are Witherspoon Atinuke Morenike (Owo constituency I), Fayemi Olawunmi Annah (Ilaje Constituency), and Ogunlowo Oluwaseun (Idanre constituency).
The trio, who are all members of the ruling APC, were part of the 26 lawmakers elected at the weekend.
In Ebonyi, out of the 24 seats, females won in two of state constituencies.
The winners are Mrs Esther Agwu and Chinyere Nwagbaga on the platform of the APC for Ohaukwu North and Ebonyi North East constituencies respectively.
In Kaduna, two women secured seats in the state assembly. Mrs Comfort Amwe of the PDP won for Sanga constituency, while Munira Suleiman Tanimu of the APC won the Lere East constituency.
Amwe is the only female at the Kaduna State House of Assembly since 2019 election and she was re-elect for a second term on the platform of the PDP.
Speaking on her emergence, Munira Tanimu said her focus would be on education, women and youth empowerment. She said there was the need to support more women and the girl-child to participate in politics. She said the number of women in the North West was very low.
“My focus here is on education, and of course, youth empowerment. Right now, I feel it is a win for every woman because this is one thing I have been fighting for. I know that my voice will be heard,” she said.
We’re left behind – Women Trust Fund
Although many women in most of these states contested during the last Saturday polls, as well as during previous elections, they mostly lost to their male counterparts.
Lamenting the negative impact that low number of women in state legislative positions has, Mufuliat Fijane, the chief executive officer of the Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), said the implication was that women were left behind in lawmaking; hence decisions are reached without gender perspectives.
She added that, “The poor emergence of women as elected representatives of state houses of assembly is not unconnected with the poor acceptability of women as leaders who have qualifications to perform exceptionally well in elective positions.”
She also blamed the poor outing of women on the patriarchy nature of Nigeria as a country, adding that women are also challenged with the lack of resources, which they need to mobilise their constituencies.
“The electoral environment is also a contributory factor because of the attitude of politicians, who now see elective offices as their source of income rather than an avenue to develop and deepen democracy in Nigeria,” she said.
Dwindling number of female legislators
The International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), in a 2019 report, revealed that the Nigerian Senate had the lowest rate of female legislative participation in sub-Sahara Africa.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that according to a 2018 report by the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, women held only 14 per cent of parliamentary seats in Nigeria, one of the lowest percentages in Africa.
In the National Assembly, a total of 17 women made it to the 10th Assembly, according to the list published by INEC on successful candidates that won the February 25 National Assembly elections.
While three are female senators-elect, 14 of them would be sworn in as House of Representatives members.
This implies that out of the 469 seats at the National assembly, women occupy only 17 seats.
A 2022 report by the Gender Strategic Advancement International (GSAI) indicated that the participation of Nigerian women in politics, which is at 6.7 per cent, falls below the African average of 23.4 per cent and a global average of 22.5 per cent.
However, the 2022 gender gap report by World Economic Forum ranks Nigeria at 141 out of 146 countries in terms of female political participation.
Gender experts have blamed the declining number of female representation in governance to a myriad of reasons, ranging from the absence of a piece of legislation, cultural factors, violence, and monetised nature of politics in Nigeria, among others.
Violence, religion, cultural factors limiting women participation – Don
Dr Riya’udeen Zubair of the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, said that religion, culture and tradition were powerful in our society, and as such, reflect in poor women participation in politics.
He said that besides these factors limiting women, the nature of politics is a relegating factor for women.
“We are running a kind of politics where you must have a political godfather for you to be able to fully and actively participate and even win elections; where you do not have an active godfather, even if you are willing to participate, these political gladiators that are controlling political parties will never allow your nomination to scale through.”
While being optimistic that things will change, Ireti Kingibe, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) senator-elect, told Daily Trust Saturday that it is sad that the number of women in the senate had dropped to three, “We really need to see how we can get that legislation passed.
“I plan on having more women in the party structures. I am going to support women to get tickets to become counselors. Out of the 62, I am targeting at least 25. So, within my party, you will see a huge improvement in the number of women in that area in the political space,” she said.
Itodo Daniel Sule, Dana Daniel Zagi (Abuja), Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos), Tijani Labaran (Lokoja), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Usman A . Bello (Benin), Anibaba Bushrah Adenike (Ibadan), Tosin Tope (Akure), Kabir Anwar (Yola), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Umar Muhammed (Lafia), Ahmed Ali (Kafanchan), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Idris Umar Momoh (Warri), Eyo Charles (Calabar), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti) & Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki)
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