The recent appeal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Women Aspirants Forum to President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint women into key positions as he plans to form a new cabinet to steer the affairs of the next level government is not only germane but also quite legitimate.
The coordinator of the group, Adedoyin Eshanumi, who made the appeal in a news conference in Abuja, said that the demand became necessary after over 90 per cent of the political positions in the party had been taken over by their male counterparts.
Eshanumi, who was a senatorial aspirant in Kogi West, said that the APC Women Aspirants want 35 per cent of the number of cabinet members and 35 to 50 per cent appointments as board members of parastatal.
“We want an inclusive government for all the women, especially the aspirants, because some of us spent so much in the grassroots, working for the president to win the election. What we are looking for is appointments. In the policy of APC, there should be a space that is mandatory or a quota in each state for women.
“We want that in the senate, state houses of assembly, chairmen, and councillors, there should be women. If possible, in all APC states a woman must be deputy. Please, remember the APC women aspirants, who were bullied out and intimidated during the primary elections, in spite of our grassroots base, solid structures and popularity.
“This thereby decreases the number of women at various elective positions and creates a huge gender imbalance in governance.
The group, while congratulating the president on his victory, urged him to remember his promise to engage more women in his cabinet. “In your speech at the victory dinner for women and youth presidential campaign team, you clearly stated your commitment to engage more women in your cabinet.
“You also mentioned that all efforts would be rewarded and all aspirants would be carried along in the next level agenda. We know that you are a man of your words and we believe in you,. The stage is set for the assemblage of women of good character, who really share the vision of our president. We have visionary, hardworking women who will align their vision with project next level”, she said.
In the same vein, the Chairperson, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Women Commission, Mrs Oyinkansola Olasanoye, urged President Buhari to appoint more women, who would deliver the people’s economic needs.
In a reaction to Buhari’s promise of women and youths’ inclusiveness in his administration in Lagos recently, Olasanoye said, “We want the president to appoint round pegs in round holes to ensure development and growth of the economy”.
President Buhari had at a dinner to celebrate his re-election in Abuja promised to appoint more women and youths into his administration for the next four years. In the last four years of the Buhari administration, only 13 per cent of women were appointed into political positions, as against the the stipulation of 30 per cent by the United Nations (UN).
The TUC women leader, however, commended President Buhari for considering women and youths worthy of inclusion in the governance process and urged him to ensure that he meets the UN’s requirement this time.
Olasanoye advised that the appointments should not be based on political sentiments or affiliation, but that only women and youths capable of delivering democratic dividends should be considered.
Similarly, the Executive Director of Royal Heritage Health Foundation, a non-governmental organisation based in Ilorin, Kwara state, Mr Sogunro Elijah, has urged President Buhari to encourage women to participate more in Nigeria’s politics and ensure 35 per cent political appointments for them in the formation of his new cabinet to accelerate the nation’s development.
Speaking during the celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day with the theme, “Balance for better.” Elijah also urged women to participate in politics and take charge by making the best advantage of their huge numerical strength above men.
Although Buhari had promised to implement the national gender policy, which commits to affirmative action and requires that women fill 35 per cent of appointed positions, only six out of the 37 ministers in the last cabinet were women, a measly 16 per cent.
Instructively, women were nine per cent of the National Assembly elected in 2007. This figure fell to seven per cent in 2011. In the eighth assembly only 5.6 per cent of members of the House of Representatives and 6.5 per cent of senators were women. In the current assembly seven women (6.42 per cent) are senators while eleven women (3.05 per cent) are members of the House of Representatives as against 22 in the eighth House.
We, therefore, urge President Buhari, who has the prerogative of appointments to non-elective positions, to walk the talk of affirmative action by appointing more women into governance in order to at least achieve the global average of 22.5 per cent or the more desirable average of 22.4 per cent for sub-Saharan African countries.