Apparently, acceding to the demand of the Aisha Buhari women team for greater participation of women in elective positions, the All Progressives Congress (APC) declared free nomination forms for female aspirants who intend to contest in the 2023 general elections.
The National Women Leader of the party, Ms. Betty Edu, made the disclosure during a media briefing held at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja penultimate weekend. She said the leadership of the party took the decision to encourage all female aspirants and mainstream them in politics.
Edu said President Muhammadu Buhari and the First lady, Aisha Buhari, have done enough to mainstream women. She added: “And to buttress that point, we are the largest party in Africa and we want to make a strong statement that we stand by inclusion, mainstreaming for women.
The party has gone ahead to approve that women will be running with a free nomination form “They have thrown the ball into our court. Before now we have women saying we cannot afford nomination forms.
We have been given the greatest chance to emerge the winner of an election because we will be running on a ticket of the ruling party. Not just a ruling party, a party that has performed, a party that has provided welfare for Nigeria, a party that is ready to mainstream women.
“Edu, therefore, called on women to stand up and contest, while urging them to get involved in a series of processes that would lead up to the 2023 elections. She emphasised that women must be actively involved in the political process and must go from door-to-door to sensitise women to go out and participate in the ongoing registration of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is instructive that the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, had recently, led a delegation of women to the National Assembly as part of the advocacy for the proposed special seats for women in both the federal and state legislatures. In the team were Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, her women affairs counterpart, Dame Paulin Talen, and a delegation of Nigerian women.
The visit came ahead of the laying of report of the panel before the House by Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, who heads the special ad-hoc committee for the review of 1999 Constitution. In the report was “a Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seats for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters”, which was the primary purpose of the first lady’s visit.
The Wase committee had recommended a total of 68 amendments to the current constitution, key among which was proposal for financial autonomy for local government, autonomy for state legislature and judiciary, VAT to be on the exclusive list, and provision for independent candidacy in general elections, among others.
Interestingly, both chambers of the National Assembly have recommended 111 legislative seats for female lawmakers beginning from the 10th National Assembly in 2023. Specifically in the Senate, Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, while laying the report in the presence of the wife of the president and her entourage said, in line with the affirmative action and gender inclusivity, 37 seats have been reserved for female lawmakers in the Senate and 74 in the House of Representatives.
And in a short remark, Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan said the visit by the First Lady was to show support for a bill to have more female parliamentarians at the federal and state legislatures. “This, we believe, will help in nation building as such significant participation by our women will add value to not only legislation, but the much desired and needed national development”.
Lawan assured the First Lady that the Ninth Assembly, while voting on the amendments to the constitution, would ensure women participation in governance is commensurate with their population. “At the moment, you’ll all agree with me that our women have not been able to get that level of participation commensurate with their population as reflected in our demography”.
We commend the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, which has since its inauguration a forthnight ago demonstrated in words and deeds that the ruling party is indeed set for overwhelming victory in the 2023 general elections.
According women, who constitute over a quarter of the nation’s voting population, free, unhindered and demonetised access to contest all elective offices not underscores the desirability of the APC to sweep the forthcoming polls but also affirms the enviable democratic credentials of the ruling party and its status as Africa’s largest political party.
We, therefore, call on all eligible Nigerian women to seize this rare opportunity offered by the APC, which is higher than the 35 percent Affirmative Action, to not only get involved in all the processes that would lead up to the 2023 elections but also ensure they convincingly win elections across all levels of governance in the country.