The women in the All Progressive Congress (APC) have advised women in the country not to vote for any political party that does not field a female politician as running mates in the 2023 elections on all levels.
The women sounded a note of warning at the panel discussions on the second day at the first-ever National Progressive Women’s Conference in Abuja.
At the first panel discussion on “One Voice: Redefining the Role of Women within the Nigerian Political Space”, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, said the days of women being seen as singers and dancers but not fit to hold positions are over.
She said: “I like what the First Lady of Ekiti said that women should not be used as chorus leaders but why should we be used as chorus leaders and at the end of it your are not recognized. Can’t men sing? Can’t men dance? Why should you be forever the dancers?
“How do we build the next generation of women? Two things: Empowerment. We cannot bring in the next female generation of politicians if we do not allow some empowerment for them. Because it’s not money politics, but you have to prepare yourself, you have together your structure, election materials, you have to travel around, there is no joke about it. You need money for you to run around, for you to be elected.
“I have heard here that we should ask them to allow women to be deputy governors. Why should we stop at that? In this country today and with the caliber of women in this hall even coming from the next generation, intellectuals, established women, I think it’s about time that the women should seriously say that any presidential candidate that is coming out of this country, the women will not vote for him if he does not take a woman as his Vice President. That should be our proposal so that the next generation will be given opportunity. It is about time that we have a female Vice President of this country.”
The First Lady of Ekiti and the chairperson of Nigerians Governor Forum Wives, Bisi Fayemi, who spoke on the panel with the theme: “Giving Voice to Women’s Visibility: Our Support”, stressed the need for women to be empowered and prepared for positions where through appointment or election.
She said: “we need to be empower our women, we need to able to provide support for those, for example, who might not be able to benefit from political appointments, who might not have the qualifications, because it always comes up. When women are mobilizing for election, and singing and dancing and organizing Aso ebi, they are qualified then. But when it comes to giving out position or appointment, that is when their qualifications are called to question.”
Senator Grace Bent, on her part called for a strongly worded communique part of which should read that 35 percent affirmative action must be in place during the up coming APC convention from ward level to the states.
She also urged women to reject positions stereotyping them.
Bent said: “So, what we are saying is that women must be given principal positions within the working committee right from the ward level to the local level and the state level and not just Ex-officio positions as we have always been given.
“We say no more ex-officios positions, we want principal offices, chairmen, organizing secretaries, treasurers. No more women leader. It is very very derogatory for a 17-man working committee of a political party, and all you have is a lone voice, a woman among men calling the shots. Excuse me but what can she achieve? So this conference must be an acid test for us, our communique must spell it out.”
Bent also told women not to be intimidated by indigenship chants when contesting in a state they have been resident in for more than two years.
She said: “I want to tell our women that are married outside of their locality that are involved in politics, don’t be intimidated by this issue of indigenship. If you want to contest and the next thing they tell you, go back to your state. The Supreme Court judgement is available for everybody. You are a free citizen of Nigeria. You can contest from any part of Nigeria. The electoral law says where you have lived for more than two years, you can contest there. The Nigerian constitution, section 43 subsection 1 and 2, No person should be discriminated against for reason of sex, religion, and so on and so forth. So put your acts together like I did in Adamawa. Adamawa people have set a standard in Nigeria, I am married to them and I became a Senator. And today I have lived there for 41 years with my husband. So we can do it do it APC women.”
The Director General of Women Development Center Dr. Asabe Bashir, advised that only the best women be put up for either elective positions or appointment.
She said “And I want to beg of us to bring the best of our candidates. Because that is where the men normally take us out. Because when we present the wrong candidate we cannot make it because politics is really very expensive and it has its own characteristics. So let’s bring the best of ourselves to contest so that they will be our shining examples and let us speak with One Voice.”