Female governorship candidates in different political parties, on Monday, promised to be better than their male counterparts if elected into office during the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
They also carpeted most politicians, especially the governors, for their failure to deliver dividends of democracy to the electorates who voted them into power.
The women governorship candidates bared their minds in Abuja during a consultative media parley jointly organized by Women Radio and Women in Business, supported by the United Nations Women (Nigeria) and the Government of Canada.
The UN Women’s Country Representative, Beatrice Eyong, observed that though the proportion of women in parliament has doubled globally since 1995 to 26.4 per cent, this has not been the case for Nigeria, as women’s political representation has been on a steady decline from 1999 to date.
The Executive Director of WIMBIZ, Hansatu Adegbite, deplored the low representation of women in politics and governance, but expressed optimism that if they cannot get it in 2023, women would have brighter chances in 2027 and beyond both in politics, appointment and governance.
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Abia State, Gladys Ngozika Johnson-Ogbuneke, said bad governance was responsible for the #ENDSARS protest that engulfed the nation in 2020.
She said the people of Abia state have suffered for 31 years since it was created, adding that it was time for the government to prioritize education and security.
Johnson-Ogbuneke said, “I watched with much sadness about the protests and movements in 2020. And I heard the stories about what goes on about police brutality in Nigeria. But I was very proud of the Nigerian youths. I was very encouraged that they’d come of age, and that they could now boldly ask questions. So that got me into organizing a zoom meeting with a group of them. And I found myself getting into civil talks and getting into civil political matters.
“Then I was also encouraged by them to come in and do something. We know in Nigeria, even though there is a democracy, we don’t have any government that looks into homelessness, education and any other social needs of the people. I plan to transform Abia State into a modern state. For 31 years, the best done by the people there is not enough.
“I am going to make sure that our schools are digitized. Abia State actually looks like a glorified village. When you go to Umuahia, there is nothing that anybody can copy. I promise to develop the state and do my best.”
The governorship candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance in Niger State, Khadijat Abdullahi, said despite the fact that the state has the largest land mass in the country, the government has failed to harness its potential.
She insisted that women must get out of their comfort zone to change the negative narrative.
“I will engage in the industrial revolution. Niger State has generated a total of about N7 trillion in Internally Generated Revenue and that even goes to the payment of workers. I am worried that there has to be a state of emergency on the water. We have four hydroelectric power systems and at a time, we have powered the all country before and we can still do that,” she said.
The governorship candidate of Action Peoples Party in Delta State, Anabel Cosmos, stressed the need for women to change the narrative.
According to her, one of the major factors militating against women in politics was the lack of funds.
“Women are suffering, our educational sector is suffering. With the little appointment that was given to me in Delta after I contested the governorship election in 2019, I was able to carry out some empowerment programmes in all Senatorial District. But I have decided to change. What we need is money. Let us support ourselves. Women don’t support themselves. Enough of letting ourselves down in the public. We are managers in our homes, so we can manage our different States. I am here to challenge the men that I am going to do it better,” Cosmos said.
For the presidential standard bearer of the Allied Peoples Movement, Dr Ebiti Ndok-Jegede, her party would restructure the country if voted into power.
While emphasizing the need to revive moribund industries, she said Nigeria could only move forward when the citizens change their mindset on governance.
She said, “Every local government can’t be industrialized in isolation, thereby creating jobs. We can reconstruct Nigeria in very many ways by restructuring the economy of this nation. Inflation is high presently. Nigeria is a rich nation but see where we are today.
“So I’ve mentioned to you restoration, reviving, reconstruction, and restructuring. We need to revolutionize the mentality of Nigerians. You need to begin to think positively that only the best is good for you as a Nigerian and we all have to work today.
Eyong expressed the UN’s commitment to “strengthening our partnerships with government actors, the private sector, the media development partners and civil society to advance women’s political leadership in the 2023 elections and beyond.”
According to her, women currently occupy only 3.8 per cent of parliamentary seats across the national and state levels, adding that no woman has ever been elected as governor in the history of elections in Nigeria.
She said, “Everyone suffers from the under-representation of women and their organizations. Participation of women and girls in decision-making is needed for policies and budgets to effectively meet everyone’s needs and achieve crisis prevention, response, and recovery. When more women participate in public life and policymaking, greater emphasis and resource allocations point to social policies, environmental priorities and issues like health, education, childcare, infrastructure, ending violence against women and overall quality of life concerns.
“Several factors have militated against women’s effective participation and representation in politics, which you’re all aware of, having lived and experienced these challenges. These include limited funding to run political campaigns Economic disparities between men and women often mean that women cannot compete at the same level as men. For example, the cost of running an election campaign in Nigeria is astronomical and yet women in Nigeria earn 36 per cent less than men according to the World Economic Forum. Women are set back even before they begin.
“Women candidates have unequal access to media platforms to run their campaigns and create visibility for themselves. Candidates use mass media for political advertising and expend vast human and financial resources on planning and executing mass media campaigns; unfortunately, most women cannot afford this compared to their male counterparts. In situations where the media covers political activities voluntarily, women candidates are often not considered newsworthy.
“Consequently, they are overlooked. In some cases, the media is used to reinforce gender stereotypes, weakening the chances of women candidates being elected.”