2023: No vice-president position, no vote
By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
All Progressive Congress (APC) women have advised women nationwide not to vote for any political party that does not field a female politician as a running mate in the 2023 elections at all levels.
The women sounded a note of warning during panel discussions on the second day of the first-ever National Progressive Women’s Conference in Abuja.
During the first panel discussion on “One Voice: Redefining the Role of Women in the Nigerian Political Space”, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa said that the days when women were seen as singers and dancers but not fit to hold positions is over.
She said, “I like what the First Lady of Ekiti said that women shouldn’t be used as choirmasters but why should we be used as choirmasters and in the end you don’t are not recognized. Can’t men sing? Don’t men know how to dance? Why should you be dancers forever?
“How do we build the next generation of women? Two things: Empowerment. We cannot attract the next generation of female politicians if we do not allow them some autonomy. Because it’s not a politics of money, but you have to prepare, you have your structure together, your electoral material, you have to move, there is no joke about it. You need money to run, to get elected.
“I heard here that we should ask them to allow women to be deputy governors. Why stop there? In this country today and with the caliber of women in this room coming even from the next generation, intellectuals, established women, I think it’s time for women to seriously say that any presidential candidate who comes out of this country, women will not vote for him if he does not take a woman as vice-president. This should be our proposal so that the next generation has a chance. It’s time we had a female vice president of this country.
The First Lady of Ekiti and the Chairperson of the Nigerian Governors Wives Forum, Bisi Fayemi, who spoke at the panel on the theme: “Giving Voice to Women’s Visibility: Our Support”, stressed the need for women to be empowered and prepared for positions where by nomination or election.
She said: “We need to empower our women, we need to be able to provide support to those, for example, who might not be able to benefit from political appointments, who might not have the qualifications, because it comes down to always. When women mobilize for elections, sing, dance and organize Aso ebi, then they are qualified. But when it comes to giving a job or an appointment, that’s when their qualifications come into question.
Senator Grace Bent, for her part, called for a strongly worded statement part of which should state that 35% affirmative action must be in place at the next APC convention from neighborhood to state level.
She also urged women to reject positions that stereotype them.
Bent said, “So what we’re saying is that women should be given key positions on the working committee, from the ward level to the local level to the state level, not just office positions as we have always been given.
“We say more office positions, we want principal offices, presidents, organizing secretaries, treasurers. More female leaders. It’s very, very pejorative for a working committee of 17 men from a political party, and all you have is one voice, one woman among the men leading the boat. Excuse me, but what can she do? This conference must therefore be a decisive test for us, our press release must make this clear.
Bent also told women not to be intimidated by native chants when showing up in a state they have resided in for more than two years.
She said: “I want to say to our women who are married outside their locality and who are involved in politics, don’t be intimidated by this issue of indigenousness. If you want to challenge and the next thing they tell you, go back to your state. The judgment of the Supreme Court is accessible to all. You are a free citizen of Nigeria. You can compete from any part of Nigeria. The electoral law says that where you have lived for more than two years, you can run there. The Nigerian Constitution, Section 43 Subsections 1 and 2, No one should be discriminated against on grounds of sex, religion, etc. So collect your deeds like I did in Adamawa. Adamawa people set a standard in Nigeria, I married them and 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 Chief Executive of the Women’s Development Center, Dr. Asabe Bashir, advised that only the best women should be put forward for elective positions or appointments.
She said, “And I want to implore us to bring in the best of our candidates. Because that’s where men normally take us. Because when you present the wrong candidate you can’t do it because politics is really very expensive and it has its own characteristics. So let’s bring the best of ourselves to the competition so that they are our best examples and speak with one voice.