Coalition Seeks Assent to Independent Candidacy Bill

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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Stakeholders have urged the Nigerian Government ahead of the 2027 general election, to pass the Independent Candidacy Bill into law to enable more women participation in politics.

The stakeholders made the call at a postmortem dialogue titled “Assessing Violence Against Women and Women’s Participation in the 2023 General Elections” organised by Women Situation Room Nigeria and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Nigeria, held in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, southern Nigeria.

The participants, who were drawn from religious, traditional, civil society groups and the media, noted that before, during and after the 2023 elections, several women such as politicians, voters, electoral umpire staff and security personnel experienced some form of violence.

The participants stated that in view of the level of insecurity and violence associated with elections in Nigeria, “the passage of the Independent Candidate Bill into law would contribute in no small measure to reduce violence and enhance participation of women in politics. It will enhance equal opportunity for women to contest any office.”

“Also, The electoral umpire collapses the polling booths in some places and creates ‘voting malls’ and extends the voting period to one or two weeks rather than organise the election in one day. This will enable security agencies to deploy personnel adequately.

“Deploying electronic voting would contribute to peaceful elections. The BVAS machines did not function properly during the last election, but electronic voting remains the best method,” they suggested.

Intensify advocacy

Speaking at the event, the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the governor of Cross River State in southern Nigeria, Mr. Rasheed Zubair assured that the present administration was prepared to give women more appointive positions.

According to him, “Women should keep hope alive. Something good is going to happen in this administration. Women can rest assured that gender equality, gender participation and gender emancipation as well as women’s development are embedded in the governor’s ‘People First’ agenda and it is going to manifest very soon.

He urged, “I think advocacy should be first because grassroots politics is very key. So, I will encourage women to be firmly embedded at the grassroots first, embark on consultations and show capacity.”

The way forward

In her remarks, the Assistant Program Manager of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Nigeria, Jane Siesi advised participants to proffer solutions that would encourage women to participate in politics and overcome the fear of violence.

Siesi said, “This dialogue is not only to assess what transpired at the 2023 general election but to see how women across the board could be protected against violence before, during and after the election. We are also concerned with assisting more women to participate in politics.

“Besides, to have more women vying for political offices in 2027, we need to start now to address those vices we observed and come up with strategies that would increase women’s participation in future elections,” she urged.

Also, the Cross River State coordinator of Women’s Situation Room Nigeria, Mrs. Mfreke Asigbe said that the objectives of the meeting were to “assess women’s political participation; identify trends and patterns; draw road map for next election as well build and strengthen partnerships amongst stakeholders”.

Dominica Nwabufo

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