By Obonimte Bosin
Worried by the recurring and hurting narratives of under-representation of women in Nigerian political leadership over time, Human Rights activists and gender parity advocate, Comrade Emeka Nwokocha has called on Nigerians to vote women candidates vying for elective positions in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
Comr. Emeka made the call recently in Warri, headquarters of Warri south local government area of Delta state, while speaking to journalists on the need to promote gender equality in decision-making and legislative process at the local and national levels in the Nigerian bourgeoning democratic government.
He noted that despite world’s acclaim of Nigerians as highly schooled and civilized people, the basic indicator of civilization, “equity and fairness” in the running of government, is awfully lacking in the political architecture of Nigeria.
His words, “I am constrained to note that Nigeria is lagging behind smaller African counties like Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in the participation of women in the legislative process since democracy berthed in Nigeria.
Continuing, Comr. Emeka noted that in the Nigeria parliament as presently constituted, women represent a paltry 5.6 per cent in the House of Representatives and 6.5 percent in the Senate.
Making comparism of the number of women making input at the legislative process in African countries, Comr. Emeka put the figures as follows: in Rwanda, women make up 63.8 per cent in the Lower House of Assembly and 38.5 per cent in the Senate. In Burundi, women represent 36.4 per cent in the Lower Assembly and 41.9 per cent in the Senate. In South Africa, women represent 41.9 percent in the Upper House and 35.2 percent in the Lower House of Assembly. While in Zimbabwe, women represent 31.5 per cent in the Upper House and 37.5 per cent in the Lower House of Assembly.
He expressed concern that Nigeria is very far from the agitated 35 per cent Affirmation Action provided for in the National Gender Policy (NGP) of 2006, even as he noted the expediency for Nigerians to key into the paradigm of civilisation that progressive democracies across the globe have adopted over the years with a corresponding economic and political development.
Wondering why Nigerian women are not given opportunity and the enabling environment to make contribute adequately to the process of governance in Nigeria over the years, Comr. Emeka expressed regret that the culture in Nigeria heavily discriminates against women. He noted that countries that treat their women-folk with respect and dignity and practice gender equality are making huge progress in all facets of human development.
Comr. Emeka noted that across the 36 states in Nigeria, vibrant, educated and experienced women are gunning for political offices in the upcoming 2019 elections. He urged women to give full support to their own in the 2019 general elections.
“I have seen a crop of vibrant and dedicated women bestriding the Nigerian political landscape like a colossus, to contest elections with the men across the 36 states in Nigeria. Most striking is the boldness one of the women in Delta State, simply known as Hon. Evelyn Oboro Omavowan is ridding on. I consider it a genuine courage that well-meaning Deltans should encourage irrespective of political party affiliation, if nothing, but to give women some sense of belonging. In civilised climes all over the world, courageous women in the mould of Hon. Evelyn Omavowan are usually the pride of the people as their presence in politics no doubt, balances the political activity and gives it the heterogeneous identity that characterises the democractic system over the years.”
Comr. Emeka charged men to seek the light of reason and wisdom to promote gender parity at the corridors of government and other public institutions in the country, saying, “men have found it expedient to suppress the potentials of women in the Nigerian political system and othe public institutions over the years, but there should be a detour from that old order in the 2019 elections as more distinguished women are ready to take the centre stage in the next political dispensation in Nigeria.