NIGERIAN women have been advised to shun divisive tendencies militating against their drive towards total emancipation and catch up with the impressive achievements in governance of their counterparts around the world.
In an Interactive Session of Candidates contesting in the forthcoming general elections from across the various political platforms with women organisations, civil societies including representatives of farmers associations and the academia in Benin City, participants were unanimous that women should be united if they are to be recognised as a major force in the nation’s political scheme of things.
Under the aegis of the Edo State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, its Chairperson Comrade Amina Ebor in her welcome address, told participants that it was high time the Nigerian women shunned ethno-religlous tendencies which she described as the bane of their drive towards being on equal footing with their male counterparts in all spheres of human endeavour particularly in politics.
Comrade Ebor who explained that the Interactive session with the various political party flag bearers was conceptualised as a forum to individually unfold their manifestos as it affects youths, women and children decried the continued relegation of the women folks to the background.
According to her, the recently concluded primary elections was a sad and disappointing exercise in which it seems that female contestants were deliberately schemed out. She pointed out that only a few women won their party tickets to contest in the general elections as the primary elections results were skewed and lopsidedly in favour of the men.
Comrade Ebor warned that the continued deliberate marginalisation does not augur well for the polity. She said “This development to all intent and purposes does not bode well for our nascent democracy given that the interest of women would not be adequately represented at the executive and legislative levels of governance”.
In her address at the interactive session, the Chairperson of the Edo State Chapter of the National Council for Women Societies, NCWS Mrs Omololu Eniye blamed the continued imbalance of gender on the inherent disunity among Nigerian women and called for a change of attitude by uniting behind any female political aspirant without considering her ethnic or religious background.
While acknowledging the 35% affirmative action on gender, Mrs Omololu declared that mere appointments into executive offices as commissioners or permanent secretaries was not enough as she stressed that women could only achieve the desired emancipation if they are allowed in the decision making processes where their interests were genuinely represented.
She therefore called on the women folks to concertedly rally round themselves if they are to make meaningful gains in the gender struggle.
Speaking earlier, fiery social activist and President Foundation for Good Governance and Social Change, Comrade Austin Osakwe stated that lack of empowerment is one of the major obstacles in the way of women participation in politics.
Also speaking, the All Progressives Congress APC, candidate Barrister Damian Lawani Agzebeobor contesting for Etsako Central seat at the Edo State House of Assembly said that his concern has always been for the youth, women and children.
He said that as part of his desire to improve the lot of women, he has established a project dubbed Women Consultative Business Forum which he hopes to ensure gets legislative backing if he gets elected. Banister Agzebeobor further asserted that he would sponsor a bill that would enhance the living standard of elderly citizens of the State.
In the same vein, Banister Uyi Ogbemudia the People’s Democratic Party’s Candidate contesting for the Oredo West Constituency stated that it was her determination to ensure that she pursued to logical conclusion issues concerning the welfare of youths, women and children on clinching the seat to the state’s House of Assembly.
On the issue of gender, Barrister Uyi Ogbemudia advised women to work harder in the drive to surpass the 35%. gender affirmation by coming out of their homes by working shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts and by this overcome the inherent feeling of inferiority.
Onetime Edo State Commissioner at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Barrister Henry Okhuarobo the APC flag bearer contesting for lkpoba-Okha State Constituency told participants that he has always been at the forefront in the drive for women participation in the political scheme of things to enhance their quality of life.
He however advised women to endeavour to prove their mettle by working as hard as their male counterpart at the various levels of their individual political parties. According to him no party would go out of its ways to award tickets to anyone based on just gender.
Speaking also at the interactive session, the Chairman of the Arewa Community in Edo State, Aihaji Badamasi Sale called on women to get educationally fortified to enable them mesh effortlessly on the political landscape with their male counterparts. He urged women to eschew divisive tendencies such as ethnic and religious bigotry which he pointed out was the clog in their wheel of progress.
In his goodwill message, the Senior Special Assistant to Edo State Governor on Research and Documentation Mr Neville Obakhedo congratulated NAWOJ for organising a forum where issues exclusively geared to improve the lot of women, youths and children are raised and discoursed.
He urged the NAWOJ leadership to endeavour to replicate such interactive sessions in the remaining Senatorial Zones of the State to enable women in the grassroots get adequately educated and informed.