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Experts advocate proportional representation to boost women participation in politics

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Nigeria should adopt proportional representation in political participation to boost women involvement in governance process, experts have said.

Speaking at a roundtable organised by the department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, Prof. Abdulhameed Ujo and Dr Halidu Agaba, argued that increasing the number of women will not come by way of wishful thinking, but through legislative process.

On her part, the Programme Manager, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation West Africa, Angela Odah, speaking on “2019 election, matters arising: Sequencing of elections and the implications for credible elections and gender dimensions,” said such forums could serve as platforms for reflection and critical thought and provide political alternatives for development.

“Evaluation of political processes and policies should be seen as a learning tool, not just a means for ensuring accountability. Evaluations should clarify whether a programme is working or not, but should also deepen knowledge and understanding about exactly what is working and why, or why not,” she said.

While recommending the proportional representation as practiced by South Africa, Ujo submitted that the system is easy to operate for members to vote for the party.

Ujo held that the pet projects of wives of former Heads of State and Presidents did not promote political inclusion of women.

He said: “None of the First Ladies made any effort to political participation and female representation in political offices. They were rather interested in promoting the regimes of their husbands.”

According to him, from every indication, the only way to solve the issue of political representation is through legal enactment based on proportional representation as done in South Africa and some countries in Southern Africa.

He also bemoaned Nigerian women underrepresentation in both elective and appointments, saying the womenfolk was badly hit during the 2019 election.

But Agaba harped on the urgent need for the political paradigm in Nigeria to shift towards recognition of the role of gender in determining the outcomes of power distribution and as such, women’s marginalization is neither warranted nor unfixable.

Agaba, who is also from the Political Science and International Relations department of University of Abuja, faulted non-inclusion of gender in the electoral Act and the Constitution.

Indeed, apart from the provisions of Section 51 that designate separate queues for men and women where the culture does not permit intermingling of sexes, there is no provision targeting women participation in elections.

However, the electoral guidelines grant preferential treatments to pregnant women, aged and nursing mother.

He rued the withdrawal of Dr. Oby Ezekwesili from the presidential race barely one month to the election.

“Her withdrawal, therefore, highlights women’s continued marginalisation in electoral processes in Nigeria, both in terms of participation in electoral offices and as beneficiaries of the dividends of democracy.”


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