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2023: Be fair, pick women as running mates, Aisha Buhari urges presidential aspirants

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi)
25 April 2022   |   3:42 am
Nigeria's First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has charged political parties and aspirants to ensure fair play and build bridges of peace. She also noted it was “high time women were adopted as running mates at all levels considering ...

Aisha Buhari

• How to create additional federal, state legislative seats for women, by Dogara

Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has charged political parties and aspirants to ensure fair play and build bridges of peace. She also noted it was “high time women were adopted as running mates at all levels considering their voting strength and active involvement in political processes.”

Speaking at Iftar (breaking of the Muslim fast) organised for presidential aspirants on Saturday, the Wife of the President said: “We must replicate the 2015 experience by ensuring a free, fair and violent free election in 2023. Ensure fair play and build bridges where necessary. Our journey is irreversible. You must remain focused on issues that strengthen the nation.”

The First Lady expressed optimism that the prevailing insecurity, notwithstanding, the country will witness tremendous growth.

Former Edo State governor, Oserheimen Osunbor, who spoke on behalf of Osinbajo, described the gathering as “symbolic”, even as he urged all aspirants to foster unity among Nigerians.

“Aspirants should learn to practise politics without bitterness and imbibe the spirit of oneness. It is not going to be a do or die affair and it should not be.”

One of the All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, expressed gratitude to the first lady for bringing the diverse groups of Nigerians to share love and unity. He also prayed for peace, unity and prosperity of the country.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, also an APC aspirant, expressed appreciation to the first lady for bringing the presidential aspirants together to foster unity and national cohesion.

He said: “I must thank you because this should be about our nation, about our patriotism. We should always place our nation above our individual interests.”

Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant said the gathering was historic, given the calibre of people in attendance.

He promised to play the game with humility and mutual respect. “I promise to do the politicking with the interest of Nigeria in my mind and respect for one another, irrespective of our party differences,” he said. Other speakers, in their goodwill messages, also bared their minds on national issues.

FORMER House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said: “If women fail in Nigeria, it won’t be because of them but because we, men, are weak. I am making the following proposals in order for us, men, to walk the talk on Affirmative Action.

“Through Constitutional Amendment, we should create three House of Assembly seats per senatorial district in each state, exclusively reserved for women. These seats should rotate among the local councils in each of the senatorial districts in alphabetical order. The proposal creates nine guaranteed slots exclusively for women in each state House of Assembly.

“The implication of this proposal is that across Nigeria, women will have 324 guaranteed seats in all state Assemblies, as against the prevailing situation where some state Assemblies have no single woman.

“In addition, women are free to contest the other general seats with men. But even if they don’t win any other seat, each state Assembly must have a minimum of nine women members.”

“A total of 37 exclusive seats for women would be created to rotate among the three senatorial zones in each state. This means, in each subsequent National Assembly, women are guaranteed an irreducible minimum of 37 seats in the House of Representatives, even if they don’t win any of the 360 general seats for which they are to compete with men.”

Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, urged the aspirants not to neglect the North West. According to him, “Nigeria is at crossroads. We need people with experience. I must stress the importance of the North West zone – Kano, Kaduna and Katsina. If you want to succeed, come and talk to us in the North West zone.”

APC National Women Leader, Betta Edu, urged Nigerians to court peace by empowering women and supporting government towards successful political process.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, called for unity among aspirants, stressing: “If anybody tells you that the way we are playing politics, now, is the best, it is not true. We have to do a rethink. We need unity. God knows who will take it.”