Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

By Ene Oshaba

Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) a support group for female politicians said it has trained and deployed 100 election observers in 11 states in the 2023 General Election in Nigeria.

Its National President, Ebere Ifendu, in a statement made available in Abuja said the observers will be working in Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Cross River, Kogi, Kaduna, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). 

The statement disclosed that the forum is in partnership with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) with the recent launch of the N-Alerts app to ensure safety of Nigerians at the 2023 polls.

The N-Alerts application is available on the play store and can be downloaded easily, it enables incidences of electoral violence to be reported immediately from the observer’s location to the NSCDC , and will be acted upon swiftly once the command in charge receives the signal for action)In the 2023 General Election.

She also urged all the Civil Society Organizations deploying observers to make use of the N-Alerts as part of the measures to combat violence against women in the forthcoming elections.

She however expressed worry that Nigerian women have experienced a further reduction in the number of aspirants and emerged candidates, saying this will further affect the number of women who will hold elective positions. 

“Women have suffered from marginalization, discrimination, underrepresentation and also Violence Against Women in Politics at the National, State and Local Government levels. 

“For example, in the forthcoming 2023 General elections, there are 15,331 candidates across all 18 political parties in Nigeria, and only 1,534 are females, which translates to about 10%. This shows that the political participation of women in Nigeria is a national issue of concern, with a continuing record of underrepresentation in both elective and appointive positions,” she said.

“Our observation has shown that Electoral Violence is one of the reasons most women do not participate in Governance, especially elections; as candidates and electorate on election day.

” Violence Against Women has increased significantly especially in politics during this electioneering cycle. Women have experienced different forms of violence ranging from sexual harassment, bullying, blackmail and even murder.

“In the 2019 election in Kogi state, Salome Abuh, a People’s Democratic Party Woman Leader, was burnt alive in her home, yet the penalty given by the court to said perpetrators is not proportionate to the crime committed and Nigerian women still cry out for justice to be served. 

“Just recently, on Monday night (28th November 2022), the Labour Party Woman Leader; Victoria Chintex in Kaura Kaduna State was murdered at her home and also Woman Leader of Kebbi State was attacked, where her means of livelihood destroyed and many more that were not reported.

The WIPF President expressed the desire of every citizen to feel safe enough to participate in an election both as a candidate and an electorate. she therefore called on all security agencies to prioritize the protection of lives and properties. 

She further expressed fears that the current naira note scarcity will cheapen vote buying rather that combat it, stressing the extremely negative effect of the naira redesign and the high scarcity of money in circulation. 

“We think that in a bid to combat vote buying, the current scarcity will cheapen the cost of vote buying, thereby increasing the number of electorates who will be willing to sell their vote. For example, most electorates do not have access to both old and new naira notes, the offer of one thousand naira might get people selling their votes as against three thousand naira – five thousand naira only in previous elections.

“Observing the trend of the campaigns, it is assumed that there will be a huge voter turnout, however, there is also the assumption of election violence and post-election violence and women in Politics Forum is worried,” she stressed.

The Forum further calls on strategic stakeholders to make the 2023 elections a success, calling on all Nigerian citizens who are eligible to vote to come out, vote peacefully and protect their vote.

“We call on all security agencies to prioritize the protection of lives and properties. We urge security agencies not to use their position to intimidate the electorate but use the position to support electorates to have a seamless election day experience.

“We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to strictly adhere to the provisions contained in the electoral act for a free, fair and credible 2023 General Election. We urge INEC to ensure that ad-hoc staff are treated fairly, so as to carry out their role effectively and efficiently,” the statement said.

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