The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday said only 62 women out of the 2,970 who contested for different political offices in the 2019 general elections were elected.
The commission expressed disappointment over the low participation of Nigerian women in politics, describing it as a constraint on growth and poverty reduction.
The chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, represented by the Head (Gender Division), Blessing Obidiegwu, raised the concern while delivering his goodwill message at the annual convention of the Nigerian League of Women Voters in Abuja.
A breakdown of the figure given by INEC showed that while only seven women were elected into the Senate during the 2019 elections, the House of Representatives has 11 women.
While four women were elected as deputy governors, 40 women were elected into the 36 state Houses of Assembly.
Yakubu said, “It is common knowledge that the number of women elected to public offices in Nigeria unfortunately dwindled despite efforts made ahead of the general elections to enhance women participation in the electoral process by various stakeholders.
“The INEC held several programmes and activities to sensitise and mobilise more women to participate in the electoral process with the ultimate goal of having them elected to more public offices. These programmes held countrywide at the urban areas, as well as grass roots level.
“Sadly, out of 2,970 women who contested for different political offices, only 62 were elected. The above data shows 4.17% women representation in the 2019 general elections, as against 5.65% elected in the 2015 general elections to the National Assembly.
“The figures shown above indicate without equivocation that a lot still needs to be done to give women more access and visibility to participate actively in politics.
“This scenario needs to be vigorously interrogated to improve women’s participation in the electoral process.”
The INEC chairman stated that although the development of any nation required the participation of both men and women, gender inequality was still existing in the political leadership of Nigeria.
According to him, while gender inequality remained a constraint on growth and poverty reduction, a more equitable gender relation “is an accelerator of poverty reduction.”
Yakubu, however, said more women were becoming aware of the gains of their active involvement in public affairs and had taken ownership of the process as a result of the interventions of various stakeholders.
This, he said, was demonstrated by the number of women who were on the ballot during the 2019 elections.
At the event, a former Special Assistant to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters, Dr Esther Uduehi, demanded a review of the process for the appointment of INEC chairman.
She said the process should be democratised.
Uduehi said, “At whatever level, however, elections will only be fair and just if the (head of) the electoral body is appointed, not by government but by independent bodies.
“In all cases, we advocate that women should be allowed to have a great input. They should nominate their representatives for the commission (INEC), rather than governnent nominating for them.
“It is our recommendation that at whatever level, whether local, state or federal, our democracy will grow better and our elections will be sanitised only if the system of appointing electoral umpires was reviewed and democratised. In all cases, women must have a great say.
“At the last elections, women formed long queues and cast the majority of the votes in all the elections. Yet, only very few women got elected. We believe that together with the youth, we can bring about the required change to our democracy and our country, Nigeria.”
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