The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, were on Tuesday absent at the sixth edition of the Voice of Women 2022 Conference and Awards in Abuja.
The event organised by Women Radio 91.7 FM and Voice of Women Empowerment Foundation, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, with the theme, “Towards rebuilding Nigeria: An agenda for an inclusive and accountable Nigeria”, provided an opportunity for presidential candidates or their running mates to explain their plans and commitments to Nigerian women on the 2023 elections.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was absent, but he was represented by his running mate, Kashim Shettima.
Shettima said, “The Asiwaju administration will be a government that will be friendly to women. They are the backbone of our society because they constitute over 50 per cent of our total population.
“If Nigeria will reach its full fullest potential, we must give every person and segment of the population a fair chance to make their best contribution to the well-being and betterment of our nation.
“The growth of our economy and achievement of our nation and destiny rests on equity and the safeguarding of the fundamental rights and decency in our society. This means ending all forms of divisive biases, including gender discrimination.”
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, promised to support the making of a new law to guarantee the reservation of a specific percentage of all elective and appointive positions for women and youths.
While recalling the contributions made by the women in his cabinet towards his success as governor of Anambra State, he said they were more productive than the men.
He said, “You mothers are the ones that will suffer more if things go wrong. I believe in women and I believe they can save the country.
“As Anambra governor, I had a female deputy. My Chief of Staff was a woman. My commissioners for planning, local government affairs, education, and finance were women, including the State Accountant-General.
“Women were far more productive than the men. Today, I will attribute my success as a governor to those women in my cabinet.
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“For me, women are critical in the efforts to move the country forward. If we want to make progress, we have to surround ourselves with the 50 per cent of our population that we are neglecting, but I am going to invest in women.”
The presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Dumebi Kachikwu, said his presidency would tackle the marginalisation of women in Nigeria.
“Women have suffered for us, yet marginalised. But I promise to change the narrative and make women part of my government,” he said.
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Administration and Women Affairs) in the Office of the First Lady, Rukkayat Gurin, warned political parties against gender discrimination.
“Our participation in this election is necessary. I encourage every political party to support women and shun electoral violence against them,” she said.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, while delivering the keynote speech, explained why achieving success in encouraging gender equity and balance within the political parties had become a herculean task.
The Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre and Convener of Womanifesto,
Dr Abiola Akioye-Afolabi, while presenting the Charter of Demands to the presidential candidates, described it as a social accountability process.
“It (the Charter of Demands) is very important to us and we are going to hold the presidential candidates accountable for some of these issues.
“Why? It is because as women in Nigeria, we are tired of playing the second fiddle; tired of being considered second-class citizens; tired of being seen and not heard. We want to be on the decision-making table,” she said.