Tuesday 25 January 2022


 On the 24th of January 2022, I was in the Studio of Boss 95.5FM, Asokoro, Abuja, to discuss what women want and how to enhance the participation/visibility of women in politics. At the outset, Itold my interviewers that the playing field in politics in Nigeria is not level. It is skewed in favour of men for many reasons.

                                  Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (middle) with the Boss FM95.5 'crew'

I zeroed in on the reasons why statistics show that the number of women in elective and appointive posts has been declining since 1999. To be sure, the 2019 elections were the worst for women, in terms of the number who got into elective positions. Why is this so? Some of the reasons I gave were:

*Feminisation of poverty. Poverty seems to have a feminine face. Most women cannot afford the following for nomination forms: Presidential - N45m, Governorship - N22.5m, Senate - N7m, House of Representatives - N3m. You might say some Parties have reduced the cost of the forms or given it free to female aspirants. But the feelers I'm getting from the field is that these monetary concessions for women are in reality a liability. They are looked down upon within the Party because they got their forms free! They do not have a strong voice when important decisions are being taken. Many female politicians now say they would rather pay in full for the nomination forms in order to have a 'proper seat' at the table!

*Lack of internal Party democracy (IPD).

*Tokenism for women. The most prominent woman in the Party is usually the 'Women Leader'. Why can't a woman be the Chairman of the Party, VP, Publicity Secretary, etc?

*Stereotyping: Women often take care of welfare, including the food. Why does such such 'welfare' include' women as Financial Secretaries?

*Violence against women in politics (VAWiP). Physical violence is not the only form of VAW. There is verbal violence, violence via exclusion, etc.

*Patriarchy: This is the elephant in the room! We cannot wish patriarchy away overnight, it takes time for men to accept that women should also be seen and heard...

*The socialisation of girls into the society is limited by patriarchal values.

*Lack of legislation on affirmative action (AA). Legislation is necessary to give 'teeth' to AA. In order to attain 35% AA and go beyond this to parity, we need relevant legislation. This is where the initiative of Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives comes in: 'A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to create additional special seats for women in the National Assembly'. I would slightly adjust the Bill because the average annual budget of the NASS is already humongous - N134b yearly! I would not support additional seats, but I would rather have the seats 'carved out' of the existing seats in the NASS.  

*There should be more safe spaces for women and girls at all levels of the society.

*The VAPP Act needs to be implemented more vigorously beyond the FCT.

The statistics are not impressive for Nigeria as regards the level of participation of women in politics:

-National average (Nigeria) - 6.7%

-Global average - 22.5%

-Africa regional average - 23.4%

-West Africa sub-regional average - 15%

With the numerous obstacles in the way of women in politics in Nigeria, the discussion would get more heated towards the 2023 elections... 

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