By Philip Yatai

The Women Mentoring and Leadership Initiative (WOMFOI), says it is mobilising support for female candidates in vying for House Representative and State Assembly seats in the 2023 General Election.

The President, Mrs Florence Aya, stated this in Kaduna on Friday, at a Media Dialogue with women and socially excluded groups, to influence party candidates on health and education issues.

The dialogue was facilitated by Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme in collaboration with The Agenda, an issue-based campaign platform.

Aya disclosed that only three out of the 18 women from the group that participated in the primary elections for various political seats were successful, a development she described as “encouraging”.

She said that the three women won the primary elections and emerged as candidates for State Assembly election in the state.

She identified the women as Mrs Larai Ishaku, Jaba State Constituency and Mrs Munira Tanimu, Lere Constituency all under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

She said that the third woman was Mrs Comfort Anwe, the incumbent member representing Sanga State Constituency under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Aya described the feat as a “very little progress” compared to the 2019 General Election, where 26 women aspired, two won the party’s tickets and only one female eventually won in the election.

According to her, the group is currently re-strategising to make a huge difference ahead of the 2023 General Election.

“What we are doing now through WOMFOI is to make sure that our local government chapters are mobilised properly to support them at the General Election.

“We are going to mobilise our members from other local governments to support the local government areas with female candidates.

“We are also reaching out to the men to support us in mobilising the electorates to come out en masse and vote for female candidates during the election for more female representation in the State Assembly.”

She thanked PERL for supporting women and other sociality excluded groups to take the lead in demanding for good governance and a space in the governance process.   

Sharing their experiences, some of the female aspirants and candidates described the democratic process as “very competitive and characterized by the choice of money over competency, and bribe over manifesto”.

Ms Hauwa Gambo, a candidate for the House of Representatives, Kajuru/Chikun Federal Constituency under the African Democratic Congress (ADC), said the dearth of voter education was a huge problem in the electoral process.

Gambo said that people were suffering but did not know that they contributed to the problem because of their action or inaction during the electoral process.

According to her, voter education will solve more than half of the problems affecting Nigeria’s electoral and democratic space.

Similarly, Ms Godiya Ayuba, who aspired for the Jaba State Constituency under the PDP and lost, expressed dismay that no woman supported her during the primary election.

“The women did not support me, and I don’t know why. We complain of women’s marginalisation but when some of us step up, our fellow women don’t support us. I wonder why this is so,” she said.

Mr Yusuf Goje of The Agenda advised the women candidates to partner with community leaders, community development association, political actors, media, civil Society organizations and professional groups.

Goje said that electorates should ensure that politicians do not abandon good governance for selfish political gains but focus on issues that speak to the security and welfare of the people.

According to him, government is about people, and as such, electorates should scrutinize candidates to understand their manifesto and choose candidates that will bring democratic dividends to his people.

Earlier, PERL’s State Lead Facilitator, Mr Adejor Abel, explained that the dialogue was to reflect and review the quality of participation of women and marginalised groups in the governance process.

Abel noted that the general election was around the corner and stressed the need for strategies to influence party candidates to sign social contracts based on the demands for health and education issues.

He added that the dialogue also provides the opportunity to brainstorm on the tools and technology-driven platforms that promote participation of women platforms and marginalised groups in governance.

On his part, Mr Nuhu Shadalafiya, representing Sanga Constituency in the State Assembly, advised electorates to sign social contract with any politician seeking political office.

According to him, the contract will make the politician work hard to deliver on the promises and meet the yearning of the people he represents.