Statistics do not support the inclusion of women and youths in political governance in Nigeria. However, if the aims of the Consortium of civil society is achieved, the 2023 political activities might see more youths and women standing in for political offices.
By Victor Emeruwa
When Ene Obi, the passionate and fiery civil society leader and Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), it was clear that her speech would be a disruptive campaign to the existing marginalization of women and youths in the political space in Nigeria.
“Women’s rights are human rights, as we gathered here today, for the kickoff of the campaign for Hope, Action and Progress for women and young people, it is expected that all groups within the populace gets actively involved in governance.
“And what this means is that the voices of everyone must be heard, and their experiences and expertise utilized for the optimal growth and development of the country,” she said.
Obi was speaking at the official launch of the Programme, WE-YOUPRO with the campaign theme of Hope, Action and Progress for women and young people in politics, in Kano on Wednesday 9 February 2022.
According to her the campaign is focused on inclusion of women and young people in political and governance processes in Nigeria and targeted at mobilizing a critical mass of young people and women who will lead disruptive campaigns towards translating citizens’ demands into policy actions to contribute to an inclusive and responsive democratic process and outcomes through citizens led actions towards 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
Hope Action and Progress for Women and Youths
Babafunke Fagbemi, the Executive Director, Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), a member of the consortium that includes AAN and other implementing partners lamented that while the women and youth constitute the highest demography in Nigeria, they have been marginalized when it comes to political governance.
Fagbemi said: “We therefore have the largest demography of our population, left out without political voice, but according to data constitute the highest number in our population. In Nigeria, women participation in politics is not proportionate to the over 45% of the nation’s population which they represent and this has not translated into equal representation in political leadership positions. “
Many of those who came to the launch agreed with Fagbemi. These include political parties, civil society organisations, media and the traditional institution. Philemon Kure, the representative of the African Democratic Congress said with the project, 2023 elections would not be the same.
“The next election will be different because the effects of this campaign would have been visible. All of us owe Nigeria the responsibility of leaving her better than we met her and the best way is to get the voices of everyone into politics,” he said.
Representatives of other political parties like the All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Youths Progressive Party (YPP) said the time has come for women and youths to stop begging for a chance but take the chance and make positive impact.
A vote for Action
Babafunke said she saw a ray of hope for women and youths if women can take action. Currently, several factors are stalked against the women participation in politics but they can be surmounted.
“Several factors have been identified to be responsible for the poor participation of youths in politics and they include financial constraint, lack of skills and the lack of understanding of the benefits of youth engagement in the policy and program of action by the Nigerian government.
“This is why the campaign for inclusion of women and young people in political and governance processes (WE-YOU PRO) is focused on inclusion of women and young people in political and governance processes in Nigeria. The campaign is targeted at mobilizing a critical mass of young people and women who will lead disruptive campaigns towards translating citizens’ demands into policy actions to contribute to an inclusive and responsive democratic process and outcomes through citizens led actions towards 2023 general elections in Nigeria,” she said.
The Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Alh. Aminu Ado Bayero who declared the campaign opened praised the organisers for choosing the ancient city saying it came at the right time. He also cautioned against political thuggery and misconduct by youths urging them to channel their skills into political participation.
The Emir who was represented by Fagacin Kano, Alh. Habibu Dankadai said the overall benefits of inclusion and participation of youths and women in politics cannot be overemphasized.
Bayero said: “Both youths and women are key in politics because they constitute a large number of the electorate and play an important role.”
He also urged the target groups to get involved in all political processes, contest and elect credible people to hold leadership positions in the country.
Other stakeholders are promising their support. Comrade Abbas Ibrahim, Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kano said: “This is our project; we will bring it to the front burner and expose negative tendencies to undermine the progress of women and youths.”
However, Kano State Chairman of the Young Progressive Party, Barrister Salisu Umar made a profound statement while promising that young people and women will be given a chance in his party. “Without Women, there is no courageous politics and without the youths there is no equal politics.