The political arena in Nigeria seems not to be a good playing turf for women. This submission stems from the fact that only few women participate actively in politics in the country.

Statistics shows that a paltry 6% of the country’s women (about 600,000) out of a population of 200million in which women constitute half of the population are active participants in the country’s politics. At present, less than 5% of the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly members are women.

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The Ninth National Assembly that is about to wind up has only eight female senators in a 109-member Senate and 13 female members in the 360-member House of Representatives. The situation will not improve in the incoming 10th National Assembly which will have only three female senators and 14 female members of the House of Representatives.

In Imo State, the situation is even more pathetic. The current democratic governance is 24 years this year and there has been only one elected woman deputy governor in the state. Of course, men have continued to dominate the governorship seat in Imo State considered educationally advanced.

They have also dominated the state legislature. The Ninth Assembly in the state has only two female members namely Ngozi Obiefule(Isu) and Uju Onwudiwe(Njaba).The 10th Assembly which will be inaugurated in June will have no female members as all the 27 members-elect are men.

The political parties have also not fared well. They offer tokenism to their female members, preferring to reserve the woman leader’s position for them not minding their voting strength.

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It is owing to this low participation or rather exclusion of women from political representation that some women operating under the aegis of Imo Women Matter (IMW) have risen to galvanize their kind.

The IMW on Friday, April 28, 2023 held a media parley in Owerri, the Imo State capital. In her opening remarks, the anchor/host, Barrister Ngozi Njoku set the tone of the conference.

She emphasized the need to walk the talk concerning improving women participation in politics and governance of the country.

The former Commissioner for Women Affairs and later Commissioner for Health in Imo State stressed that it was time to implement the affirmative action on women representation in politics.

She said; “We are here for action; we are not here to condemn the men. Women need to be given a chance. We need the heart of a woman in order to lessen the hardship in the society. Women have value to give to the benefit of the society’.

In his goodwill message, a lecturer at the Imo State University, Owerri, Professor Nnamdi Obiaraeri regretted that Imo State which is a progressive society does not play progressive politics. He reeled out statistics that shows a conscious exclusion of women in the politics of the state.

According to Prof Obiaraeri, in the 24 years of democratic governance in the state, only five women have been elected into the state legislature and two women into the National Assembly while one woman was elected deputy governor.

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The professor of law stated that women can do better than the dancing and cheer leader’s position usually offered them by the political parties. Prof Obiaraeri therefore called for an end to the marginalization of women in politics, describing the relegation of women as a crime against humanity.

In her speech, the Convener of IMW and wife of the Ondo State governor, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu regretted the unfair and unequal treatment being meted out to women in the country at the family, social and political spheres.

The Ada Owere 1 noted that in some cultures, the boy-child is the only one enrolled in school while the girl-child stays at home and is compelled to go into early marriage as means to raise funds for the boy-child.  

She submitted that some political leaders pay lip service to the efforts for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 which harps on global gender equality.

 Chief Akeredolu cited the experience of Aisha Binani of Adamawa State to buttress her point that women are being marginalized by men in the politics of the country. While noting that Binani shattered the glass ceiling by emerging the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Akeredolu asserted that she went ahead to win the governorship poll but her victory was arrested by sexists and other forces of misogyny.

The Ondo First Lady totally rejected the Imo scenario where what she termed as the ‘boys brigade’ line-up has played out. She condemned a situation whereby women are completely excluded from the politics and governance of the state.

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Before the conference, the IMW had addressed letters to the major political parties in the state, demanding that they cede the deputy governorship slot to women. So far, it is only the African Democratic Congress (ADC) that has replied its letter, requesting the IMW to nominate a woman from Imo North Senatorial District to pair with its governorship candidate in the November 11, 2023 poll in the state.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state seems not to be bothered by the obvious exclusion of women as its governorship candidate, Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu had already picked another man, Jones Onyereri as his running mate. It is left to be seen what the reactions of Labour Party (LP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) will be to the demand made by the IMW.

The first lady disclosed that the IMW is partnering with men who she described as He4She in the project to achieve gender parity in political representation. She urged women never to give up or be discouraged by any challenge in the struggle to ensure equity in the political space.

Clearly, women appear to have girded their loins this time to bring an end to the political exclusion of their kind. They are ready to weather the storms to take their rightful place in the political, social and economic arenas.


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