On Monday, women running for governorship in Nigeria promised to do a better job than their male colleagues if they were elected in 2023.
They also criticized most politicians, especially governors, for not giving the people who voted for them democratic dividends.
During a consultative media parley in Abuja, the women running for governor spoke their minds. The event was put on by Women Radio and Women in Business, with help from UN Women (Nigeria) and the Canadian government.
Beatrice Eyong, who works for UN Women in Nigeria, said that even though the number of women in parliament has doubled around the world since 1995, this hasn’t happened in Nigeria, where the number of women in politics has been going down steadily since 1999.
Hansatu Adegbite, the Executive Director of WIMBIZ, was saddened by the low number of women in politics and government. However, she was hopeful that, if they don’t get it in 2023, women will have better chances in politics, appointments, and government in 2027 and beyond.
Gladys Ngozika Johnson-Ogbuneke, the candidate for governor of Abia State for the Social Democratic Party, said that the #ENDSARS protests that swept the country in 2020 were caused by bad government.
She said that the people of Abia state have been suffering for 31 years, ever since the state was made. She also said that it was time for the government to put education and safety at the top of its list of priorities.
Johnson-Ogbuneke said, “I watched the protests and movements in 2020 with a lot of sadness. And I heard stories about how the police in Nigeria beat people up. But the young people of Nigeria made me very proud. I was glad that they had grown up and could now ask questions without being afraid. So, because of that, I set up a zoom meeting with a few of them. And I found myself talking to people and talking about politics with them.
“After that, they also told me to come in and do something. Even though Nigeria is a democracy, we know that there is no government there that cares about people’s housing, education, or any other social needs. I want to make Abia State an up-to-date state. For 31 years, what the people there have done best has not been enough.
“I’ll make sure that our schools have computers. Abia State looks more like a village than anything else. When you go to Umuahia, nobody can copy anything you do. I’ll work to make the state better and do my best.”
Khadijat Abdullahi, the candidate for governor of All Progressives Grand Alliance in Niger State, said that even though the state has the most land in the country, the government hasn’t used its potential.
She insisted that women had to leave their comfort zones if they wanted to change the negative story.
“I’m going to take part in the industrial revolution. Internally Generated Revenue, or IGR, has brought in about N7 trillion for Niger State. This money is even used to pay workers. I’m worried that there must be a state of emergency on the water. We have four hydroelectric power systems, and at one time we were able to power the whole country, which we can still do.
Anabel Cosmos, who is running for governor of Delta State for the Action Peoples Party, said that women need to change the story.
She said that the lack of money was one of the main things that made it hard for women to get into politics.
“Women are in trouble, and our education system is in trouble. After I ran for governor in 2019, Delta gave me a small job. With that job, I was able to run some programs to help people in every Senatorial District. But I’ve made up my mind to change. Money is what we need. Let us support ourselves. Women can’t make a living on their own. No more embarrassing ourselves in public. We are managers in our homes, so we can run our different States. Cosmos said, “I’m here to show the men that I can do it better.
Dr. Ebiti Ndok-Jegede, who is running for president as a candidate for the Allied Peoples Movement, says that her party would change the way the country is run if they get elected.
She talked about the need to bring dead industries back to life and said that Nigeria could only move forward if the people changed the way they thought about government.
She said, “It’s not possible to industrialize and create jobs in every single local government.” By changing the way Nigeria’s economy works, we can rebuild the country in many ways. Right now, inflation is high. Nigeria is a wealthy country, but look at where we are now.
“So, I’ve talked to you about restoring, reviving, rebuilding, and reorganizing. We need to change the way people in Nigeria think. You need to start thinking positively and remember that as a Nigerian, only the best is good for you and that we all have to work today.
Eyong said that the UN was committed to “strengthening our partnerships with government actors, the private sector, media development partners, and civil society to advance women’s political leadership in the 2023 elections and beyond.”
She said that only 3.8% of parliamentary seats at the national and state levels are held by women, and that no woman has ever been elected as governor in Nigeria’s history of voting.
She said, “Everyone is hurt by the fact that women and their groups aren’t represented enough.” Women and girls need to be involved in making decisions so that policies and budgets can meet everyone’s needs and help prevent, respond to, and recover from crises. When more women are involved in public life and policymaking, more attention and resources are put on social policies, environmental priorities, and issues like health, education, childcare, infrastructure, ending violence against women, and overall quality of life.
“Women’s participation and representation in politics have been hindered by a number of things, which you all know because you have lived through them. There isn’t enough money to run political campaigns, for example. Because men and women earn different amounts of money, women often can’t compete on the same level as men. For example, running an election campaign in Nigeria is very expensive, and according to the World Economic Forum, women in Nigeria earn 36% less than men. Women are already behind before they even start.
“Women candidates don’t have the same amount of access to media platforms to run their campaigns and get noticed. Candidates use mass media to spread their message and spend a lot of time and money planning and running their mass media campaigns. Unfortunately, most women can’t afford to do this compared to men. When the news media cover politics on their own, women candidates are often not thought to be newsworthy.
“Because of this, they are forgotten. In some cases, the media reinforces stereotypes about men and women, making it less likely that women will be elected.