With ninety percent or 98 out of the 109 Senators-elect presented their certificates of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja on Tuesday, it has been come to light that there will be only three women in the upper chamber when inaugurated. This is a decline and a sharp drop from the number
With ninety percent or 98 out of the 109 Senators-elect presented their certificates of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja on Tuesday, it has been come to light that there will be only three women in the upper chamber when inaugurated. This is a decline and a sharp drop from the number of female Senators in the 9th Assembly which stood at 7.
The three female Senators are Mrs Banigo Ipalibo Harry, current deputy governor of Rivers state representing her state and Mrs. Kingibe Ireti Heebah of Labour Party representing Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and former Lagos state deputy governor Mrs Idiat Oluranti Adebule representing Lagos West Senatorial District. Only 92 women or 8.4 percent of the 1,110 senatorial seats were contested for by women nationally in the 2023 elections.Senator-elect Mrs Idiat Adebule
The drop in the number of female candidates is not only regrettable but a worrisome development because it contrasts sharply with previous elections in Nigeria. This is despite the parties’ manifestoes’ promising at least thirty percent of their elective and appointive positions for women. The outcome of the 2023 elections is an irony.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had only 4 female candidates contesting in the last election but only one of them won out of the party’s 55 Senators, declared so far. The Peoples’ Democratic Party which had five senatorial candidates in the election has managed to produce only one as a winner from Rivers State; the party has been credited with 33 Senators so far. The other winner is from the Labour Party. Labour has altogether 7 Senators. This is not a cheering news for women in spite of all the battles on inclusivity in the political arena in recent past.
It has become more imperative now for the gender equality advocates and civil society organisations, promoting the interests of women, to return to the drawing boards and put on their thinking caps; strategizing on how to get more women into influential political positions. An attempt to remove some constitutional obstacles against women was rejected by the ninth assembly rejecting five of such bills proposed in the amendment of the constitution.
Whereas more women are breaking the glass ceiling in other climes, women are being pushed into the background in Nigeria. If the elective positions are becoming too competitive, women groups should lobby and get very important appointive positions.
In the coming dispensation, nothing should stop a woman from being considered and appointed as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) which is within the sole powers of the President to make. Doing this will place a woman in the top echelon of power. The office of the SGF is also a strategic position that could be used to balance appointments and empower more women. This is a type of agenda that the women group should place before the President-elect before all the positions are shared.
After the 2019 general elections, there were only 29 women in the National Assembly. Out of this number, only six ended up in the Senate and the remaining 23 in the House of Representatives.