Twenty-four years since the return to democratic rule, there is still growing concern over the low representation of women in both elective and appointive positions at state and federal levels in line with the 35 per cent Affirmative Action.
The results from the last National Assembly polls leave much to be desired as the number of women elected in the 10th National Assembly is lesser than the previous Ninth Assembly. During the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, only 17 women were sworn in as members of the National Assembly, compared to the 21 female lawmakers in the Ninth Assembly.
In this present administration, there are only three women in the Senate from All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP). They are Senators Oluranti Adebule (APC, Lagos West), Ireti Kinigbe (LP, FCT Abuja) and Ipalibo Banigo (PDP, Rivers West). This is a departure to the Ninth Assembly that has seven female Senators – Oluremi Tinubu, Stella Oduah (Anambra North), Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central), Betty Apiafi (Rivers West), Eyakenyi Akon (Akwa Ibom South), Aishatu Dahiru (Adamawa Central), Abiodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) and Rose Oko (Cross River North).
In the Ninth National Assembly, there were only 13 female in the 360-members House of Representatives. They were Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau), Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP, Anambra), Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim (APC, Yobe), Zainab Gimba (APC, Borno), Blessing Onuh (APC, Benue), Boma Goodhead (PDP, Rivers), Aisha Dukku (APC, Gombe), Adewunmi Onanuga (APC, Ogun), Omowumi Ogunlola (APC, Ekiti), Tolulope Akande-Shadipe (APC, Oyo), Taiwo Oluga (APC, Osun) and Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo). Out of the 13 female federal lawmakers, seven – Lar, Onuh, Gimba, Abba-Ibrahim, Goodhead, Onanuga and Onuoha were re-elected into the 10th National Assembly.
The new seven female House of Representatives are Obiageli Orogbu (LP, Anambra), Fatima Talba (APC, Yobe), Clara Nnabuife (YPP, Anambra), Marie Ebikake (PDP, Bayelsa), Maureen Gwacham (APGA, Anambra), Ehriatake Ibori-Suenu (PDP, Delta) and Regina Akume (APC, Benue).
The National Assembly is made up of 469 members and out of them, only one female is among the 20 principal officers in the two chambers of the Assembly. Hon. Adewumi Onanuga, representing Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo North Federal Constituency of Ogun State is Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives.
Speaking on the low representation of women in the National Assembly, a human rights activist, Comrade Bukola Omoshola in an exclusive interview with AN24 lamented the poor representation of women in the two legislative chambers.
“Few women contested for the seat in both chambers and even the ones that went into the contest backed down because of party crisis. Many women also lost out in the contest because there was no support for them, not just at the party but due to their religion, beliefs, traditions and ethnicity. This is not encouraging at all,” she said.
Also speaking to AN24, an advocate for women’s participation in politics, Comrade Funmi Sharon, decried how Nigerian’s women expectations were cut short by the minimal representation of women in the realms of politics.
“It is so disappointing and painful that women are still finding difficulties in balance representation in both the executive and legislative arms government,” she said.
In Nigeria, the cold room of politics is marshalled by men while women are left on the fringes to sing the praises of political gladiators, but the truth is, women, can make in-roads within the complex political sphere of Nigeria if they continue to engage the process without developing cold feet.
This hereby behoves, governments and stakeholders to prioritise efforts in increasing women’s participation in politics for the attainment of a more equitable and better world.