From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
First Lady Aisha Buhari has stressed that as the country race towards another election in 2023, the All Progressives Congress (APC) must go beyond paying lip service to put women in vital offices within the party and the government.
This is even as she warned governors that they will be held responsible if women do not get the 35 per cent affirmative action in political appointments and administration.
She gave the warning at the first-ever National Progressive Women’s Conference in Abuja.
The National Gender Policy (NGP) had formulated a 35% Affirmative Action (AA) in Nigeria since 2006. This policy demands that 35% of women be involved in all governance processes. The NGP is recognized but is not practised as the structures and processes to use are not in place.
According to the First Lady, “This is the first time the national women conference of the APC is being held to establish our commitment to setting the position of women in matters of national importance, especially in increasing the visibility of women, positioning women for future political offices, and encouraging them to aspire more towards the progress of our great party.
“Since 2015, I’ve had the privilege of engaging Nigerian women across the entire country, my conviction is that Nigeria’s future is entirely dependent on actually using the potential of our women. It is no mere coincidence that parties that have grown strong, prosperous and influential have prioritized Women’s participation in national building. I, therefore, wish to call upon the APC to double its efforts in promoting women; this, I believe, will serve as one of the objectives of this conference.
“As Nigeria races towards another election, we must go beyond paying lip service to put women in vital offices within our party and the government. We must put in place workable strategies to ensure that this actually happens, charity begins at home.
“And so the APC must start by ensuring that women occupying strategic offices within the party have the most strategic roles in government. When this happens, it will become a lot easier for us to empower Nigerian women for the much-needed leadership politically and economically.
“There is no doubt that the future indeed looks bright as APC continues to lead our country. Women who have long been ignored and denied opportunities are now finding their voices gradually. This is a good omen for Nigeria because when women shine, society shines.
“I think as women have gathered here today, we are being invited by the national woman leader, and women are here cut across the country to answer the call. The governors are here, the ministers are here, the few women that are opportune to be ministers are here, the few women that are opportune to be head of government agencies and parastatals are here. Those that are opportune to be board members are here. APC has grown so much. We feel that they have done so much but we still need a little bit more. I think more needs to be done.
“As the governors are here today before we round up, we will like to know how many percentages are going to be given to women in order to tally with the 35% affirmative action. The Governor of Kebbi has said a lot, we thank him for his long explanation but we need more in Kebbi State. We need more women in decision making bodies from local government, state up to federal level. And the governors are here, the ball is in their hands. I think if we do not get 35% affirmative action, that we desire or that we are entitled to, we will hold the governors possible.”
The First Lady also called on the Nigerian women to continue the struggle by showing greater influence, commitment and unity in the decision making process of this country, adding “our vintage pride lies in our shared numerical strength.”
Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor, in her keynote address said more than just security votes, it is a new day, stressing that women make the core of winning strategy.