By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Female members of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC have demanded the adoption of Option A4 in picking flag bearers of the party in various elections, saying it is the only way to ensure gender mainstreaming in Nigeria’s political space.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen made the demand Wednesday in Abuja shortly after presenting a shopping list to the Prof. Tahir Mamman Constitution Review Committee of the party.
The minister also demanded a 50 percent representation for women across all elective positions in the party, saying it is not fair to have only one woman among administrators of the party.
Addressing journalists shortly after her presentation, Tallen said; “We demand for affirmative action. You will agree with me that women toil and give the highest votes at all elections. The absence of women in the party structure is what bothers women. We are here to demand for the amendment. We are aware that last week, the party inaugurated the committee for the amendment of its Constitution. Immediately we heard about the constitution of the Committee, we swung into action. We happened to be the first because we agree that we are the most marginalized and that is unacceptable for national development.
“We are here to demand for affirmative action. We need more women in the party structure and for all elections. We are demanding that no gender, women or men should occupy more than 60% as against the other. We are demanding for gender equality. We are demanding for full participation and representation of women in the party structure and all elective seats in our dear country Nigeria.
“Even in the last election, 2019, we paid fully and most of us standing here can testify to that. We paid and contested, but, our problem is, we want the amendment to the constitution to involve more women in the party structure. That is the beginning and foundation of the success story of politics. You cannot effectively scale through if you are not represented at the party level. It is not fair to have only one woman among party men. It is not fair. We want fairness and justice. We are demanding for it because that is the ingredient for peace. We are peace makers and we are crying for peace for our country, and as mothers we are demanding for peace and justice.
“If Liberia that we supported and assisted to bring back peace and restore sanity can have a female President, if Malawi can have a female President, is Nigeria not bigger than these countries? Are we not better than them? Don’t they look up to us? So, just the way we have been supporting the men, in all elections, we are also appealing that they should do same to us.
“Gender equality. That is what the world is advocating for and we came at the right time. This is the month of women all over the world. The UN has declared not only the 8th March but the whole month of March to address issues affecting women and children. We are mothers in the land. The world is focusing on women. We want Nigeria to be the lead country in Africa. Other African countries have set the pace. We want to take that leadership role that they all look up to us. We can do it. There is nothing impossible about it. We love Mr President and we are supporting him. We want Mr President to lend his voice to this matter as the leader of the party. We are calling on all men of goodwill to lend their voice so that we can have gender parity.
“We are saying that delegate election is not democratic. We are demanding for open elections. Option A4. Direct primaries. That is more democratic. That is how you will know the true representative of the people. We are afraid to contest elections. We want a level playing ground. Women don’t have money like the men to buy delegates. How can you take three people to represent a ward of over 3, 000 people? Of course, you won’t see the thousands of people in the wards. They will smuggle them during the hour of voting. They keep them away and bring them out on the hour of election. Until we allow the will of the people, it is a democratic system and it calls for direct primaries. If you don’t win the primaries you cannot contest. And it is not that women are not accepted. We are loved. Women identify with their people at the grassroots but their hands are tied. It is just three people that represent thousands at the delegate election. We say no to it. We are asking for direct primaries at all levels”, the ministry added.