WOMEN’S campaign group the Association of Female Politicians in Ondo State has used the occasion of Democracy Day to call on all political parties in the state to zone the position of deputy governor to them come the 2020 gubernatorial elections.
Like Nigeria’s other 35 states, Ondo is observing the public holiday of Democracy Day today to mark the annulment of the June 1993 presidential elections won by Chief Moshood Abiola. Across the nation, the event has been marked by seminars, lectures, symposia and cultural activities.
In Akure, the Ondo State capital, the Association of Female Politicians in Ondo State used the event to advocate for women to be given the deputy governor slot across all political parties ahead of the gubernatorial election in 2020. Mrs Olawumi Ohwovoriole, a former commissioner for women affairs and one of the leaders of the association, said female politicians, irrespective of political affiliations, came together to celebrate the June 12 Democracy Day and the 20th anniversary of uninterrupted democratic rule.
In her speech, she said it was time women were given the 35% affirmative action and equity in political processes. Ondo State is due to go to the polls in November 2020 to elect a new governor, in what is likely to be a two horse race between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party.
Mrs Ohwovoriole said: “We female politicians in Ondo state, irrespective of our political parties, operating under Association of Female Politicians, came together in celebration of June 12 Democracy Day and the 20th anniversary of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria. We conducted a historical scan of the political participation of women in Ondo state and Nigeria at large and observed that over the 20-year period from 1999-2019, Ondo State women have continued to witness abysmal representative percentages across the state.
“In elective offices and legislative arm, the highest representation ever attained by women in Ondo state was 11% in 2011 with three women were elected to the Ondo State House of Assembly as against the recommended 35% affirmation, which is operative under the law. This unacceptable low representation further reduced, drastically, to 3.8% with just one female representative presently in the Ondo State House of Assembly and none in the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
She added that the same trend is observed in the state allocation of appointments as few women are allowed to serve their state and nation relative to the men. Mr Ohwovoriole said that Ondo State ranked high amongst states with gender insensitiveness in the country.
Another speaker Mrs Yemi Mahmud, noted that party structures in Ondo State had done nothing to encourage gender inclusion. Mrs Janet Adeyemi, the chairman of the association in the state, said the situation became very worrisome when only one woman was elected into the Ondo State House of Assembly.
She added: “We call on Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to hearken to the voice of women in the state and ensure a change of this negative narrative which has led to lack of political interest and created sense of injustice and marginalisation in women in the state. We implore the governor to see women as partners in progress in the state, and we equally insist on massive increase in appointment of credible women into key political offices.”