Women in All Progressives Congress (APC) have called for an increased participation and inclusion of women in elective positions across the country.
The call was made at a consultative forum themed “Inclusion of APC Women in Elective Positions in Lagos State” and convened by the Women’s Leader of the Lagos State chapter of the party, Hon. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas held in Lagos on Thursday, 6 May, 2021.
In her opening remark at the forum, former Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule tasked women to come together and make themselves available for elective positions.
While extolling the exceptional character and unique managerial skills of women, Adebule described women are transformational and mentors.
She added, “The purpose of our gathering here today is to see how we can come together for the benefit of women not only in Lagos but in the entire Nigeria. Our inclusion in leadership and elective positions is what we must work towards and demand for. We must present ourselves for elective positions.
“I carefully chose these words because when we talk of leadership, women are there. We manage the homes and more. The capabilities and abilities to manage are always with us. Nobody will come and call us for a leadership or elective position, we have to present ourselves and fight for it.
“I am therefore urging our women to present themselves for self development so that when the opportunity present itself, they can fit into it and also have opportunities to vie for positions. It is only when we develop ourselves that we can be assured of fielding quality, resourceful and capable women.
“It is time for local government elections, it is the duty of our women to support women participants with their votes and funds. One of the hindrance for women inclusion in politics is finance and I want to charge our convener that whenever we are converging here it should be for fund raising to support our women in politics.
“Women are in the majority when you go out to polling booths during elections. This is a good development which we can use to our advantage. We must mentor people. A lot of people see position of authority as a showoff but it comes with a lot of responsibilities which women as home builders are prepared for. We must be ready to listen to others because no one has it all. Women are emotionally and spiritually strong. It is not just for us to converge here but we should be an inspiration and mentors to others and support the goals of other women.”
In her address, Convener of the forum, Hon. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas laments under- representation of women in politics while charging them to fight for elective positions.
She said, “I appreciate your presence at this auspicious occasion to discuss this very important issue captioned succinctly as “ Inclusion of APC Women in Elective Positions: Lagos State as a Pacesetter”.
“This is a topic that burns deep in my heart both as a Woman leader of our party and a former house of rep member. I am therefore blessed to have my Sisters in our midst today, Ms. Stella Etete who is APC Woman Rep. of the Caretaker Committee that has been working hard on the amendment of the Party Constitution on Inclusion of Women appropriately and of course Rt. Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha who is a Principal Officer and a cherished member of our dear party has bravely championed our course at the National Assembly by sponsoring a bill on the Representation of Women in Local Government Legislative Councils and to create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses. I wish to implore everyone of us to listen with rapt attention as she takes us through these bills and please feel free to ask questions .
“My dear Lagos Women, as you are aware the Local Government Election is coming up shortly and there is therefore no better time to fight for our seats at the table. There is a saying that “ Power is not served a la carte so we cannot fold our arms and expect the men to hand down elective positions to us. We are therefore imploring our able, competent women of character and integrity to rise up and take on the challenge of the election. This is of course with the support of our progressive natured party and especially our Lagos State leadership that have set an example of appointing over 35% of women in the State cabinet. This gesture has also permeated through all levels of the State bureaucracy. Our amiable “He for She Governor has further thrown his support for this forum by mandating all female members of his cabinet to join us today.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, today is not about speeches but to focus on brainstorming on the practical steps to achieve a 30% representation in elective positions across our local and State governments.
“Today is about open and honest conversations regarding not only the challenges that currently hinder us, but the opportunities that can be identified to support our ambitions. The floor would be open for suggestions and debates regarding the best way to position interested women to succeed at elections. We must be ready to think outside the box at this forum , this is the reason we have gathered a high powered group of Women some who have done it and succeeded to coach us through the process .
“At the end of these forum, we will develop a communique to be shared with Leaders of our great party and all other stakeholders. This forum will also lend a voice to the bill sponsored by Hon. Nkiriruka Onyejeocha and call on Mr. President to assent to both bills before the 2023 elections.
“The time for women to stop complaining and start acting is now. The United Nations theme for this year is especially apt in the Nigerian situation. We must choose to challenge our silence and fear , the time to demand to be heard is now, and as usual Lagos APC women are ready to lead the change.”
Speaking on women inclusiveness in politics via zoom, a member of the House of Representatives and a lead discussant, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha disclosed that there is no enabling law supporting women’s political aspiration.
“The Convener of this forum, Hon Jumoke Okoya-Thomas is a women leader pacesetting for this agenda.
“Women know where the shoe pinches but when it comes to matters that affect them, men do the decision making. If men cannot give us 35 per cent out of the total number of seats at the National Assembly, we have to come together, strive and mobilize ourselves to vie for elective positions. We are speaking for the generality of women out there.
“As we speak, many State House of Assembly in Nigeria do not have women representation. There are many women and daughters out there who are qualified but there is no enabling law that support their aspirations. When you go outside the country, you see 30 to 40 percent representation of women in position of authority but here in Nigeria, we have less than 5 per cent. We are seeking a legislation that will enhance women participation in politics. If we have more women in politics there will be less crime and corruption. It is the women that elect the governors and the president. Women take the decision. They have the number but this does not take them anywhere. This is a golden opportunity for us to take the giant leap and if we miss this, we may not get there again.”
For the National women representative of the All Progressives Congress, Hon Stella Okotete empathy is what “will lead us as women to change the narrative”.
She added, “There was no empathy as every woman sees others as competitors. But when we shine the light the men will have no option than to join force with us. When I came in, I didn’t meet any structure in place but I told myself that I needed to build a foundation that will take us to lead come 2023. The only way this country can get out of this challenges is to give women position of leadership. There was poor communication. Every women occupying position of authority in APC must ensure that they give opportunities to women in the party.”