A gender based non-governmental organization under the aegis of Coalition of Women Associations in Kwara State has raised the alarm over an attempt to marginalize and infringe on the rights of women in politics.
The group is composed of professional women associations such as; Nigeria Women Journalists, (NAWOJ) , Medical Women Association of Nigeria, (MWAN), Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, (APWEN), Women in Taxation, Women NLC, Women Pharmacists, Women Bag Makers, Women Bead Makers, International Women Communication Centre, (IWCC), FOMWAN and WOWICAN among others.
At press conference held in Ilorin on Tuesday, the group appealed for support for the only elected female member of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Mariam Joy Adeniran, to retain her mandate.
Spokesperson of the group, Mrs. Ayobola Olupinla, in her address said: “we are unhappy with the recent development of an attempt to shut out the feelings for adequate gender consideration in the scheme of governance as far as the state is concerned in the in the incoming political dispensation.
“Specifically, the outcome of the election for the Essa/Shawo/Igbodun Constituency of the Kwara State House of Assembly was keenly contested and won by Hon. Mariam Joy Adeniran to become the only female Member-Elect of the 24-member Assembly.
“She has been issued Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and returned elected. As one of us, we are proud of her for the courage, resilience and doggedness she took to participate in the poll.”
She further maintained that, “with her victory at the poll, Hon. Adeniran’s success represents just 4.16 percent of the membership strength as against the 20.14 percent women-membership of the outgoing Assembly where five females are Honorable Members.
“You will agree with us that the percentage grossly negates the 35 percent as recommended by the United Nations (UN) for women slot in elective and appointive positions in governments globally.
“In the just concluded elections in Kwara State, there is no single woman among the six elected members of the Federal House of Representatives; neither is there any female among the three Senators-Elect.
“Unlike Lagos, Anambra and Plateau States where females are considered to become Deputy Governors respectively, Kwara State is lagging behind in the area of putting the interest of females in political calculations.”
Olupinla however stressed that, “Our attention has been drawn to an attempt to cause injury on the women folk by struggling to use the court to snatch the mandate of Hon. Mariam Joy Adeniran thereby relegating us to the lowest ebb and allocating zero percent to females in the incoming lawmaking process.
“While we reject the Appeal Court judgment of 5th April, 2019, we call on the National Leadership of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) as well as the State Working Committee of the Kwara APC, to prevail on the plaintiff in the suit seeking to remove the only female Member-Elect in the Kwara House of Assembly.
“We believe this is an arrangement possible within the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in a bid to seeing the current scenario beyond 2019.
“By this, we plead with the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Nigeria’s First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Kwara APC Chairman, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, Kwara State Governor-Elect, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the APC National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa Umar-Eluma as well as all APC stakeholders across the country to swiftly intervene in this matter.
“Let it be placed on record that the roles of women in the electioneering in Nigeria and Kwara State in particular cannot be over emphasized especially in the O’Toge change mantra.
“We sadly feel the current development is like pushing the women to the background when it comes to elective and appointive positions. This would certainly not be the best way to reward our loyalty.”
“We therefore call on the entire political actors globally to intervene on our behalf in this matter and reverse every step aimed at removing or replacing Hon. Mariam Joy Adeniran as the Member-Elect for Essa/Shawo/Igbodun Constituency of Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State before May 29, 2019.
In her remark, Hon. Mariam Joy Adeniran thanked the coalition for the show of concern and solidarity stressing that, “the action will not only protect the right of one of them, but will also secure the future for the women folk and future of females yet unborn.”
She said: “The struggle is a collective task towards the emancipation of women as well as repositioning their thoughts towards encouraging them to be politically conscious and by extension, nurturing our nascent democracy to maturity.
“Women and youths constitute the largest voting populations in Nigeria and this trend had been sustained in the recent time especially with the return of democracy to the nation since 1999.
“The roles of women and youths cannot be underestimated in the political theatre of who gets what, when and how across the nation with Kwara State inclusive.”
Adeniran further disclosed that, “I have been a grassroot politician for many years haven contested and won election to become a Councillor representing Shawo South-East and emerged as the Speaker for Offa Local Government Area on the platform of the defunct Action Congress, (AC).
“I have also served as Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Rural Development, Special Assistant to the Governor on Social Support Services and Member Governing Council of the College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi from where I resigned to contest election into the Kwara State House Assembly.
“Consequently, attempt to wage war on female gender has been mounted and sponsored by some political gladiators with the aim of snatching my mandate through the court and deny the entire women of the state the right of making their voice be heard in the legislation process in the state in the next assembly.
“I call on men and women of high virtues, APC National Working Committee, President Muhammadu Buhari, First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, International Organizations and relevant interest groups to rise to this ugly situation and SAVE KWARA WOMEN from gender inequality and discrimination.
“I hereby restate my unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the progress of our great party, APC, towards ensuring that every woman in Kwara gets the desired dividends of democracy through effective lawmaking process in the Kwara State House of Assembly.”