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Sunday, February 25, 2024

2023 election: We’ll ensure women’s  inclusion -INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that women are well represented in the forthcoming 2023 elections.

INEC through its INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Pauline Onyeka, appealed to women to vote wisely and reject all monetary and material inducements during the forthcoming elections.

The electoral body made this appeal on Thursday in Abakaliki , Ebonyi state capital at a one-day town hall sensitisation meeting with women groups and gender-focused civil society organizations.

Onyeka said that women’s participation in politics meant participation in the development process, urging them to show effective commitment to the forthcoming elections to enthrone credible leadership.

She said that monetary and material inducements eroded the credibility and outcome of any election and charged the women to reject moneybag politicians and vote according to their conscience.

She said, “It has been argued that countries where men and women participate equally in decision-making level develop faster than those that make no deliberate efforts to involve the two.

“As a commission, we are determined to ensure inclusivity. Our Bimodal Voting Accreditation System, BVAS, and other innovations introduced by the commission will ensure that your votes count in the election.”

Onyeka noted that the commission, in response to the National Gender Policy and other regional instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory, in 2014 developed its gender policy to ensure that the gender gap in the electoral process was bridged.

She assured participants that adequate arrangements had been put in place to ensure inclusive, credible, transparent, free and fair elections where all votes would count.

She added, “Take the lessons you have learnt here to the grassroots to enable female voters to make informed decisions during the election.”

Also, Mrs. Dorothy Bello, the acting director of the Gender and Inclusivity Department in INEC’s headquarters, Abuja, said that the objective of the town hall engagement was to provide women with information on their roles in the forthcoming elections.

She further noted that the platform provided opportunity to interact and proffer solutions to possible and envisaged challenges that might confront the Nigerian woman.

Bello, who was represented by Mrs Benny Oguejiefor, Head of Unit, Gender and Inclusivity Department, INEC, Abuja, added that the engagement was to sensitise women on their role as mothers who bore the brunt of violence in elections.

She said, “The commission, through engagements such as this, is determined to reverse the trend and deepen its commitment to foster gender responsive electoral process.

“It is important for women to understand the different manifestos as well as visions of candidates or platforms that best approximate the interest of women as voters.

“Women should not mortgage their future and that of their children by subjecting themselves to material and monetary inducements; they should not involve themselves in vote buying and selling bearing in mind that their vote is their right,” Bello added.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Amaka Nweke, executive director of Probity and Accountability Watch Initiative , a non-governmental organisation stated that women must be at the forefront of  ‘Take-Back Nigeria through the ballot box.’

Nweke bemoaned the underrepresentation and marginalisation of women since the return of democracy in 1999, saying that it was time for women to change the ugly narrative.

She said, “When women are in decision-making, we achieve results, God has given us the voice, and we are going to speak through our votes in the coming election.

“We must as women shun their petty monetary and material gifts which they use to buy our conscience, our votes and this time, we must vote wisely to elect credible and service-oriented leaders.”

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