Just Before You Vote

Today, 28th of march, 2015, Nigerians are going to the polls to elect leaders that will steer the ship of governance for the next four years. The build up to the elections has indicated that this election is a hotly contested election and most Nigerians are eager to vote for the candidate of their choice.  The wave of activism from the Nigerian people to make their votes count has been unequalled in the history of elections in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, all sorts of overtures  have been made to the electorates by the political parties to win their votes but the sad commentary is that mundane things such as  rice, telephone recharge cards, cooking gas, plasma Television , raw cash including foreign currencies have been given to voters to harvest their votes.

The rivalry between the frontline political parties  the All progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been very rife.  The print, electronic and social media spaces has played host to all sorts of  propagandas, gang wars and hate languages purportedly from the supporters of the frontline parties. On  ground, there have been massive violence to the extent that thugs have  been unleashed on the electorates to threaten them to vote for a particular party.

As of this morning there have been text messages purportedly sent out by the leader of   one of the frontline parties directing its supporters to vote for a particular candidate. Text messages have also gone out saying that some candidates have  withdrawn from the race.

Whether we like it or not these activities will have an influence on how the people will vote today. But whatever the propagandas , violence or  money politics, let us all remember that Nigeria belongs to all of us and that the future of Nigeria will be extinguished in that woman or man that allows money politics to determine his or her vote.

Let us be wise and  use our vote to vote out  corruption, insecurity, bad leadership, unemployment and economic regression.

Let us come out en mass and vote for the candidates that can  demonstrate good leadership, integrity and seriousness in repositioning Nigeria to take back its rightful

Nigeria Decides
Nigeria Decides

position in the comity of Nations.

Let us go out and do it right so that we can get it right!

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Call To Adopt Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Charter

Engagement with Female candidates
Engagement with Female candidates

25th March, 2015

Press Release: Lagos

 

 

Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) Calls On Female  Candidates Contesting 2015 Elections  in Lagos State To Adopt The Gender Equality and  Social Inclusion Charter

The Lagos state Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT), formally presented a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Charter signed and adopted by willing female candidates vying for elective positions in the 2015 General Elections in Lagos. The pact, which was signed on Tuesday, 17th March, by some female candidates of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People Democratic Party (PDP), is still open for adoption by more female candidates.

LASGAT, an ensemble of organizations and individuals working for gender equality, women’s empowerment and social inclusion, therefore, calls on the electorate to use the opportunities provided by the 2015 general elections to vote for candidates with demonstrable capacity for improving the lives and status of women, children, people living with disabilities, the youth, marginalized and   socially vulnerable communities in Lagos state.

Meanwhile, LASGAT will continue to work with all relevant stakeholders to promote peace in the course of the 2015 elections, while engaging the candidates to ensure their compliance with agreement reached on its 7 Asks.  LASGAT expects that a viable collaboration on gender mainstreaming and inclusive participation will facilitate the enactment of the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill and increase women’s participation in politics from less than 10 percent to at least 35%.

As the nation slowly approaches the May 29 swearing-in of elected government at the federal and state levels, LASGAT asks that all elected candidates in Lagos State, commit to; (i) the implementation of the Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025; (ii) inclusive education; (iii) investment in women and youth empowerment and livelihoods (iv) affordable health care services and social security; (v) gender equality and inclusive governance; (vi) providing basic amenities and infrastructural development, and, (vii) protecting and strengthening the enforcement of basic rights

Overall, the components of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Charter of LASGAT are desirable not only to gain the confidence of the people but also to ensure the integrity of the governance system in Lagos state. Knowing the Charter will undoubtedly speed up women’s active involvement and meaningful participation in building a Lagos for all, we look forward to a viable engagement with all elected officials on the cross-cutting issues of gender.

Signed

Dr Keziah Awosika                                        Ms Titilope Akosa

Chairperson LASGAT                                     Cordinator LASGAT

Speech Delivered by Prince Rotimi Agunsoye in Celebration of 2015 International Women’s Day

Display of PVC by Girls who are voting for the First Time in Lagos state
Display of PVC by Girls who are voting for the First Time in Lagos state
Vote for Gender Equality in 2015 Elections
Vote for Gender Equality in 2015 Elections

SPEECH DELIVERED BY PRINCE ROTIMI AGUNSOYE AT THE CENTER FOR 21ST CENTURY ISSUES ORGANISED INTERNATIONAL WOMENS’ DAY CELEBRATION ON SUNDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2015, AT RIGHTS HOUSE, 43, ADENIYI JONES, IKEJA, LAGOS.

All Protocols Duly Observed.

I am glad to be invited to deliver my views on How to Make it Happen For Women in Politics in Nigeria and helping them realise their God-given potentials politically and everywise in our society. This event is no doubt topical, taking into perspective, events presently taking place in our country. It is my belief that at the end of the paper, we would have been able to share, gain and be ready to implement some of the opinions dealt with by the presentation. Thereby providing the needed encouragement to our womenfolk across board in Nigeria. The topic: Make It Happen For Women In Politics In Nigeria is undoubtedly apt and direct for this event. Continue reading

MAKE GENDER EQUALITY HAPPEN FOR WOMEN IN 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA

 

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Being the text of a press release by Centre for 21st Century Issues in celebration of the 2015 International Women’s Day

Centre for 21st Century Issues Nigeria celebrates with women all over the world and in particular, Nigerian women on the occasion of the International women’s day (IWD) 2015.

The 2015 IWD is of particular importance to Nigerian women as it is coming at a time when Nigeria is preparing for what many has described as the most hotly  contested election in the history of Nigeria.

Nigerian women are not unaware of the events that have led to the recent postponement of the 2015 general elections. The unprecedented violence which have trailed the build up to the elections, the low representation of women candidates contesting the elections, less commitment to gender equality issues by candidates and parties contesting elections; and the grave impacts of the Boko Haram insurgency which have disproportionately affected Nigerian women and children.

Nigerian women are deeply disturbed by the call for further postponement of the elections, the removal of the INEC chairman and imposition of an illegal interim government on Nigerians by anti-democracy tendencies in the land.  Noting that any attempt to heed this call is capable of jeopardizing the electoral process and may foist constitutional crisis on the nation thus overheating the already tensed political atmosphere.

We are continuously saddened about the Boko haram insurgency and the inability of the federal government to bring back the chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram since April 2014.

Nigerian women therefore call on the federal government to;

  • As a matter of urgency step up efforts to bring back the Chibok girls
  • Ensure may 29th Handover date is sacrosanct
  • Shun any call for interim government and tenure elongation
  • Resist the attempt to remove the INEC chairman before the expiration of his tenure.

Calls on Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to;

  • Resist any attempt to shift elections dates and ensure that free fair, peaceful and credible elections happen in Nigeria come May 28th and April 11th 2015
  • Ensure that all  Permanent Voters card (PVC) are ready for collection well ahead of the election dates
  • Proceed with the use of the smart card readers to reduce electoral irregularities and rigging.

Calls on Political parties and their candidates to;

  • Make commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment in their electoral campaigns
  • Respect the tenets of democracy and shun violence and all appearances of violence before, during and after election.
  • Stick to issue based campaign.

Calls on Nigerians to;

  • Conduct themselves peacefully before during and after elections
  • Go out on election days to exercise their inalienable rights to vote for the candidates of their choice
  • Vote for candidates that demonstrate commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Vote for candidates that Commit to 35% affirmative action in appointive positions.
  • Shun money politics

CONCLUSION

As Nigerian women, we will continue to demand for greater accountability to gender equality and women’s empowerment. We know that there cannot be a haven for women if the political process is intentionally disrupted by the actions or inactions of anti-democratic tendencies, rather women and children stand to suffer the more if the electoral process is truncated. Let us therefore strive to make Nigeria a haven for women by voting for peace, gender equality, free, fair and credible elections.

Happy International women’s day! Longl live Nigeria! God bless women worldwide!

Ms Titilope Akosa

Executive Director ,

Centre for 21st Century Issues

6 Balogun street, Ikeja , Lagos

State of the Nation…The 2015 General Elections, Matters arising.

PROJECT RESCUE DEMOCRACY (PRD)

10, Afolabi Lesi Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.

Email: projectrescuedemocracy@gmail.com

 

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.

Being the text of a World Press Conference held on Saturday 21/02/2015.

THEME: State of the Nation…The 2015 General Elections, Matters arising.

Good morning, Gentlemen of the Press, Comrades, Compatriots, esteemed Countrymen and women, This press conference is the initiative of Project Rescue Democracy (PRD) a coalition of over 60 Civil Society, Self-determination, Ethnic and Professional Groups, who, compelled by the recent happenings in our country regarding particularly the 2015 General Elections have elected a concerted collaborative effort as patriotic and public spirited groups desirous of rescuing our democracy and country from the abyss, yes we cannot fold our hands and watch politicians attempt tenure elongation under any guise or means. We cannot allow the musings of same, nor shall we watch unaddressed any attempt to further postpone the 2015 General Elections.

The signs are ominous as a very dark cloud hung over the Nigerian political horizon as a result of the impending violations of the tenets of democracy and the constitution by forces of evil who are determined to plunge the country into unwarranted chaos whose consequence portends grave danger to our collective peace and security.

There is a general rule of engagement in this trade which is known all over the world, it is definite that there will be a handover date because there is tenure for political office and as such, it is the responsibility of the elections management body to start preparing for the next general elections immediately after a general election and government has a responsibility to providing an enabling environment for the elections management body to perform its statutory responsibility. Then the dates are fixed, wherein all efforts are put in place in ensuring that the dates for the election and swearing of a new government remains sacrosanct.

But what we are seeing today is that all the known values of transparency, fairness and credibility of the electoral system are about to be compromised. We have observed that the principle of one man, one vote is about to be imperilled. The E-card reader which the electoral management body has introduced to promote the sanctity of one man, one vote is about to be circumvented by political actors. Or what do we make of the attempt by some members of the Senate to discredit the use of E-card reader during the presentation of the INEC Chairman on Wednesday 18th February, 2015?

For a government to be legitimate in a democracy its, power must derive from the people through the ballot box which must be seen to be free, fair, transparent and credible, which are all under threat in the unfolding Nigeria’s case.

A whole lot of issues have been thrown up and are going to be thrown up to stop, derail, circumvent, discredit and frustrate the whole electoral process, from the issue of PVC, E-card reader to eligibility, security, threats of war, violence, intimidation, mudslinging, character assassination and so many other mundane issues which have no bearing with elections and sound democratic values.

The following are issues which we want to present to the whole world so as to call to order, anti democratic elements and forces of evil.

Free, fair, transparent and credible elections, a must!

For a long time, Nigeria has basked in the embarrassment of controversial elections, but we have come of age with the introduction of the E-card reader by the electoral management body that will forestall any form of rigging and manipulation which the Nigeria electoral system is known for. Unfortunately, we are shocked and disappointed that major political stakeholders are up in arms against the use of E-card reader which we all know will eliminate multiple voting, because the number of accredited voters will not be more than the number that will cast their votes as recorded by the E-card reader.

Small arms and arms proliferation:

The threats of war and violence have no place in democracy and must be condemned. Thus, we are surprised that some characters in utter violation of democratic and civilized tenets have resorted to threatiocracy, that unless a particular candidate wins, there will be war and one would expect the security agencies to have responded to the threat by calling them to order, but we are not surprised that boko haram have been emboldened by such official negligence to issue threats against the conduct of the 2015 general elections. More so, we are disturbed by the proliferation of arms, small, big and deadly weapons. We are worried by the use of explosives in Okrika, Rivers State only recently which is a frightening dimension in electoral violence in our land. We use this opportunity to call on the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities and urge them to further strengthen their intelligence gathering units to mop up all arms, ammunitions and explosives for us to have a violent free pre, during and post elections environment.

No to militarization of elections:

The constitution is very clear and explicit as to the duties and responsibilities of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as provided for in Section 217 and 218 of the 1999 constitution which states explicitly the role of the military and nowhere is it provided for in the aforementioned section of the constitution where the military is given powers to be involved in election matters. The Court of Appeal recently held that the military has no business in election matters. We want to add that election matters are purely civil matters which is called the festival of the voters, it is not a day of war, it is the day the voters through the ballot paper award a pass mark to a government or rejects it, that is the practice all over the world and Nigeria cannot be an exemption. So the use of the military to conduct elections, suppress voters, intimidate political opponents is an aberration and unconstitutional. However, we are surprised that Mr. Femi Fani Kayode is asserting that they are going to use the military irrespective of what the law says and we wonder, if he is a court of superior jurisdiction?

No to extension of election dates

We are opposed to any extension of the 2015 general elections by any means whatsoever. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in Section 135 (2) is clear as to the tenure of the government which is the handover date and any move or step taken against the actualisation of this date, will lead to serious constitutional crisis.

Transparency from the National Assembly

We shall continuously demand transparency and responsibility from the National Assembly regarding their actions and or inactions targeted at compromising the electoral process as Nigerians shall demand for open voting at the floor of both Houses should any such matter come before the National Assembly.

Strict adherence to constitutionalism

We demand that Prof. Jega adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution empowering him to uphold the sanctity of March 28th and April 11th 2015 general elections dates without the interference of the Security Agencies, and to only postpone election in the places directly embroiled in uncontrollable crisis or war. We call on Professor Attahiru Jega to affirm his constitutional responsibility and refuse to be teleguided to carry out his statutory functions without fear or favour.

No to interim government

It is important to warn that Nigerians are opposed to any tinkering with the current electoral process either by way of an illegal Interim National Government or military intervention and that March 28th and April 11th 2015 elections dates and May 29th Handover dates remain sacrosanct because any deviation will result in constitutional crisis that may implode the system.

Tenure elongation

We are not unaware of the proliferation of arms, armed conflict and orchestrated crisis to heat up the polity and give plausible reasons for the intended six months tenure elongation of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

National security

We demand that the National Security Adviser (NSA) and service chiefs concentrate on their constitutional responsibility of defending and protecting the territorial integrity of the nation and hands off matters of election and electoral matters as recently upheld by the Court of Appeal because acting contrary for political expediency will be tantamount to violating the constitution.

 Collection of PVC

We call on all Nigerians to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which is the only guaranteed passport to vote on Election Day for a candidate of their choice devoid of intimidation, inducements, ethnic, religious and other mundane sentiments.

Conclusion

Gentlemen of the press, it is said by Frantz Fanon that every generation out of relative obscurity must discover its mission and either fulfil or betray it.

We are not unmindful of the pains and tragedy of the June 12, 1993 debacle and that we may not walk that path again, we insist that the government and INEC make March 28th and April 11th, 2015 and May 29th 2015 sacrosanct, immutable and definite.

We want it placed on record that times have changed and that what Nigerians permitted with little or no resistance in 1993, will not be allowed to repeat itself anymore as it’s obvious that the groundswell of public opinion is for the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible polls come March 28th and April 11th 2015, no more, no less.

Thank You.

Yours Sincerely,

Ms Titilope Akosa

Secretary