All Eyes on Governor Ambode To Appoint More Women In Lagos State

The 2015 General Elections in Nigeria has come and gone but for women in Lagos State and indeed throughout Nigeria, it will go down in history as the election that almost obliterated whatever gains they have recorded in elective positions since the beginning of this current democratic dispensation in 1999.
Women who contested in Lagos State recorded significant losses which saw the number of women at the Lagos State House of Assembly shrunk to 5 from 7 in the last House of Assembly while the number of women from Lagos in the House of Representatives reduced to1 from 3 in last National Assembly.
Despite the electoral losses, many women are still hopeful that the losses can be mitigated by having more women in appointive positions. This is more so in Lagos state where the newly elected Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode by his utterances and actions before and after the elections have committed to ensuring gender equality and particularly committing to having more women in governance.
According to Mr. Akiwunmi Ambode on February 5, 2015 during the Town Hall meeting held for Gubernatorial Candidates in Lagos State by women at Muson Centre in Lagos, he said,
“Iam more for women’s right and equality. While I was the Accountant-General, I had six women directors and two male directors. We wish to see sometimes soon, women governors and women speakers of the House of Assembly in Lagos state”
He further committed himself by saying that;
“My commitment towards women in everything I do is very personal. No girl would be denied good education. You can hold me accountable for every word that I have spoken,” (http://saharanewspost.com/2015/02/lagos-women-drill-ambode-agbaje-adeniji/)

The most auspicious time to hold the Governor accountable for every word that he has spoken is now, when he is set to appoint his cabinet and reconstitute the boards and agencies which he dissolved immediately he stepped into office as Governor.
It is very important to set the records straight and awaken the consciousness of the new Governor to the fact that history beckons on him to achieve parity for women in the governance of Lagos State.
Historical review of appointments into Lagos State Executive Council since year 1967 when Lagos State was created revealed that, women’s representation in the council has not exceeded 21% either Under military or democratic government. The situation under this current democratic dispensation is worse off as the highest so far recorded is 11% ( see figure 1, 2 and Table 1 below), a percentage way below 35% affirmative action stipulated under the Nigeria National Gender Policy (2006)

Figure 1-page-001Figure 2-page-001

The position of the Deputy Governor remains the only position where women have had higher representation than men. Between 1979 and 2015, Lagos has had 6 female Deputy Governors compared to 3 male Deputy Governors (table 2)

TABLE 1-page-001

Figure 1-page-001Figure 2-page-001

In over 4 decades of the existence of Lagos State, men have been 14 times opportune to get appointed into Lagos State Executive Council than women. This is indeed a poor showing from a State acknowledged as the role model of good governance in Nigeria. It is unjust to say the least, that despite the active participation of Lagos women in politics, especially the women traders who are noted for their political mobilization and massive voting during elections, they hardly ever win elections or are given appointments in government.

Over the years, Lagos no doubt has shown considerable political will in the quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The predecessors of Governor Ambode; Governors, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola has helped to set the ball rolling by enacting and adopting gender sensitive Laws and policies such as, Child

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rights Law, Paternity leave, Domestic Violence Law and gender Policy. It is time to deepen the engagement and raise the bar on behalf of women by achieving parity for women in appointive positions in Lagos State.

It will be naïve to think that securing more appointive positions for women in Lagos State under the new administration of Governor Ambode will be automatic. It will definitely take a lot of lobbying and advocacy. Women have braced up for the challenge. Lagos state Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) has been in the forefront of the advocacy for more women in Lagos State and have taken up the challenge.
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Before the elections, LASGAT prepared the Gender and Social Inclusion Charter for candidates contesting elections in Lagos State to endorse. The charter brings to the fore the desires and voices of Lagos women, youths, people with disabilities, marginalized and socially vulnerable communities to the centre of political discourse. The charter made 7 demands referred to as” 7 Point Development Asks” by which government will be held accountable and responsive to gender equality, women’s empowerment and inclusion in Lagos state. The 5th Development ‘Asks’ in the charter calls on Lagos State government to demonstrate Political will to Gender equality and inclusive governance by establishing a system of gender mainstreaming which incorporates 35% of women in all sectors of government (https://c21stnigeria.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/gender-equality-and-social-inclusion-charter-for-lagos-state/).

A few female candidates in Lagos State endorsed the Charter at an interactive forum organized by LASGAT for female Candidates contesting in Lagos state before the elections. After, the elections, LASGAT had a consultative meeting with elected female members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to strategize for the implementation of the Charter.

To show the commitment of LASGAT in supporting the appointment of more women, a list of credible, qualified and competent women who can be appointed into various appointive positions in Lagos State was complied and the list was sent to the Governor for his attention. This was done to foreclose any excuse that qualified women are not available or that women are not interested in serving the State. It is expected that the Governor will act on this list.

Judging by the recent appointment of 10 women permanent secretary out of the 19 newly appointed permanent secretaries in Lagos State, it appeared that Governor Ambode has began to make good his promises to Lagos women and he is set to redress the injustice of the past by appointing more women into Lagos State Executive Council and Boards of Parastatals and Agencies.
The appointment of more women permanent secretaries is welcomed and celebrated but efforts to see that more women are appointed into the Lagos State Executive Council and Boards of Agencies must be intensified until it is achieved. Afterwards, advocacy efforts to put pressure on the government to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Law wherein 35% of all appointments in Lagos state is reserved for women should proceed. The Governor should know from the outset that appointment of more women is not to be a one off thing. His vision of seeing women attaining the position of Governor and Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly can only materialize if it is recognized in a written Law.

Need it be emphasized that participation of women and men in politics is very essential to ensure that their rights and issues are addressed within the framework of governance. Significantly, increasing the representation of women in politics and governance provides the avenue through which they can change discriminatory Laws, policies, programs and practices that affect them.

Consequently, Governor, Ambodes must not shy away from exercising his power as the executive Governor of Lagos State in favour of women. He is better placed now than ever to redress the historical marginalization of women in appointive positions. He must stand with the women of Lagos and live up to his electoral promises. All eyes are on him to make it right for women.

By
Ms Gbemisola Titilope Ngozi Akosa
Executive Director
Centre for 21st century Issues
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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