LASGAT Decries Poor Women’s Representation in Elective Positions

PRESS RELEASE BY LAGOS STATE GENDER ADVOCACY TEAM (LASGAT)

The Lagos State Gender and Advocacy Team (LASGAT), congratulates all candidates who contested and won in the just concluded 2015 general elections. LASGAT particularly congratulate all women who won elections into elective positions nationwide.

We are however  deeply concerned that the outcomes of the 2015 elections has produced less than 10% of women in elective positions nationwide resulting in a marked reversal in women’s representation in elective position compared to past years. This situation no doubt is discouraging and could lead to the further marginalization of women in politics and public life in future.

Nevertheless, LASGAT still believes that the low representation of women in elective positions can be addressed by giving women the opportunity to serve in appointive positions in government.

LASGAT hereby ,calls on the federal and states government to increase the representation of women in appointive positions by ensuring that women occupy  nothing less than 50% of all appointive positions in Nigeria.

LASGAT has a list of qualified women in all spheres of human endeavour who can be appointed to serve the country. LASGAT is ready to work with the Federal and States Government to recommend credible and qualified women for appointive positions.

Meanwhile, we call on all successful candidates   to leverage on the opportunities provided by their victory at the 2015 polls to pursue requisite measures to mainstream gender equality and promote women’s empowerment in all their undertakings as representatives of the people.

Dr Keziah Awosika                                  Ms Titilope Akosa

Chairperson LASGAT                             Coordinator LASGAT

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Lagos and the Struggle for Democratic Nigeria

The book “Lagos and the struggle for Democratic Nigeria” is a modest contribution by Razaq Olokoba, Titilope Akosa and Alfred Ilenre to the pursuit of good governance and genuine democracy in Nigeria.

The focus of the book is to capture and highlight the role of Lagos in the dynamics of the struggle for a democratic Nigeria. Since the struggle against European expansionist mission in Africa and notably, the British colonial intervention in 1861, Lagos has become the centre of human rights and political struggle for freedom in Nigeria. Lagos elites and the ordinary people have contributed immensely to the activities of events that led to the nationalist struggle as well as the pre and post- independence democratic struggle.

Here are some excerpts from the book to whet your appetite;

” In the decade before Nigeria’s independence, Lagos would witness series of agitations, struggles, births and rebirths towards self -rule and independence .More than any other state in Nigeria, the collective yearnings, tears, pains and the struggle that nurtured and gave birth to Nigeria’s independence were indelibly woven into the fabric of Lagos State”

“Effectively, Lagos remained in the second republic the hotbed for the intermingling of power and influence between government-controlled media and their privately- owned counterparts. Indeed, the media were caught up in the struggle for power as it is the case in present day Nigeria”.

“It is like going to meet a good deal of all the colours of Nigeria, the colours of the west coast, and all the colours of the African continent too, when you come to Lagos. It is one city in the world in which black people do things for themselves even in the face of the most brazen conspiracy of distractions. This is a port city, an entrepot of trade. The city of the media. The city of industry. The city of fashion. It is the city of music. The city of politics. It was a city of power from its origins, becoming richer and more industrialized than any other city in Nigeria, thus acceding to the role of the frontliner, always in a position to influence if not restructure the poor and largely provincial lives of other cities through a demonstration effect that appears to survive all vicissitudes”. Odia Ofeimun

” At the hoisting of of the APC flag in Lagos on August 1, 2013, Governor Fashola made clear the mission of APCwhen he referred to APC as the stone that will kill the Goliath of the ruling party at the federal level. In his words “——-the Goliath now has a stone and will fall. You see there is a stone for every Goliath. this is the stone for our Goliath ——-“ These words by governor Fashola kick started  the build up of the change movement of APC during the 2015 general elections”.

Be ready to purchase your copy on the book stand

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!

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

OBASANJO’S LETTER GUNNING FOR THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY

OBASANJO’S LETTER GUNNING FOR THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY
BY ALFRED ILENRE.

The open letter of appeal by General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian president 1999-2007 to President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to generate public debates in the Nigerian media. There are several views, for and against, some sensible and some senseless.

One point that was made clear in the Obasanjo letter is the fact that Nigeria has a fundamental problem with a long history to resolve.

The fact remains that the societal maladies mentioned in Obasanjo’s letter as bad as they may be, did not start with the President Jonathan administration. To continue to blame the systemic failure of Nigeria caused by decades of military rule on President Jonathan is to deliberately choose the path of deceit and confusion.

Ever before and after independence there were opinions, observations, fears and predictions that the centrally controlled system imposed on the Nigerian nation state may not endure and survive against the overwhelming forces of ethnic and sectional loyalties.

Said, Sir Alan Burns, a British Administrator and historian in 1904, six years after Miss Flora Shaw a British lady journalist had created the label Nigeria meaning the area around the River Niger. “There is no Nigeria nation, no Nigeria language and no Nigeria tradition, the very name Nigeria was invented by the British to describe a country inhabited by a medley of formally warring tribes, with no common culture and united only in so far as they are governed by a single power”.

“Nigeria is a mere collection of self contained and mutually – independent native states, separated from one another by great distances, by difference of history and tradition and by ethnological, racial, tribal and religious barriers” – Hugh Clifford 1914 Governor General.

“Nigeria is perhaps the most artificial of the many administrative units created in the course of European occupation of Africa”– Lord Malcom Hailey 1955

“The Nigeria State is “a notoriously precarious lumping together of people whose separate identity is at least as real a matter as their acceptance of national unity” – Rupert Emerson 1960, A British Notable

‘There is no universally acceptable and understood rationale for the existence and functioning of a state called Nigeria and efforts at an artificial creation of a national mythology, a Nigeria ideology will be unproductive because of overwhelming forces arraigned against it from the side of tribalism, regional diversities and culture chasms. Neither the masses nor the elite can be expected under these conditions to develop the kind of perspective – durable, constant and in dept – requiring and bringing forth sacrifices, intense devotion and loyalty, discipline, dedication and faith. Henry Bretton 1960, a British Historian

“In nearly all the matters which concern the ordinary Nigerian citizen, it is of the regional government that he is thinking when he thinks of government at all. The most important functions for the federal government for the future are just defence and external affairs” – Henry Willink 1958

“I support the Biafran cause not because Nigerian leaders are corrupt, there are corrupt leaders everywhere. I support the Biafrian struggle for national sovereignty because Nigeria is too big and complex for one man to rule.
President Charles De’Gaule of France 1968, during the Nigeria – Biafra war.

It was in consideration of these geopolitical and ecological realities that the Nigerian nationalists agreed to a federal union with regional autonomy for the corporate parts, the policies which the military later abandoned on coming to power.

General Obasanjo made so many furious allegations against President Jonathan and his team, some which are: that the President surrounded himself with sycophants, that he is disloyal to his party and does not observe the P D P ground rules: that over 1000 people have been kept on political watch list: that there was a presidential assistance to get a condemned murderer out of jail; that the government is secretly acquiring weapons, hiring and training snipers at the same underworld venue where the late General Abacha trained his hired assassins; that there was a shady deal between the President and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2011 for political gains and many more. The proof of these allegations are neither here nor there as they all look more like the same kind of vulgar abuses, rumors and gossips the opposition parties had continued to heap on the President Jonathan administration since his election in 2011.

General Obasanjo has to do more to help the undiscerning public by providing them with evidences to enable them reach their conclusions.
The Nigerian military departed from power 14 years age in 1999, after over 30 years of a barren rule. The index of military officers who rose to power through coup d’état or through democratic processes between 1950 and the 2000 all over the world shows that only seven made some elements of success of civil governance. They are; General Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamel Naser of Egypt, General Park of South Korea, General Suharto of Indonesia, General De’Gaule of France, General Pinochet of Chile and General Eisenhower of the United states of America. Yet, there is the caveat that they would have done better in office but for their military background. Politics with all its complications and complexities is not a game for Generals.

It is time to tell ourselves the home truth that corrupt practices in Nigerian is due to so many factors including the imposition a unitary system of Government on Nigeria coupled with the infliction of the 1999 Unitarian presidential constitution on the country instead of taking us back to the independence constitution that made provisions for the practice of true federalism.

Some of us have been around since the Nigerian independence and have found nothing on record to prove that the present administration is doing less than the previous government. For the first time we see state budgets being implemented by the civil servants unlike in the past when a few bureaucrats shared the fund among themselves, members of their families and their friends

General Obasanjo’s letter has further exhibited the high level of ignorance, lack of knowledge and information of the Nigerian state about the plight of the Niger Delta people. Development experts had always said that the nature of the NigerDelta makes development expensive and in some cases impossible.

The Henry Willink Commission set up in 1957 by the colonial administration to look into the fears of the minorities and the means of allaying them submitted its report in 1958. It has this to say about the Ijaw tribe, “the Ijaw division is inhabited mainly by the Ijaw tribe of whom there are some 80,000 in the West but over 250,000 in the creek and swamps of the Eastern Region. They are said to be a people who have lived in the area now called Nigeria longer than any other of the large tribes and probably pushed down into the Delta area in times of which no record has survived. “The country in which they live is divided by creeks and inlets of the sea and of the Niger River into many small islands which no where rises above the highest tides and floods; their transport is by water and the construction of roads or railways would be prohibitively expensive. Theirs is a country which through no fault of man, has been neglected and which is unlikely ever to be highly developed; they are distinct in their language and customs from either the Edo speakers or the Yoruba”

The Niger Delta Development Corporation which was established in 1960 at the outset of independence to develop the region as a special area was abandoned throughout the 30 years of military rule in which Obasanjo played an active part.

Many of the younger elements in the Niger Delta including the late Adaka Boro and the late Ken Saro-Wiwa who tried to sensitize other Nigerians to know about the harsh environment under which the people live met with violent death in the hands of state agents who saw them as intolerable irritants that must be stopped. Nigeria has been so unfair to the Niger Delta people.
General Obasanjo said and correctly too that the international community knows us as we are and may be more than we claim to know of our selves. It is observed that most of the decisions the Nigerian federation had taken about the Niger Delta in the last three decades at the international scene had only put the country at odd with the rest part of the human race.
It has been established within the international community that the situation in centrally controlled nation states is worse than the situation under slavery and colonialism.
In 2007, when the United Nations voted for the adoption of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after 20 years of debates at the floor of the General Assembly in New York, the whole of Asia led by India, the whole of Latin America led by Brazil, the whole of the European Union including the UK, the Commonwealth of Independent States, South Africa, Ghana and some progressive minded African states voted for the Declaration Nigeria was among the only 13 African states that abstained from voting.
It is true that Nigeria has lost its prestige and integrity both at home and abroad, since the beginning of the democratic experiment in 1999, due to its policies and actions at the International scene which have become embarrassing.
Those calling for the indictment of President Jonathan or even making attempt at impeachment are not fair to the political class and they know it. The political class had been the most maligned in the 30 years of military ruling in Nigeria.
As soon as the military took over power in 1966, they consolidated the executive arm of government, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the Foreign Service, cultivated the media, dismissed the constitution and left the political class in the cold and in the wilderness of misery. If the politicians are bungling in their actions today it is because they have no political elders from whom to learn the ropes. Though lack experience, the political class should know that the General Obasanjo’s open letter is only gunning for the soul of democracy in Nigeria. It is wrong to continue to stress only on National unity without regard for ethnic diversity.
It is General Obasanjo by the contents of his open letter that should be invited to throw more light into his allegations and how to move the country forward and not the other way round.

Reading through all the wild allegations leveled against President Jonathan by General Obasanjo reminds me of the false and horrible allegation by political opponent against the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, leader of the Action Group and his colleagues in the first republic that led to the culture of violence that has griped Nigeria since 1962.

All that has been said in Obasanjo’s 18 page open letter can be summed up in only one word – duplicitous.

Alfred Ilenre is Secretary General, Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organisation of Africa (EMIROAF).