Historically, very few women get
nominated by their political parties or
get elected into public offices in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the national average of women’s political participation in Nigeria is about 6.7 percent in elective and appointive positions, which is far below the Global Average of 22.5 percent, Africa Regional Average of 23.4 percent and West African Sub Regional Average of 15 percent.
It may be unrealistic to compel political parties to reserve a certain number of nominations
for elective offices to women. It will however be encouraging if more women in Nigeria take up the challenge of contesting for elective positions since elections should not be based on gender sentiments but on capacity to perform and ability to convince and mobilize voters.
For now, I believe the most effective way to address the passive participation of women in politics and governance is by affirmative
action in terms of increasing the number
of women appointed into government
and public office.
To this end, I submitted a proposal to the National Assembly to amend sections 147(3) and 192(2) of the Constitution to ensure that at least 30 percent of Ministers and Commissioners appointed by the President and Governors are women. If this is done, the remaining 5 percent deficit in meeting the 35 percent goal can be achieved by women who choose to contest for elective positions.
It is not in doubt that Nigeria has enough women with capacity to perform in public office whether they are appointed or elected. The current Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala remains a shinning example of what women can achieve when they make themselves available either for elections or public appointment.
Elo Adhekpukoli is a member of the NBA (Lagos) Law Reform Committee